Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows Phone 7



    This toolkit is designed to make it easier for phone developers to leverage cloud services running in Windows Azure.  The toolkit includes Visual Studio project templates for Windows Phone 7 and Windows Azure, class libraries optimized for use on the phone, sample applications, and documentation.  You may find the resources here and a walk through tutorial.  What better way to gain experience than to compete in the Battle of the Apps competition with these new tools!


    The toolkit contains the following resources:


    §  Binaries – These are libraries we’ve written that you can use in your Windows Phone 7 applications to make it easier to work with Windows Azure (e.g. a full storage client library for blobs and tables). You can literally add these libraries to your existing Windows Phone 7 applications and immediate start leveraging services such as Windows Azure storage.

    §  Docs – We’ve provided documentation that covers setup and configuration, a review of the toolkit content, getting started, and some troubleshooting tips.

    §  Dependency Checker – As you’ve come to expect and love, we provide a full dependency checker to ensure that you have all the bits required in order to successfully use the toolkit.

    §  Project Templates – We have built VSIX (which is the unit of deployment for a Visual Studio 2010 Extension) files that create project templates that make it easy for you to build brand new applications.

    §  Samples – We have a sample application that fully leverages the toolkit, both available in C# and VB.NET.  The sample application is also built into one of the two project templates created by the toolkit.




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    How to Start Building Windows Phone 7 Apps


    If you’re a developer who has experience with .NET, Silverlight or XNA, you already have the core skills necessary to start writing a Windows Phone 7 application or game. 

    Since the Windows Phone 7 application platform is Silverlight-based, most articles or information about writing a great Silverlight application is also relevant to the phone.  The same is true for XNA articles and information for building games.

    Below are some Windows Phone 7 specific links to help get you started:


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    Windows Phone 7 Development tools


    The Windows Phone 7 Developer Tools package includes everything you need to write awesome applications and games for Windows Phone 7.  All of the tools included in it are absolutely free.  You can download them here.

    The following is installed with the download:

    • Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone – Free edition of VS 2010 for Phone development.
    • Express Blend 4 for Windows Phone – Free version of Blend for Windows Phone 7 Development.
    • Silverlight for Windows Phone 7 – Rich framework for building great applications for Windows Phone 7.
    • XNA Game Studio for Windows Phone 7  Rich framework that enables you to build great 2D and 3D games for Windows Phone 7.
    • Windows Phone Emulator – A hardware accelerated emulator that allows you to run and debug your applications and games without requiring a phone.
    • Phone Registration Tool – When you get a device, this allows you to “unlock” the device so you can run/debug your application on it, using your Marketplace account.

    All of the above tools and frameworks are packaged into one setup, and everything is free.  If you already have Visual Studio 2010, the setup will also add support for Windows Phone 7 development and projects to your full Visual Studio 2010.


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    Incorporating 2D assets in your Windows Phone 7 Games


    What makes a game great aside from the interesting game play, are the static data that makes the game dynamically fun.  Pictures, fonts, sounds are all important elements that can make or break a game.  These static data are called assets and are used by importers, processors, content loaders. 

    1. Importers – Applied at compile time, they convert assets from their original formats to a small set of predefined formats.
    2. Processors – Applied after importers and also at compile time.  Purpose is to convert the standardized data supplied by the importers into managed objects. 
    3. Content Loaders – Applied at run time and finalizes the object connection.

    These steps will help with reducing the game’s loading time as the content is serialized at compile time. 


    XNA Game studio supports 2D asset formats .bmp, .dds, .dib, .hdr, .jpg, .pfm, .png, .ppm, and .tga. 

    PNG is the recommended format as many content generation tools support this. 


    Game assets are stored in the Content project when a XNA Game Studio 4.0 project is created.  

    Adding an asset is a simple process: right-click Content, select Add, click Existing Item, and then select an existing image file (for instance, hills.png).

    With the assets in place, now load the asset into the game. 

    The asset needs to be stored in a variable there first we define a field to store the asset in the game class.  The asset is serialized as Texture2D object and therefore the variable type should be Texture2D as well.

    Texture2D hills;

    The base class in the game project has a LoadContent virtual method which provides a location to load the assets and initialize the fields.  By staging where you wish to load the assets in a game, able to save on initialization times and create a better experience. 

    loads the given asset, and stores the corresponding managed object in the class field.


    protected override void LoadContent()


        // Create a new SpriteBatch, which can be used to draw textures.

        spriteBatch = new SpriteBatch(GraphicsDevice);


        // TODO: use this.Content to load your game content here

        hills = this.Content.Load<Texture2D>("hills");


    Images need to be incorporated to their correct hardware display resolution.  In the XNA framework, the back buffer allows the scaling to be done by the hardware of the target device. 

    Configuring the back buffer for maximum resolution support by Windows Phone 7


    if (this.Window.CurrentOrientation == DisplayOrientation.Portrait)


        graphics.PreferredBackBufferWidth = 480;

        graphics.PreferredBackBufferHeight = 800;




        graphics.PreferredBackBufferWidth = 800;

        graphics.PreferredBackBufferHeight = 480;


    The ability to support all types of device orientation is set by this piece of code:


    graphics.SupportedOrientations = DisplayOrientation.LandscapeLeft | DisplayOrientation.LandscapeRight | DisplayOrientation.Portrait;


    Drawing the picture onto the device


    float scale = Math.Min(graphics.GraphicsDevice.Viewport.Width / hills.Width, graphics.GraphicsDevice.Viewport.Height / hills.Height);






    this.spriteBatch.Draw(hills, // Texture to render

                          new Vector2(0, 0), // Destination left top position


                          Color.White, // Texture tint color

                          0, new Vector2(0, 0), // Origin left top position

                          scale, // Scale





    Notice how we calculate the "scale" value at the top of the code sample. We want to scale the image as much as possible while keeping the entire image within the display bounds.


    Windows Phone 7 includes a hardware image scaler. This allows XNA games to be written for any desired back buffer resolution without considering the physical screen size. The scaler automatically fits the drawing into the target display. It is worth mentioning that the hardware image scaler's work does not consume CPU time.

    As previously indicated, we intend to show our image in full-screen mode with the best possible quality and without distortion. The following code fragment shows how we can implicitly use the hardware image scaler.


    if (this.Window.CurrentOrientation == DisplayOrientation.Portrait)


        graphics.PreferredBackBufferWidth = 480 / 2;

        graphics.PreferredBackBufferHeight = 800 / 2;




        graphics.PreferredBackBufferWidth = 800 / 2;

        graphics.PreferredBackBufferHeight = 480 / 2;


    While we have halved each of the back buffer’s dimensions, the size of the rendered image is unaffected because the scaler resizes it to fit the device's display.





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