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Share charm - isn't it broken without better wording & consistent "error messages" providing feedback on what you can share?

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  • I really like the concept of the Share charm in Windows 8. However, a major problem with it is that it's contextual and there's no indication when something can be shared. To me, contextual commands can only work if they do something in every context, even if that something is just pointing to other contexts where the command will be effective. I noticed that some apps address this by using FailWithDisplayText to provide feedback on what can be shared when they're used in a context where there isn't something to share. I think this can help a lot in fixing the problem, but only if apps consistently adopt this convention. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be anything in the design guidelines encouraging developers to do this.

    I would recommend that if there's anywhere your app can share, it needs to provide feedback everywhere if share is attempted. The feedback should concisely suggest things that can be shared in the app. This advice needs to be prominent in the guidelines to be implemented consistently. Ultimately there probably need to be frameworks and Metro style "content management systems" that bake in support for stuff like this.

    If developers don't consistently do this, I'm afraid rather than trying it at each page like a verb in a graphic adventure game, people will just give up on the Share charm fairly quickly, and either the Share feature will go to waste entirely or developers will (rightly) just start using an on-canvas button for all sharing, thereby cluttering app canvases, making the charm itself pointless, and accustoming people to only look for buttons thus ruining it for any developer who does follow the official guidelines. I am not sure if even text feedback is enough - it's often said that users don't read UI text, so maybe ultimately some way of providing visual feedback might be needed - but it's a start. 

    Also, in the Developer Preview the text displayed by the system in a non-shareable context was "[app] can't share this" but in CP it's just "[app] can't share". Why was it changed? The new text seems to imply that the app has no ability to share at all, even if it does. I guess "can't share this" as well as alternatives like "can't share here", and "can't share now", are somewhat imprecise - it's not always the current thing, place or time that can't be shared - but they're still not as imprecise as the implication that it's the app as a whole that can't share anywhere!


    Tuesday, May 22, 2012 8:50 AM

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  • Thanks for the comments.  I will share them with the appropriate team!

    Jeff Sanders (MSFT)

    Friday, May 25, 2012 12:25 PM
    Moderator
  • I fully agree! The text should be again "can't share here/this".

    As for apps giving the user notes about sharing I also agree with you. I try to guide the user in my share messages on views that cannot share. I wonder if we can implement hyperlinks in the FailWithDisplayText so that the user can navigate to the view where he can share? Not sure if that would be useful though.

    Wednesday, May 30, 2012 12:53 PM