This post originally appeared on my Conchango Blog in 2007.
Conchango has been working intensively over the past two months with Microsoft and Associated Newspapers to create an application that allows users to to read the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday using advanced screen reading technology. The application launches today. It has been dubbed “The eReader”.
The application is built on .NET3 and uses XAML and WPF for presentation.
We’ve been running a mixed team of Conchango and Associated staff at their palatial offices in Kensington. Lots of people at Conchango have been keen to be involved on the project as it has been very exciting to work on this new technology. Amongst them have been Howard van Roojen, Martin Rennie, John Rayner, Stuart Preston, Richard Wand,Hiia Immonen and Keni Barwick. Unsurprisingly, you’ll probably notice that a few of these people have started blogging about WPF and Vista!
The project aims to place the Daily Mail at the vanguard of Vista (could I trademark this alliteration?). The Mail will be the only newspaper in Europe that fields an application of this kind for an exclusive period.
Some of you may recognise this kind of application from the New York Times Reader. It is based on the same technology as the NYT reader and we’ve been working with the same Microsoft team in Seattle that built the reflow and reading technology.
The eReader application allows a user to download and cache up to seven days news on his or her laptop/ tablet PC or Ultra-mobile PC. Minimum requirements are Windows XP SP2, a 1Ghz processor and a 512Mb RAM. Once the news is cached, it can be read even when not connected to the Internet and presents the news in a format that is easy on the eye and can be scaled to fit the device it is being read on. A “News in Pictures” feature allows the user to browse the news visually and then dive right into the story. Vista-only functionality includes a sidebar gadget and a “Speak the News” feature. Stylistically, it looks very like the Daily Mail, with a managed “tabloid feel” frontpage and Daily Mail fonts throughout.
The eReader project’s been an intensive 2 months of work. We originally came in at the end of November and ran incredibly short sprints of initially 1-week each. This was because we were unsure of what the new technology was capable of and wanted to control the risk as much as possible. We moved onto 2-week sprints soon after we started. Even 2-week sprints are incredibly tough to manage and to work within. Balancing off short sprints with pretty large milestones has been an interesting opportunity to make good use of the sublime coffee shop here at Associated New