Tuesday, July 31, 2012

8 Great WP8 Features We Now Know

Windows Phone 7 was Microsoft's closely guarded secret; Windows Phone 8, however, has been the least guarded one. A while back, a video for hardware partners showed Joe Belfiore talking about some of the upcoming features; last week, the SDK leaked. The software development kit for WP8 has been a treasure trove for enthusiasts and everyone have been going through documents to unearth new features.

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EntityFramework & WP: Part 2

This is a continuation of my last post Entity Framework & Windows Phone: Part 1 where we walked through the steps to create a simple data model using Entity Framework. If you are unfamiliar with how to do this or to simply catch up, I suggest you take a look.

When we left off, we had created a simple data model that has three entities. We are going to jump ahead and use a more extensive data model that looks like this.

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Windows 8 Metro: Add settings to your application

Almost every application you write needs to expose an user interface that let the user change the configuration. In common desktop applications these settings go under a preferences section, usually available from a menu item, but for sure it is not true for all the applications, so every time you install a new software you have to rely on a manual and search a place where this configuration has been placed.

As for other features, in metro-style application this now goes under a very strict guideline checked as a strong requirement by the certification team. One thing you need to be aware is that the settings contract is used not only to expose user preferences but also is a place where you have to move your licensing terms, about and other things that are not exactly settings, in the common feel of the term.

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Telerik Silverlight & WPF Controls Q2’12 SP1 Release is Here - with PivotGrid CTP

In keeping with one of our favorite traditions, it is a great pleasure to announce the first service pack of Q2 for RadControls for Silverlight and RadControls for WPF. As usual, we are shipping numerous improvements across all the controls. The most exciting news, however, is that the service pack includes the first public CTP version of RadPivotGrid. Our pivot control is a very powerful tool for slicing and dicing your complex data in a meaningful way.

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More on WP8 – New Bing features, custom audio alerts and more

With more screen caps from the Windows Phone 8 SDK coming out we can glean a lot of new functionality that is coming to the new OS this fall. In fact at this rate we're not sure what Microsoft will have left to tell us come September/October.

Head past the break for a break down of a few new features that we've come across.

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WP8 SDK Leaked (Not by Microsoft)

As if the soon to be released Windows Phone 8 couldn't get anymore mysterious, it just did. A chinese website leaked the SDK for Microsoft's new mobile OS and those who have gotten their hands on it seem to have mixed feelings about WP8. In June, Microsoft held a Windows Phone Developer Conference where they told some of their secrets regarding Windows Phone 8 but none of that information included what's come out from the leaked WP8 SDK.

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How to Deploy XAP File in a WP Emulator? - by @kunal2383

This post is with response to a question asked by my friend Abhimanyu. Yesterday he asked me whether it is possible to test the Windows Phone app on computer by installing in emulators? I answered him personally but thought to write a post on the same with proper steps so that, if you want to deploy any Windows Phone XAP file in your emulator to test it, this post will guide you.

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Introduction to Telerik RadControls for Metro (Bar Chart)

Telerik is one of the lead providers of .NET components and development tools. At work, my group utilizes a lot of Telerik products, so when I learned that Telerik is jumping into metro style application bandwagon, I would like to try it.

The first component that I look at today is a chart component. When we talk about Line-Of-Business (LOB) application, besides grids and forms, charts are other type of controls that are used often. WinRT (either XAML or HTML) provides vector-based drawing API that we can used to draw a chart, but it is better to be able to utilize reusable components for common charts like bar, pie, or line charts.

In this post, I will create a simple bar chart using Telerik chart control for metro in XAML. As always, I will reuse my Person and SamplePeople classes that I used in other posts about Windows 8. In this example, I will plot number of my customers by gender in each state using bar chart.

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WP8 to feature expanded Bluetooth functionality, access to stack and transfer

One area that Windows Phone has been lacking is the ability to do anything with Bluetooth besides connect to hands-free headsets or speakers. Windows Phone 8 looks to finally expand that with the leaked SDK detailing some new features available to developers and thereby customers.

For instance, peer-to-peer file sharing is now allowed, especially apps that want to "talk" to each other. For instance, we could add an ability for the WPCentral app to share links or photos to another phone with the WPCentral app. Presumably this feature could be used for all sorts of features like in games by unlocking a feature when you pair up with another phone e.g. a social aspect.

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WP8 Application platform detailed

The relatively big news today is the sudden appearance of the soon to be released Windows Phone 8 Developer Preview SDK which has leaked a few hours ago via Microsoft's own password protected servers. Instead of making tons of posts detailing every single feature of the OS simply to generate hits I'm going to provide you with the detailed overview of the Windows Phone 8 application platform which I'm going to copy and paste (from the SDK) below after the break for those of you who aren't able to get their hands of the Docs or the full SDK package. I'm also currently installing the full 1.3Gb Binaries on by Windows 8 desktop (important note: The WP8 Preview SDK is only compatible with the Windows 8 X64 Release Preview) and will make another post later on detailing the emulator. UPDATE: My WP8 Emulator overview is here.

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New WP8 Features detailed

I just took a quick tour of the Windows Phone 8 emulator bundled in the Windows Phone 8 Developer Preview SDK that leaked just a few hours ago and decided to take some screenshot to show you some of the new UI tweaks and Features implemented in Apollo. Beware that there's a lot of images after the break and not a whole lot of text (just a few lines to describe what's on the screen). So just hit the break to see what Microsoft has been cooking for this fall release and some nice features that have been long overdue.

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How To Send Email in Your iPhone App using MessageUI Framework

Here comes another tutorial for our iOS Programming 101 series. Last time, we show you how to hide tab bar in navigation interface. In this tutorial, we'll show you how easy you can let user send email in your app. The iOS SDK has made it really easy to send email using the built-in APIs. With a few line of codes, you can launch the same email interface as the stock Mail app that lets you compose an email. In this tutorial, we'll build a very simple app to show you how to send both plain text and HTML email using the iOS SDK.

Check out the second article of iOS Programming 101 series using the following link:

iOS Programming 101: How To Send Email in Your iPhone App using MessageUI Framework

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Entity Framework & WP: Part 1

Back when I got my first Windows Phone (November 2010), I started taking a look at developing for the platform. I found that there was no database access I could use to store large amounts of info easily. The way I worked around this in early, unreleased apps was by serializing and de-serializing XML files in Isolated Storage. It was terribly tedious. With the mango release we finally had a DB to use. Happy days! But it still took writing classes by hand. I spent that whole weekend creating DB classes for various apps then discovered that I could use SqlMetal to create classes from SQL Compact files.

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SSL Socket support in WP

As discussed before, Windows Phone Mango brought the socket support to Windows Phone app developers. Unfortunately the platform doesn't provide secure sockets (SSL socket) out of the box. Many applications nowadays require SSL socket and for example many IRC servers only allow secure socket connections.

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WP8 to feature developer access to Voice Command features

In what should be a very exciting addition for developers in Windows Phone 8, access to Voice Command (aka TellMe) should rank up there fairly high.

According to the leaked Windows Phone 8 SDK, devs can add functions in their app that use the Voice Command features, specifically customers can launch the app with a sub-command to go to a specific area of the app or execute a specific command.

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

CT in SQL server 2008 R2

This article explores one of the features (of SQL server 2008 and higher) of providing the change tracking abilities i.e. what data has changed.

Introduction and background
Change tracking which means tracking the changes in data is an important need of modern day applications and especially the enterprise systems. Change tracking addresses the needs to query the changes to data and the access (security) information associated with the data changes, precisely the nature of change and who did it. The popular mechanism of implementing is by custom way i.e. addition of following columns in each of the database table..

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Database, SQL Server, SQL Server 2008

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

iOS SDK: Localization with NSLocalizedString

Unless you are fluent in the language you want to translate your app into, you may be stumped as to how to go about getting this step done. There are a few different options for translation. One option is simply to useGoogle Translate, a free translation site provided by Google. Unfortunately, automated computer translations can be far from perfect, but this still may be better than nothing. Another option is to hire a translation service. A quick Internet search will show that there are many companies available that will take the text from your app and manually translate it for you into the desired language. Lastly, you could try to find a friend or associate who is fluent in the target language and ask them to translate the app text for you. Keep in mind that a person who is also familiar with the target language's culture may be able to provide you with more accurate translations than someone who only has academic knowledge of the language.

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How to add a settings menu in a Windows 8 Metro-style app

In Windows 8 development, there are some differences between the Javascript and XAML APIs. Some things are available in JS but not in XAML and vice versa. One example is the SettingsFlyout control. There is no SettingsFlyout control for creating a settings menu item in XAML, although that exists in JS. The de facto solution is to create your own custom page and show/dismiss it according to the settings charm events. As this is something that basically every Metro app (or "Windows 8 style application") has to include, it's fortunate that there's now a bit less tiresome way of doing this.

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Integrating Services into a WPF Composable Application

In two previous columns, I've showed how to build a composable application in WPF with Prism and Unity. A composable application consists of the main Shell (a WPF application with a XAML Window) and a set of Modules, each containing one part of the application's functionality.

My first column in this series on creating self-assembling, composable WPF applications showed how to create the Shell (main application) and a Module that defined part of the UI. The second column showed how to add in a Module that provided business functionality. But just because the application "knows" about a module that provides the functionality, it doesn't mean the application will use it. The next step is to decide where you're going to apply that business functionality (or "service," in Prism-speak).

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SEO for WP Marketplace

After my first windows phone application jOS went live I was really worried about the prospects of anyone finding my application in the relevant searches. I realised that it was difficult to find and reasons were that the keywords were not chosen carefully. I then started dissecting the marketplace search algorithm by profiling the search facility and decided to share my findings with the rest of you so that those publishing for the first time do not get frustrated.

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Computer Tips and Tricks,Computer Tutorials,Mobile Development Tutorials,Mobile Developments,Visual Studio,Window Phone Tutorials,WP7,WP8,SEO, WP Marketplace

Disabling Design Time Data in a WP App

In the previous article, I discussed creating and working with Expression Blend design time data in Windows Phone applications. I'm going to continue this theme by covering how to effectively disable this data at run time. The important thing to remember is that you want to preserve the design time experience so that the designer can continue to use Expression Blend.

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Creating beautiful views for local files in Window 8

Part of Metro style design is building clean views that allow content to shine and help users accomplish their tasks. We explore in particular how you can create beautiful galleries with content from user's files and folders on the local file system. Being able to display local content is a key requirement for many gallery apps that let users browse and consume their content – photos, videos, music, or documents. Windows 8 provides tools to do this in a simple, efficient, and customizable way.

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Hardware accelerating everything: Windows 8 graphics

In computer graphics, high performance is a guiding principle. In the early days of personal computing, discrete, add-on graphics cards were mostly focused on specialized applications such as CAD/CAM and gaming. Even early on, there was a view that all of this graphics horsepower could be used for more: notably a better user interface and experience. One of the first graphics cards for a PC was called a "Windows Accelerator" from S3 Graphics, which focused on the user experience by moving windows around the screen faster. As graphics hardware evolved, so, too, did the methods that developers use to interact with that hardware.

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Computer Tips and Tricks,Computer Tutorials,Microsoft,Operating Systems,,Window,Windows 8

Reading QR Codes In Your WP App

I have recently been working on an application for a client that needs to read QR codes. This has lead to some interesting findings. There are a couple of approaches you can use. One is to take a picture and evaluate it for a code and the other is more like the Bing Vision feature. Both of them can be accomplished by leveraging the Silverlight ZXing library from Codeplex.

In order to have QR code images to test I would suggest going to QRStuff.com. It is a site where you can freely generate QR images that you can prove out your app against. This is how I generated the image at the top of this post. If your code is working at the end you should be able to easily get back to this site. Wink! Wink!

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Debugging WinRT/XAML bindings

Visual Studio 2012 may not (yet?) support debugging of XAML bindings debugging in WinRT/Metro-style applications in a way we're used to from programming WPF and Silverlight (a.k.a. XAML breakpoints), but basic notifications of failed bindings in the output window seems to be present and working.

Let's look at the basic set up (new blank application).

MainPage.xaml – DataContext is set to the same page class to keep it simple; TextBlock's text is bound to a MyBinding property.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

What’s New in C# 5.0 - Learn about CallerMemberName Attribute

C# 5.0 comes with Visual Studio 2012 and .NET Framework 4.5. Currently it is in RC (Release Candidate) mode and will get the final RTM version soon. In our last CSharp blog post "Evolution of C# (1.0 – 5.0)", we learned about the evolution of C# and also we also came to know about the main features introduced in each C# version.   Today in this post, we will learn about one new attribute that has been introduced in C# 5.0 named "CallerMemberName" for developers. Yes, it is for developers to trace the information about the caller code. Let's begin discussing about it.   What is CallerMemberName in C# 5.0? [CallerMemberName] is an attribute introduced in C# 5.0, which allows you to obtain the method or property name of the caller to the method. You can find this attribute named "CallerMemberNameAttribute" under the namespace System.Runtime.CompilerServices.   You can use the [CallerMemberName] attribute to avoid specifying the member name as a String...

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C#,.NET,Architect,Intermediate,,Visual Studio,Visual Studio 2012, C# 5.0

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Metro Applications - FAQ

With the advent of Microsoft Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and Office 2013, Microsoft is now all about Metro UI and Metro Apps. And when Windows 8 will be released, everybody will be developing or talking about Metro apps. But what is a Metro app and how to build these apps? There are many questions in the mind of many developers. Let's just find answers for few of them in this blog post.

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Computer Tips and Tricks,Computer Tutorials,Dot Net Interview Questions, FAQ,Interview Questions,Metro Style Applications,Microsoft

WP Button Default Style

Just a quick tip of getting the Button default Style.

NOTE: This article assumes that have installed Expression Blend. You can also take a look at this post: Choose the right tool for Windows Phone Control Styling: Visual Studio vs Expression Blend

Getting Started

Step1. To begin with lets first create a new Windows Phone application project in Expression Blend.

Step2. Go to the Assets tab and drag a Button element into the design surface.

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C#,.NET,Intermediate,Advanced,VS2010,Mobile Development Tutorials,Mobile Developments,Window Phone Tutorials,Windows 8,WP7,WP8,WPF,XAML,XML

Custom Styles and Templates in WP: Intro

A Style is basically a collection of property settings applied to multiple instances of the same type. Style mechanism in Silverlight for Windows Phone allows us to encapsulate control property values as a reusable resource.We can store Styles in separate files from our page or we can place them in the Resources section of the page. In addition to defining basic property settings (Color, Font, Size, Margins, etc), styles in Silverlight can also be used to define and re-use ControlTemplates.

This is the first post, so I am going to give a brief explanation of what you should know about Styles and Templates before getting started.

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C#,.NET,Intermediate,Advanced,VS2010,Mobile Development Tutorials,Mobile Developments,Window Phone Tutorials,Windows 8,WP7,WP8

Custom Styles and Templates in WP: Button

This is the second article from the "Custom Styles and Templates in Windows Phone" series of tips focused on how to customize the default Templates and Styles of different Windows Phone UI controls.

The first thing we need to do before customizing the Style of the button is to understand its structure and the most important elements. To get the Default Style of the Windows Phone Button just follow this tutorial: Windows Phone Button Default Style

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C#,.NET,Intermediate,Advanced,VS2010,Mobile Development Tutorials,Mobile Developments,Window Phone Tutorials,Windows 8,WP7,WP8,WPF,XAML,XML

Exploring Win8 Metro: The RichEditBox & FilePickers

Win8 provides a number of controls in the XAML toolkit that are easy to use RichEdit-File Pickerand that provide a great deal of flexibility and power. I'll be writing about some of these controls now and then, starting with some simple and easy to use controls that do a lot of work for you.

The RichEdit box allows the user to open and view and edit a Rich Text document. Rich Text refers to all the text attributes you associate with a word processor but not with a text editor (e.g., bold, color, etc.). The RichEditBox control handles all the work of understanding and presenting the rich text.

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Architect,Intermediate,Advanced,Metro Style Applications, Microsoft, Window, Windows 8

You are the controller – a step in to WP7 -> Win8 networking

I couldn't resist, I should be working on my Windows 8 Port of Flipped (which seems to be going swimmingly) and finishing of some other projects but glamour got the better of me as I rolled out of the covers and here we are.

One of my age old dreams with game development (even prior to XNA) was to be able to pick up my mobile device and use it as an alternate display or additional controller, at the time it was my trusty Windows Mobile PPC, times have evolved but my vision is still fresh.

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Architect,Intermediate,Advanced,VS2010,Computer Tips and Tricks,Computer Tutorials,Metro Style Applications,Microsoft,Mobile Development Tutorials,Mobile Developments,Window,Window Phone Tutorials,Windows 8,WP7,WP8,WPF,Networking

Enable or Disable Windows 8 Lock Screen

Inspired from Windows Phone 7 Metro UI look and feel, Microsoft included the same lock screen in Windows 8 optimized for both PC and tablet users. This is by default available in Windows 8 but if you want to disable it, there are no options provided by Microsoft in the settings page and hence you need to set some tricks to disable this lock screen if you are not happy using it every time.   Today, we will discuss about the process to disable this Windows 8 lock screen as well as we will show you how to re-enable it if the option is already disabled. So, continue reading.   The Windows 8 lock screen has two components: one is the background image and the other one is the badge that shows you the system date and time, mail, network and battery status. When locked, user needs to slide it before providing the password to unlock the device.   You can easily change these from the settings page but if you want to disable the screen, there are no direct settings...

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Intermediate,Advanced,Window,Window 8,Advanced

Friday, July 20, 2012

Yet Another Splash Screen in C#

The article describes creating a simple splash screen in C#. The intent of this article is to create a simple quick splash screen in a separate thread.

Lot of code is available to build fancy looking splash screens with lot of animation. I have not spent time adding animation, etc. I just took a simple picture for splash screen over which a status message is displayed along with the progress bar in marquee mode. A good thing which I learnt was to make the label's background transparent when overlaying over the picture box control.

Additionally I have created the splash screen in a separate thread and calls for updating the splash screen status are thread safe using BeginInvoke. I have seen people preferring splash screen in a separate thread and some in the main thread. In my opinion, it's better to create it in a separate thread and expose some functions which can be called by the main thread to show/hide/update the splash screen.


How to create cool custom tiles in a WP application

The APIs provided by Windows Phone to create secondary tiles or to update the main tile are very simple to use, but not very flexible: you can set a title, a background, a counter, etc., but you can't use a custom layout (even simple scenarios, like breaking the title in two lines, aren't supported).

One way to override this limit has been suggested directly by Microsoft itself in this post: the idea is to create a custom XAML control and to "capture a screenshot" of the control itself, that can be used as background of the tile.

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C#,.NET,Computer Tutorials,Mobile Development Tutorials,Mobile Developments,Window,Window Phone Tutorials,Windows 8,WP7,WP8,XAML

Getting started with WP and MVVM Light - Part 1 of 2

A few days ago, Rich Dunbar wrote a post about how to get started with with Windows Phone Development and the post went freaking viral. Now the reason here is that Rich, in his spare time, sponsors and host events for Nokia in order to promote Windows Phone Development and as a a reward will get you a Nokia Device and App Hub Token. A pretty nice prize for learning how to write apps for Windows Phone.

The post is a pretty good resource on where to get what you need to get started and how to get the prize. Here is an excert.

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C#,.NET,Architect,Intermediate,VS2010,Articles,Mobile Developments,Visual Studio,Window,Window Phone Tutorials,Windows 8,WP7,WP8,XAML,MVVM