February, 2013

  • DaveDev

    Build a Hybrid App for Windows Phone 8 using appMobi

    • 2 Comments

    Via Davedev.net

     

    appmobi_logo_highres HTML5

    If you’re a web developer focused on HTML5 like me then chances are you’ve looked into how to port your web apps to one of the App Marketplaces out there.  I recently sat down with appMobi’s Developer Evangelist, Andrew Smith, to chat about how Web Developers can create Hybrid Apps which run on iOS, Android and Windows.  Due to the popularity of that interview I’ve asked Andrew to guest post here on how you can get started!

    Via Andrew…

    Smartphones running mobile apps are spreading quickly, just like Websites did in the 90’s. However, in order to have your software in the mobile app stores developers need to create native apps written in the programming language of the particular operating system. Rather than writing the same application over and over so your app can run on all smartphones, wouldn’t it be great if your current Web developers could build your application once but allow you to deploy it to a variety of devices? Perhaps appMobi is the answer.

    What is a Hybrid Mobile App?

    The key to creating a mobile app that is written once but runs anywhere is the concept of the hybrid mobile app. These apps are called “hybrid” apps because they are native apps that are coded using the exact same technologies that power the World Wide Web.

    Native applications are written specifically for a particular operating system of the device it is meant to run on. That would be xCode/Objective C for iOS, Eclipse/Java for Android, and Visual C# or Visual Basic for Windows Phone 8. There is no native universal programming language for all device platforms.

    appmobi-xdkOn the other hand, mobile Web apps are server-side apps that run within a smartphone’s Web browser. They use Web technologies such as HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS3. However, these applications are not available from the smartphones’ app stores since they are downloaded from the Web.

     

     

    Hybrid apps are a marriage of these two technologies. Like a native app a hybrid app runs natively on the device and are distributed through the smartphones’ distinctive app stores. However, these apps are coded using Web technologies rendered locally on the device so it does not require an Internet connection. Furthermore a Web to native abstraction layer gives the hybrid app access to device capabilities that are not accessible to mobile Web applications such as the accelerometer, contacts database, and camera.

    Web Developers Can Use appMobi to Create Hybrid Apps

    Using appMobi, you can create apps using Web technologies that you are already familiar with. The appMobi XDK tool can be used as a simulator to test how your app will look on a variety of devices and interact with the device’s native features such as the camera and accelerometer using the appMobi JavaScript API.

     

     

    Then using the appMobi XDK you can see how your application would look on a variety of devices. Once you like the app on the emulator, load it on an actual smartphone using the appMobi “test anywhere” feature. Use this tool to create a project “bundle”, a folder including all the HTML, JavaScript, CSS, image, video, audio, and other supporting Web technology files that will be built into the native apps.

    Create Your Project Bundle

    Building a hybrid native app is just like building a mobile Web app, except that the code is built into a binary at the end for submission to the appropriate application stores. Using the appMobi appHub build system, your project bundle – all the files used to create the application including HTML, JavaScript, images, videos, CSS – is automatically compiled into a binary for you. No need to buy a Mac and learn XCode to create iOS apps. Don’t bother installing Eclipse and learning Java programming techniques to create an Android app. The appMobi appHub build system does all that for you.

    Platform_Devices_Windows 

     

    With the advent of Windows Phone 8, the appMobi appHub will soon include the capability of creating a native application for a Windows smartphone as well. Meanwhile, you can follow these easy steps to create your very own Windows Phone 8 application using the free tools Microsoft has provided.

     

    Decide what you want your app to do, and build it using the tools you are already familiar with. Consider using the appMobi XDK to test any calls to the appMobi JavaScript Bridge API, or see how your bundle will appear on a variety of devices.

     

     

    Build For Windows Phone 8

    Once you have an app project bundle finished, it is time to build it for Windows Phone 8. To build an appMobi application as a hybrid Windows Phone 8 app, you’ll need to install Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Phone on a Windows 8 PRO computer. The Windows 8 PRO operating system is key since The Windows Phone 8 emulator relies on Windows 8 Professional, so be sure you have the appropriate operating system before getting started.

     

     

     

     

     

    First create a Windows Phone 8 project in Visual Studio. Start Visual Studio for Windows Phone and select New and then Project. On the New Project setup screen, create a Windows Phone App using Visual C#. Supply a name for the project and select OK. This will create your new project.

    Project

     

    Select the Windows Phone 8 operating system. Click OK to continue.

     

    WP8

    Once you have a project prepared, you will want to install one of appMobi’s Windows Phone 8 templates from NuGet to transform your empty new project into an appMobi application project. To install one of the appMobi templates visit:

    http://nuget.org/packages?q=appMobi

    Consider trying one of the specialized templates another time, but just for the purposes of creating a Windows Phone 8 build you’ll want to stick with a simple template. Select the appMobi Windows Phone 8 Hello World template.

    HTML5 Hello World

     

    Click on the template and find the install command. Copy the Install-Package command to your clipboard. Do not include the PM> prompt portion.

    NuGet

     

    Return to Visual Studio and open the Package Manager window by selecting View > Other Windows > Package Manager Console. Paste the Install-Package command on your clipboard into the Package Manager Console and press the Enter key.

    PM Console

     

    After successfully installing the package, you will note that the Solution Explorer window updates to include an “html” folder and other specific “appMobiPage” files. You will also notice that a readme.txt file is displayed in the VS edit window. This file contains information about the contents of the template, and how to use it. Continue with those instructions, or follow the next few steps here.

    To bind the project to the appMobi template selected, you will need to modify the WMAppManifext.xml file loaded at project creation. This file can be found in the Properties directory. In the editor window for the WMAppManifest.xml file, you will need to update the Navigation Page field value.

    Nav Page

     

    Change the Navigation Page value to “AppMobiPage.xaml” and then save the file.

     

    appMobi Page

     

    Now you’ll want to import the appMobi project bundle into your newly created project. Copy all the files in the bundle with the exception of the files in the “_appMobi” directory. Paste all those files into the “html” directory of your Visual Studio project in the Solution Explorer.

    Once your project bundle is in position, you’ll need to identify which files you want included in the build. Make sure to reference all the files you use for your project bundle in AppMobiWebSource.xml.

    appmobi source

     

    At this point, you are now ready to start developing and debugging your application in the Windows Phone 8 environment. Use the WP8 emulator within Visual Studio to aid with device debugging.

    For More Information

    So you want to get started? Head to the Chrome Web Store to grab the XDK, and download Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 for Windows Phone 8.  

  • DaveDev

    Windows 8 Game Kit updated with Settings Panel

    • 0 Comments
    Via DaveDev.net


    Windows Store Setting Panel

    One of the more common tasks you will be required to do in your Windows Store App is add a privacy policy.  This is especially true if you have enabled certain capabilities like the WebCam.  I have updated the Win8GameKit with a quick and easy example of how to add a settings panel to your own games. 

     

    What code was updated?

    Inside default.js we are going to add a new function call to the base WinJS.Application namespace that will be called when the user selects the Settings Charm.

    //About and Privacy Policy Settings Charm
           WinJS.Application.onsettings = function (e) {
               e.detail.applicationcommands = {
                   "aboutSettings": { title: "About Space Cadet", href: "/html/about.html" },
                   "privacySettings": { title: "Privacy Policy", href: "/html/privacy.html" }
               };
               WinJS.UI.SettingsFlyout.populateSettings(e);
           };

    If you have ever opened the Settings Panel on a Windows Store App you may have caught this event loading the panel.  The magic here happens thanks to the WinJS.UI.SettingsFlyout object and by default all Windows Store Apps will have two entries automatically generated here for you.  The first entry enables people to review your app and the second shows current permissions for your app (the capabilities you enabled like WebCam access).

    We are going to add two more to the panel the first will give us an about page explaining our app and the second will be for a privacy policy.  A new folder has been added to the root of the project called html and includes two new files about.html and privacy.html which we point to in our new function call above.  These files are pretty self explanatory with the only thing worth noting is the ability to include html at run time through an iframe.  I have included the iframe in the comments so if you wish to load external content simply remove the embedded html and uncomment the iframe with the source pointed to your own url.

    about.html

    <!doctype HTML>
    <html>
        <head>
            <title>About settings flyout</title>
            <link href="/css/settings.css" rel="stylesheet" />
        </head>
        <body>
            <!-- BEGINSETTINGSFLYOUT -->
            <div data-win-control="WinJS.UI.SettingsFlyout" aria-label="About Space Cadet settings flyout" data-win-options="{settingsCommandId:'aboutSettings',width:'wide'}">
                <!-- Use either 'win-ui-light' or 'win-ui-dark' depending on the contrast between the header title and background color -->
                <div class="win-ui-dark win-header" style="background-color:#001E4E"> <!-- Background color reflects app's personality -->
                    <button type="button" onclick="WinJS.UI.SettingsFlyout.show()" class="win-backbutton"></button>
                    <div class="win-label">About Space Cadet</div>
                    </div>
                <div class="win-content">
                    <div class="win-settings-section">
                        <div id="aboutSpaceCadet">
                        <!--<iframe src="http://insertyourdoman/insertyourhtml.html" width="566" height="600"/>-->
                        Space Cadet is a completely free game for educational and entertainment purposes only.  The code for this game is open source and available at <a href="http://win8gamekit.codeplex.com" target="_blank" >Win8gamekit.codeplex.com</a><p>
                        For more information about my other free games, apps and developer starter kits check out <a href="http://blogs.msdn.com/davedev/" target="_blank" >my blog</a> on MSDN.<p>
                        Other Apps from DaveDev Productions:<br />
                        <ul>
                            <li>Balloons (<a href="http://bit.ly/balloonswin8" target="_blank" >Windows Store</a>)</li>
                            <li>DoodlePad (<a href="http://www.windowsphone.com/s?appid=aded583e-cadc-df11-a844-00237de2db9e" target="_blank" >Windows Phone</a>)</li>
                            <li>DoodlePad Free (<a href="http://www.windowsphone.com/s?appid=5188a4a4-421c-e011-9264-00237de2db9e" target="_blank" >Windows Phone</a>)</li>
                        </ul>
                        </div>
                    </div>
                </div>
            </div>
            <!-- ENDSETTINGSFLYOUT -->
        </body>
    </html>

    privacy.html

    <!doctype HTML>
    <html>
        <head>
            <title>Legal notices settings flyout</title>
            <link href="/css/settings.css" rel="stylesheet" />
        </head>
        <body>
            <!-- BEGINSETTINGSFLYOUT -->
            <div data-win-control="WinJS.UI.SettingsFlyout" aria-label="Legal notices settings flyout" data-win-options="{settingsCommandId:'privacySettings',width:'wide'}">
                <!-- Use either 'win-ui-light' or 'win-ui-dark' depending on the contrast between the header title and background color -->
                <div class="win-ui-dark win-header" style="background-color:#001E4E"> <!-- Background color reflects app's personality -->
                    <button type="button" onclick="WinJS.UI.SettingsFlyout.show()" class="win-backbutton"></button>
                    <div class="win-label">Privacy Policy</div>
                    </div>
                <div class="win-content">
                    <div class="win-settings-section">
                        <div id="privacyPolicy">
                         <!--<iframe src="http://insertyourdoman/insertyourhtml.html" width="566" height="600"/>-->
                         This privacy policy governs your use of the software application Space Cadet ("Application") for mobile devices that was created by DaveDev Productions.
            
                         The Application is for educational and entertainment purposes only and does not share any information about you or the location of your mobile device.  
            
                         The only Internet operation performed by the Application is via the "Share Charm" invoked by you.  In this instance your Score, Level and Name will be shared to another Windows Store Application you specify.
        
                        </div>
                    </div>
                </div>
            </div>
            <!-- ENDSETTINGSFLYOUT -->
        </body>
    </html>

    Since the Settings Panel content is html you can also style it to your liking using CSS.  You will see the background color has been set inside the div in each html.  I also created a settings.css file to show how you can change font size across all of the Settings pages very quickly.

    settings.css

    body {
        font-size: 22px;
    }

     

     

    Settings Panel

    Now that we have set up the calls to generate new Settings panel items simply hit Windows-I (settings) or go over to the Charms (Windows-C) and select Settings.  At this point the WinJS.UI.SettingsFlyout will handle the event and populate our two new entries for About and Privacy as seen below.

     

    SettingsPanel

    One item worth pointing out is these pages themselves are running in an iframe so in the About screen, for example, if I click on one of the urls it would attempt to load the page into the same frame.  Simply using the same techniques you would in a browser to open a new windows with target=”_blank” will open up a browser instead of inside the Settings panel.

    AboutSpaceCadet

     

    That’s it!  With just a few lines of code your game now has an About screen and complies with Privacy settings thanks to a new Privacy Policy.

    Where to download the code

    The main Codeplex release has been updated with the changes.  You can grab the latest release Win8GameKit-Feb2013 or simply browse the Source Code for the changes.

    Win8GameKitCodeplex

     

    The GitHub Win8GameKit repository has also been updated if you prefer to follow the project there.

     

    disbitski-githubPNG 

  • DaveDev

    The UTF-8 file encoding test detected the following errors in Windows App Cert Kit

    • 0 Comments

     

    Via DaveDev.net

    If you are getting this error message when running the Windows App Certification Kit you most likely are using a JavaScript file from the Web that has been encoded differently.  One of the great things about being a Web Developer targeting the Windows Store is you can utilize a lot of the JavaScript Libraries that you are currently using for your Web apps.  According to Wikipedia UTF-8 has become the dominant character encoding for the World-Wide Web, accounting for more than half of all Web pages.  If you are using an older JavaScript library that was not encoded as UTF-8 you can potentially hit some performance loss due to bytecode caching.

     

    UTF8 Error

    The good news is this is easy to fix.  If you have been in the Windows world for a while you most likely have used Notepad as a way to strip out any formatting before pasting text into another program.  Notepad can be used in much the same way here for encoding your JavaScript file.  Simply open up the file and save it as UTF-8 as seen below.

     

     

    UTF8Encoding

     

    If you prefer to remain within Visual Studio you can also change the encoding of the file by opening the file and then selecting “Save with Encoding”.

     

    VS Encode\

     

    You will get a bunch of options here so be sure to select Unicode (UTF-8 with signature).

     

    VS Encode Options

     

    When you are prompted to replace the file simply say Yes and you should be all set. 

     

     

    FixedUTF8

    Congrats! When you next run the Windows App Cert Kit you will see file encoding has passed getting you one step closer to completing technical certification on the Windows Store.

  • DaveDev

    This package was deployed for development or authoring mode error in Windows App Cert Kit

    • 2 Comments

    Via Davedev.net

    If you are getting this error message when running the Windows App Certification Kit don’t panic!

    This package was deployed for development or authoring mode. Uninstall the package and re-install it normally.

    WACK Error

     

    This means you have a Windows Store app written in JavaScript that you deployed locally through Visual Studio instead of as a package.  In order to properly test a JavaScript Windows Store app the  Byte code generation should be able to complete successfully.  In order to enable this the package must be installed normally as follows:

    In Visual Studio 2012 select the Project,  right click, open the Store Menu and choose Create App Packages.  If you are using the Express version of Visual Studio 2012 you will have a Store Menu on your Visual Studio Menu already.

     

    Create Store Package

    Select the option to not upload to the Windows Store.  This will create a local package you can use for testing on your own machine or give to other developers to test.

    Local Package

     

    Choose all of the defaults and then open the folder to the generated binaries with the link it provides.

     

    Install Package

    You will want to run the provided PowerShell script (.ps1 extension) and follow the prompts.  This will install the package locally into your Windows Store App location and apply the generated developer certificate.

     

    Successful Bytecode generation!

    Congrats!  You can now run the WACK Tool successfully as well as other developers who may want to test your app for you.

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