Posts XBOX Friends Thing Change Log

XBOX Friends Thing Change Log

<FONT color=#000080 size=5>XBOX Friends Thing Change Log v1.0.20.0 (v1.1.0.0 in beta testing)</FONT>

<FONT color=#ff0000>(NOTE: This page is solely for the purpose of notifying those interested of the changes occuring from version to version of Xbox Friends Thing.  Please refer to <FONT color=#ff0000>Xbox Friends</FONT> for installation and FAQ information.)</FONT>

This is a pet project that I started on February 15th, 2004 in order to allow us to view our XBOX friends list in a much more real time manner than by browsing to the XBOX My Live site having to refresh the browser for updates or actually having to connect the Live just to see who's online.

Basically, I wanted the ability to have an application that would notify us (similar to Windows Messenger) when someone is playing a game.  Then you can instantly see the list and decided if it's time to jump into a game or not.

Of course, feature creep started showing up almost immediately.  I've got a list of ideas flowing through my head; some of them have been implemented while others are still on the wish list.  For example, after getting the first part completed (notification and listing), I wanted to know if my friends are also running the application.  That way, if I jumped online, I would have a good idea that they would see me and possibly follow me online.

<FONT color=#000080 size=5>Download</FONT>

You can download the latest version here.

[disclaimer] This software should be considered beta.  I can neither confirm nor deny that it will run on every computer in existence.  As this application is free, I'm not able to act as a technical support agent.  If you do have any problems, please contact me through the various methods available here at and I'll do my best to assist you; but don't get angry if I am unable to correct whatever issue may be occurring (unless, of course, your willing to send me large piles of money ;-) )

[installation notes]

Download and double click on the Microsoft Installer package.  Please refer to the FAQ on for step by step instructions.

In order to run this application, you *must* have the Microsoft .NET Framework v1.1 installed.  You can get this by using Windows Update or by downloading the redistributable directly from Microsoft.

[change log] <FONT color=#ff0000>( interim build currently being beta tested)
</FONT>complete redesign of webservice to support features being requested.
complete redesign of server database to support features being requested.
completely rebuild the interaction; more reliable in the face of Xbox “changes“.
extending friends list from local xml file to shared server database.
moving friends statistics from local log files to shared server database.
completely redesigning the friends information dialog to support new features being requested.
completely redesigning the options dialog to support new features being requested.
added registration information tab, with shared information tab allowing you to selectively share some information.
added “external notification” support; allowing you to send an email or make an HTTP request upon friends signing on or changing game - significantly better than the one built into MSN Messenger (IMHO) since it allows you to selectively filter which friends will cause the notifications.
many, many more improvements and new features... stay tuned.

<FONT color=#ff0000> <P></FONT>
updated to work with the recent changes made by Microsoft for the MSN integrated features.
modified the gamertag viewer to remove 2 pixels per line, bringing the spacing closer to Windows Messenger and allowing more gamertags on the screen to be visible at once.  many other layout tweaks done in order to better utilize the screen real estate.
fixed an error where the gamertag informaiton was not automatically being refreshed when opening the viewer (until this version is available, use Refresh All Gamers menu item to get the information).
completely rebuilt the panels that show on the main screen (download, update information, PrimeTime, etc.) to allow for more of a dynamic user interface and possibly plug-in support.
added context sensitive menus to the gamertag list.
tight integration (if installed) with Windows / MSN Messenger.  all new icons to reflect this fact and the current IM state of each gamertag that is on both lists.  ability to start an IM session from within Xbox Friends Thing.
replaced the textbox where the MSN contact information was entered with a checkbox that will automatically retrieve that information and share (if checked) with your friends.  will show a textbox when not integrated with MSN.
fixed a refresh issue with PrimeTime not updating if left showing.
initial foundation for plug-in support finished (used internally for a few features such as PrimeTime).
now replacing the & text in the PrimeTime titles as one would expect.
fixed a ‘fatfinger’ bug when double clicking on a gamertag to view the gamertag information.
added Rainbow Six 3 leaderboard (overall ranking) ‘plug-in’.
fixed an error where under some conditions the display window would be at a position not visible on the desktop.
renamed the tools/options ‘options’ tab to advanced.
modified the MSN integration feature so that it’s optional (enabled via the advanced options).
improved the url detection model when hitting the xbox live website.
now automatically exiting the program when prompted to upgrade and you select yes.
removed the default icon from the view by gamers/games windows.
the primetime ‘plug-in’ no longer has to download the images, improving performance and bandwidth.
added a menu item to the view menu to launch directly to the top 25 games on xbox live (
modified the url launch on the plugins to open a new instance of the default browser.
added a hovering label to the day/hour gridview to show the start time (military) and duration of gameplay.
modified the opening of the gamertag info screen so that the processing of the day/hour grid is done after it’s displayed… presenting a progress indicator to show how long the processing is going to take.
improved the validation of game names.
fixed an issue with the server not allowing new users to select their games.
improved the server performance ‘ping’ time.
seperated the gamertag server and information into two seperate parts.
modified the refresh interval of the information so that the refresh honors their configuration (instead of the internal refresh interval).  (The refresh interval setting will probably be completely phased out in the future.)
many, many other minor tweaks here and there…</P> <P><FONT color=#ff0000>
</FONT>cleaned up some of the text on the options screen for consistancy.
modified the registry value that is used for the start with windows option (before upgrading, turn off the option in if you turned it on… then after upgrade re-enable it.).</P> <P><FONT color=#ff0000>
</FONT>modified the check for new version functionality.
removed some debug code left over while tracking down the web service bug (not causing problems, but didn’t need to be their either).
option to enable automatically launch with Windows.
added state saving information for PrimeTime.
fixed state saving for the status bar.
added option to disable sounds.
added a prompt on exit to let everyone know if you exit, statistics are not going to be captured.  Xbox Friends Thing must be running in order to build the gameplay statistics for your friends.
added option to disable prompt on exit.
fixed a date formatting issue for international usage (thanks to ChasLGC and SnakeX for reporting this).</P> <P>
modified an error occuring in the web services layer not working on some machines (not really sure how wide spread this error was, but does appear to be fixed on the few machines that this bug has been verified to exist).
removed prompt regarding the detection of a friend removal.
no longer showing the friends time (incorrectly) if they are not also a user of Xbox Friends Thing.
removed the graph and replaced it with a day/time grid with filtering capabilities; also shows a rough duration of gameplay. you must keep xbox friends thing running in order to collect these statistics.
changed how the gamer info screen is displayed (location wise).  will now initially be located “attached” to the main screen; can be adjusted and does not automatically move along with the main screen.
updated primetime to refresh properly due to Microsoft making changes to their web site.
modified the timezone offset so that it will handle time changes.
removed the toast notifications showing upon initial launch.
fixed a rogue error occuring during the first launch of the application stating nullexception with windows forms (timing issue).
added sound to the notification.
start of migrating of the friends web service to
made some additions to handle some of the game name changes Microsoft has been making on what appears to be a whim. this is a breaking change in some instances, so please verify your games listing to make sure that it’s current.
friends is now being used by two to three other languages; made changes to the web service to handle these accordingly (not sure what languages and friends currently does not support these… if you are using xbox friends thing and aren’t english or french speaking, please contact me if your interested in translating friends to your localized language).</P> <P>
test version to verify fix of web service layer issue occuring on some machines.</P> <P>
fixed the not wanting to shut down windows problem.
reduced the perceived memory usage people have been concerned with.  now reporting memory usage that is pretty near what windows messenger uses.
added Xbox Live Prime Time notification.</P> <P>
removed the error showing when receiving a navigation error (will retry at next interval setting).
removed the error showing when unable to retrieve whether not not an update is available (will retry in 6 hours).
if you haven’t specified any games that you own, a link will appear at the bottom of the window as a reminder.
added some filters that will remove quotes from game names and strip certain words (due to a bug occuring in a previous version ~
created a Microsoft Installer redistribution package.
updates are now Microsoft Installer packages as well.</P> <P>
improved the speed at which the notification bubbles are being displayed.
added two new options to the tools/options/options tab.  hide when minimized and disable notification bubble (toast).
changed all blue colored icons to green… for consistancy.
modified the border to be green to better distinguish it from windows messenger.
in addition to the update check at startup, will now will check at startup and every six hours.  if an update is found, you will see an upgrade panel displayed at the bottom of the main window with a link to download the newer version.  program exits upon clicking the update link (to allow you to extract the newer files over the existing ones).
double clicking on the games lists in tools/options will now move games from one list to the other.
the games selection list (in tools/options) now allows for multiple games to be selected at a time to move between the lists (shift+click).
removed the pre-release version message.
changed the notification icon to change to yellow while retrieving information, green when idle and red if not signed in.
fixed an issue with the selection bar in the list turning grey and sometimes not coming back to blue as it should.
if you exit the application and it’s minimized to the taskbar, will now start up in the same state.
fixed the cancel button not being drawn correctly or being available in the refresh gamers tools option.
initial localization support for French (translations provided by Alexandre aka SnakX of</P> <P>
<FONT color=#000000>modified the behavior of the reduce and close form buttons to work similar to Windows Messenger.
modified the automatic refresh to not attempt to refresh when the sign in message is visible.
will now remove gamertags from the list when removed from the xbox live friends list.
now logs gamertag/game playing information (logs saved in My Documents\XBOX Friends folder)
a playing time counter (in minutes) is incremented for each game played per gamer.  will be used to show what a gamers favorite (most played) game is.
updated the gamertag view to show either a blue or grey bar depending on window focus (similar to the behavior in Windows Messenger).
using a queue manager to assist in the notification baloons, this way you should see all changes occuring when multiple changes occur during a refresh period.
fixed a bug where the users game list was not being displayed correctly if you edited the games list, pressed ok, then (without exiting the program) went back in to view the games list.
using the games played log information for each gamertag, a chart is generated for each gamer (double click on the gamertag to view the gamers information).  this is a first pass at the charting / reporting feature.  looking for suggestions on the best way to view this information.  right now, the left side gauge represents the refresh intervals that a game was detected.  the numbers across the bottom are supposed to represent the date… but for some reason the ComponentOne charting control wants to expand upon it and add decimal values in between each group ????
added protection code to detect when the XBOX Live site results in a failure to retreive your friends list.</FONT></P> <P>
<FONT color=#000000>I solved the randomly getting logged out problem.  Now, whenever the XBOX Live website decides to log you out which due to my changes can be tracked to about every 70 minutes or so, XBOX Friends will automatically ‘click’ the signin button for you. :-)  So anywone who has run this that was annoyed by this behavior, this is the version for you :-D
fixed an crash that occurs if you try to resize the window down to as small is it would allow you.
fixed an issue with not showing the friends local time for people with a timezone offset of 0.
updated the look of the notification bubbles to have them stand out more from the messenger bubbles.
moved the sorting of the friends display to the display component, guarantees that any changes made will sort appropriately.</FONT></P> <P><FONT color=#ff0000>
</FONT><FONT color=#000000>fixed an issue where the automatic retrieval of the friends info and all games was not refreshing, well, automatically ;-).</FONT></P> <P><FONT color=#ff0000>
</FONT><FONT color=#000000>removed the refresh button from the games list in Tools/Options (now automatically retrieves the information whenever you change the selected tab).
added a date/time display to the gamer info screen to show the that gamers current time (if they have chosen to share their games list and optionally other information).  this should make organizing games easier.
added a View By Gamers option… selecting multiple friends will show you what games (if any) those selected have in common.</FONT></P> <P>
modified the friends list so that it is now sorted by the displayed name - (wondering if I should sort the game nodes?).
added local tracking of when the last time friends thing detected a friend playing.
added a view/games menu item to access a list of all the games.  selecting a game will show all friends who have that particular game.
added some additional checking to protect against the “no-name“ gamertag issue where errors parsing the xbox friends web-page would produce a blank named gamertag.
corrected an issue where showing the browser would forget where the regular view windows location should be - now restores the correct location after switching back out of the browser view.
added a refresh gamer info menu item to the Tools menu. this will retrieve the friend information that they’ve chosen to share.
updated the retrieve information code to only overwrite existing information if it actually exists on the server; leaving your information intact if friend is not sharing (or left the information blank).
fixed an issue where you would change the friends realname and it not showing the change in the list until you restarted the application.</P> <P>
fixed an issue with gamers not being removed out of the Not Online section when online (showing up it two places).
added a tools / options menu item.
added an options dialog that allows you to configure several things, such as your name, email, messenger, blog and what games you own - this information is sent to to share with others on your friends list.
added an option that allows you to display the gamers real name along with their gamertag; formatted as Real Name (Gamertag).
added a check to see if an update is available and launches the browser to the link if you select yes to download now.
expanded the gamer info dialog to show (and edit) real name, email, messenger and blog address.
added a retrieve button to the gamer info dialog to pull information from (if added by that gamer).
your games list editor (in the tools/options dialog) has a refresh button to pull a list of known games from
now saving refresh interval state information.
modified the tab order of all screens to be consistent.
fixed issue with toast not being displayed in some cases.
games list on server is self maintaining, games are automatically added based on application detected a new game.</P> <P>
woops, when revamping the viewer, I left out the watermark ;-)
made a change that should allow the Not Online section to stay at the bottom of the list.</P> <P>
completely revamped the msn messenger styled treeview.  all game nodes are now be collapsed/expanded.  you can also now select specific nodes.
scrollbar now scrolls in a similar manner to msn messenger.
added a gamer information dialog, to access it just double click on a gamer.  this dialog will show you the gamers presence, what games XBOX Friends has seen this gamer playing and allows you to specify a real name and email address for each gamer.  looking for suggestions for more fields to add ;-)</P> <P>
fixed error happening when not signed into live.</P> <P>
modified progress blocks by adding some color (thus matching the divider bar).
save location and state information between uses (stored in xml file).
dynamically build gamers gamer list based on monitoring activity (stored in xml file).
fixed issue with not working on some machines; Microsoft.mshtml.dll missing and no error generated.
added a status bar to show textual descriptions of activities.
added debug window for debugging purposes (not needed for normal activity).
replaced application icon.</P> <P>
added progress blocks to show activity.
added common error dialog to display errors in a friendly manner.</P> <P>
added web service to show usage activity between your friends.
added seperate colored icons to each gamer gamer on the list to show usage activity.</P>

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