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October 5, 2023

OpenFin’s New Snap SDK!

The new SDK solves the really hard problems, enabling developers to easily provide layout management that lets you snap all your windows together whether OpenFin or Native.

OpenFin Workspace Snap-SDK Release

Developers in finance know that if there’s one piece of functionality front-office users love, it’s snapping-and-docking windows together. It helps manage screen real estate, grouping related applications together to be viewed and moved across monitors as a single unit. The industry as a whole has likely spent hundreds of thousands of person-hours on building this functionality. It’s very useful for end-users, but incredibly difficult to implement properly from an engineering perspective.

Delivering More Efficient and Productive Desktop Experiences

At OpenFin, advanced layout management has been a key capability we’ve provided for Web Apps, first with our Platform API and, more recently, with our Browser SDK. But we had not enabled the same capabilities for Native Apps. Other platforms have tried previously, but they’ve suffered from complex engineering issues that resulted in bad user experience.

Introducing Snap SDK

Today, we are excited to announce the launch of our Snap SDK. The new SDK solves the really hard problems, enabling developers to easily provide layout management that lets you snap all your windows together whether OpenFin or Native!

First, let’s talk about some of the challenges other previous frameworks have had with this functionality. One problem has been treating a window group as one unit at the operating system level. So, for example, if you Alt-Tab to switch between applications, you want the window group to appear in the Alt-Tab list as one application group. A related problem is when you’re dragging another window over a window group, and the end-user sees the window “knife through” the window group because different windows in the group have different z-orders even though they look like they’re all sitting at the same level. Whether it’s resizing, minimizing, restoring or maximizing, there are lots of other vexing issues and edge cases that result in bad end-user experience, but you get the idea. Snap-and-dock functionality is often fighting with standard operating system windowing behavior, and it’s just very hard to do correctly.

That’s the beauty of our new Snap SDK. It makes it very easy for developers to implement this functionality, and it does it correctly in a way that works seamlessly with the operating system. It is designed from the ground up to be performant, intuitive and robust. It does not conflict with Windows® Snap layout in Windows® 10 and 11, and integrates intuitively with the Windows® Taskbar and window switching through Alt/Win-Tab hotkeys. End-users get the functionality they crave and developers can breathe a deep sigh of relief.

All Windows Welcome

One of the most powerful aspects of Snap SDK is that this ability to create window groups is not restricted to OpenFin windows. With Snap SDK it’s possible to group almost any window on the desktop together. You can snap Excel to Outlook, an OpenFin window to your internal .NET window or a Java window to a C++ window. You can snap windows together programmatically or let the end-user run the show (or both).

Snap SDK also has a powerful eventing API that, among other things, lets you change UI when a user activates a 3rd party app or changes a window group.  For example, you could use these events to trigger your code to join an interop group when snapped to other windows.

Thanks to Rust

We’re also excited to share that this is the first major capability we’ve developed using the Rust programming language. Rust is memory-safe (unlike C++) and is the standard that many platforms are moving to, including Microsoft Windows. Snap SDK is built in Rust to maximize both security and performance. It’s easily accessible to JavaScript developers through our ergonomic typed JavaScript package available in NPM. Read more about why we chose Rust from OpenFin’s CTO, Steven Mocarski.

If you need snap-and-dock functionality, we strongly encourage you to give this new framework a spin. We think you’ll love it as much as our own engineers do and we are looking forward to your feedback!

Interested in More Info?

Check out our on-demand webinar "Mastering Your Workspace: Unleash Productivity with OpenFin’s Snap SDK" for an in-depth walk-through and a live demo of Snap SDK, followed by a Q&A with the team behind it.

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