July, 2011

  

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft Research PhD Scholarship 2012

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    Microsoft Research PhD Scholarship 2012

    The website is now live for the next PhD Scholarship Programme applications call

    http://research.microsoft.com/PhDScholarship/

    Application deadline: 16 September 2011, 17:00 GMT

    Please let your academic contacts know about it!

    The programme is open to all universities or national research institutions in any country in Europe, the Middle East or Africa.

    As previous years, applications must be made by PhD supervisors not by students. Supervisors will be informed of our decision in January 2012 and will then have up to one year to find the best student for the proposed project. Students will typically start their PhD in October 2012.

    The page also contains a link to a number of currently open PhD positions sponsored by Microsoft Research at a number of Universities:

    http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/collaboration/global/open-phd-positions.aspx

    If you have questions or feedback, please contact us.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows Azure Toolkit for Social Games

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    Microsoft are pleased to announce the release of the Windows Azure Toolkit for Social Games

    This toolkit is a preview but will allow you and your students to quickly get started building new social games in Windows Azure.

    The toolkit includes the following assets

    1. Accelerators

    2. Libraries

    3. Developer tools

    4. Samples

    The toolkit also includes specific services and code to handle capabilities unique to games, such as storing user profiles, maintaining leader boards, in-app purchasing, and so forth. In addition to releasing the toolkit, we have also teamed with industry innovator Grant Skinner and his team to create a game called Tankster.

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    Tankster is built with HTML5 and comes complete with reusable service-side code and documentation. It also supports a variety of social interactions including messaging, wall posts, and comments while player achievements and game stats are presented on a live leaderboard so gamers can interact with each other.

    For more information please visit the following

    Windows Azure Team Blog: Build Your Next Game with the Windows Azure Toolkit for Social Games

    WA.com: Social Gaming on Windows Azure

    Channel 9: Social Gaming on Windows Azure

    CodePlex: Windows Azure Toolkit for Social Gaming

    Tankster: http://www.tankster.net/

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows Azure toolkit for iOS devices iPhone, iPad

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     Wp7 Ipadiphone

    Just over a month we released the Azure toolkit for Windows Phone 7, Microsoft has now released the Azure tookit for iOS, and Android is next in line.

    The toolkit contains a “compiled Objective-C library for working with services running in Windows Azure (e.g. push notification, authN/authZ, and storage),” along with Objective-C source code and Xcode project files. It also includes a sample iOS application and its source code, designed to show developers how Azure can be used inside of the platform.

    The toolkit has been posted to github and can be found at the following three links:

    Details on how to get started can be found here.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    .NET Gadgeteer

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    gadget

    Have you heard about .NET Gadgeteer?

    .Net Gadgeteer is the powerful prototyping, cool hobbyist, unique teaching kit that was developed by the whizzes in Microsoft Research (yes – they like to play too). To learn more, check out a Channel 9 Video or simply watch the video below.

    What is .NET Gadgeteer?

    Microsoft .NET Gadgeteer is a rapid prototyping platform for small electronic gadgets and embedded hardware devices. It combines the advantages of object-oriented programming, solderless assembly of electronics using a kit of hardware modules, and quick physical enclosure fabrication using computer-aided design.

    Individual .NET Gadgeteer modules can be easily connected together to construct both simple and sophisticated devices. Each module adds some extra capabilities, such as the ability to display images, playback sounds, take pictures, sense the environment, communicate with other devices or enable user interaction.

    The platform is built on the .NET Micro Framework, which allows small devices to be programmed in the C# language and make use of Visual Studio’s programming and debugging tools.

    This powerful combination allows fully functional devices to be prototyped in a matter of hours rather than days or weeks.

    How can you get your hands on one?

    It's OK – we're used to that question. We hear it every time we show the .NET Gadgeteer. Well, Microsoft has decided to Open Source the designs (Creative Commons) and libraries (Apache 2.0) for the .NET Gadgeteer to see how fast we can get it out to people who want to use it. We are actively recruiting hardware vendors who are interested in developing kits and modules to build out this ecosystem. If that describes you, contact us at gadgeteer@microsoft.com for more information.

    How long will it be until I can get one?

    We had some redesign work to do to insure that the system could really be open to a wide variety of designs. We are there now so keep an eye on this space for updates.

    In the meantime, where can I actually see the current devices?

    The .NET Gadgeteer is being displayed at a number of venues in the next few months including MIX11, TechEd 2011, and OSCON 2011.

    Visit the following URLs for more details, information and Source Code

    Faculty Connection Resource Site http://www.microsoft.com/education/facultyconnection/GB/articles/articledetails.aspx?cid=2329&c1=en-gb&c2=GB 

    Codeplex Source Code Download http://gadgeteer.codeplex.com/

    MS Research .NET Gadgeteer site http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/projects/gadgeteer/default.aspx

    .NET Gadgeteer Announcement site - http://netmf.com/gadgeteer/

    Have something to add? Got a request or suggestion?

    You can drop us a line at the same email address – gadgeteer@microsoft.com or follow us on Twitter at @netgadgeteer.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Robots – Using NAO and Microsoft Robotics Studio

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    robotics

    NAONAO, Aldebaran's humanoid robot for STEM education, is now available for use in education.

    The 22-inch-tall robot can see, hear, speak, move, walk, dance, play soccer, recognize faces and objects, understand what is said to him, localize sound, and speak seven languages, and is currently being used in more than 350 schools and universities to teach classes including math, robotics, and computer sciences.

    Exploring STEM with NAO is a fascinating experience. Here are a few examples of lectures and labs  that educators can easily implement in classrooms with NAO:

    Introduction to Robotics
    What’s a gear?
    What’s torque?
    What’s mechatronics?
    Technology and society, ethical issues...

    Introduction to Computer Science
    Basics of programming
    Architecture of Information systems
    Communications
    Initiation to Game theory

    Physics
    Sensors and physical quantities measurement
    Transfer of energy
    Motion and forces
    Study of the ultrasounds
    Speed and Kinematics
    Study of the physical properties of Light: NAO’s infrareds
    Optics: NAO’s vision

    Mathematics
    From continuous functions to motion animations
    Geometry and trigonometry: placement and distance
    Equations, calculating distance
    Logics, Reasoning and proof
    Probability and Statistics

    Choregraphe is the programming software that lets NAO users create and edit movements and interactive behaviours with complete simplicity. The intuitive graphic interface, the library of behaviours delivered as a standard feature and the advanced programming functions satisfy the needs of novices and experts. Everyone can compose their own behaviours by a simple drag/copy from the library or else create their own boxes and save them in their personal library.

    Choregraphe accepts Urbi and Python language, so it can directly call C++ modules developed separately. It comes with many detailed examples to simplify the learning process. Choregraphe is 100% compatible with Microsoft Robotics Studio which allow you to test behaviours in custom environments with one or more programmable in Python and C++, and ships with a software development kit for more information on Microsoft Robotics Studio click here.

    Nao is 100% .Net Compatible and NAO's API can be accessed from a remote PC using any language supported by the .Net Framework version 2 or above including C# and VBScript. With auto-completion and integrated help, it makes communicating with your NAO easy from popular windows tools such as Microsoft Visual Studio.

    Aldebaran Robotics has decided to help ambitious educational projects that embrace Robotics  if your interested in this opportunity you can apply for the Aldebaran Educational Partnership Program

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft Zentity– helping you manage your digital repositories

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    Zentity

    Microsoft Zentity is a semantically enabled repository platform that provides a suite of building blocks, tools, and services to create and maintain an organisation’s digital-library ecosystem. The research lifecycle generates a wide variety of outputs that are important to store and track as part of the on-going research process. Zentity maximizes the value of this output by helping researchers access, analyse, and unlock the previously hidden structure and relationships among data elements.


    Zentity 2.0 Introduction Video

    Microsoft Research Senior Program Manager Oscar Naim introduces Zentity 2.0 and demonstrates some of the great new features, including the Pivot Viewer and Visual Explorer.

    Get Microsoft Silverlight

    About Zentity 2.0

    Microsoft Zentity is a repository platform designed for academic, governmental, and scientific organizations that conduct and compile research. From a technical standpoint, Zentity is a hybrid store: a combination of a triplestore and a traditional relational database.

    Microsoft Zentity is data agnostic, supporting arbitrary data models, and provides semantically rich functionality that enables the ability to find and explore interesting relationships between elements both programmatically, by using the Zentity API, and visually, by using Microsoft Live Lab Pivot Viewer and Microsoft Research Visual Explorer.

    Microsoft Zentity incorporates the Pivot Collection Service, which makes it easier to maintain, display, and interact with data in flexible and innovative ways. The Pivot Collection Service works in conjunction with the Pivot Viewer, which is a Silverlight control to visualize n-dimensional data sets and the metadata associated with them. Zentity also includes the Visual Explorer Silverlight control, which enables researchers to visually navigate Zentity data by using a graph metaphor.

    Microsoft Zentity also enables interesting information aggregation scenarios, or mashups, across different data sources, by taking advantage of standard protocols such as the Open Data Protocol, OData.

    Other features of Zentity include:

    • Zentity Software Development Kit Includes dynamically created sample data sets from publicly available sources, such as Pub Med, programming examples, and API documentation.
    • Zentity Console An application based on PowerShell commandlets that provides easy access to the Zentity API by using a console application.
    • Zentity Data Service This service exposes arbitrary data models stored in Zentity to external applications. This service is based on WCF Data Services and it is ODATA compliant, which allows applications such as Excel Power Pivot to connect to Zentity and enable data mining.
    • Improved deployment experience Most users can install Zentity and begin using it within 15 minutes or less.

    For more information on Microsoft Zentity see http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/downloads/a4125c74-36ea-4f23-9278-792de0808e45/

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Exciting Updates to Microsoft Academic Search

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    Lots of new improved features have been added to Microsoft Academic Search in July

    Academic Search comes from Microsoft Research with much of the development coming from MS Research Asia.

    What’s New in the July Release

    • The database of searchable publications has nearly doubled.
      • From 15.7 million publications to 27.1 million publications as of today
      • Access to material from 10.5 million authors to 16.2 million authors
    • Material in 14 domains available with more to come including humanities and social sciences material.
      • Biology & Biochemistry
      • Chemistry
      • Clinical Medicine

      • Computer Science

      • Economics & Business

      • Engineering

      • Immunology

      • Mathematics

      • Microbiology

      • Molecular Biology & Genetics

      • Neuroscience & Behaviour

      • Pharmacology & Toxicology

      • Physics

      • Psychiatry & Psychology

    • The launch of Academic Map Search
    • New Compare Organizations Tool
      • “Compare differences in the number of publications and citations as well as research priorities and interests between two organizations.”
    • Improved: Keyword Detail Info
    • New stemming variations and definition context
    • View History
      • “All past changes to the author/paper are listed in reverse-chronological order, users can view history by clicking the “View History” tab in the user contribution center.”
    • Release of a Windows Mobile app

    AcademicSearch

    For more inform visit Microsoft Academic Search and read more about feature at http://academic.research.microsoft.com/About/Help.htm#5 

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Surface 2.0 SUR40 SDK now available

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    On the 12th of July 2011 Microsoft released the Surface 2.0 SDK.

    The SDK simply makes it easy to create engaging experiences, using multitouch and object interaction, for the next generation device for Microsoft Surface – the Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface.

    The Surface 2.0 SDK replaces the Microsoft Surface Toolkit for Windows Touch Beta that was released last year.

    Download the SDK and find training, documentation, and guidance on the new Surface development center at www.msdn.com/windows/surface/

    Overview

    The Microsoft® Surface® 2.0 SDK is a set of controls, APIs, templates, tools, sample applications, and documentation for application developers. Using the familiar .NET Framework 4.0, Windows Presentation Framework 4.0 (WPF) or XNA framework 4.0, and the Surface 2.0 SDK, developers can quickly and consistently create innovative applications that take advantage of the new PixelSense™ technology delivered in the Surface 2.0 platform.

    The next generation Surface device, the Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface, was announced in January 2011 and will be available to commercial customers in 23 countries later this year. For more information on the Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface, visit www.surface.com.

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    Library Controls
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    Element Menu
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    The Input Simulator
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    Raw Image Visualizer

     System Requirements

    The Surface 2.0 SDK runs on the Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface or a PC with a 32-bit or 64-bit edition of one of the following Windows® 7 operating systems:

    Windows 7 Home Premium

    Windows 7 Professional

    Windows 7 Ultimate

    Additional Requirements:

    • Microsoft Visual C#® 2010 Express Edition or Microsoft Visual Studio® 2010
    • Microsoft .NET 4.0.
    • Microsoft XNA® Framework Redistributable is required to run some Surface SDK samples.
    • Microsoft Expression Blend® 4 is recommended to edit XAML code that defines user interface

    The Surface SDK supports input devices such as mouse, touch, and tagged objects. With the Surface SDK, you can develop an application that supports various types of input. However, to test your application in a touch-enabled environment, your computer must have a touch-screen digitizer.


    SDK Contents

    The Surface SDK contains the following resources:

    Resource

    Description

    Reference assemblies

    These assemblies provide the classes that are necessary to create a touch-enabled application.

    Visual Studio project and item templates

    These templates enable you to quickly create a touch-enabled application. When you create a project by selecting the Surface template, all of the necessary references and resources are automatically included as part of your project.

    Tools

    The input simulator, input visualizer, and Surface stress tools help you develop and test applications for the Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface and Windows 7 touch-enabled PCs. With the Surface Input Simulator tool, you can simulate different inputs, hardware capabilities, and tilt of the device.

    Sample applications

    Sample applications are fully functional applications that you can build and run. These applications showcase various features of the Surface environment. You can run these applications to see Surface functionality in action, and examine the source code to see how certain tasks are performed.

    Documentation

    The documentation for the Surface SDK includes short examples of how to perform various programming tasks, longer and more detailed examination into various programming scenarios, and a detailed API reference.

    Note: When you are ready to distribute an application that you have created with the Surface SDK, download the Microsoft® Surface® 2.0 Runtime from MSDN and include it with your installation package. The Surface SDK Runtime contains the reference assemblies that are required to run your application.

    Surface API

    There are two types of APIs; presentation API and core APIs. The Presentation APIs use Microsoft Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), which is the standard choice for developing touch-enabled applications. The cores APIs are .NET platform agnostic APIs that enable querying a raw image directly and registering for touch events. Learn more about the core API at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff727894(v=Surface.20).aspx.

    Surface Controls

    Your touch-enabled application will usually contain one or more Surface controls. Some of these controls are specialized counterparts to WPF controls, and others enable you to include functionality in your application in ways that have no WPF counterpart. The following table summarizes the controls that are included in the Microsoft Surface SDK for Windows Touch Beta.

    Control

    Description

    LibraryBar

    The LibraryBar control enables you to list items horizontally, group items into several groups, and scroll groups. By default, the LibraryBar control supports drag-and-drop operations.

    LibraryContainer

    The LibraryContainer control is a dual-view control that arranges items in a horizontal bar or in a vertical stack and enables you to switch back and forth between the two views.

    LibraryStack

    The LibraryStack control enables you to display items that are stacked on each other. Users can view the individual items by rearranging the order of the stack or by removing items from the stack. By default, the LibraryStack control supports drag-and-drop operations.

    ScatterView

    The ScatterView control is a container for any other User Interface (UI) element. When you place a UI element inside of a ScatterView control, that element automatically gains the ability to be moved, rotated, and resized using one or multiple touches.

    ElementMenu

    The ElementMenu control implements a collection of items in a tree hierarchy that users can select.

    SurfaceButton

    The SurfaceButton control is a specialized version of the WPF Button control. SurfaceButton provides a different default look-and-feel, adds support for Touch Visualizations, and customizes the handling of input device events so that if multiple touches are targeting the control, the Click event is raised only after all touches are lifted.

    SurfaceCheckBox

    The SurfaceCheckBox control is a specialized version of the WPF CheckBox control. SurfaceCheckBox provides a different default look-and-feel, adds support for Touch Visualizations, and customizes the handling of input device events so that if multiple touches are targeting the control, the Click event is raised only after all touches are lifted.

    SurfaceTextBox

    The SurfaceTextBox control provides an unconstrained data entry field. The SurfaceTextBox control also provides the on-screen keyboard so that you do not have to specifically invoke the keyboard.

    SurfaceInkCanvas

    The SurfaceInkCanvas control provides a drawing canvas that you can use with touch input to create, modify, and delete drawing strokes.

    SurfaceListBox

    The SurfaceListBox control is a specialized version of the WPF ListBox control. SurfaceListBox adds support for panning, the ability to move the content by direct contact with the content itself, instead of using a scroll bar.

    SurfaceRadioButton

    The SurfaceRadioButton control is a specialized version of the WPF RadioButton control. SurfaceRadioButton provides a different default look-and-feel, adds support for Touch Visualizations, and customizes the handling of input device events so that if multiple touches are targeting the control, the Click event is raised only after all touches are lifted.

    SurfaceScrollViewer

    The SurfaceScrollViewer control is a specialized version of the WPF ScrollViewer control. SurfaceScrollViewer adds support for panning, the ability to move the content by direct contact with the content itself, instead of using a scroll bar.

    SurfaceSlider

    The SurfaceSlider control is a specialized version of the WPF Slider control. SurfaceSlider provides a different default look-and-feel, and adds support for Touch Visualizations.

    SurfaceWindow

    The SurfaceWindow control is a specialized version of the WPF Window control. SurfaceWindow provides and activates the necessary event handlers to make sure that it receives touch events.

    Sample Application Projects

    The sample applications that come with the Surface SDK show several different programming techniques in a complete application. You can use these applications as a starting point for more complete applications or just as examples of best practices in Surface programming. For information about obtaining the sample files, see Extracting and Installing the Surface Samples.

    Samples that use the Core layer and XNA Framework

    Sample

    Description

    Finger Fountain

    Draws small images for every contact at every frame. This sample emphasizes multiple touches and shows how to use the Microsoft XNA APIs.

    Framework

    Provides an extensive sample framework that helps you create controls by using the Core layer. The code in this sample eliminates inconsistent behavior among Core-based applications by using the Model-View-Controller (MVC) design pattern.

    Cloth

    An XNA-based application that demonstrates how to use the Core Interaction Framework

    RawImage Visualizer

    Shows how to use the RawImage APIs for XNA applications. This sample displays captured normalized (8 bit per pixel) images that are flipped vertically.

    XNA Scatter

    Demonstrates how to use the manipulations and inertia APIs to move graphical user interface (GUI) components around in a Surface application in a natural and intuitive way.

    Samples that use the Presentation Layer (WPF)

    Sample

    Description

    Controls Box

    Shows how to build simple application behaviors from touch-enabled controls that the Presentation layer provides, such as updating a text box when a user touches a button

    Data Visualizer

    Shows contact properties that are exposed in the Presentation layer (such as x, y, height, width, major axis, minor axis, and orientation) and how you can read and use these properties in a Surface application.

    Grand Piano

    Demonstrates how to integrate sound into Surface applications based on the Presentation layer.

    Item Compare

    Represents a simple tool that lets a user compare and contrast the properties of two "items" (tagged objects).

    Photo Paint

    Uses the SurfaceInkCanvas control to implement drawing and painting over pictures and video

    ScatterPuzzle

    Shows an implementation of the ScatterView and SurfaceListBox controls to create a simple puzzle game. The ScatterView and SurfaceListBox controls automatically provide some powerful features related to Surface.

    Shopping Cart

    Shows how to implement drag-and-drop functionality in a retail application.

    Tag Visualizer Events

    Shows how to incorporate hit-testing in the TagVisualizer control to let user interface (UI) elements react when tagged objects move over them.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Announcing Kinect Services for RDS 2008 R3

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    robotics

    Kinect

    I am pleased to confirm the release of a add-on to the Kinect SDK for Windows specifically for development in robotics.

    This is a free software download, officially called the Kinect Services for RDS 2008 R3 and its now available at the Microsoft Research web site. The RDS package allows Robotic Developer Studio users to build and simulate robots with a Kinect sensor.

    There is more information on  the Robotics blog site, the new version is built on top of the Kinect SDK for Windows which was released as a free download earlier this year. The blog post states that you can expect to see more updates later this year. It states, "We know that there are many practical issues for applying the Kinect technologies to robotics capabilities that we will be addressing in upcoming RDS releases."

    Here’s a link to of a short introduction to Kinect Service for RDS

    So feel free and download the Kinect Services for RDS 2008 R3 and let us know how you get on.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Small Basic an intro to programming

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    Small Basic Updates:

    After more than two years of pre-release versions of Small Basic, which has been available to all Academics and Students via Microsoft DreamSpark we are finally releasing the 1.0 version.

    For Schools and institutions wanting to teach or introduce students programming Small Basic is the ideal product. Additionally Small Basic now has access to number extensions from our friends at the TeachingKidsProgramming website. TeachingKidsProgramming provides free courseware to introduce kids (ages 10+) to programming. New in this compatible release of the Small Basic Fun extensions (http://extendsmallbasic.codeplex.com) is a recipe '(m)adLibs' which you can use to introduce the MVC pattern to your kids. It includes several new objects, such as a Viewer and a Parser to support teaching of this pattern.

    Small Basic 1.0 released:

    o Added language support (for a complete list of languages, go here)

    o Updated setup and version info

    o Fixed string resource issues

    o New EULA – Small Basic is no longer labelled a ‘Pre-Release’ product

    Updated Small Basic site on MSDN, MSDNAA and DreamSpark:

    o New UI with a cleaner look

    o Less “Kid’s Corner” branding

    o Hosting licensed 3rd Party content from 3 E-books on Small Basic (English only)

    Localized teaching curriculum:

    o Curriculum PPTXs now translated to all languages (except Icelandic)

    o Ongoing project as most languages still have English screenshots & images

    Small Basic Adoption:  Small Basic continues to thrive around the globe.  We have strong interest from Gulf Region, Russia, India, East Asia, etc so expect to see more features and upgrades.

    Small Basic Links:

    Small Basic 1.0 Blog Announcement:

    http://blogs.msdn.com/b/smallbasic/archive/2011/07/12/small-basic-1-0-is-here.aspx

    New Small Basic Home Page on MSDN:

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/ff384126.aspx

    Small Basic Teaching Curriculum in 18 languages:

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/beginner/hh314609.aspx

    E-Book content licensed for use on MSDN:

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/beginner/hh308208.aspx

    If you haven’t installed Small Basic yet, please give it a try.  Perhaps you can use it to introduce a young person you know to the joys of programming.

    Some Quotes:

    · “Personally, I can't image my life as a high school Computer Science teacher without SmallBasic…” (Teacher)

    · “… the import feature alone saves me countless hours of prep time -- I would like to see that kind of cloud integration in all IDEs in the future…” (Teacher)

    · “This is exactly what we need.” (Academic)

    · “We couldn’t compete in the K-12 space without it.” (Academic)

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