The RadControls for Windows Phone Q2 2012 release is ready and includes a brand new kitchen appliance – RadConversationView. Developing social applications just got a little easier on Windows Phone. No need to create a message viewer from scratch any more, just take RadConversationView and tweak it so that it meets your requirements.
As is tradition in XAML based technologies, RadConversationView has no hard-coded assumptions about what kind of messages it will be displaying or how it will display them, it only has a default implementation of a message model and default templates for visualizing that model. Developers can either take this base functionality and extend it or replace it completely. There is a mechanism for creating entirely custom messages and it goes without saying that the DataTemplates can be anything.
RadConversationView is a data bound control, that is, it only has an ItemsSource property. The recommended way to use RadConversationView is with an ObservableCollection when real-time updating of the messages is required.
The control does not restrict developers to display message between only two people. Through data templates, template selectors and grouping (yes, RadConversationView has the ability to group messages) a conversation among many people can be implemented. Think forum thread for example.
Finally, we decided that RadConversationView will have a built in text box. RadTextBox to be more precise. It has a clear button and a send message button that will automatically create the right message when tapped. This text box part is optional and can be disabled by setting the TextBoxVisibility property to Collapsed. Also, there is a TextBoxTemplate property which allows complete customization even of the text box part.
We prepared a really nice example to demonstrate RadConversationView in action. It is a simple conversation between the phone owner and Dummy, a “sophisticated” AI system that “adequately” replies back to the person using the phone. We’re waiting to receive the Nobel Prize for Dummy and his immense contribution to humanity as this blog post is being written. No need to applaud, we’re just doing our job :). Please check out our Examples application for this one (available in the marketplace).
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