NLarge, unexpected benefits, and encouraging shared-source community contribution on Codeplex

NLargeI received a really nice and unexpected bit of feedback on my NLarge screen magnifier utility, which is a shared-source project available for download on Codeplex.  I use NLarge to magnify the screen, make annotations and focus attention during technical presentations. 

It turns out that NLarge also is a very useful tool for people struggling to read small print.

Jerry Whelan wrote to say:

"I'm past 60 and I've got to have an easy pop-up screen magnifier these days, especially for reading microscopic text on the Internet.  Windows Vista wiped out all the free and cheap ones, because they simply don't work in Vista.  The awkward, antediluvian magnifier that's included with Windows is useless, and besides it flings your desktop icons all over the place and doesn't bother to put them back. 

"If you want to see how people are crying for a good magnifier, take a look at their homepage here.  If you want to see how expensive a professional magnifier is, take a look here (make sure you're sitting down)"

I can second his advice on the "make sure you're sitting down" bit.  Jerry went on to say:

"NLarge in some ways is the best one I have seen or used.  The smooth magnification without jaggies, beautifully enhanced by the up/down action of the mouse wheel, is very far superior to anything I have yet seen, and the total lack of complications and setup screens is much appreciated."

But I'm not posting this to blow my own horn (for a weekend project! (huge props to WPF for making all that possible)).  Jerry also mentioned that there are some features missing from NLarge that would be really useful for him, including the ability to change the Alt-1 hotkey, and use a double-click as a zoom level toggle. 

All of this reminded me of the importance of encouraging and rewarding people who contribute to shared source projects.  I wish I had the time (and headspace) to context-switch between my many projects and make all the little changes like this. 

So... even though there aren't Codeplex Achievement Points yet, I hope that people are watching the projects up on Codeplex and see the value in contributing to them.

As Jerry puts it:

My opinion is that you could be very popular with the huge crowd of seniors who spend a lot of time cussing because they can't read the small text on the screen, not to mention the designers, the engineers, the music score editors, etc.  A couple of very slight modifications would make NLarge perfect for them.

I doubt I could find a better example of why we should be tinkering and contributing to shared source projects!

Comments (4)
  1. That’s just amazing Rob! It’s the feedback like that which makes you keep going!

    And this reminds me: I need to get more evolved in Open Source projects (other than the occasional code sample or library I spit out).

    There are two projects I’m looking at:

    – Your nLarge app (since it’s small and feasible)

    – dasBlog (since I use it, and want the project to live on and envolve)

  2. Mok says:

    Fantastic program, the it does the same think as Zoomit, but looks nicer. I have a patient who suffers from severe arthritis, as well as vision impairement- and have had such a hard time finder her a PRACTICAL zooming utility for vista. If you can please add the following things to this utility, it would be perfect and I will switch to it.

    1. Please make it so you can hit Alt+1 again to disable zoom. As she is unable to use the keyboard, I have assigned a hotkey on the mouse to zoom, and it would be easiest if she could press the same button to zoom out.

    2. This may be a bit tougher- but it would be FANTASTIC if you could provide some sort of clik-through support, as well as retain functionality of the mouse. OSX has been doing this for years, and enables you to zoom and pain the entire desktop as much as you choose while still retaining complete functionality. Is this impossible with Vista? Seems so, as there is not a single program that allows you to do this as far as I know.


  3. RobBurke says:

    thank you both for the feedback… I need to find some time to add a few features to NLarge…

  4. Mike says:

    Great program…I’ll second the request for click-through support.  I am the IT director for a school district that is moving from Macs to PCs.  One of the features we miss on the PC is ScreenZoom.  This utility duplicates ScreenZoom EXCEPT for the ability to continue operating the computer in Zoom mode.

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