Significant update to the Windows Developer Center goes LIVE!!!

We have made a rather significant update to the Windows developer center today.  This update incorporates design changes, improving access to Windows features and top development tasks, incorporates content updates, and makes it easier to find Windows forums.  I’ll try and break the updates down by type to highlight the most major changes.

Design Changes

If you look at the new developer center, we have now incorporated the Windows color scheme in design elements.  For example if you look at the new tiled graphics on the home page, you will notice the green, red, yellow, blue colors from the Windows logo. It might seem like a minor tweak but it makes the site fit in better and makes it easier to know that you are looking at the Windows developer center.

We updated what we refer to as the site “chrome”.  The chrome is in essence a style sheet that makes the site elements such as line breaks, text colors and fonts, title bars, and so on look consistent across the site.  We deliberated at great length over a few minor details such as the gray bars on the right side of the home screen which were at some phase of the design process the same green that you can see in the main content area. We also picked all sorts of nits on whether the new chrome should have a strong an emphasis on iconography which was a common element of the older site.

Improving Access to Windows Features

Improving access to Windows features to make them more discoverable was a key change that we focused on in this update. If you look now at the “Windows Features” section of the site’s homepage, you will notice that we have listed the top 8 or so features of Windows.  The links from these pages will lead you to learning resources for each of the features.

We try to break out each feature area consistently now and you’ll notice the following template in each of the areas:

·         Technology Overviews   Describe the purpose, key concepts, and architecture of the feature.

·         Step by Step Learning    Guides you through some common development scenarios that use the feature.

·         Sample Applications      Gets you right into the code.  We try and highlight applications that isolate the feature and key scenarios for that feature.

·         Additional Guidance (optional)  Provides additional information about a feature.

·         Next Steps                       Leads you into the more comprehensive resources available for a feature.

Moving forward, we’ll be refreshing the content of each Windows feature area with new videos, tutorials, samples, and so on and may also begin to highlight additional features.

Content Updates

There are a ton of refreshes that we have made to what we see as the most useful pages we have and we have added a few new sections.

If you look at the “top windows tasks” section of the home page, you’ll notice that there are some new special areas that highlight specific areas of Windows. I’d like to call out here that these areas have been tailored specifically by experts within each feature area to function as a comprehensive how-to for getting developers started with a feature. For instance, take a look at the Graphics area.  Here you can see how to use Direct2D, DirectWrite, and GDI.  Each section contains handpicked content that the writer for the specific feature thought was best presented and most useful for developers. For learning developers, this should save you tons of time and also guides you through our documentation sets by the very curators of the documentation.  This is still very much a work in progress and we expect to add new areas to this section as we can identify the correct content owner and can gather the best resources for it.

If you click over to the Learn tab of the developer center, you will notice a new section on the bottom of the site with new pages. The first page of interest is the Windows API page, not to be confused with the Windows API List, a glossary of the Windows API. This page outlines all of the features of the Windows API by functional category.  The next link I want to point out is the Top Windows Developer Resources page. This page links resources that we have identified as important based on how we have seen users experience our site. The links on this page will evolve while we track the trends of Windows developers.

Windows Forums

We have reorganized the Windows Forums so that the list is more grokkable. We also pushed for design changes so that you can filter down the forum list.  One great example of this is the (expand all) and (collapse all) links at the top.  These will make it easy for you to view the various categories available for Windows development areas.

I want to commend Lisa Supinski, a new contributor on our team and previously a head honcho on the Windows SDK, for driving these updates and trailblazing significant enhancements to the developer center – this update would in no way have been possible without her. Our team has great expectations for future iterations of this resource and, as always, we’re open to feedback.  Please, please, please comment on my blog or join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter if you have any feedback or suggestions about the updates (especially since I’m supposed to drive the next iteration) I love to hear from the people who develop for Windows and love it even more when I see that our customers are thinking about many things the way I am (should Power Management be in “Other” for the forums or in “General”, for instance).

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