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With this blog we want to inform you on our latest initiatives.
Enjoy reading and stay tuned!
I am excited to announce an update to the Visual Studio Achievements extension: the availability of nineteen new achievements all oriented toward Windows 8 app development.
If you are new to Visual Studio Achievements, check out this post.
If you already have the extension installed for Azure or Visual Studio achievements, you can update the extension right from the Visual Studio Extension Manager.
New curricula available Learn programming on the go with TouchDevelop! In this short course, you will learn how to write mobile apps directly from your web browser. With its simple language, touch-friendly interface and cloud-connected environment, TouchDevelop is a great place to get started.
Download teaching curriculum pack.
Using Construct 2 to build an awesome Windows 8 HTML5 game.
Construct2 is a superb application for building HTML5 games, you can download the Free edition and get going with the Beginner's guide to get started on building great games in a very short time period also I have produced a really nice framework for curricula adoption see http://blogs.msdn.com/b/uk_faculty_connection/archive/2012/10/15/learning-to-build-a-html5-windows-8-game-in-15-lessons.aspx
You will need Windows 8. You then need to install Visual Studio 2012 Express on Windows 8 if you have a DreamSpark account then you can install any version of Visual Studio 2012. You will also need to ensure you setup a FREE windows 8 and Windows Phone developer account via DreamSpark see https://www.dreamspark.com/Student/Windows-Store-Access.aspx
First, ensure your project has the right Name, Description and Author properties set, since these will be used in the exported app. In the Export Project dialog, choose Export for Windows 8 and follow the next steps as you would for exporting an ordinary project. In the export directory you will find a Visual Studio project.
Note there are three image files for the app icons, app-logo.png, app-smalllogo.png and app-storelogo.png. You should replace these with your own images but keep them exactly the same dimensions. The main project file has the extension .sln (solution). Double-click it in Windows 8 and Visual Studio should open it.
If you've not used Visual Studio before, it's a complex and sophisticated tool for application development. However, you only need to use a small number of commands to configure and test your app. Find the "Solution Explorer" bar which lists all the files in the project.
Double-click package.appxmanifest. This file contains all the settings for your app. There is one thing you need to set up because Construct 2 can't export it for you, which is the publisher certificate for your app. Click the Packaging tab, which probably has a red X by it because the certificate is not set. Now click Choose Certificate.... In the dialog that opens, click the dropdown and select Create test certificate....
A dialog appears with your Publisher ID and a password entry. Don't enter a password - leave it blank and hit OK. Click OK on the Choose Certificate dialog as well, and you should now have a certificate set.
If you've done this correctly the red X should have disappeared too.
Test certificates only allow you to test your app. When publishing to the Windows 8 App Store, you'll need a different certificate to publish your app. Now you can launch your app by pressing F5. Visual Studio will build it and launch it as a Windows 8 app, which uses the Internet Explorer 10 browsing engine. This allows you to test everything is working in the new browser and OS. You can also try tweaking the settings in package.appxmanifest, which include options like orientation lock and other tile images.
Interview with Paul Boocock, Computer Games Programming Lecturer at Staffordshire University
1) Why did you make the decision to develop / teach for Windows Phone and Windows 8? It was an easy decision. The tools are free and easily accessible, not to mention easy to use. Developing for these platforms is always popular too, our students have previously enjoyed developing XNA games for PC/XBOX, so moving those modules towards Windows Phone and Windows 8 is the obvious progression. I’m really optimistic for the future of Windows Phone and Windows 8 and I hope developing for the platform at this stage will give students a good opportunity to get applications into the marketplace and for them to prove popular whilst there is a little less competition.
2) What were some of the features you used from Windows Phone and Windows 8 and why? The key reason was the introduction of DirectX on Windows Phone. This gave us an opportunity to create a new Mobile Games Development module, which takes the DirectX skills the students have already learnt by this stage and apply them on a mobile platform by building 3D games on Windows Phone. Also, our Games Development students are taught heavily in C++, so being able to write Native Code on Windows Phone was a big bonus. We also found that students could get applications up and running much faster on these platforms when compared to others, through a combination of the tools and the platform features, many students are especially fond of designing their UI using XAML.
3) What was the experience like of using Windows Phone and Windows 8 and would you recommend it to students and other educators teaching game development? I find Windows Phone development great. It’s extremely easy to pick up and the documentation is second to none. Building a module around it is easy as all the features are now present in the platform, the only issue is the SLAT Processor requirement for the Windows Phone 8 emulator but this is something which we’ve come up with a solution for quite easily. I’d definitely recommend it to other educators and I push my students towards Windows Phone development whenever I get the opportunity.
4) How did you go about persuading senior academic or decision maker re the opportunity of Windows Phone and Windows 8? This was an easy one! There’s a lot of enthusiasm around mobile development and we we’re looking into getting more mobile development in our course, especially in Games Programming. As Windows Phone and Windows 8 gives us the opportunity to continue developing in the programming languages we predominately teach, this was a popular choice for many of the teaching staff.
5) What are doing to help students develop portfolios and CVs are you successfully getting students to submit their game to the Store? I believe the assignments which we set the students give them a really good starting point to getting together an application or game which makes a great item in their portfolio but could be a starting place for creating something worthy of the store. I’m also teaching more about what is required to be an indie developer, especially looking at publishing games and the financials involved. This is a strong interest area of mine, as it’s what I have done previously and still do to some extent. It’s a great opportunity for students to earn some money and to really show off by getting their applications and games published.
Thanks for the interview Paul and looking forward to seeing what your students deliver.
Exciting gifts for Global Game Jam UK venues.
I pleased to announce that Microsoft will be providing Global Game Jam prizes for UK venues.
The UK venues will hosting a differentiator competition based on building games for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, as part of the differentiator we will be offering prizes for the for the best game jam game made for Windows Phone 8 or Windows 8 at each UK Global Game Jam venue.
To top it off, we are also offering a national prize selected from all the UK GGJ games that makes it to the marketplace by the end of February.
To enter this competition there will be an online entry system at www.ubelly.com/gaming which will go live during the Global Game Jam, teams simply need to register online and confirm the details of their games Windows store/marketplace submission,
So what are you waiting for! Get over to http://globalgamejam.org/ and register today and check out the following resources.
Windows Phone http://dev.windowsphone.com
Windows 8 http://dev.windows.com
Ubelly Gaming Resources http://www.ubelly.com/gaming
Developer Resources, Camps and howtos – http://www.microsoft.com/uk/msdn/windows8
Even if your not physically attending a Game Jam you can enter the following online competition. http://www.ubelly.com/global-game-jam/
So what is TypeScript?
So where is TypeScript being used?
Microsoft Team Foundation Server 2012
The approach... more details at http://blogs.msdn.com/b/bharry/archive/2012/10/24/typescript-a-real-world-story-of-adoption-in-tfs.aspx
All told, it took us (1 dev) less than a week to write a tool (in Typescript, of course, :)) that would recognize Javadoc and the rest of our patterns and convert them to the corresponding Typescript constructs. It took about another week to run the tool, tweak our Javadoc comments (like filling in some that had been missed), update our build process, test the conversion, etc. Of course there's more we can do with Typescript. For instance, we didn't have any previous recognizable pattern for interface contracts - so there was nothing for the tool to use to generate the Typescript constructs. Over time, we'll be going through by hand, as we have reason to revisit modules and further tightening up the Typescript. I expect we'll find more issues that we don't know about now.
If you've not met TouchDevelop before it provides a drag-and-drop scripting environment which, it has now been revealed, has been developed in TypeScript.
The Web App has some amazing features, including code synthesis and trace+ replay and its a great tools for inspiring school children and beginners to programming. see http://blogs.msdn.com/b/uk_faculty_connection/archive/2012/12/13/touchdevelop-making-apps-for-mobile-devices-on-mobile-devices.aspx
Although TouchDevelop was designed for devices, specifically Windows Phone 7, with touchscreens, it can also be used with a keyboard or a mouse and so the browser-based version probably is an improvement in terms of productivity. It also provides the "work everywhere" element that allows for collaboration; as all the TouchDevelop client apps use the touchdevelop.com cloud service, all of your scripts will get synchronized between all platforms and devices and you only need to log in with the same credentials to access them. TouchDevelop Web App loads automatically on TouchDevelop.com and, having logged in with your Windows Live, Google or Facebook credentials, you find yourself in the Hub, where can view tutorial videos, visit the showcase to see apps already developed or just get on with creating your own apps in a highly intuitive environment. And once you have created an app you want to publish there are buttons to create a Windows Store app and to create a Windows Phone app.
TypeScript and the opportunity
Well there is Visual Studio IDE, then there is Team Foundation Server and Office integration and… well you get the picture.
Yes its a vast set of products which as academics and students you get for FREE via DreamSpark http://www.dreamspark.com
Additionally we have now adopted a continuous delivery schedule of both the Visual Studio IDE and Team Foundation Server to continuous delivery with a 3 monthly cadence. Yes, that means that you should now be upgrading your Team Foundation Server every Quarter and that your developers should be updating their client. Before you all shout yes we know this is issue for managed desktop estates so… You know what… they don’t have to upgrade huge services packs in addition to windows updates, VS updates are now a “patch” that just updates your install.
With the move to continuous improvement and service delivery comes many problems that need solving. Like any continuous service improvement programme these may create new problem but rather than fix them, and like real world examples these raise a number of important learning issues which are vital for the modern IT professional and developer to understand and work out benefits vs risks.
For example students should be continually asking the following questions in relations to their exercises and assignments.
If you solve these problems not only will you be able to deliver more frequently, but what you will deliver will be in smaller chucks and therefore at a significantly lower risk. Not only that, in solving your deployment problems and essentially continuously practicing them you minimise the risk of delivering to production any significant issues or problems. The result is happy consumers…
So what has Microsoft doing about this
Just 3 months after RTM and barely 6 weeks after the Visual Studio 2012 launch the first quarterly update, Visual Studio 2012 Update 1, became available and planning for Visual Studio 2012 Update 2 started.With the launch of Visual Studio Team Foundation Service the Team Foundation Server team, arguably responsible for the most complex component of Visual Studio are delivering even more frequently.
The summary is:
They are effectively on a 3 week Sprint cycle and are delivering new features to production every three weeks as well as hotfixes every Monday if needed. So for more keep an eye on Brian Harry Blog site see http://blogs.msdn.com/b/bharry
To celebrate the last year Microsoft has put together a video to highlight the 12 biggest moments of 2012.
2012 has been a pretty epic year in the UK with the Royal Jubilee, Royal Wedding and people everywhere sharing two weeks of inspiration during the London Olympics.
2012 has been a momentous year at Microsoft, which experienced its biggest launch year in its history. The company introduced the world to Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, announced its family of Surface PCs, showcased a new version of Microsoft Office, and released Halo 4. Ensuring we keep up a steady rhythm of advancements and innovation across our most popular products for individuals and businesses.
So a huge thanks for all the support in 2012.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and look forward to seeing you all in 2013.
All App Builders registered in the Windows Store as a UK developer with an App in the Windows Store by 24 December have an amazing opportunity to win some great prizes. And this isn't just for apps from now - it's all Apps, including ones already in store. For every day until 24 December CreativeBloq will draw out an app that is in store from their list of registered participants Register Here
Free training and resources for developers
Getting Started with a Windows 8 app Find all the resources you need to start creating a great Windows 8 app.
Free Developer Tools Templates. Kits. Tools. Everything you need to build your app.
Windows Azure Poster This poster introduces Windows Azure for developers and summarises the benefits, such as global coverage and extensive language support.
App Promotion Opportunity Does your app have a unique feature? A beautiful design? Email us with a description of the app, including what it does, your background and a link to the app store.
Upcoming Events for Windows and Azure in 2013
Online, Throughout January and February - Six Steps to Windows Azure - Join us for our Six Steps to Windows Azure programme which offers a series of free technical events and online sessions to guide you through how to take advantage of the Windows Azure platform.
On Demand - Windows Store app development for IOS developers
Learn the ins and outs of the Windows platform from iOS developers who are now building Windows apps.
London, 11 January - Ideas to Apps: Session 1 - Ideas and UX - This 'Ideas to Apps' Workshop series is tailored to help people with awesome apps ideas through the complete development process, from idea generation through to designing, building and even marketing an app.
London, 26 January - Ideas to Apps: Session 2 - Match-Making - In session 2, we'll match you with developers and designers who can help make your app idea a reality.
Monetise on your Windows 8 Apps
Getting your app live in the Windows Store and monetised via Microsoft Advertising couldn't be easier, just follow these three simple steps;
1. Build an app for Windows 8
2. Download the Microsoft Advertising SDK
3. Register in the PubCenter
With the Microsoft Advertising SDK for Windows 8 you determine the advertising experience in your app - allowing you the flexibility to provide the most integrated user experience possible. As the app publisher, you have the opportunity to attract unique and valuable audiences that advertisers will pay to reach. By connecting the advertiser to your app audience with relevant and engaging experiences, you create value for advertisers and users, and revenue for yourself. View More Information
Windows Azure Storage pricing has been reduced and two key Windows Azure Active Directory features are now offered at no charge. In addition, the Windows Azure Media Services Encoding Reserved Units preview is now available.
Windows Azure Storage
Effective December 12, 2012, we announced another price reduction for Windows Azure Storage by 28%. This follows our March 8, 2012, reduction of 12% furthering our commitment to best overall value in the industry. We also added more value to our storage offerings in a number of ways. For more information, please read our Windows Azure blog or refer to the Storage section of Data Management on the Pricing Details webpage.
Windows Azure Active Directory To help make identity management in the cloud accessible and available to every business and organization in the world, we now are offering two key features of Windows Azure Active Directory at no charge.
• Access Control provides centralized authentication and authorization by integrating with consumer identity providers such as Facebook or by using an on-premises deployment of the Windows Server Active Directory service. With Access Control, you can create a single application that can allow users to sign in with both their organizational credentials stored in Windows Azure Active Directory or Windows Server Active Directory, or by using popular consumer identity services like Microsoft Account, Facebook, Google, or Twitter. Historically, Access Control has been priced by number of transactions, but now it is available at no charge.
• Core Directory and Authentication enables capabilities such as single sign-on, user and group management, directory synchronization, and directory federation. These capabilities are currently free of charge in the Windows Azure Active Directory Developer Preview and will remain free of charge after Windows Azure Active Directory reaches general availability.
Please note that additional capabilities such as Windows Azure Active Directory Rights Management will be available as separately priced options. For more information, please refer to the Identity section of our Pricing Details webpage.
Windows Azure Media Encoding Reserved Units preview Starting today, you can take advantage of improved media task processing throughput with the Media Services Encoding Reserved Units preview. Encoding Reserved Units allow you to process media tasks in parallel at a rate equal to the number of reserved units purchased. During preview, the original Media Services Encoding will remain free of charge. However, Encoding Reserved Units will be charged at the rate of £60.0039 each per month, calculated on a daily basis using the highest number of reserved units that are provisioned in the account in the corresponding 24-hour period. For more information, please refer to the Media section of our Pricing Details webpage.
Curricula Resources and access to Windows Azure of Educators and students
Introduce students to and educate them in the new computing paradigm using the Windows Azure platform for development, labs, and projects; take advantage of free and long-term access to top cloud resources. http://aka.ms/tioxvb
Phone Application Development
Teach the fundamental concepts and design guidelines of mobile computing using top professional developer tools and comprehensive training resources. Inspire students to create apps for Windows Phone. http://aka.ms/xc5wy3