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Thread: Offline News Reader / Skinnable Software

  1. #1
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    Offline News Reader / Skinnable Software

    I'm working on an application that functions as a news reader for Car PCs.

    The application comes in two parts. The first app runs on a desktop PC and downloads news headlines and full articles from the Associated Press into a directory (structured by date then by topic). The second app runs on the Car PC and reads the news headlines to you. You can click the "read" button at any time and have the system read you the whole article.

    I have a little USB drive that I can copy the news story directory to and then plug it into the car and copy the directory off onto it's hard drive. This works well for those of us who don't have a constant internet connection.

    The main reason I'm writing this is that I haven't added XM or FM radio to my car, so this is an easy way to stay up-to-date with what's going on. You could also adapt it to work with other files such as email.

    I use SAPI, so you can use any voice compatible with it. The ones that come with it aren't very pleasant to listen to, but AT&T makes some more pleasant and easier to understand voices that work very nicely.

    Anyway, I'm open to making the program available to everyone, but I'd like to make it skinnable first. I've never written skinnable software so I was looking for some pointers.

    Here's a screen shot of the current reader:



    You click on a day, then select a topic and the headlines are automatically read to you. After one headline is read, the system automatically moves to the next headline and starts reading it. Clicking the read button causes the system to read you the entire news article. During the article reading, the bottom list view switches to display the text of the article. Words are then highlighted as they are read so you could quickly look down and see the work being read if you didn't understand the SAPI.

    Anyway, even if you guys aren't interested in the news reader program itself, it might be able to be used as a good tutorial on how to create skinnable software. Thoughts?

  2. #2
    FLAC evandude's Avatar
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    I'm the kind of person who pays no attention to the news... However that still struck me as a really cool idea for a program... good idea
    But don't take it from me! here's a quote from a real, live newbie:
    Quote Originally Posted by Viscouse
    I am learning buttloads just by searching on this forum. I've learned 2 big things so far: 1-it's been done before, and 2-if it hasn't, there is a way to do it.
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  3. #3
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    So I guess no one wants to share their secrets? I guess I'll proceed to try and figure it out on my own by investigating some source code such as Road Runner. Just thought there might be some tips/advice people might be willing to share.

  4. #4
    FLAC NiN^_^NiN's Avatar
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    i've got lots of apps that are at various stages but i can't do the skinning

    The news reader is a good idea but you need to spruce it up abit make it look pretty
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by NiN^_^NiN
    i've got lots of apps that are at various stages but i can't do the skinning

    The news reader is a good idea but you need to spruce it up abit make it look pretty
    Actually, I'm not looking for someone to do the skinning for me. I'm looking for someone to help explain how to write a skinnable app. For example, do I need to use special controls that allow round buttons or does everyone just use rectangular ones that can be loaded with images? I've never written a skinnable app, so I'm not sure how to approach it.

    I'm a professional programmer writing mainly in VB and C#, so any input along those lines would be good. And thanks for the kind words! Good luck on your apps.

  6. #6
    FLAC NiN^_^NiN's Avatar
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    well i myself have problem skinning in VB but the quick simple way is to create a hover affect when the mouse is inside the picture box you change the source to a different image then when it is outside the picture box it changes back to the default source.

    Thats the simple way but you would have to have seperate button images so it isn't that handy if you want the whole app skinnable
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  7. #7
    Maximum Bitrate Bravellir's Avatar
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    Don't know first thing about programing, but I really liked the idea and hope someone can give you some help..
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  8. #8
    hud
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    White Night, are you still working on this project? any progress?

    Also, question: you mention that this is for "news headlines and full articles from the Associated Press"...any chance that this could be adapted to work with any RSS/XML feed?

  9. #9
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    Nice prog...one thing "I" would change is make the date more readable at quick glance...mm/day, mm-dd ect ect

    Nice work though!
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