Monday, 16 July 2012

Best Game Construction HTML5/JS and WIndows 8 tool for game design

I have looked at a number of design tools that support HTML5/JS and Windows 8.  Ok I also reviewed some tools that do not directly build to Windows 8.

It came down to basically two tools: Blend for Visual Studio 12 and Scirra ( for the tools that support both HTML5/JS and Windows 8 with no added effort.  I reviewed ease of use, support and cost.  The winner is:

Winner: Scirra

Best Game Construction HTML5/JS and WIndows 8 tool for game design Construct2 of Scirra

Scirra and their Construct2 tool, with an excellent community as well as clear documentation that is supported by an active community.  I was able to build a simple game using the Scirra tools and tutorials in a short time.  The tools generate a Windows 8 type of output and there are few problems with the generated Windows 8 code, but that is easily fixed if you know JavaScript quite well. Which I don’t, so I am working through the process slowly.  Support is amazing, with changes implemented quickly and accurately.

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Windows 8 Currency Converter App: XE Currency

XE Currency is a totally free Windows 8 currency converter app that helps you to convert world currencies in Windows 8. This currency converter app is a straight-forward currency converter that helps you to convert any currency rates to other world currencies rates effortlessly.
The interface of this currency converter is full of currencies across the world and that too arranged in an alphabetical order.

Windows 8 Currency Converter App: XE Currency

This currency converter app for Windows 8 is easy-to-use and converts a currency to other currencies instantly. This smart currency converter updates the currency rates in every minute.

Key Features Of Windows 8 Currency Converter App:
  •     Easy-to-use currency converter app.
  •     Updates the currency rates in every minute.
  •     Automatically converts the currency.
  •     Converts a currency to multiple currencies.
  •     Simple and user-friendly interface.

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Metro Revealed : Building Windows 8 apps with XAML and C# (Book Published By Apress)

The key features for developing on Microsoft’s eagerly anticipated Windows 8 operating system are unveiled in this fast-paced 80-pageprimer. Windows 8 contains the revolutionary Metro application framework for building dynamic and responsive touch-enabled applications that target both desktops and mobile devices.

Metro Revealed : Building Windows 8 apps with XAML and C# (Book Published By Apress)

 With the official release of Windows 8 looming ever closer, experienced author Adam Freeman invites you to take a crash course in Metro development. Using XAML and C#, he ensures you understand the changes that are being made to Windows development practices and puts you on the right course to creating innovative and elegant applications for this latest evolution of the world’s most successful operating system.

What you’ll learn

  • Create and configure Metro applications
  • Implement a touch-enabled user interface
  • Store data and application state using the Metro persistence model
  • Access remote data using Metro networking
  • Package and deploy your Metro application to the app store

Who this book is for

This book is for early-adopters of the Windows 8 operating system working with the Consumer Preview in order to be ahead of the curve in understanding the new ways of working that the operating system introduces.

Buy on Apress & Amazon

Windows 8 Debate with Robert Scoble & NeoWin News Director

Neowin had a chance to sit down with Robert Scoble to talk about Microsoft, Windows 8 and the new direction of the company. Robert, who is articulate with the movements of the industry has one vantage point, and I, presented Microsoft's side of the equation.

The conversation was highly enlightening for both parties as we each have a different vantage point for what is going on and how Microsoft will proceed with its platforms. Robert certainly had several strong key arguments about Apple and Microsoft being late and I refuted with Microsoft's direction and big vision about how Windows 8 is a long term play.

We both walked away with a new sense of how the industry is evolving but understood that in 18 months, Microsoft will be in an entirely different position in the marketplace with Windows 8 and Windows Phone.

Building a Windows 8 Home Server: Configuring Your UEFI Motherboard

Our extensive guide to using Microsoft’s all-new Windows 8 operating system for home server application is a great read for beginners and seasoned enthusiasts alike! Check out each part of the series as we build a comprehensive overview of the platform, with detailed deep dives into new and improved Windows features as well as supporting third-party applications.
  1.     Introduction
  2.     Windows 8 Home Servers: Why and What?
  3.     Home Server Hardware
  4.     Building the Server
  5.     Configuring Your UEFI Motherboard
Building a Windows 8 Home Server: Configuring Your UEFI Motherboard

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Introducing Windows.UI.Interactivity: Behaviors for the Windows Runtime

In the Windows Runtime and Blend for Visual Studio 2012 there are no behaviors. This brings lots of problems when you are using the MVVM pattern or you come from the Windows Phone or Silverlight platform. Windows.UI.Interactivity tries to fill this gap by porting the whole System.Windows.Interactivity assembly, where the behaviors live in the Blend SDK, to the Windows Runtime. The project builts on work done by Windows Phone MVP Joost van Schaik a.k.a. LocalJoost and Silverlight MVP Andrea Boschin.

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a NuGet package for Windows.UI.Interactivity is now available here.

Why Wait for Windows 8?

2 weeks ago, I was presenting to a group of Headteachers in Cambridge. They had asked me to go in and tell them about Windows8, before deciding whether to roll out a large batch of iPads. At the end of the presentation, they asked the usual question people ask when you’ve shown them something cool, which is; “How Much?”. I said that I could not answer that and that they’d need to wait and see what our OEM partners like Samsung, Dell, Toshiba, RM or Viglen came up with – because, I said (and I can still see these words hanging in the air) “Microsoft doesn’t make hardware”.

Then, on literally the next working day, came the breaking news from LA, that Steve Ballmer (our CEO) had just announced that  Microsoft are releasing our own devices for Windows 8, and they’re called “Surface”. When the emails came in from the Cambridge Heads, asking “why didn’t you tell us this on Friday?” – I could honestly say to them that I didn’t know. This highlighted two things for me: a) I am clearly not high enough up the food chain at Microsoft to get told the important stuff, and b) the world of IT moves pretty fast. One week we don’t make tablet PC’s, the next week – we do.

Why Wait for Windows 8?

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Using UDP sockets to connect a Windows 8 Metro style app to a .NET Micro Framework device: Part 1

One of my pet projects requires using UDP sockets from a Windows 8 Metro style app to talk to a microcontroller. UDP sockets are a pretty efficient way of communicating across wired and wireless connections.

In this first part, we'll focus on prototyping the Metro style XAML/C# app. The NETMF piece will be in the next post.

The first step is to figure out how we'll test this app. We're using UDP networking, unlike the more TCP networking (or HTTP) networking we do, you can't simply hit port 80 on a website.

That said, when dealing with something like UDP networking, it's good to keep the initial test as simple as possible. In this case, I wanted to test that UDP packets could indeed be sent from the Metro style app to another machine. Rather than create a throwaway listener app, I simply installed Wireshark on the destination PC and had it listen. I remote into my Windows 8 laptop from my main machine (which will run Windows 8 at release, but not just yet). For grins, my test setup looks like this:

Using UDP sockets to connect a Windows 8 Metro style app to a .NET Micro Framework device: Part 1

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NavigationService for WinRT

It was only 1.5 years ago, but it seems already a long time ago that Laurent Bugnion described a “view service” for Windows Phone navigation, commonly know as the NavigationService. I’ve incorporated this code in my #wp7nl library on codeplex and have been using it happily ever since (and a lot of other people I know have been doing so as well), Time goes on, along came Windows 8 and WinRT and Metro Style Apps.

Laurent ported his MVVMLight framework to WinRT as well. But the NavigationService never has been a core part of MVVMLight (therefore I put it in the #wp7nl library) and porting it to WinRT as well proved to be a bit of a hassle. Some of its premises where no longer valid – most notable the way to retrieve the main application frame by accessing Application.Current.RootVisual, which does not work in WinRT. I messed around a little with the code, did not get anywhere, and left it there. So I was glad I saw my fellow Windows Phone Development MVP Matteo Pagani tweet he got a NavigationService to work. He was kind enough to mail me the code. He basically copied the code from Windows Phone and made the apps rootFrame, as created in the App.xaml.cs, publicly available. A neat trick, with as only drawback that you have to copy the code to every app. As things goes, it’s usually easier to see someone else’s idea and improve it, than think it up out of the blue. I toyed around with it and managed to get rid of the need to copy the code, so I could put it in a library.

And here it is, an improved version of a NavigationService for WinRT, based upon Matteo’s code based upon Laurent’s code ;-)

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Simple example (downloadable): adding data (WinRT / Metro App) using data bindning in XAML

Right! I just joined up on MSDN and noticed a question where other developers were asking for a super simple , ie. strawman example, example of how to add data in a Metro App.I actually also had some minor issues with this a few weeks ago, after spending some time with Web apps it’s surprising how fast you forget your data-binding skills in WPF. I also happen to know that IObservableCollection didn’t exist in an earlier Windows 8 version, so if you google adding data you will get some really weird results. Anyways, the question on MSDN asked for a simple example, so I took the time earlier today to create one, hoping to help others as I sure have gotten a lot of help myself from forums such as MSDN and Stackoverflow. As always, please let me know if you have a better way, or if you can make my code sweeter.

Simple example (downloadable): adding data (WinRT / Metro App) using data bindning in XAML

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Taking a Closer Look at WinJS.xhr (XmlHttpRequest)

Yesterday, I blogged a little bit about the WinJS.xhr object. You may be wondering what that object is and what makes it so special.

WinJS is a JavaScript library that provides the “glue” that connects the HTML/JavasScript world to WinRT. Since it’s just JavaScript, we can take a look at the source code quite easily. This is a great way to learn the unobtrusive style of JavaScript that’s all the rage right now. (and makes the language less awful).

The xhr object is a WinJS wrapper around the venerable XmlHttpRequest object. We can even use Visual Studio 2012 to take a look at the JavaScript source code.

From Visual Studio 2012, find a point in your code where you reference the WinJS.xhr object, right mouse click on the xhr code, and click Go To Definition.

Taking a Closer Look at WinJS.xhr (XmlHttpRequest)

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How to Create new IStorageFiles in WinRT (C#)

When building WinRT applications there will be the need to create IStorageFiles in the local storage area of your application.  In this post I was going to walk through how we can do this step by step.

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Testing Metro style apps in Windows 8

In the world of Metro style apps, your apps are the focus of the whole experience. For this experience to be delightful to your users, you want to ensure that your apps are well tested and represent a high level of quality. Producing a Metro style app involves four main stages: design, development, testing and finally distribution.

A number of previous blog posts focus on the design and development aspects of Metro style apps. In this post, we cover a few high level verification areas related to testing your apps.

The term testing is overloaded, meaning different things to different people, especially in the context of the software development lifecycle. It also involves a diverse set of activities that can be executed at different stages of software development. These activities include unit testing, functional testing, usability testing, scenario testing, and a few others. Any one of these activities represents only one piece of the testing puzzle and doesn’t cover all the necessary verification that you need to put an app through to make sure it is of high quality. In this post, we don’t distinguish between the specific types of verification. Instead, we provide a broad set of high-level verification areas and exercises that will help you ensure that your app represents a high level of quality. In addition to these verification areas, you can also verify the functionality of your app during development using Visual Studio for debugging and testing, and the Visual Studio Unit Test Tools. In the coming weeks, we plan to do more blog posts that will dive deeper into specifics of testing Metro style apps.

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