How to create a Windows 8 live tile in the Windows 8 Start screen

How do I create a live tile in Windows 8, and what language should I use?

A live tile is a tile on the Windows 8 Start screen that displays real-time information, via notifications, about the app it represents. For example, the Weather app live tile shows you current weather conditions, and the Calendar app live tile displays the current date.

To create a live tile, many people use an app or utility specifically designed for creating live tiles, like OblyTile. However, the most common development environment is Visual Studio (either the full version or Visual Studio Express) with the Windows Software Development Kit (SDK) for Windows 8 installed.

You can use either JavaScript/HTML/CSS or XAML with C++, C# or Visual Basic to create a live tile. In Visual Studio, open a sample live tile application in the language of your choice from the Windows 8 SDK, and modify it as needed.

You'll need to choose an input scenario, such as sending the notification with text, local images or Web images. You'll also need to choose a tile size. Live tiles are either square (150 by 150 pixels) or wide (310 by 150 pixels). A wide tile is the size of two square tiles side by side, with an extra 10 pixels of padding to separate it from other tiles.

Notifications, which provide the "live" part of live tiles, originate from the cloud or from a call to a local application programming interface.

One of the best places for detailed information on creating live tiles for Windows 8 is the Windows Dev Center for Windows Store apps. The links above also lead to more helpful resources.

Kim Lindros is a full-time writer, content developer and project manager who has worked around IT since the early 1990s. She co-authored MTA Microsoft Technology Associate Exam 98-349 Windows Operating System Fundamentals (Wiley, 2012) and PC Basics with Windows 7 and Office 2010 (Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2010), among other textbooks. Lindros has also developed numerous college and corporate courses focused on IT security, Microsoft technologies and Microsoft Office.

This was first published in April 2014

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