Windows DVD Maker - Hello, Projects...

During our initial implementation of DVD Maker, one of our mantras was "We are not an authoring tool". Our target is people who currently aren't making DVDs, not those that have already mastered the intricacies of creating a DVD with the very extensive authoring packages already available.

That meant we kept things very simple. This was usually a good thing, but in one case, we made things too simple.

There was no easy way for users to save their work. If I created a nice DVD of a family vacation, and burned six copies, when Aunt Edna (the one from Florida, not the one from Maine with the fondness for martinis...) asked for an extra copy, I'd have to try to remember all the settings and walk through them again.

Nor could base my DVD of the May 17th soccer game on the settings I used for the May 10th soccer game.

We got a fair amount of feedback on this, and therefore decided to add real project files to DVD Maker.

Things that have changed:

  1. There is now a File menu at the left end of the taskbar, to the left of "Add Items". On it, you'll find the usual suspects: New, Open, Save, Save As, and a four-item list of recent projects.

    Having a menu on a taskbar makes the UI a bit strange, but it was the best approach that we could come up with, and it works nicely.

    That's on the "add pictures and video..." page. On the "Ready to burn disc" page, the file menu only has the save and exit options.

  2. When you try to exit with a project that hasn't been saved, DVD Maker will ask you if you want to save the project. 

  3. Clicking on a .msdvd file will launch DVD Maker with that project file.

Those are the official changes.

There are also a few "officialy unsupported so don't come to me if your porch is attacked by carpenter ants" details.

DVD Maker has always supported a format through which other applications could pass content. This is used by both Movie Maker and the Picture Gallery, so when you select content and choose "burn to dvd" (or whatever it's called...), DVD Maker will show the content in all of its glory. The project file is merely an extension of that format. The project file format will be specified somewhere in the docs, but it's a very trivial XML format.

The format is also used by the tape-to-disc wizard launched when you plug in a camera. In addition to passing the project file, it passes the -clickonce flag to DVD Maker, which then burns the disc without bringing up the normal DVD Maker UI.

So, a clever user could take all of these *unsupported* features, and string them together to automate the burning of a DVD. As long as he wasn't overly concerned with the longevity of his porch...