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    Love Visual Studio? All we are saying…is give Blend a chance!

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    VisualStudioLogoMany of us work in Visual Studio every day, but have never taken the time to learn Blend. Adding Blend to your toolset will make you a more productive developer. so check out the MVA Blend Jump Start!

    I have worked with Visual Studio for longer than I care to admit (do you remember when you could view the clipboard ring in a window?). I have worked in Blend a little bit here and there, but never had a chance to sit down and really figure out how it can help me with my coding. Mickey MacDonald tried it last year and in one day not only started learning Blend but built an entire game using just Blend! (read Mickey’s story)

    So as you look at the long list of technologies you want to learn, if you are doing anything with XAML, I highly recommend bumping Blend to the top of your list. There is a really good Jump Start for Designing your XAML UI with Blend on Microsoft Virtual Academy presented by Jerry Nixon a Technical Evangelist and Unni Ravindranathan a Program Manager from Microsoft.

    The jumpstart covers

    • XAML development in Visual Studio 2013 (there are some nice new features in 2013!)
    • XAML Design and Styling in Blend
    • How to build Windows Store Apps with Blend
    • a little Developer Candy :)
    • Some great suggested resources and next steps.

    Don’t forget If you are a student you get Blend when you download Visual Studio 2013 from DreamSpark!

    If you are in Canada, don’t forget that watching videos on Microsoft Virtual Academy could earn you rewards through Developer Movement!

    Put aside some time, and learn how to make the most out of a tool you already have in your toolbox!

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    Step by Step Creating a Windows 8 app from Windows Phone App Studio

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    Windows Phone App Studio now supports the creation of Windows 8 apps in additional to Windows Phone! This post will show you how to generate a Windows 8 app and get it ready to publish.

    If you haven’t used Windows Phone App Studio before, you should check out the other resources on our  Windows Phone App Studio Resources page which include a post which explains how to build an app using Windows Phone App Studio. Don’t forget if you are in Canada your apps could earn you rewards!

    This post will explain how to

    • Preview the Windows 8 app
    • Change the Windows 8 Splash Screen
    • Update the information for publishing the application
    • Associate your app with the Windows Store
    • Generate the app files for testing and publishing
    • Test your app and capture screenshots for publishing

    Preview the Windows 8 app

    When you have finished building your app. You can preview the appearance of your app as a Windows 8 app, select Windows Preview to change from the Windows Phone preview to the Windows 8 application preview.

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    A pop up windows will appear giving you a preview of your application as a Windows 8 app.

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    Changing the Windows 8 Splash screen

    Once you are happy with the basic appearance of your app (changed the background color, content, etc, as explained in the previous posts of this series, you need to specify a Windows 8 splash screen background.

    Select Tiles | Splash & Lock. Then you can choose between two splash screen designs.

    • Solid color background with the icon you selected for your tiles.
    • A photograph as a background.
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    For a solid color background, simply select the desired background color from the color drop down box.

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    If you wish to use a photograph as a background, Select Edit and then choose an image to use as a background. The image you use as a splash screen for a Windows 8 app should be 620x300 pixels.

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    Tip: If the image you want to use isn’t 620x300 pixels, you can resize it using a tool such as MSPaint. You may need to turn off the “Maintain aspect ratio” checkbox if your original image isn’t the same proportions as 620x300 pixels. This may cause the image to be skewed when you resize it, so you may have to play around a bit to find a suitable image that looks good in those proportions.

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    Updating the information for publishing the application

    Now you are ready to specify the information that will affect how the app appears in the Windows store.

    Select the Publish Info Tab

    Enter the app name

    Enter the app name you wish to use when you publish your app to the store. Do give this some thought, the app name is the first indication to a user of what your app can do. There is a nice MSDN article called “What to name your app” with some tips on selecting a good name.

    Enter the app description

    When a user brings up details of your app in the store, they will see the app description. This is your chance to convince a user that yes your app is the right app to download! The description should make it clear who should use this app and what the app can do. There is an MSDN article with tips on writing a good description “Your apps description

    Select your language

    Specify the language of your application. Although it is possible to create multilingual applications for both Windows Phone and Windows 8. The Windows Phone App Studio does not currently give you the ability to create multilingual applications, so you should specify the primary language of the application. If you want to make the app multilingual, you will need to export the source code into Visual Studio and add the necessary language support. For more information see localizing your apps why and how

    Specify whether you wish to include an About page for your application

    An about page allows the user to see basic information about your app

    Specify whether you wish to include advertisements in your application

    Advertising is one of the ways you can make money from your application. The more time advertisements spend displayed to users, the more money you earn. However, adding advertisements to your app isn’t quite as simple as flipping the toggle switch to enable ad clients. There are additional steps you must complete to include advertising. The Windows Phone App Studio ‘how to’ describes the additional steps. If this is your first application, I would suggest you get your app working and published, and then you come back and add the advertising later.

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    Windows Store Association

    The Windows Store requires you to reserve your App Name before you submit to the store. Once you have reserved the name the store will assign your application a Package Identity. You need to know this information and your name and ID as the publisher before Windows Phone App Studio can generate a package you can publish for your Windows 8 app.

    Once Windows Phone App Studio has that information, it can update a file in the package called the application manifest. That’s why you have the “Associate the App with the Store” in the Publish Info tab within App Studio.

    So how exactly do we do all that?

    Reserve your app name in the Windows Store

    First you will need a Windows Dev Center account. If you are a student, you can get one for free through DreamSpark. If not, you’ll have to pay a registration fee of $20. We won’t look at the exact steps in this tutorial, but you can create an account here. It’s a single store account for Windows Phone and Windows Store

    Once you’ve registered and logged in to your account, go to the Dev Center home page. Select Dashboard | Submit an app.

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    Select App Name

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    Specify the app name you have selected and select Reserve Name.

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    If someone else is already using your app name you will have to pick another name. If you have selected a valid app name then you get a message informing you that you can Save to reserve the selected app name.

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    The app name you just reserved will be your App Display name! Make a note of it.

    Get the information from the store needed to associate your Windows Phone App Studio app with this reserved app name.

    Find out your app identity.

    While still in the Windows Store, go to Dashboard, and select Edit for your application

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    Now select Services from the menu and in the text select Live services site.

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    Under Application Identity, make a note of the Identity Name it will be something like 1234user.YourAppName. This is your App Identity.

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    Now go back to the dashboard and select Profile to get your publisher information

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    In your profile take a note of your publisher id and your publisher name

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    Associate your Windows Phone Studio app with the Windows Store

    Now you have all the information you need to associate your app with the store. Return to Windows Phone App Studio, go to the Publish Info tab and select Associate app with the store.

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    When you select Associate App with the store, a popup window is displayed. Use the information you just collected from the Windows Store to populate the fields.

    • App Identity: This was the App identity you got from the Store Dashboard, when you selected the app you reserved, then selected Edit | Select Services, and selected the “Live Services site”.
    • App Display Name: This is the name you defined when you reserve the App name in the store
    • Publisher ID: This is the id you got from your Account profile. It should have the following format “CN=AAAAA-1111-2222-BBBBBBBBB”
    • Publisher Name: This is the name you got from your Account profile.

    Add your privacy policy

    Whenever a Windows Store app collects personal information, you must declare a privacy policy. Apps that connect to the internet retrieve the IP address of the person using the app. This information is considered personal, so therefore any Windows Store application that connects to the internet must have a privacy policy. The privacy policy tells the user how the information collected is used by the application.

    Here is a link to a post entitled “Windows 8 Certification tips: The privacy statement” . This post tells you more about the privacy statement and how to set up the privacy statement for your application.

    Once you have set up a web page (you can set up a free website for your privacy policy using Azure Web Sites). Include the URL for your privacy policy on the Publish Info page in Windows Phone App Studio

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    Generating the App Publishing Files

    First, open up the app you want to publish in the Windows Phone App Studio browser. It doesn’t matter what page you’re on. Select the Finish button.

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    This will take you to a page where you can GENERATE your app packages. You’ll notice that there is a section labelled “Previous versions” – currently this is probably blank, because this is the first version you have created.

    Select Generate.

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    A pop up will appear that gives you the choice of generating the code for a Windows Phone app or a package that contains code for a Windows Phone and Windows 8 application.

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    Once you’ve generated your app, you will see a version listed in the “Previous versions” section. Now, in the main body of the page, you will see three major options:

    · Download package – choose this option if you want to download your app to your own phone only. This is useful if you want to use your app yourself without publishing to the store, or if you want to see how it works on your phone before publishing it.

    · Download publish package – choose this option to go straight to publishing without changing your code or taking screenshots. If you do not have Visual Studio, this is the option you should take.

    · Download source code – choose this option if you want to edit your code or take screenshots using an emulator.

    Test your app and capture screenshots for publishing

    Now we are going to install the app on our pc, so we can test it and capture screenshots. You will need a screenshot to publish your app to the store.

    Install the certificate

    First we need to install a certificate so that our PC or laptop will trust the app we are about to install. Expand Pre-requisites and choose Install Windows 8.1 Certificate. Save the downloaded file to somewhere you can find it afterwards. I created a subfolder called AppStudio.

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    Navigate to the folder and you will find a file called Add-RootCertificate.zip. Select that file and either right click and choose Extract All, or select the file and choose Extract All from the menu to extract the contents of the zip file.

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    Now right click the file Add-RootCertificate.ps1 and select Run as PowerShell script

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    You will probably get a prompt warning you that this is a script file that could harm your computer. You must allow the program to run to continue and install the certificate.

    When the program runs you will see a window appear asking you to make sure you are logged in as the administrator on your machine. It will prompt you to hit Enter. When you hit Enter, you will receive one or two more warnings, after you select the option to run the script the certificate will be installed.

    NOTE: The reason you are getting so many warnings is because PowerShell is a tool system administators often use to change settings on your computer. It’s very useful, but because it can change computer settings, that means if a hacker managed to trick you into running a malicious powerscript file on your computer it could get your computer pretty messed up. As is always the case! Only download and run files from sources you trust!

    Install the application

    Now we have our certificate installed, we can install our application

    Under installable packages select the Windows 8.1 installable package

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    Navigate to the folder and you will find a file called StoreApp.zip. Select that file and either right click and choose Extract All, or select the file and choose Extract All from the menu to extract the contents of the zip file. Just like you did with the certificate zip file.

    Now go into the extracted contents and find the file called App-AddDevPackage.ps1 . This is another PowerShell script, but this one will install your application. Right click on the file and choose Run with PowerShell just like you did with the script that installed your certificate. A window will open as the app runs and after it runs a message will display saying your app has been installed successfully

    NOTE: This app is a Windows 8.1 app so you must be running Windows 8.1 to install and run your application.

    Run the application and capture screenshots

    Now you can run your application. The easiest way to launch your application is to press the Windows Key button on your keyboard and then type the name of your application.

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    Then select your application from the search results and you can see your app up and running!

    When you publish your app you will want a screenshot, you can use the keyboard combination of <Ctrl>+<Shift>+<PrtSc> to get a screenshot to your clipboard. Then open Paint, and choose Paste and now you have your screenshot in Paint where you can save it to use when you publish your application. You many want to create several screenshots showing off different aspects of your application. Here is a screenshot of my application in Windows 8.1

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    I now have a working application for Windows 8.1 and screenshots so I have everything I need to publish my app to the store! Now it’s your turn!

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    Meet the winners of the 2014 Canadian Microsoft Imagine Cup!

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    Imagne Cup

    Intel logo

    So who won this year’s 2014 Canadian Imagine cup? Some amazing students with some amazing ideas!

    Congratulations to all the teams who participated in this year’s Imagine Cup Canada. Thanks to our great sponsors at intel, the members of each winning team will receive one of the latest 2-in-1 touch enabled PCs.

    Games Category

    Today, great games come from anywhere and people play them everywhere. On their phones, on their computers, on their tablets, in their browser, with their friends, with anyone, with everyone. Powerful game engines and libraries are available for free so students can get started right away. There’s really never been a better time to make the next great game.

    Congratulations to Team World Painters from the University of Calgary! Their project Funiverse is an amazing educational game that leverages Occulus Rift technology to immerse the player in a virtual reality. The members of Team World Painters are: Alper Aksac, Gabriela Jurca, Omar Addam, Omar Zaarour and their mentor Dr Reda Alhajj. You can see a video showing their project here.

    University of Calgary Logo World Painters
            

    World Citizenship Category

    Since Imagine Cup started in 2003, students all over the world have teamed up to make the world a better place. By creating impressive new technology projects in fields such as health, education, and the environment these students have shown the world new ways to think and to change. The World Citizenship category challenges students to find a problem in the world, in your own life or community, that affects many people, and then work to solve it.

    Congratulations to Team Marianopolis Brainstorm from Marianopolis college! Their project Mass Assaying Relaying Inquiring Survey Apparatus (MARISA) uses Kinect technology to help triage and evaluate disaster sites. The members of team Marianopolis Brainstorm are Mansib Rahman and mentor Elly Su. You can see a video showcasing their project here.

    Marianopolis college logo Team Marianopolis Brainstorn Team Marianopolis Brainstorn mentor

    Innovation Category

    Incredible, world-changing software innovations often come from students. Social networks, music services, digital photography apps, gadgets and robotics – the list goes on. In the innovation category we are looking for the next big thing!

    Congratulations to team claVision from University of Lethbridge! Their project claVision finds a new way to solve an old problem. They have developed software to do visual automatic transcription of piano music. The members of team claVision are Mohammad Akbari, Hossein Naseri and mentor Howard Cheng. You can see a short demonstration of their software here.

    University of Lethbridge logo Team ClaVision

    What happens next?

    Bill GatesEach of these teams is now preparing for the World Semifinals. During this round, one of these three amazing teams will be selected to represent Canada at the Imagine Cup 2014 Worldwide Finals this July in Seattle, Washington. At the worldwide finals they will compete for the coveted Imagine Cup trophy, up to $50,000 USD in prizes and a chance to meet Bill Gates!

    Other notable accomplishments by Canada in Imagine Cup

    I also wanted to highlight a couple of other great performances on the world stage by Canadians in the 2014 Imagine Cup!

    Pitch Video Challenge – Honourable Mention

    In September we asked students to dream up their next great Imagine Cup project and pitch it to us in a short video. We received submissions from around the world!

    Congratulations to team SocialDocTeam from Canada who earned an honourable mention for the pitch for their project Documentaries for Change in the Pitch Video challenge for World Citizenship.

    Project Blueprint Challenge – Honourable Mention

    Hundreds of teams of students from dozens of countries around the world competed in this contest. Each team took a long, hard look at their Imagine Cup project and produced a document that really spelled out what they were making: their concept, target audience, early feedback they've received, competitors, user personas, top user stories, business model, and core technologies.

    Congratulations to team Marianopolis Brainstorm who earned an honourable mention in the Project Blueprint challenge for Innovation.

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    Get an Xbox 360 wireless controller for learning some JavaScript? Really?

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    JavaScript in Visual Studio 2013Watch the Microsoft Virtual Academy course “JavaScript Fundamentals for absolute beginners” and you can learn how to add functionality to your websites and video games. If you are in Canada, watching the video could even earn you rewards!

    Building a great web site, or a cool web game requires JavaScript. Yup, yet another programming language to master! What I like about this particular course is the way Bob Tabor from www.LearnVisualStudio.net, has each concept is broken into its own video so you can search for and focus on the information you need, without having to watch hours and hours of content.

    Check out the many topics as part of the JavaScript Fundamentals for absolute beginners

    • Writing your First JavaScript Application
    • Writing JavaScript in Visual Web Developer Express Edition
    • JavaScript variables, types, operators, and expressions
    • Conditional logic
    • Functions
    • Arrays
    • Working with external JavaScript Files
    • Getting started with jQuery
    • using jQuery to retrieve JSON via AJAX

    and more!

    Not only that until June 1, 2014, developers in Canada can earn rewards by watching ANY videos at Microsoft Virtual Academy. Check out Code Kwon Do at www.developermovement.com to find out how just watching one video could earn you rewards like an Xbox Live Gold membership or a $25 Windows App Store Gift card, or an Xbox 360 Wireless controller.

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    Imagine Cup – Showcasing student talent in Canada and around the world!

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    TeamSanoWinsAwardThe Imagine Cup is a competition organized by Microsoft where students are invited to use technology to do amazing things! They never disappoint us!

    Everybody has dreams, but not every body is ready to fight for the dreams, if you dream, it can be real, you have to fight for it” – Imagine Cup competitor

    Sometimes you come up with a cool business idea, or you look at a problem facing the world and think to yourself: “It’s just too big, I couldn’t actually tackle that.” When you meet the students participating in Imagine Cup you can’t help but start to see things differently. These students have the passion and drive to pursue their ideas and bring them to reality!

    You can do anything, so dream big and follow it” - Imagine Cup competitor

    imageThis year is the 12th year of the Microsoft Imagine Cup. Here in Canada we are excited to be entering our third consecutive year of Canadian Imagine Cup Finals, sponsored by intel. We have already seen some amazing projects from across the country.

    • In 2012, a team of students from George Brown College represented Canada at the World Finals in Sydney, Australia. Their project was a Kinect system that controls ventilation and lighting systems to save energy (learn more)
    • In 2013 a team of students from the University of Calgary represented Canada at the World Finals in St Petersburg, Russia. They developed a Kinect system for remote physiotherapy which earned them $10,000. (learn more)

    We just wrapped up the Canadian 2014 Finals and we'll be announcing the winners of the Games, Innovation, and World Citizenship categories shortly! One of the three teams selected will represent Canada at this year’s world finals in Seattle, Washington. At the world finals they will compete against other great teams from around the world.

    blog_meetbillgates_660x360[1]Teams at the worldwide finals will compete for some fantastic opportunities to help them bring their ideas to reality!

    • The Innovation winners receive $50,000 and four weeks in a Microsoft Ventures accelerator program.
    • The Games winners receive $50,000 and a trip to PAX Prime and PAX Dev the game developer conference in Seattle.
    • The World Citizenship winners receive $50,000 and a week at Microsoft global headquarters for a week of intensive sessions curated specifically for the team and their project.
    • One team will win the coveted Imagine Cup trophy and a meeting with a former student who has been both an innovator, an entrepreneur, and a philanthropist: Bill Gates.

    So the next time you start to worry about where the world is headed, take heart, because there are talented, passionate students around the world all working hard to make a difference! Here’s a small peek into the passion and excitement that is Imagine Cup!

     
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