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People Near Me

Published: September 27, 2006
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Introduction
Discovery of People on the Same Subnet
The People Near Me Control Panel
Ability to Invite People to Start an Application
Publication of Objects
Contact Management
Summary
Related Links

Introduction

People Near Me (PNM) is a new capability of the Microsoft® Windows® Peer-to-Peer Networking platform for Windows Vista™ that allows applications to discover people connected to the local subnet and easily invite them into a collaborative activity. People Near Me provides a common user experience for sending and receiving invitations and application programming interfaces (APIs) for discovering people and publishing information.

Developers can use the People Near Me APIs to create scenarios like the following:

  • Start a game with someone at the airport

    During a layover at an airport terminal that supports wireless connectivity, you can advertise your interest in playing a popular computer game, discover others at the airport who are also interested in playing the game, and start a gaming session.

  • Advertise your interests at an industry conference, and discover those of others

    When attending an industry conference that supports wireless connectivity, you can use a PNM-enabled chat client to advertise your specific interests within that industry or search for others that have your interests.

  • Use a collaboration application for file sharing or screen projection

    Quickly and easily collaborate with other people in the conference room without entering computer names or Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.

People Near Me provides developers with four important services:

  • Discovery of people on the same subnet

  • Ability to invite people to start an application

  • Publication of objects (arbitrary data published by a person)

  • Contact management

Discovery of People on the Same Subnet

People Near Me uses Web Service Discovery to publish a user’s friendly name, computer name, IP address, and the port on which the People Near Me service is listening. Developers can use the People Near Me APIs to collect this information from everyone on the local subnet.

The Windows Meeting Space invitation dialog box uses the People Near Me APIs to find nearby people and invite them into a meeting. The following figure shows an example.

Invite People dialog box

A user can stop publishing their information by signing out of People Near Me with the People Near Me control panel.

The People Near Me Control Panel

When active, People Near Me displays an icon in the Windows Taskbar. This icon communicates People Near Me status (signed in, or signed out). The following figures show the different icons for People Near Me status.

Example of the PNM icon when signed in:

Example of the PNM icon when signed in

Example of the PNM icon when signed out:

Example of the PNM icon when signed out:

The user may double click the taskbar icon to open the People Near Me control panel. The following figures show examples for the Settings and Sign in tabs.

The Settings tab:

The Settings tab

The Sign in tab:

The Sign in tab

This control panel allows the user to sign in and out of People Near Me, select invitation security settings, and change the friendly name that is published to others.

Ability to Invite People to Start an Application

After an application has discovered a nearby person, it can invite them to launch an application and connect. The application establishes an encrypted connection with the People Near Me service running on the target user’s computer, and then transmits an invitation consisting of Extended Markup Language (XML) data. This invitation consists of the following elements:

  • A globally unique identifier (GUID) identifying the application

    Every PNM-capable application must be registered with People Near Me. Usually this registration happens when the application is installed. An installer supplies an identifying GUID, the path to the executable, a description, and some security information.

  • A user-defined message to display to the receiver of the invitation

    For example, to invite someone to view your latest vacation photos with a photo sharing application, you might send them the message "Take a look at the photos I took in Hawaii."

  • Additional data

    Any additional data that an application needs to start a connection. This usually includes the IP address and port number of the application sending the invitation.

After receiving an invitation, the PNM service will verify that the application is installed and available. The PNM service will then display the invitation using a message dialog box. The following figure shows an example for Windows Meeting Space.

Example of a PNM invitation message

You can click the View button to expand the invitation. The following figure shows an example.

Example of the Invitation Details dialog box

If the invited user accepts the invitation, PNM will launch the requested application, passing all additional data bundled in the invitation to the application.

Publication of Objects

People Near Me can be used to publish more than just names and IP addresses. People Near Me can also be configured to publish blobs of extended information, such as the user’s interests or personal details. These blobs are called objects.

After discovering a nearby person, an application can query that person for all the objects he or she is currently publishing. The application can then subscribe to these objects and will receive alerts whenever they are changed.

Objects allow application developers to use People Near Me to help users find people of a certain description or capabilities.

Contact Management

People Near Me integrates with the Windows Address Book to provide functions for long-term contact management. The first time the People Near Me services starts, it creates a “Me” contact in the Windows Address Book identifying the local user. This contact includes a digital certificate. Certificates are useful for verifying identity and establishing encrypted communication channels.

Users can add trusted contacts to the Windows Address Book by exchanging “Me” contacts with trusted people. A user can give his or her contact information to another person by copying his or her “Me” contact out of the address book then pasting it into an email message. The user receiving the email message must copy the attached contact information out of the message and into their own Windows Address Book.

You can always be sure of a trusted contact’s identity, but you cannot be sure that random people discovered using People Near Me really are who they say they are. Users are strongly encouraged to promote only friends and coworkers to trusted contacts in order to avoid spoofing.

People Near Me provides extra functionality for trusted contacts. For example, you can determine the presence of a trusted contact (online, offline, etc.) and invite them to run applications over the Internet. Trusted contacts do not have to be on the same subnet for People Near Me to work.

Summary

People Near Me is an exciting new way for people and applications to advertise themselves and their interests for easy connection and collaboration. This new Windows Vista technology makes it easy for developers to build collaboration applications by providing services for people discovery, application invitation, object publication, and contact management.

Related Links

See the following resources for additional information:

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