mcesoft Vista HTML SDK and Media Center support for Hosted HTML applications in Windows Vista

I just noticed this post on Niall's Big Screen Blog with information about some new applications created by mcesoft for Windows Media Center for Windows Vista.  One of these items in particular caught my attention - the mcesoft Vista HTML SDK.  This SDK is designed to supplement the information in the Windows Media Center SDK for Windows Vista and help developers get started writing Hosted HTML applications that have a similar visual style as Windows Media Center in Windows Vista.

The download page for this HTML SDK also notes that the Windows Media Center SDK for Windows Vista includes some Hosted HTML application sample pages, but that they are essentially the same as the ones included in previous versions of the Media Center SDK.  I wanted to comment on this statement so that people understand why we decided to re-ship previous documentation for Hosted HTML application support in Media Center.

During the Windows Vista project, we introduced 2 significant new development paradigms for Windows Media Center:

  • The Windows Media Center Presentation Layer (WMCPL) which uses Media Center Markup Language (MCML)
  • Hosted .NET Framework 3.0 XBAPs

We decided to continue to support Hosted HTML applications from a backwards compatiblity perspective, but not to continue to invest in enhanced HTML documentation or samples in the SDK.  Instead we invested in creating documentation, samples and community resources (such as the Media Center Sandbox discussion forum) to try to help get people interested, motivated and trained to be able to create rich applications using the new technologies in Windows Vista.  Ideally, new developers creating applications for Windows Vista Media Center will use MCML or XBAPs and forego HTML application development entirely in order to provide the same level of UI richness offered by Media Center itself.

To echo one of the comments that Niall mentioned in his blog post - I would really like to see some kind of community effort around creating a set of common UI controls for MCML-based applications for Windows Media Center (similar to the HTML controls in the mcesoft HTML SDK).  Re-use of common elements and controls like this makes it possible to create applications much more quickly.

The Media Center team attempted to take a first step in this direction with the Z sample application.  The buttons, galleries and even the on-screen keyboard are designed to be re-usable and skinnable for various types of applications.  If you haven't yet, I encourage you to install the Windows Media Center SDK for Windows Vista and check out the source code and markup for Z (located in %programfiles%\Microsoft SDKs\Windows Media Center\v5.0\Samples\Windows Media Center Presentation Layer Applications\Z if you install the SDK to the default location.

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