March, 2013

  • Interoperability @ Microsoft

    jQuery Adds Support for Windows Store Apps, Creates New Opportunities for JavaScript Open Source Developers


    jQueryonWinRTThe popular open source JavaScript Web framework jQuery is adding full support for Windows Store applications in the upcoming v2.0 release, thanks to recent contributions from appendTo with technical support from Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc. (MS Open Tech). Considering the opportunity Windows Store apps represent for developers, this is a great news for JavaScript developers who can now develop apps for Windows 8 using what they already know along with their existing JavaScript code, hopefully leading to a new wave of jQuery-based Windows Store applications.

    The Windows 8 application platform introduced support for HTML5 and JavaScript development leveraging the same standard-based HTML5 and JavaScript engines as Internet Explorer. As developers would expect, some popular open source JavaScript frameworks can already be used in the context of a Windows Store application, like backbone.js, Knockout.JS, YUI. You can learn more about how to build a Windows 8 app with YUI in this YUI blog from Jeff Burtoft, HTML5 evangelist for Microsoft.

    Windows 8 provides access to all the WinRT APIs within the HTML5 development environment. Developers should be aware that there are some additional security features to consider when developing Windows 8 applications or HTML5-based cross platform applications for Windows. You can learn more about these features on MSDN.

    jQuery paves the way for open source JavaScript frameworks use in Windows Store applications

    According to the site, jQuery is the most widely used JavaScript framework on the Web. This makes it even more exciting that jQuery 2.0 will fully support Windows Store applications as this will benefit developers who already use jQuery and also demonstrates how other JavaScript frameworks can be integrated into the Windows 8 application model.

    “The jQuery team is excited about the new environments where jQuery 2.0 can be used. HTML and JavaScript developers want to take their jQuery knowledge with them to streamline the development process wherever they work. jQuery 2.0 gives them the ability to do that in Windows 8 Store applications. We appreciate the help from appendTo for both its patches and testing of jQuery 2.0 and MS Open Tech for its technical support.”Dave Methvin, president, jQuery Foundation

    appendTo, long-time JavaScript and Web development experts and jQuery contributors, extended its expertise to the Windows 8 application development, working with the jQuery community with technical support from MS Open Tech to enable jQuery support for the Windows 8 application model.

    While jQuery meets the language criterion for Windows Store applications, Windows 8 exposes all the WinRT APIs within the HTML5 development environment, which comes with a new security model that made some code and common practices of jQuery flagged as unsafe in the context of a Windows Store application. AppendTo reviewed and re-authored portions of jQuery core to bring it into alignment with the Windows security model, as well as identified key areas where alternative patterns would need to be substituted for actually-used conventions.” Jonathan Sampson, director of Support for appendTo.

    appendTo submitted code directly to the jQuery Core project, which will integrate this support, and the alternative patterns mentioned by Sampson were submitted to the net.tuts+ site to help jQuery developers understand the Windows 8 security model and easily build Windows 8 applications using jQuery. You can read appendTo’s blog post with more details on this work.

    Although these patterns apply to the jQuery framework, most of them transfer to all JavaScript frameworks and will definitely help you if you are planning to use your favorite open source JavaScript framework to build Windows 8 applications.

    Mobile cross platform development frameworks and tools

    HTML5 is now supported on all modern mobile platforms and open source tools such as Apache Cordova (aka PhoneGap), allowing developers to publish their applications built with HTML5 and JavaScript to multiple platforms with minimal effort and maximum code reuse. As in all HTML5/JavaScript development, developers love to be able to use their favorite frameworks, to help with their MVC model, database, UI or simply JavaScript code structure.

    Developers can already use some of these mobile cross-platform development frameworks and tools on Microsoft Devices as we mentioned in a previous post about Windows Phone 8 support added to popular open source tools and frameworks. MS Open Tech continuously engages with open source communities (contributing code, providing technical support, getting developers early access to future versions of the platforms, helping with testing devices, etc.), and we’ve found that developers are eager to publish their HTML5 apps to Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 Stores.

    "At HP IT, we use Enyo to build apps for conference attendees. Our Enyo-based conference apps deliver a first-class user experience on Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 — not to mention iOS, Android and a host of other platforms. The ability to serve users across platforms and device types with a single app is a huge win for us." — Sharad Mathur, sr. director, Software, Architecture & Business Intelligence Printing & Personal Systems HP IT

    Here are some recent notable developments in HTML5 mobile cross platform development:

    If you are an HTML5 and JavaScript developer, you should definitely consider building Windows 8 applications leveraging not only your development experience and skills but also your existing JavaScript code and libraries. Take a look at the jQuery new patterns proposed by appendTo, and start coding for Windows — who knows, you might be sitting on the next Cut the Rope!

  • Interoperability @ Microsoft

    Another milestone for open source cloud programming model ActorFx, more stability, async actor communication and more


    Our team is making steady progress on building a solid framework for our new open source computing model for the cloud ActorFx, and we’re happy to report that we just released version 0.40 for this ActorFx project on CodePlex.

    ActorFx provides a non-prescriptive, language-independent model of dynamic distributed objects for highly available data structures and other logical entities via a standardized framework and infrastructure.

    Since Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc., announced that ActorFx joined the MS Open Tech Hub in December, we’ve been hard at work at adding new features in regular releases.

    For this release we focused on adding some interesting features that enriches the framework and makes it suitable for a wider range of scenarios.

    • We added a DictionaryActor, accompanied by a C# CloudDictionary<TKey,TValue> client. This is just another example of rich distributed data structures that can leverage the ActorFx infrastructure for high availability.
    • We added support for asynchronous actor-to-actor method calls (details can be found in the documentation included in the "ActorFx Basics" doc on the codeplex project).
    • We added support for actor methods written in languages other than C#. For now, we support actor methods written in JavaScript. Documentation is included in the "ActorFx Basics" doc.
    • We also spent some time to improve stability. We've added sensible handling for "transient" errors from the Actor Runtime (like NoWriteQuorum).

    We are already working on the V0.50 release. Let us know if there is any feature you would like to be added to the ActorFx project and, as always, comments and feedback are welcome.

    The ActorFx team:

    Claudio Caldato, Principal Program Manager Lead, Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc.

    Brian Grunkemeyer, Senior Software Engineer, Microsoft Open Technologies Hub

    Joe Hoag, Senior Software Engineer, Microsoft Open Technologies Hub

  • Interoperability @ Microsoft

    New CU-RTC-Web HTML5Labs Prototype from MS Open Tech Demonstrates Roaming between Cellular and Wi-Fi Connections


    Demonstrating a faster mobility scenario that would be more difficult with the current WebRTC draft

    Adalberto Foresti
    Principal Program Manager, Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc.

    Since we submitted the initial CU-RTC-Web proposal to the W3C WebRTC Working Group in August 2012 with our proposed original contribution, vibrant discussions over the proposed RTCWeb protocol draft and WebRTC APIs specifications have continued both online and at face to face W3C and IETF Working Group meetings. The amount of energy in the industry around this subject is remarkable, though the road to converge on a quality, implementable spec that properly addresses real-world use cases remains long.

    Last month, our prototype of CU-RTC-Web demonstrated a real world interoperability scenario – voice chatting between Chrome on a Mac and IE10 on Windows via the API.

    Today, Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc., (MS Open Tech) is now publishing an updated prototype implementation of CU-RTC-Web on HTML5Labs that demonstrates another important scenario – roaming between two different connections (e.g. Wi-Fi and 3G, or Wi-Fi and Ethernet) - with negligible impact on the user experience.

    The simple, flexible, expressive APIs underlying the CU-RTC-Web architecture allowed us to implement this important scenario just by building the appropriate JavaScript code and without introducing any changes in the spec, because CU-RTC-Web is a lower level API than the current proposed WebRTC API draft.

    By comparison, the current high level proposed WebRTC API draft would not allow JavaScript developers to implement this scenario: the current draft would need to see modifications done ‘under the hood’ at the platform level by the developers modifying the browser capability itself. There is a proposal for addressing mobility cases in the IETF, but standardization of these mechanisms and subsequent implementation in the browser takes time.

    This example also illustrates that we should not assume everything that will ever be done with WebRTC is already known at the time the standard is developed. It is tempting to develop an opaque, high level API that is optimized for some well-understood scenarios, but that requires development of new, probably non-interoperable extensions to cover new scenarios - or creating yet another standard to enable such applications. We believe that web developers would prefer to be empowered by a lower level, general API that truly enables evolving, interoperable scenarios from day one. Our earlier CU-RTC-Web blog described critical requirements that a successful, widely adoptable Web RTC browser API will need to meet, particularly in the area of network transport. We mentioned how the RealtimeTransport class connects a browser with a peer, providing a secured, low-latency path across the network.

    Rather than using an opaque and indecipherable blob of SDP: Session Description Protocol (RFC 4566) text, CU-RTC-Web allows applications to choose how media is described to suit application needs. The relationship between streams of media and the network layer they traverse is not some arcane combination of SDP m= sections and a= mumble lines. Applications build a real-time transport and attach media to that transport.

    If you want to learn more about the challenges that SDP brings, some very insightful comments have recently been shared by Robin Raymond of Open Peer on the RTCWEB IETF mailing list. Go here to see Robin’s well-crafted Blog post on the issues – SDP the WebRTC Boat Anchor. As a community, it is important we continue to share these views as inaction will constitute a self-defeating choice, for which the industry would pay a high price for years to come.

    As with our previous release, we hope that publishing this latest working prototype in HTML5Labs provides guidance in the following areas:

    • Clarify the CU-RTC-Web proposal with interoperable working code so others can understand exactly how the API could be used to solve real-world use cases.
    • Encourage others to show working example code that shows exactly how their proposals could be used by developers to solve use cases in an interoperable way.
    • Seek developer feedback on how the CU-RTC-Web addresses interoperability challenges in Real Time Communications.
    • Provide a source of ideas for how to resolve open issues with the current draft API as the CU-RTC-Web proposal is cleaner and simpler.

    The prototype can be downloaded from HTML5Labs. We look forward to receiving your feedback: please comment on this post or send us a message once you have played with the API, and stay tuned for even more to come.

    We are proud to be part of the process and will continue to collaborate with the working group to close the gaps in the specification in the coming months. We remain persuaded that the general principles that governed CU-RTC-Web are valid and that a lower level API such as CU-RTC-Web is preferable to the higher level API within the current proposed WebRTC API draft.  This would result in the most agile and robust standard, one that will empower web developers to create innovative experiences for years and decades to come.

  • Interoperability @ Microsoft

    MS Open Tech develops the open source Android SDK for Windows Azure Mobile Services


    imageFurthering the goal of bridging Microsoft and non-Microsoft technologies, Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc. developed the Android SDK for Windows Azure Mobile Services that is being announced today by Scott Guthrie on his blog.

    Windows Azure Mobile Services was created to make it easier for developers to build engaging and dynamic mobile apps that scale. By using Mobile Services, developers are not only able to connect their applications to a scalable and secure backend hosted in Windows Azure, but also store data in the cloud, authenticate users and send push notifications.

    The Android SDK lets you connect your favorite Android phone or tablet (Android 2.2+) to a cloud backend and deliver push notifications via Google Cloud Messaging. It also allows you to authenticate your users via their Google, Facebook, Twitter, or Microsoft credentials. To enable this, the MS Open Tech engineering team delivered the following key features:

    • Data API: this API simplifies the communication between Android apps and the tables exposed through Windows Azure Mobile Services using a fluent API for queries and automatic JSON serialization/deserialization.
    • Identity API: this API allows leveraging Microsoft Account, Facebook, Twitter or Google authentication in an Android app.
    • Service Filters: these components allow the developer to intercept and customize the requests between the Mobile client and Windows Azure Mobile Services, providing a filter pipeline to handle the generated requests and responses.

    The SDK is available on GitHub under the Apache 2.0 license and community contributions are very welcome.

    You can learn more about the new SDK reading Scott’s blog, and the getting started tutorial and come back soon as we are working on more samples/demos/tutorials.


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