Vista – My square peg in their round holeMon, July 9th, 2007 @ 01:13

So I took my first tentative steps at programming the Vista shell today. Oh sweet lord what have I gotten myself into…

First up was the problem of actually getting Vista set-up so I could work with it. As I’m going to need 32-bit and 64-bit versions for development I ended up using VMWare Workstation 6 and installing a virtual machine for each version. I must admit I’m impressed with VMWare, especially the fact it lets me run a 64-bit virtual machine on a 32-bit host OS. How it does it I do not know but anything that saves me having to re-partition my hard disk to run a new OS for development is just fine by me!

So my first task was to look at updating my VTF Shell Extensions for Vista. The old versions did work but need to be installed under compatibility mode. If I’m going to port them to 64-bit versions I also need to move them from Visual Studio 2003 to 2005. The Visual Studio upgrade was pretty flawless and I only had to change a couple of small things codewise to get it to compile.

VTF Thumbnails in Vista

Holy crap! It works in Vista!

I’d been considering looking at the new IThumbnailProvider interface that Microsoft provides specifically for Vista but I decided to stick with IExtractImage. Vista still supports this interface and testing the plug-in, it still works as expected and the thumbnails are drawn to my liking. I do have to say, I love the way you can scale up the size of the thumbnails – very handy when you’re trying to find a texture.

Since the last version of my VTF shell extensions, I’ve been added a few more functions to it to try and make it as useful as possible. Things like more informative tool-tips, better column info support and possible a properties sheet with all the data on the texture. Some of these functions came about for a “special” version (1.0.4) which I wrote for Valve to use in-house.

What has thrown a spanner in the works for me is that Vista no longer supports some of the interfaces I was using for these extras. IColumnProvider which I was using for the extra info columns in detail view has gone and been replaced by Property Handlers. I’m still chewing through the documentation for these and trying to get the SDK sample to work but it seems I’m not the only one having issues.

So at this point it time it seems that the next release, 1.0.5, will be the updated extensions for W2k/XP, Thumbnail view only for Vista and hopefully 32-bit and 64-bit versions. Oh and maybe an installer which doesn’t make Vista light up like a christmas tree.

In the meantime, if anyones had any luck with property handlers with Vista, let me know.

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