Tuesday, 4 September 2012

MSDN Webcast Series - Building Windows 8 Metro Style Apps

MSDN Webcast Series - Building Windows 8 Metro Style Apps

Catch this on-demand MSDN webcast series to learn about the new platform for building Windows 8 Metro style applications. Get an understanding of the platform design tenets, the programming language choices, and the integration points with the operating system and across Metro style apps.

  • Designing apps with Metro style principles and the Windows personality
  • Building Metro style apps with XAML: What .NET developers need to know
  • What HTML developers need to know about coding Windows 8 Metro style apps
  • Win as One: How Contracts in Windows 8 Help You Build a Killer Metro App
  • Bring Your Windows 8 Metro Style Apps to Life with Tiles and Notifications
  • Introduction to the Windows 8 platform and the Windows store
  • Building Windows 8 Metro style casual games using HTML 5

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Using vector data for AppBar icons in XAML

Using vector data for AppBar icons in XAML
I was helping a friend today doing some over-the-shoulder code review and suggestions for his Windows app he’s writing for the store.  In doing this I asked a question about how to perform a certain action.  He indicated that he put those functions in the AppBar and was it not obvious I was supposed to use them.  I looked at the AppBar again and found out why I wasn’t drawn to them.  First, the labels he used weren’t descriptive to me and relied too much on me looking at the actual icon.  Second, however, is that when I hovered over them I received no visual feedback I was expecting and immediately thought they were just disabled (the color was slightly gray as well which probably didn’t help this).

I mentioned these to him and noted he should use the AppBarButtonStyle base definition that comes in the Visual Studio templates as a guide and just set the appropriate content.  He proceeded to let me know that he received the vector data from Syncfusion’s Metro Studio product.  We then began to examine the vector data.  Metro Studio is doing probably too much than it needs to for AppBar button definitions.  To be fair, it serves a goal to get Windows UI style icons for the developers in XAML form.  This is great!  However, if my intention is to use them for AppBar buttons, then it is doing too much.  It led me down a path to see how easy it was to use vector data with the default AppBarButtonStyle definition.  Turns out it wasn’t as simple as I thought.  Let me first explain the core issue then walk through a step on how to do this with vector data.

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Namespaces and classes in WinJS

This post is a detour from a larger MVC on WinJS post, but code organization is an important topic for developers transitioning from C#/XAML and merits a blog post of its own.

First, a shameless self-promotion update – I will be speaking in 3 weeks at the NYC Code Camp on the topic of getting started with WinJS programming. You can find the details of the conference here.

I will also be speaking at the MCT Summit on October 26, delivering a talk on advanced WinJS programming and integrating with the cloud. Details of this conference can be found here.
Now we can get to the meat of the matter. WinJS introduces two big tools that are helpful to us and somewhat familiar from the C# world: namespaces/class definitions and the module pattern.

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Adventures in Windows 8: Placing items in a GridView with a ColumnSpan or RowSpan

Adventures in Windows 8: Placing items in a GridView with a ColumnSpan or RowSpan
When working with a GridView, it is quite common to use a VariableSizedWrapGrid as the ItemsPanel. This creates a nice flowing layout which will auto-adapt for various resolutions.

Using ColumnSpan and RowSpan

When you use a VariableSizedWrapGrid directly in your XAML, you can attach the VariableSizedWrapGrid.ColumnSpan and VariableSizedWrapGrid.RowSpan attached properties directly to an item to create the desired effect. For instance this code create this output (shown in Blend but it runs just the same):

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Variable-sized grid items in Windows 8 apps

Variable-sized grid items in Windows 8 apps Wouldn’t it be great if you would be able to control the size of each particular item in your grid? To break out from dullness of having all items the same size, like, for example, to emphasize featured items; or for just any other reason?

Turns out you can do that (quite easily). I came about to this blog post describing one way to do it: “Windows 8 Beauty Tip: Using a VariableSizedWrapGrid in a GridView makes Grids Prettier” by Jerry Nixon. Reading it, I thought there had to be some easier way to do it than subclassing a GridView just for this.

And it turned out there was. Or at least it would be, if Windows 8 XAML supported Style Bindings like Silverlight 5. Not having that, the solution required that extra step that would allow binding to properties from within declared styles.

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Using the Microsoft Ad SDK in Windows 8

Using the Microsoft Ad SDK in Windows 8  One of the best ways to make money with Windows 8 is to display ads in your Windows Store app using the Microsoft Advertising SDK.  Here’s how you can get started.

Prerequisites: You’ll need Windows 8 RTM and Visual Studio 2012.  A free 90 day evaluation edition of Windows 8 Enterprise is available, and VS2012 Express Edition is completely free.

Start by downloading and installing the Microsoft Advertising SDK.  At the time this post is being written, Windows 8 RTM has been released, but the Microsoft Ad SDK is still in beta at version 6.1.0813.1.  It works with Windows 8 RTM, but not all features are supported yet.  The RTM version of the Microsoft Ad SDK is expected in mid-September.

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