When a 'z' just doesn't cut it... (Oren Nachman's random notes from Microsoft)

July, 2011

  • Randomisation

    Getting Started with Node.js and Mango


    It's been a while since I've found time to blog - but it's not like I've left you in cold hands. Rohan has been doing a great job posting on the Silverlight for Windows Phone Performance blog (check it out if you haven't yet).

    On a completely non-performance related topic (we'll get to those in the next couple of blog posts), I've been meaning to play around with Node.js for a while, and when a colleague posed a question about using it with Mango, I thought it might be a great excuse to polish off the Beta 2 tools (get them while they're hot!) and do some Socketing!

    First things first - grab 7zip (if you don't have it already), and Node.js binaries for Windows (or build it yourself). Extract these to a convenient location and you should be good to go.

    We're going to use the Hello World sample ripped straight from the Node.js homepage, with one extra debugging addition (highlighted in yellow) and a practical change (highlighted in green - see "gotcha!" below):

    var http = require('http');
    http.createServer(function (req, res) {
      res.writeHead(200, {'Content-Type': 'text/plain'});
      res.end('Hello World\n');
     console.log('Sent message'); }).listen(1337, "");
    console.log('Server running at');

    Gotcha Warning!

    A common mistake at this point is to stick with the sample's use of (locahost). This will work great from your browser, but not from the emulator or your device (regardless of whether it is connected to WiFi or tethered via Zune). This is because the emulator and the device join the network as *new* devices which means they get a newly assigned IP address and they act just as though they were a machine on the network. This leads to pointing back to themselves, which is not allowed, leaving you with a "NetworkDown" network error. Instead, make sure to set your IP to your local LAN address (usually starts with 192.168.X.X or 10.X.X.X). You can find your exact IP address from cmd by typing "ipconfig" and looking for the address that corresponds to your local network.

    Testing the Server

    Now, save your modified script somewhere somewhere convenient (I saved it to c:\nodejs\bin\servers\helloworld.js) and then launch the server with a simple:

    C:\nodejs\bin>node servers/helloworld.js
    Server running at

    Note the use of UNIX style paths... If you see any errors at this point it's most likely path related. Fix your path so it is relative to your binary and you should be good to go. Need to verify that everything is working? Fire up your browser and enter http://localhost:1337 and you should see "Hello World!".

    Note: When launching the server you may get the Windows warning dialog about a program accessing the network, feel free to set the settings to whatever you are comfortable with, just note that Node.js will need at least local network access so that you can talk to it from the emulator / a device over WiFi.

    Let's get me some Windows Phone!

    We're up and running, so time to get our hands dirty with some C# code. Open Visual Studio and start a new C# Windows Phone application targetting "Windows Phone 7l.1" (which is the code target name for Mango). The project that we create is going to do something extremely simple - it's going to open the socket, send a request for data (it's really a dummy request since this server isn't really waiting for a real request) and then displays the response, verbatim, on the screen.

    Once you have the project created add a button (btnStart), which will kick the whole process off, and a textblock (txtServerResponse) to contain the server response. We're not going to use binding to simplify the sample, but you can certainly do that instead. Add a Click handler to the button by double clicking on it and add the following code to MainPage.xaml.cs. The code is heavily documented so should answer any further questions you might have. I've also stuck a zipped version of the project (including the mini-server) which you can use to experiment with.

    private Socket _socket;
    private void btnStart_Click(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
        // the message to send to the server
        byte[] message = UTF8Encoding.UTF8.GetBytes("GET / HTTP/1.1\nHost: localhost\n\n");
        // the address we'll be connecting to
        IPAddress address  = new IPAddress(new byte[] {192, 168, 2, 125});
        // an endpoint translates into the complete destination - address + port
        // you can also use a DnsEndpoint to look up an IP address from a hostname
        IPEndPoint endpoint = new IPEndPoint(address, 1337);
        // all socket operations are asynchronous on the phone so you must set up 
        // a SocketAsyncEventArgs object to let the socket know how to act
        SocketAsyncEventArgs args = new SocketAsyncEventArgs() { RemoteEndPoint = endpoint };
        // don't allow multiple clicks before the request finishes
        btnStart.IsEnabled = false;
        // create our socket, note that it isn't connected yet
        _socket = new Socket(AddressFamily.InterNetwork, SocketType.Stream, ProtocolType.Tcp);
        // set up the call back to be called when we finish connecting to the socket
        args.Completed += new EventHandler<SocketAsyncEventArgs>(OnSocketConnected);
        // neat trick - setting the buffer of a socket before it connects will cause the socket to send
        // that data as soon as it connects
        args.SetBuffer(message, 0, message.Length);
        // boom! we're off
    void OnSocketConnected(object sender, SocketAsyncEventArgs e)
        if (e.SocketError != SocketError.Success)
            // don't forget that we're now on a background thread so anything that interacts with
            // the UI thread (MessageBoxes, updating UI etc) has to be dispatched back
            Dispatcher.BeginInvoke(() =>
                MessageBox.Show("(Connect) Socket error! " + e.SocketError.ToString());
        // we're done with the connect + send, time to receive
        // create a buffer for the respone
        byte[] buffer = new byte[1024];
        // create the Socket event args for this receive
        SocketAsyncEventArgs args = new SocketAsyncEventArgs();
        // set a buffer for the receive - the size will be the maximum amount read
        args.SetBuffer(buffer, 0, 1024);
        // we have to come back somewhere after the receive completed
        args.Completed += new EventHandler<SocketAsyncEventArgs>(OnSocketReceive);
        // kick off the actual receive
    void OnSocketReceive(object sender, SocketAsyncEventArgs e)
        if (e.SocketError != SocketError.Success)
            Dispatcher.BeginInvoke(() =>
                MessageBox.Show("(Receive) Socket error! " + e.SocketError.ToString());
        // the response comes back as a byte array, so convert it to a string
        // Note: usually you would read from the buffer and then call _socket.ReceiveAsync(e)
        // again until e.BytesTransferred == 0 (signals end of the receive), for this example
        // we're going to keep it simple
        string response = UTF8Encoding.UTF8.GetString(e.Buffer, 0, e.BytesTransferred - 1);
        // we have our response now update the UI thread
        Dispatcher.BeginInvoke(() =>
            txtServerResponse.Text = response;
            btnStart.IsEnabled     = true;

    What does it look like?


    Feel free to leave comments below - Good Luck!

  • Randomisation

    Windows Phone App Lookup Tool


    Ever ended up with an application's GUID but not with the app's name? Probably not, but just in case you do ever need to reverse lookup a Windows Phone's app name from its GUID, you can grab App Lookup. It's also Open Source (i.e. not official Microsoft), so feel free to grab it, fork it and send through pull requests!



    How's that for a short one? :)

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