Introducing: ThemeManagerRt

bitdisaster:

An elegant way to manage multiple themes in WinRT.

Originally posted on Metro Nuggets:

Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 both have this really great theme support that allows you to use ThemeResource as a xaml type, it means if the theme changes, anything using that will change its theme too. It’s actually very cool. What’s not cool though is you can only have two themes (Light/Dark). What if you want other themes? Yes, you can override both of those themes to show your own custom theme, but what if you want a third? A fourth? What then?

Well I’ve created a little helper that helps to alleviate that, and also means that you can swap themes on the fly without having to restart the app. Pretty cool, huh.

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Report IAsyncAction with Progress

bitdisaster:

A quick guide to IAsyncAction. All you need to get started.

Originally posted on Boston Windows Developer:

One of the best things you can do for your app’s users is to report the progress of an operation. Showing a progress bar can greatly increase the patience of the user, not knowing how long something is going to take can make the operation just feel longer.

Luckily, many WinRT Tasks will return an IAsyncActionWithProgress. I’ve seen many blog posts about this topic, but most are deeply involved and weren’t suited for a quick lookup. This post will show you a quick example, which you can apply in your app..

A quick summary is that you have two main options with one of these actions; await the action result directly or don’t await and hook into the Progress event and Completed event. As an example, I will use the MediaComposition class available for Windows Phone 8.1.

If you wanted to save the composition but still want to catch render failure, you’d do something like this:

However…

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Learn and Win

We are in the middle of the of the holiday season. Things are slowing down and we have finally some free time to spent. So why not learn something new? You know, the things we always want to check out but were to busy to follow up. In our business we don’t stop learning. We just don’t. It’s a big no no. Our skill set needs to be sharpened and widened.  Well, and then there is of course the fun to master one more thing that makes us almighty creators of the virtual world.

The Learning part

The MVA (Microsoft Virtual Academy) has always been a great resource for learning. They offer a great variety of topics from kick starts to deep dives. I’ve put together a selection around App Development that should to cater your hunger for knowledge.

Quick Start Challenges

“Need a quick explanation of how to do something cool with your app? Designed to get you up and running by walking you through a complete task, end to end, in less than an hour, Quick Start Challenges can help! Do one. Do a few. Do as many as you need. Or do ’em all, and become a Quick Start Challenge Champion!”

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-topics/quick-start-challenges

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Mobile Development

“Developers, want to learn more about mobile development for the latest Windows and Windows Phone devices? How about JavaScript/HTML5 or C#/XAML? At Microsoft Virtual Academy, we have the mobile development training you need to advance your career. …”

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-topics/mobile-development

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App Development

“Develop expertise in app development and design to create fast and fluid Windows apps and Windows Phone apps. Learn app development on a variety of levels, whether you’re an absolute beginner or simply need a refresh …”

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-topics/app-development

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C#/XAML

C# is a simple yet powerful object oriented language that enables programmers to create Windows applications, Web services, database tools, components, controls, and more. XAML is a declarative markup language that simplifies creating a UI for a .NET Framework application. …”

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-topics/c-app-development

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Cloud Development

“Devs, are you moving your applications to the cloud, or creating new apps to be hosted in the cloud? Then learn cloud development by enrolling in our specially designed courses. These cloud development courses explore the concepts and essential information needed to deploy applications in a private, hybrid, or public cloud environment …”

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-topics/cloud-development

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Game Development

“Don’t put it off any longer! Get the game development training you need to start developing that killer game app today. You know the one—you’ve been thinking about it for years. Game apps are fun and very popular in the Windows Store, and, with the tools now available, there’s no excuse not to get started. …”

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-topics/game-development

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Web Development

“Devs, want to leverage the latest Microsoft technologies to create web applications? Thanks to our free web development training, you can explore and learn web development techniques using HTML5 and JavaScript, plus server-side development with MVC and C#. …”

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-topics/web-development

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HTML5

Learn HTML 5, CSS3, and JavaScript programming skills for creating Web applications and Windows Store apps. These Microsoft online courses combine both design and development skills as well as teaching about supporting apps you’ve published to the Windows Store. …”

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-topics/html5

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Aspiring Technologists

“If you’re planning a career in technology, this is the place to start to plan your career. Whether you’re interested in app development or IT administration, these beginner technology courses provide …”

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-topics/aspiring-technologists

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The Winning part

All this free content makes you already a winner. But why not spice things up a little bit. Shall we?

Since we are in the time of giving and sharing, lets spread the word and share this free content with the world. When you give I will give. With every share of one or more MVA courses listed in this post you get an entry to win one of the following:

Prices
  1. Nokia Treasure Tag
  2. Nokia Wireless Charging Plate
  3. $100 voucher for AdDuplex
  4. $50 voucher for AdDuplex
Rules

In order to win you just have to share the MVA courses with the provided links. For you convenience I created preconfigured hyperlinks for the social media. Every share counts and increases you chances to win. Share one link and you get one chance to win, share 5 links on 2 different social networks and you get 10 entries. You get it.  In order to win please send me links for each of your posts to nokiaguy@outlook.com with subject “Learn and Win”. The people with the most posts win. I also give extra points for creativity in your posts. For the physical prices in this contest I only allow entries for residents of Canada or United States. The dead line for entries is the 15th of January 2015. The winner will be announced the week after.

Disclaimer:

All entries will be assessed by me and my decisions regarding validity in this promotion are final. This promotion is being held by me, without any express written or implied consent or participation from  Microsoft, Microsoft Virtual Academy  or any  other third party. By submitting your apps to me for evaluation, you agree to hold me not responsible for any promotion, remuneration or other, expectations whether implied or inferred.  I am doing this to help developers, not looking for any problems.

Unite 2014

The biggest Unity conference is around the corner and will happen this year in Seattle August 20-22. I had the pleasure to visit Unite last year. Its an amazing conference and must-go for game developer. Just in case you are not familiar with Unity, here the official description from the Unity website. “Unity is a game development ecosystem: a powerful rendering engine fully integrated with a complete set of intuitive tools and rapid workflows to create interactive 3D and 2D content; easy multiplatform publishing; thousands of quality, ready-made assets in the Asset Store and a knowledge-sharing community.”  The best of all. You can create awesome looking games, cross-platform in my favorite language C#. If you looking into game development for Windows 8, Windows Phone or any other mobile platform then Unity is your best choice and Unite 2014 the place to be. http://unity3d.com/unite

Unity & Windows Training and Porting Lab

DVLUP_Event_PromotionalBanner_3x1Also part of last years Unite was Microsoft’s Porting Lab. I worked together with Microsoft engineers and Unity experts to help game developer porting their mobile games to Windows Phone. It was an awesome experience with a lot of fun and lot to learn.  The Porting Lab’s were so successful that this year, Microsoft is bringing them back as a dedicated full day event. You can find all the details and the registration form here https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/default.aspx?EventID=1563846. So mark your calendar for the 19th of August and bring your Unity game to the Porting Lab. Almost forgot the best. Every attendee who ports his game will receive a Windows Phone and will be entered for a drawing for a Surface Pro.

So I hope you can make it. Unfortunately I will miss out on Unite this year. But I’m looking forward to some well deserved family vacation with my wife and my 3 kids.

 

 

Monetizing App Studio with Ads

bitdisaster:

A great walk-through on how to enable Ad’s in AppStudio Apps by Lance McCarthy.

Originally posted on Boston Windows Developer:

So, you’d like to put some ads in your awesome App Studio app? No problem! I thought I would write a post to show just how easy it can be. Follow these easy steps and you’ll start earning money from ads…

Ad provider

The ad provider is the service the AdControl in your app gets the ad to display and also where you earn the revenue. As of Windows Phone 8 there is a PubCenter AdControl built into the framework, all you need to do is get an ApplicationId and an AdUnitId. You get that information from Windows Phone DevCenter, find out how to get your ApplicationId and AdUnitId in this great blog post.

If you want to use a separate Ad provider, for example AdDuplex, you’ll need to add the provider’s DLLs to your project. I’m using AdDuplex in the example below, learn how to add AdDuplex to your project here.

Step…

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Some Eye Candy for PowerShell

With the introduction of PowerShell as a modern replacement for the good old CMD, it became quickly the standard command line for Windows based systems . These days PowerShell commands Windows Server, Databases and even the Cloud. However, it still looks like the good old MsDos console from Windows 95.

In order to give the default PowerShell console some charm I created a little helper tool that allows to set the transparency of a Window. Actually it sets transparency for all Windows of a given process name. My little tool WinStyler uses the Win32 API to modify styling of existing Windows. Are you surprised that Windows allows transparent Windows? Don’t be. It had the ability since Windows 2000 but was never exposed to the end user. In order to modify a Window, we have to specify the process name and the new alpha value for the Window. In the case of PowerShell the call is  WinStyler –p PowerShell –a 200. Values between 1 and 255 are valid as alpha value. This also works for other programs. E.g. cmd.exe

And this is what PowerShell looks like on top of a nice Desktop Wallpaper.

imageIf you like it more minimalistic then call WinStyler with parameter –n (WinStyler -p PowerShell -n). This will remove the Border and Caption. While that looks pretty nice, you will loose the ability to resize the Windows and to call the Property Window. You can restore the chrome with the parameter –r (WinStyler -p PowerShell -r). Unfortunately it also causes some artefacts while scrolling.

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PowerShell Profile Integration

If you like the transparent PowerShell Windows and want them to look like that by default then you can call WinStyler via your PowerShell profile. If a folder called WindowsPowerShell  does not already exists within your Documents folder then create it. Now add a file called Microsoft.PowerShell_profile.ps with the content below.  Also copy the WinStyler.exe into the folder. 

Microsoft.PowerShell_profile.p
  1. $env:Path += ";$Env:HOMEPATH\Documents\WindowsPowerShell"
  2. WinStyler.exe -p PowerShell -a 180 -n
  3. cls
  4. "Welcome master " + $env:Username

If your profile script fails then you probably have to lift the execution policy. The code below will change the execution policy. (Warning: This will also allow to run any other script on your machine. Including malware. Just saying.)

Code Snippet
  1. Set-ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted -Scope CurrentUser

Download the WinStyler binary here http://sdrv.ms/1mvgxEH.

If you would rather see what will be executed on your machine and want to compile it yourself then the C# source code can be found here http://sdrv.ms/1mvgAAj .

Great end of the year blowout

And the winners are:

  • Michael Wu – Backpack
  • Gordon Kennett – Backpack
  • Matt Hughson – Backpack
  • XiangWei Jiang – Charger
  • Heather Robinson –  JBL PowerUp Speaker
  • Mike Wuetherick – Lumia 822
  • Steven Yang – Lumia 822

The winners will be contacted and prizes shipped next week. Congratulations!

Its the end of the year and I have few giveaways that need to go.  As usual, my challenge is simple. Create or update a new Windows Phone app/game. To be eligible you must be in my area and your app/game must be released or updated after 1st of December. I know Christmas is coming up and I don’t want to keep you from spending time with your family. That’s why I set the deadline for app submission to the 15th of January 2014. However you need to enter via email by 31st of December 2013.

Winners will be drawn from all entries after the 15th of January 2014.

Draw Prizes

  • 2 Nokia Lumia 822
  • 1 JBL PowerUp Speaker
  • 3 DVLUP Backpacks
  • 1 Wireless Charging Plate

Rules

  • You must live in one of the following Provinces or States:
    • British Columbia
    • Saskatchewan
    • Alberta
    • Yukon
    • Northwest Territories
    • Washington
    • Alaska
    • Montana
  • Your app/game must be released or updated after the 1st of December 2013.

How to Enter

Send an email to nokiaguy@outlook.com with subject “Blowout” by Dec 31st 2013 the following information.

  1. Name
  2. Email Address
  3. Windows Phone Marketplace Publisher Name
  4. Twitter Id (if you have one)
  5. Link to your latest app (if you have one already)
  6. DVLUP user name (sign up here http://dvlup.com )
  7. Your location, State/Province and City

By January 15th send me a link to your new or updated app to nokiaguy@outlook.com with subject “Blowout”. Your app/game release or update date must be after the 1st of December 2013.

Developer Tools

Just a browser (AppStudio)

For developing AppStudio apps all you need is a browser. However, to actually test your app you need a Windows Phone 8 device. But We can help with that. Give it a try http://apps.windowsstore.com/

Windows 8 Pro with Hardware Virtualization

To write native Windows Phone 8 apps, you will need to be using Windows 8 Pro and a PC that supports hardware virtualization. The free Windows Phone 8 SDK can be downloaded here.  https://dev.windowsphone.com/en-us/downloadsdk

Windows 7/8 without Hardware Virtualization

Windows Phone 7 apps are welcome as well and the requirements for the development environment are easier to fulfill. The free SDK can be downloaded here  https://dev.windowsphone.com/en-us/downloadsdk Don’t forget to install all the updates up to WP 7.8.

Disclaimer:

All Apps will be assessed by me and my decisions regarding validity in this promotion are final. This promotion is being held by me, without any express written or implied consent or participation from any third party. By submitting your apps to me for evaluation, you agree to hold me not responsible for any promotion, remuneration or other, expectations whether implied or inferred.  I am doing this to help developers, not looking for any problems.