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A while back the team at the New York Times newspaper produced a digital reader for their content, dubbed ‘Times Reader.’  The technology powering that reader experience (“the digital newspaper that reads like the real thing”) is Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), part of the .NET Framework.  It is a remarkable experience for viewing digital news in a traditional format.  It provided online and offline reading capabilities mixed with some new and innovative ways of viewing related stories.

Portions of the reader were even transformed into a starter kit framework: Syndicated Client Experiences Starter Kit.  This kit provides the initial plumbing to produce similar experiences and truly is a great starter kit to use.  Others like the Seattle PI and MSDN have put their content via this mechanism.

This experience of the Times Reader was a Windows-only experience because of the dependency of the .NET Framework.  The Times Reader does provide the best experience because of this dependency however and it is important to note that.  Mac users, unfortunately, were left out.  Until now.

Rob Larson, VP of Digital Production for the NY Times, announced that they’ve been working on a Mac version and a beta will be released soon.  Rob’s team implemented this version using Silverlight.

“We are using Microsoft’s Silverlight technology to render the pages on the Mac version. Silverlight includes a subset of the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) tools we use on the PC version. This allows us to keep the look and feel of the Mac version very close to the PC version and also allows us to reuse code across platforms.”  source: http://firstlook.nytimes.com/?p=46

I initially saw a lot of comments in the post about ‘why is this better’ and I think those are from people who haven’t seen the reader experience on the PC.  I have to admit that I’m not a newspaper reader at all, but as a geek, the news I do read is entirely digital…I’ve never owned a physical subscription to anything.  This digital reader experience is unique and fun to play around with (you have to see the search/related stories visualizations) and I think brings some freshness to traditional print news. 

Rob’s post has more screenshots and details about the implementation and future plans, including a comment of their commitment to bring feature parity between the versions.  I’m looking forward to seeing this implemented and hearing from the development team about their use of Silverlight to bring this experience to the Mac platform.

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