Faculty Connection is an online set of real-world resources and shared peer knowledge, the goal of the Faculty Connection site is to put relevant and applicable tools and information at the fingertips of technology educators.
The UK Academic Team is responsible for offering IT students and faculty members free access to software, for enhancing knowledge and skills by providing curriculum materials and other learning opportunities, for helping students achieve their dreams by organizing an international competition, and finally for assisting last year students through career resources and job opportunities at our customers and partners.
With this blog we want to inform you on our latest initiatives.
Enjoy reading and stay tuned!
There are hundreds of thousands of topics in the Dev Center, http://dev.windows.com and http://dev.windowsphone.com. We know in any organisation discoverability and sharing of content is critical to success.
So why not get to grips with this detail in person at Microsoft //Build/2013.
Last month Steve Guggenheimer announced //Build/ 2013, the conference is taking place June 26-28, 2013 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. //build/ is a great opportunity to learn more about developing Windows Store apps.
The conference will include great presentations, demos, info sessions, etc. There will be no better place to get the latest and greatest info on Windows Store app development.
You can see all the details about the conference and register at www.buildwindows.com.
Here are some key resources for the each roles in your organisation.
When you go to the Windows Store apps home page, you’ll see:
The Design section. You can find useful downloads and reusable design assets more easily, and design inspiration and case studies give you the tools you need to make a unique experience on Windows.
The business opportunity of the Windows Store is significant, with a better economic model than competitive platforms and flexibility that enables you to build the business you want. The new Market section of the site provides great tips for marketing your apps, evaluating telemetry data, and passing app certification.
With //BUILD/2013 less than a month away, stay connected by following @windevs @ukmsdn on Twitter and subscribing to the Windows Store newsletter for the latest information on Windows 8.
This week I had a very interesting meeting with Kim Blake from UKIE. Kim is a Next Gen Skills Talent Development Coordinator, and part of her role is to simply understand and explain the skills educators and game developers need to ensure that the maximise their potentials.
So we got into the discussion of a mobile developer today... The simply fact is, if your a real mobile developer you develop apps for all platforms iOS, Windows Phone, Android and the web?.
We then got into the discussions of how app development skills are truly transferable skills. For example to be a successful app developer you need to competent in the following areas.
1. Finance - How to monetize your app? Freemium, IAP, Paid, Subs Based..
2. Marketing - How to promote and market your app? Branding, Apps store advert and description
3. Social - How to influence your customers and channels? Twitter, Facebook, linkedin and blogs
4. Development - How to build an app effectively? Code portability, code reuse and cloud services.
So where do you get started building apps for Windows 8
With Windows 8 you can take your existing app development skills and start applying them to developing great apps.
Why should you build apps for Windows 8
Here are just a few of the benefits:
The info throughout this section is intended for developers who are creating apps for platforms like iOS, Windows Phone, Android, or the web, and who want to create similar Windows Store apps for Windows 8. To learn more, click one of the links in the preceding section.
Resources for iOS developers
Apply your existing iOS app development skills toward developing great apps for Windows 8.
Resources for Windows Phone developers
Apply your existing Windows Phone app development skills toward developing great apps for Windows 8.
Resources for Android developers
Apply your existing Android app development skills toward developing great apps for Windows 8.
Resources for web developers
Apply your existing web development skills toward developing great apps for Windows 8.
To successfully start creating Windows Store apps, you'll need the following at a minimum:
For Students Follow the Student resources guide
Cinder is a cross platform framework for C++ design engineering. In order to run and Apple, Android and Windows devices prior to Windows 8, the rendering libraries leveraged OpenGL as the open source, cross platform solution.
Even though DirectX has been Microsoft's preferred rendering solution for advanced graphics programming. Windows traditionally provided both DirectX and OpenGL support from the desktop. However, Windows 8 Store applications are now exclusively DirectX based, to maximize reusability across the entire domain of Microsoft experiences including Windows Phone, Windows RT, Windows 8, and gaming. This means that Cinder apps that leverage OpenGL for their rendering will not work as Windows Store apps.
To get a Cinder project running as a Windows Store app, the Cinder project needs to leverage a DirectX render instead of the default OpenGL renderer…”
Microsoft Evangelism team have been doing lots activity with the open source community in helping bring Windows Store support to Cinder. We are pleased to confirm there is now on a public branch on GitHub.
This is an initial implementation and there is still a bit of work to do ( such as adding XAML support, etc. ) but the broader creative coding community is already embracing it.
The following screenshots are from the DirectX, Windows Store samples that ship with the branch.
The getting started guide here:
As well as discussion on the official Cinder forums here:
And the DirectX / Windows Store branch of this library can be Cloned from here:
Some of the feedback so far:
“A big "Thank You" to Microsoft for investing in Cinder. I think it's a wise move: you'll get the love of hundreds of creative coders around the world, and word-of-mouth goes a long way! Looking forward to learn more about DirectX and the Windows 8 system. I hope video playback will be implemented as well, the current QuickTime-based solution is a big performance hog on Windows at the moment.” – Paul Hoax
“It's very exciting to see such a contribution to Cinder: definitely a win-win for both Microsoft and the Cinder community. For me, it will be the perfect opportunity to learn DirectX 11 and get my hands dirty on the more advanced features its graphics pipeline. Lots of potential there I believe! Cheers,” - Éric
Let me know how you are using Cinder and any feedback and thoughts on these resources?
So What is NEW at Design.windows.com?
A new UX Checkilist
Checklist is a welcome addition to design.windows.com. It can empower designers when self-evaluating their app so they can better understand what is required and prioritize when they make need to make tough choices. Guidance links are available for each checklist item.
How does this checklist relate to building beautiful apps?
In an effort to help all designers and developers understand UX requirements and considerations, the content team did a great job at ensuring alignment of topics and requirements across the published UX guidelines and to help developers ensure you apps meet the quality bar.
See the UX checklist.
Ensuring you app meets the needs of a Global Market
People using Windows 8 are located all over the world. We want your app to succeed and be ready for world usage so we have provided app design guidelines to ensure this.
See the updated document details.
Accessibility and Design are key for success
We want you to design your apps for use by the widest possible audience and create an accessible app. The doc previously known as “accessibility cheat sheet” is nowavailable with improved content on design.windows.com.
See accessibility details.
We want to inspire you
So to really help we have developed a new design inspiration (AKA “Idea books”) For your application ideas so be sure to check out these idea books which include apps for education, financial, medical and retail app ideas.
Further References and Resources
The UX guidelines
Browse through the UX guidelines index to read them all:
Do you have a device running the latest Windows Phone 8 operating system?
Are you a fan of the TouchDevelop app that enables you to create apps directly ON your mobile device?
Do you love to try out the latest apps, and give feedback about what you like or wish to see improved?
Then our beta testing program for the upcoming update of the TouchDevelop app is for you!
This update will leverage some of the phone sensors and features only available on Windows Phone 8, and it will include all of the new language features which you already might have seen in the TouchDevelop Web App.
This update packs our new editing and execution engine that is powered by TypeScript under the hood. You will enjoy a unified experience between the Windows Phone app and the Web App that runs on most other devices and even your PC.
If you want to participate in the beta testing program, send an email to email@example.com with the following information:
The Touchdevelop team will collect this information over the next couple of days, and then invite the first 800 respondents to try out the beta. They also might contact you later on again to ask for your feedback.
The existing TouchDevelop app for Windows Phone will keep working as before on all Windows Phone 7 devices.
Like TouchDevelop on Facebook to stay up to date.
Rapid2D v1.3 introduces Rapid2D Pro which allows you to deploy to Windows Phone!
Now you can release your game onto desktop, tablets and mobiles with a single click!
You now have greater control over your game’s objects; adjust the finer details of how they behave, right in the editor. Custom colliders will compliment this higher level of control perfectly. Squares and circles just not doing it for you? Draw your own colliders around your game objects, to make your objects! as precise as you like.Collision filters also make an appearance, allowing objects to only react physically to certain object types. Scene switching is now yours to use; create games with multiple levels, create menu screens! , or for simply anything you can apply it to.ParticlesWith up to 10,000 simultaneous particles, that’s just the start of our new particle system. Customisable warp effects allow you to push and pull particles in different directions with different intensities. Create a gentle breeze, a directional explosion, perhaps even a full blown vortex! They can stretch, according to their force, and their colour is under your control with additive and normal blending. Particles can be set to be uniformly emitted to give predictable, balanced distribution, or non-uniformly emitted to create a more sporadic distribution. The emitters themselves can be used with global or local directions, which might really come in handy, since they can also be attached to your game objects, too! Multi-threadingMulti-threaded rendering greatly improves efficiency in this release, by performing simultaneous rendering on multiple CPU cores, taking advantage of faster processors in modern phones. The automatic .DDS converter helps to limit the amount of resources your images will claim. These are just two of the additions we've made to improve the quality of the games you create.An installer, to make your experience with Rapid2D even more, well, rapid! You’ll also notice that the engine will prompt you when a new version is available, to make sure you’re kept up to date with the latest changes.Finally, this update opens the doors to two new licences! Pro and Studio.To find out which one best suits your needs and a list of some of our features, you can get more information hereFor a limited time only, get 50% off Pro and Studio licenses! Offer expires on the 27th of May
Interested in programming with C++ here are some great resources
Prepare your Windows Store DirectX game programming environment
Add Windows Store features for DirectX 11.1 games
Prepare your Windows game for publishing]
Port from DirectX 9 to Windows Store
Port from OpenGL ES 2.0 to Direct3D 11.1
DirectX game development and sample walkthroughs
Developing Marble Maze, a Windows Store game in C++ and DirectX
Develop Reversi, a Windows Store game in C# and XAML
Additional game programming resources
I am pleased to confirm that Doctor Who, Matt Smith, will be hosting the Imagine Cup awards ceremony!
The Doctor's mastery of technology is only matched by his creativity, his compassion, and his sense of wonder at all the amazing things people can accomplish when they are inspired by hope. And in this Imagine Cup video, Matt’s eager to find out: What's next?
Spread the word and invite your students to join us as Matt hosts our awards ceremony live online, at ImagineCup.com on the 11th of July 2013.
Scirra have teamed up with Microsoft to launch a new Windows 8-based competition with some fantastic prizes!
Create a new game with Construct 2, or port an existing one, and successfully publish it to the Windows 8 Store by June 21st to be entered in to the competition. Allow a week for the store submission to complete, so try to get your entries submitted to the store by June 14th.
In addition to the above prizes, the top fifty entries will also receive a $100 voucher that can be redeemed in the Scirra Store! That's right, there are 50 of these available!
For more details see https://www.scirra.com/blog/113/windows-8-summer-competition
On the 8th of May there was a very interesting Guardian article based on research that the Windows Phone team commissioned in the UK.
The key finding of the research
· Over a quarter of UK parents affected by their kids’ unauthorised app purchases
· Eight year olds have run up the largest app costs, adding an average of £59 to smartphone and tablet bills
In the Guardian article there are number of nice comment on the Kids Corner functionality and helping parents manage their children's access to the apps and games on the windows phone device.
“Microsoft deserves credit for Kid's Corner, though: it was a welcome innovation in the market that is likely to nudge Apple and Google towards improving their own parental features.
From the research it is estimated that 21m+ in the UK play games on one or more platforms. Of those 21m+ it is reckoned that 6-10 year olds are the largest demographic of users.
As you can seen by the research they, are also playing cross platform from console, mobile and browser (with 31% playing all vs 6% of 11+ year olds).
The research was carried out with over 2,000 smartphone/tablet-using UK parents, reveals that over a quarter (28%) of parents have fallen foul of their kids making unauthorised app and in-app purchases, with over eight out of ten (83%) of these parents suffering from an increased monthly bill as a result.
Over one in ten (14%) of the ‘bill shocked’ parents were concerned that they couldn’t afford to pay their increased bill, with over a third (34%) of UK parents now hiding their smartphone and tablet from their kids. Nonetheless, 17% of UK parents still share their smartphone and tablet passwords with their children, with nearly a quarter (23.5%) of parents not having a security password at all.
The findings reveal for those parents who have suffered from unauthorised app or in-app purchases, eight year olds are running up the largest app costs, having added on average an extra £59.59 to their parents’ smartphone or tablet bill. And, demonstrating the widespread issue of ‘accidental’ buys by very young children, well over a third (36%) of kids aged four and under have made app and in-app purchases without permission.
As well as the financial implications of the unsupervised use of a parent’s smartphone or tablet, there is also the risk of social media pranks. Over a quarter (27%) of kids have sneakily updated a parent’s Facebook status, and one in five (20%) updated their Twitter status. Potentially causing a career limiting move, one in ten kids have also hijacked a parent’s Facebook profile to comment on or insult their boss.
Indicating the ‘app-titude’ of tech savvy children, two-thirds of parents admit their children know as much or the same about technology as they do. Demonstrating the need for support, over three quarters (77%) believe parents need more help from technology companies to manage their kids’ app behaviours.
So its clear from the research that Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 and the addition of Kids Corner offers help for parents, to reduce the likelihood of suffering ‘bill shock’, providing peace of mind when kids are using smartphones.
So I would be interested in discussing this further, especially with those of you undertaking research into this area.
Microsoft Research Connections announced the release of the book, TouchDevelop—Programming on the Go, available in print form, as an e-book, and on the web. TouchDevelop has reached new heights as the only programming environment on mobile touch devices that creates apps directly for the Windows Marketplace. This book is a comprehensive guide on how to use TouchDevelop to write fun, productive apps that make full use of a device's audio, camera, sensors, and so on.
Touchdevelop — Programming on the Go by Nigel Horspool (University of Victoria), Judith Bishop, Arjmand Samuel, Nikolai Tillmann, Michał Moskal, Jonathan de Halleux, Manuel Fähndrich (Microsoft Research)
Download the book for FREE.
Download as single file
Alternative download option: one file per chapter
Who this book is for
This book has much to offer to both students and teachers: For teachers, it walks in detail through all of the screens of the TouchDevelop app, and it points out similarities and differences of the TouchDevelop language compared to other programming languages that the teacher might already be familiar with. For students and enthusiasts, the book can serve as a handy reference next to the phone. The book systematically addresses all programming language constructs, starting from the very basic constructs such as variables and loops. The book also explores many of the phone sensors and data sources which make creating apps for mobile devices so rewarding.
How to read this book
If you are new to programming with TouchDevelop, or if you have not yet worked on touchscreen devices, we suggest that you read the book starting from chapter 1. If you are already familiar with the basic paradigm of the TouchDevelop programming environment, then feel free to jump ahead to the later chapters that address particular topic areas.
Two apps, one book
This book is written from the perspective of a Windows Phone user – all screenshots and navigation instructions refer to the Windows Phone app. The TouchDevelop Web App runs in many modern browsers on many different devices such as iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets, Macs, PC. The Web App uses the same programming language and has a very similar navigation structure as the TouchDevelop Windows Phone app. As a result, you can reuse the lessons of this book when you create mobile apps in your web browser.