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!
Over the past few weeks with the Public Beta of Unity for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 have had a number of questions about the opportunity of Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and UNITY3D.
Unity is popular cross-platform game engine with a built-in IDE developed by Unity Technologies. It is used to develop video games for web plugins, desktop platforms, consoles and mobile devices, and is utilized by over one million developers.
Unity in education is primarily used to create mobile and web games, but can also deploy games to consoles or the PC.
A number of 3rd Party Unity assets are presently being developed to provide full support for Windows 8 and Windows Azure.
One of these plug-ins is developed by Bit Rave. Bit Rave have extensive experience working with the Windows 8 platform capabilities, and as part of that we decided to build a library for Unity to make Windows 8 integration easier for everyone.
Bit Rave are currently looking for people interested in joining a closed beta. Send an email to email@example.com if you want to participate.
So what important about Windows 8 features?
Live Tiles are what makes your Windows experiences come to life. Bit Rave Live Tiles allows you to update and manage Live Tiles from within Unity.
For more information on Live Tiles check out Guidelines and checklist for tiles and badges on MSDN.
With both square and wide tile, Bit Rave makes it trivial to support both.
With support for text tiles and image tiles, there are lots of options.
And for Unity Pro users, you how about a screenshot on your live tile!
You can also manage rotating tile updates with just a few lines of code.
Windows 8 comes with a variety of devices, all with varying different screen layout capabilities. Bitrave's Snap View library helps you implement responsive applications for all changes in UI without having to leave Unity.
To learn more about the view states, check out Guidelines for Snapped and Fill Views on MSDN.
Register for snap, filled, and full screen views with the following line of code.
Register for orientation changes with the following line of code:
Charms covers both the settings charm, and the share charm for sharing content from within your app. For integration with the Search charm, it has it's own component appropriately named Search.
Setting is how your users find your help, your privacy policies, and find out further information about yoru application. You can trigger the settings charm manually with a single line of code.
Sharing is one of the key components of Windows 8 applications. Sharing allows your application to interact with other applications who can consume the content. You can allows your application to share with your favourite social media client, or maybe share an image with a photo manipulation app.
Bit Rave for Live Apps allows you to share seamlessly. To register content for sharing, it can be all done in a single line of code!
3: "Hello World!");
Or maybe you want to share an image from within game:
And for Unity Pro users, how about sharing a screenshot from a camera!
And you can even trigger the UI manually from within game:
With your Microsoft ID following you between machines, you can now take advantage of Roaming Settings. Use roaming settings to synchronise high scores and game files across machines. Bitrave Settings let you do all this simply and easily without having to leave Unity, and also supports Local Settings for non-roaming preferences and data.
Register for updates to settings data with the following line of code.
Roaming settings go with you, and all it takes is just a line of code to set them.
1: RoamingSettings.SetValue("high-score", hiScoreValue);
And just one line of code to retrieve.
1: var highScore = RoamingSettings.GetValue("high-score");
Local settings act just like roaming settings, but stay on a single machine when you don't want them to roam. You set and retrieve them in the same way.
1: LocalSettings.SetValue("high-score", hiScoreValue);
1: var highScore = LocalSettings.GetValue("high-score");
Azure Mobile Services allow you to take your application to the cloud quickly and easily.
And now you can access Azure Mobile Services directly from your Unity code.
Initialisation is just as simple as you'd expect.
1: var service = AzureMobileServices("url", "token");
Insert an item into your Azure database in a single line of code from Unity.
Update items in the Azure databsae with just one line of code from Unity.
Remove items from the Azure database in 1 line of code from Unity.
Query items in your Azure Mobile Services from Unity.
1: service.Where<ToDoItem>(p => p.Category == "Exercise", MyCallback);
2: public void MyCallback(List<ToDoItem> items)
NOTE: await / async will be available when supported by Unity. Until then we are using callbacks.
Lookup items in your Azure Mobile Services from Unity.
1: service.Lookup<ToDoItem>(myItem, MyCallback);
2: public void
3: MyCallback(ToDoItem item)
Microsoft recently ran an full day of events to highlight the opportunity of Windows and Unity.
You can watch the content below and get access to all the materials at http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Windows-Camp/Building-Windows-Games-with-Unity?d=1
This session is a lightning tour of the Windows 8 experiences, and the most relevant improvements that game developers will run into when building a game for the Windows Store. You will also get a comprehensive overview on the economics behind the Windows Store
End-to-End: Develop, debug and deploy a Unity game for the Windows Store
In this session, we will build a game using Unity Editor and then export it for usage in a Windows Store app. You will see the exporting of the unity player, the visual studio project and deploying to a Windows RT device.
Deep dive: Tips & tricks for porting games from other platforms to Windows 8
Go deep under the hood of Unity for Windows Store apps. After this session you will understand how the engine works, and the changes you will need to make to port a Unity game to run on the Windows Store app model.
Sharing code: Reuse all this new knowledge on the Windows Phone platform
Most of what you learned so far on building Unity games for Windows 8 is applicable to Windows Phone too. In this session, we will highlight the few differences across the platforms; we will start with the Windows Phone Store monetization differences and then get to the tools and platform differences. ...
Differentiate: Integrate your game with Windows 8 platform features (such as contracts,…
To have a truly great game, you will need to integrate with Windows 8 features like contracts, live tiles, and push notifications; in this session you will see coding examples and learn techniques for writing plugins that integrate a Unity game with native Windows 8 features.
Introduction to building games with Unity
In this session, Carl Callewaert demos how to build a game using Unity Editor.
Partner Session: Rogue Rocket Games
Rogue Rocket games has released two games to the Windows Store: GunPowder and SushiChop. In this session you will hear their lessons learned during their journey writing these two games.
Partner Session: Coding Jar Studios
Coding Jar Studios started by writing Fling Theory for the Windows Store and quickly ported the game to Windows Phone. In this session you will hear their lessons learned while writing the Windows game and porting it to phone.
Partner Session: Luminary
Luminary is one of the first companies that ported games to Windows Phone. In this session you will hear their lessons learned in porting a Unity game from other platform to Windows Phone.
Construct 2 supports publishing Windows Store games
For one week you can purchase Construct 2 Personal and Business Edition licenses with a 40% discount see https://www.scirra.com/blog/111/spring-sale-40-off?utm_source=Email&utm_medium=LinkToBlogPost&utm_campaign=BlogSubscription-22-4-2013
If you're looking to upgrade your Personal license to a Business license, there has never been a better time! The normal cost of upgrade is $280/€229/£180, with a 40% sale discount the new cost is $168/€137.40/£108.
If you would like to upgrade your Personal license to a Business license:
This sale will run until 6pm BST on Monday the 29th April. If you want to take advantage of this sale, make sure you arrange purchase of a license before this date.
There a new Game Templates for Windows 8 appearing every day, here are the 9 templates, available on GitHub built by fellow evangelist Chris Bowen. Chris has developed nine AWESOME game templates with features like the Windows 8 object, a “Pause" layer, snapped view support (with game pause), touch support, and some project property updates.
These can be downloaded for FREE from Github
Additionally we have lots of academic curricula materials available at http://www.microsoft.com/faculty
If your interested in Construct2 and game development for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 you can download all templates as a ZIP, or get individual templates below, just click the link and choose “View Raw”, which will let you save the template.
Auto-Runner (click “View Raw” and save) Side-scroller with player constantly running, having to jump between platforms.
Driving Game (click “View Raw” and save) Top-down driving around a track with bordering objects.
Infinite Jumping (click “View Raw” and save) Vertical game where player automatically jumps and must reach new platforms.
Physics Catapult (click “View Raw” and save) Fire catapult at structures with physics behaviors for impact/gravity.
Physics Puzzle (click “View Raw” and save) Click/touch objects to remove to clear puzzle.
Platformer (click “View Raw” and save) Jump between a variety of platforms (static, moving, one-way).
Top-Down Shooter (click “View Raw” and save) Top-down view, move player and fire at targets.
Turret Defense (click “View Raw” and save) Add turrets to maze to fire on targets as they pathfind to their goal.
Vertical Shooter (click “View Raw” and save) Vertically-scrolling game player and targets both moving and firing.
Connecting your game to Windows Azure Cloud Services
There is FREE plug-in for Construct 2 which makes it easy to integrate the power of Azure Mobile Services into your games for Windows 8. Saving to the cloud is a great way to seamlessly store data for achievements, leaderboards, save games, user data and lots more see http://www.scirra.com/forum/plugin-azure-mobile-services-for-windows-8_topic64265.html
We would love to hear about your experiences of building Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 Games with Construct2.
As you know from my previous blog posts and presentations A Microsoft certification confirms to everyone, employers, clients, and your peers. That you're a technical expert with proven skills and abilities.
Gaining a Microsoft Certification also makes you part of the elite community of Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCP), which allows you access to exclusive Microsoft resources and benefits such as the MCP member website, career-building tools, and training.
At TechEd Europe
In the Certification Center at TechEd Europe 2013, you'll have access to onsite training, Exam Prep sessions, and practice tests, as well as the assistance of MCT Ambassadors who have passed multiple exams.
So take this opportunity to gain certification and also sit two exams for the price of one or simply take the 50% discount. This opportunity is only available to registered TechEd 2013 attendees.
Learn more and sign up to take a Microsoft Certification exam at TechEd Europe.
Not registered yet for TechEd 2013?
Register today and start planning your ideal conference schedule! Register for TechEd Europe
TechEd Forum: http://channel9.msdn.com/forums/techedeu
Event Site: http://europe.msteched.com/Certification
Not attending TechEd Europe - take your second shot exam now
Prove that you have the knowledge and skills in the most current and specialized technologies and solutions by earning a Microsoft Certification. Passing the exams needed to demonstrate those skills can be tough, but for a limited time, you’ll get a free second chance to succeed.
* Redemption of both the initial exam and free retake exam are subject to seat availability.
Here's how it works:
For Microsoft Certification packs: In addition to saving at least 15 percent on the cost of the certification exams, you get one free retake for each exam you don’t pass the first time.
For single exams with Second Shot: If you fail your exam the first time you take it, you may use the same voucher for your retake exam.
Read the FAQ to find out more.
STEP 1 – REGISTER for your Second Shot voucher. STEP 2 – SCHEDULE and pay for your exam at Prometric using your voucher code. STEP 3 – TAKE EXAM STEP 4 – RETAKE EXAM If you do not pass, use your voucher code to register for the same exam again at no charge.
Second Shot is attached to all regular-priced individual technical exams
Second Shot is attached to the following MCSA, MCSE, and MCSD certification exam packs and saves you at least 15 percent off single exam pricing:
MCSA: Windows Server 2012
MCSA: Windows Server 2008
MCSA: SQL Server 2012
MCSE: Desktop Infrastructure
MCSE: Server Infrastructure
MCSE: Private Cloud
MCSE: Data Platform
MCSE: Business Intelligence
Upgrade to MCSE: Windows Server 2012
Ok who has ever watched STAR WARS and wanted a 3D princess Leia Hologram?
Holograms are often thought of as an optical novelty that can produce pretty 3D pictures, but they are capable of doing much more than that. One of my colleagues Dr Dave Brown has been continuing to explore natural user interaction with 3D data on a 2D displays specially using Microsoft Windows 8 devices.
As we know user interaction with a user interface can be in 2 or 3 dimensions. Dave work aims to build an orientation-independent user interface for a holographic display, which would naturally lend itself to the type of display being used.
Example of 3D Holographic Experience created for Windows 8
2D interaction is pervasive with the availability of multi-touch enabled displays, and 3D interaction is becoming more accessible with products such as Microsoft's Kinect for Windows and the Leap Motion controller.
For example, a vertical screen behaves as a "virtual window" onto the world such as in a first-person 3D game. A horizontal screen on the other hand, behaves as a "virtual table" for viewing and manipulating objects, or as a view from a third-person game looking "down" onto the world.
Princess Leia Hologram
All Windows 8 apps now support both landscape and portrait modes. Dave work has been developed to support both horizontal and vertical modes, and since he uses specify orientation using vectors he can also specify any intermediate angle.
For more details on Dr Dave Brown work see http://drdave.co.uk/page/projects
So if you are working on any interesting 3D project we would love to hear more?
Are you interested in the Cloud for gaming opportunities?
Attend one of these FREE day technical briefings on the Windows Azure Platform, these briefings are designed to help games companies explore the opportunities presented by Windows Azure as a rich, extensible, scalable, resilient and geo-replicated games platform. The briefings will help games companies understand the Windows Azure Platform and how great games and cloud based applications can exploit this powerful new platform.
April 29, 2013 in Hamburg
April 30, 2013 in Paris
May 1, 2013 in Reading
May 3, 2013 in Amsterdam
Windows Azure Games Acceleration Lab – May 21 & 22, 2013 / Reading
Designed to help create highly-available, highly performing, scalable applications and services to cover a wide range of game scenarios. We are also particularly interested in developers who are keen to exploit any of the following themes:
• Create highly-available, infinitely scalable, multi-tier, highly performing games and services using a rich Platform as a Service environment
• Optimising game performance with machine scale out, extensible caching and CDN
• Develop with a wide range of language and tools
• Create real time and turn based multiplayer game support with SignalR, Windows Azure Service Bus, sockets, etc.
• Analysing post game data and usage through Big Data and Hadoop/HDInsight
• Manage cross device platform devices and social network authentication with Windows Azure Mobile Services
• Stream and managing video with Windows Azure Media Services
“We love Windows 8. The live tiles and the ease of operation makes it a magical operating system to work with…….. We are extremely proud of the Rapid2D engine and want as many developers, both professional and novice, to discover all the benefits of using it.” David Fletcher, Rapid 2D
This engine was initially developed by Rapid2D in support of the Guinness World Record Gamejam we did back in September last year. It was created to assist the Game Jam participants to rapidly develop their Windows 8 games within C++/DX. Since then the Rapid2D team have continued to develop and evolve the game engine to include Windows Phone 8 support and to come bundled with a series of plug-in and game templates.
For those who attend the Windows In Academia event last month and had the opportunity to see Rapid2D in action here is a copy of David’s presentation.
If your interested in Rapid2d simply visit Rapid2.com and check out the interview in this months Develop magazine which talks about the Rapid 2D game engine as they look to launch their Professional licensed version early next week with full support for both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.
The free version, which is currently available, is primarily aimed at the hobbyist or student so the perfect tool for C++ curricula and getting students looking to develop their programming understanding and capabilities of C++ and Windows 8.
The licensed Pro version to be launched later this month will look to support more advanced game developers and small indie studios as they look to develop game titles for both Windows platforms.
Rapid2D is being extensively now used by Train2Game which have over 9,000 game dev students they have enrolled on their courses and a number of gaming Universities in the UK are now utilising the engine to enhance teaching and students ability to create real portfolio's of apps which are available in the Windows 8 Stores. Rapid2D also have plans to take the engine Global and build a large community around it to help generate 3rd party plug-in and gaming templates. It helps that they have over 40,000 game dev students enrolled on their courses across the World so have a good starting point as they not only look to build that community but also integrate the game engine within their Degree and Masters courses on games development and encourage their students to develop a portfolio of game apps on the Windows platforms which demonstrate their skills to potential employers.
So how is this being used… today there are over 300 game apps in the UK Windows 8 Store!
Additionally Rapid2d recently ran a competition, where they looked for the Rapid 2D engine to be used by UK game dev students in developing and publishing Windows 8 game app titles. Rapid2d have had over 150 teams enter the competition and utilise the game engine to develop a range of game apps.
I wanted to put this quick blog together to answer the most common questions I get from students/developers wishing to build apps.
1. How can I get a Store Account for Windows?
All Students get FREE Windows 8 Store accounts via DreamSpark follow this presentation on the steps to how to validate your FREE Windows 8 Store account
2. What are the resources available if I want to start developing a Windows 8 or Windows Phone application
Windows 8 Developers – http://dev.windows.com
Windows 8 Designers – http://design.windows.com
Windows Phone Developers – http://dev.windowsphone.com
Windows Phone Designers – http://design.windowsphone.com
3. Not a designer, where can I get a logo?
Images from www.thenounproject.com Remember to check licensing first!
4. I want nice fonts, but aren’t they expensive?
www.Fontsquirrel.com is an excellent resource
5. Where can I get colours to match my app?
www.kuler.adobe.com and www.colorlovers.com are excellent, free, searchable resources
6. Where can I get background/pattern for my app?
Great resource with some nice tutorials www.dinpattern.com
This week I had a really interesting discussion/debate with a University lecturer on teaching user interface design and it took me back just to how things have changed since the mid-nineties.
When I was a student a lot of CS courses which looked at interface design had materials which referenced the following statement “The Evil’s of Rapid Prototyping,” and many slide decks contained reasons why rapid prototyping was a bad idea. Most of the reasoning centred around prototyping tools being so complex back then, they needed to be operated by developers; subsequently, the design process tended to be influenced by all design work needing to be interpreted through the lens of what a prototyper could actually achieve with the software available.
Fast forward to today and there’s been a rethinking on prototyping. Is this good or bad?
I recently blogged about how professional organisations are using tools such as OneNote for UI/UX design. Additionally there a lots of new prototyping tools have appeared over the past few years and they’re rapidly being adopted by interaction designers.
So we concluded that the creators of these tools never attended one of these courses!
So the question I now want to pose is.. how do go about teaching modern user interface design and application workflows on your courses and what tools and resources do you use?
As we know prototypes can be as simple or as complex as necessary for the project on which you are working.
What tools do you use?
Microsoft SketchFlow includes several tools to make your prototype interactive in order to more closely mimic the flow of a production application. For example, with SketchFlow, you can do the following:
Begin a prototype with just a site map and a few notes jotted on the application screens, and then continue to refine your prototype as you go along.
Either draw user interface (UI) elements, or import them from common drawing programs.
Animate your prototype, creating a visual representation of the interaction between the user and the application.
Use the full library of standard UI elements and custom controls.
Create sample data on the fly, easily build data-driven UI, and add styles to your data.
Create interactivity without writing code by using built-in behaviours. Behaviours are extensible, making it easy to add custom behaviours to your prototyping toolbox.
Either write code to create custom elements, or use pre-built elements from your development team
For more details on Sketchflow see http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/expression/ee215229.aspx
Tutorials on Sketchflow see www.microsoft.com/.../creating-navigation.aspx
But what about considering Modern design principles..
With Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 we have the following key principles which need to be adhered
So the key things you need to consider when designing your apps for modern applications are..
Ensure that you weave platform features into your core scenarios and prototype design to leverage the power of the underlying platfom..
So lets think about the platform features available..
To help develop these scenarios here are list of the key resources.
Microsoft Design Guidelines for Windows Phone http://design.windowsphone.com
Microsoft Design Guidelines for Windows 8 http://design.windows.com
Microsoft User Experience Fundamentals and online training http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Windows-Camp/Windows-8-UX-Fundamentals-Training-Workshop-2012
So where to start?
To help you get started on your app development here are some templates and guidance from http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Windows-Camp/Windows-8-UX-Fundamentals-Training-Workshop-2012
Example of a completed template for a new app design/concept.
In summary, using any form of prototype technique makes it easy to sketch out a conceptual application and ensure the following are achieved.
So what are you waiting for? You can just create a series of screens and use the templates above and then begin to draw. As your idea progresses, you can add interactive elements that make your prototype as close to the finished product as you need it to be to communicate the design idea you want to convey.
Reviewers can use the tools such as SketchFlow, One Note to view the application flow, and then leave feedback directly in the project as annotations. Once the feedback has been incorporated and the prototype is complete, the prototype project can be handed off to a developer for conversion into a final application,
Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance team have opened for registration the Summer 2013 Microsoft Dynamics AX Curriculum Training Conference.
What is Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance?
Interested in Microsoft Dynamics within your curriculum then register for the following event
Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance will offer free training related to the new Microsoft Dynamics AX curriculum being offered to DynAA members. When taught in its entirety, the curriculum prepares students to take the Microsoft Dynamics AX Financials and the Microsoft Dynamics AX Trade and Logistics certification exams. The modules within the curriculum can also be used individually to enhance existing curriculum. Instructor Guides will be provided.
Please register here: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/5819469189
When: August 19-21, 2013 Where: Microsoft Campus-Munich, Germany Konrad-Zuse-Str. 1 85716 Unterschleißheim, Germany Learn how to use this curriculum in your classroom either to enhance your current curriculum or to prepare your students for certification.
The training class and all materials needed for the training, including computers, will be provided by DynAA at no charge. Meals will be provided during the training at no charge. Travel to Munich, Germany, as well as hotel expenses are at the cost of the attendee. Those attending from a Public Sector institution will be required to provide a signed Pre-Approval letter. Please contact Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance, Senior Program Manager, Jane Birkegaard Thomsen at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Today is an exciting day for Microsoft, Windows Azure, today marked the general availability of Windows Azure Infrastructure Services. This new service now makes it possible for all customers to move applications into the cloud. The announcement today are not only about Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS), it’s about Infrastructure Services and Platform Services and hybrid scenarios. The cloud should be an enabler for innovation, and an extension of your organisation’s IT fabric. for more details of today announcement see http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsazure/archive/2013/04/16/the-power-of-and.aspx
Dramatically reduce your wait time to provision IT resources by rolling out apps and infrastructure in minutes. Bring your Windows or Linux-based application to the cloud as-is. Scale up or scale down as needed for a wide range of app hosting scenarios and pay only for what you use.
Extend and Synch. Connect Hybrid Infrastructure Services with a Single Identity
Build hybrid services that take advantage of what you already have while enabling new innovation in the cloud. Bring your existing identities to apps running in Virtual Machines by simply connecting to your on-premises Active Directory. Running Office 365? Simply run Active Directory Federation services in Virtual Machines to sync with on-premises identities for single sign on.
Spin up a test lab within minutes. Connect to your existing infrastructure if required. When you’re done, tear it down, bring your app back in house to run it using your on-premises infrastructure, or keep it in the cloud. The choice is yours.
Spin up SharePoint farms in minutes without major capital investments. Integrate full trust code to run rich apps and business logic, and provide internet facing collaboration sites on SharePoint that scale with your business needs.
Start small, go big. Whether you are building a lab to prototype your newest app with SQL Server or extending data marts into the cloud, Windows Azure Virtual Machines is a solid foundation you can count on. With full SQL Server compatibility you get capabilities like full-text search, or transparent data encryption for greater security.
This is a great infographic from http://www.dotnetsolutions.co.uk/
Teaching/Learning and Research Opportunity
If your interested in testing or teaching Azure Cloud services see http://www.windowsazure.com/education