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!
Microsoft Press have a number of FREE Ebooks now available covering topics from SQL Server 2012, Office 2010 and Windows Phone, there is something here for everyone.
Many of our free ebooks are offered in three formats - PDF, Mobi (Kindle) and epub. Hope you find them useful!
Today, Microsoft announced Windows Azure Toolkits for Devices, consisting of assets for Windows Phone, iOS and a preview of tools for Android.
Using the toolkits, developers can use the cloud to accelerate the creation of applications on the major mobile platforms.
Today announcement and the release of the API is a key goal to allowing developers to quickly develop and build apps that work with unique devices across a dozen platforms.
The toolkits leverage the Microsoft Azure cloud resources to simplify the complexity of supporting multiple devices. As a common back-end, developers can use cloud services to share common requirements like device notifications, authentication, storage and even higher-level services like leaderboards.
Developers can maximize the performance of each mobile device by writing client code that exploits each platform. As more and more mobile applications rely on back-end services, the Microsoft Azure cloud can become increasingly useful and strategic for developers.
A huge opportunity of the Windows Azure Toolkits for Devices to create applications on the major mobile platforms, specifically:
• Windows Azure Toolkit for iPhone (v1.0). Developers can download the package and quickly get started writing iPhone apps on the Windows Azure platform without having to have intimate knowledge of Microsoft tools, such as Visual Studio. Compiled iPhone code libraries to interact with Windows Azure, a sample iOS application, documentation, and a “Cloud Ready” Windows Azure deployment package are included.
Links to access the free toolkits are below:
https://github.com/microsoft-dpe/watoolkitios-lib https://github.com/microsoft-dpe/watoolkitios-samples https://github.com/microsoft-dpe/watoolkitios-doc
• Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows Phone (v1.2). Originally released last month, new developer features available in the next two weeks include integration with the Windows Azure Access Control Service (e.g., a wizard, automatic setup, tooling and code), full support for Windows Azure Storage Queues and an updated user interface for the supporting Web application.
Links to access the free toolkits are below:
Windows Phone 7:
• Windows Azure Toolkit for Android (Prototype Preview). With the forthcoming release this summer, developers will be able to extend the functionality now available for iOS and Windows Phone to the Android platform with the Windows Azure Toolkit for Android.
To simplify the process of setting up services in Windows Azure, we are also releasing a “Cloud Ready” package for the toolkit. This package is designed to allow someone to quickly get started using Windows Azure without having to open and modify the services.
Screencasts are available for developers seeking additional information: Getting Started with the iOS Toolkit and Deploying the Cloud Ready Package for Devices. Windows Azure Technical Evangelist Wade Wegner’s blog contains a more detailed technical review of the iOS toolkit.
By providing toolkits for Windows Phone 7, iOS, and Android, we are making it faster and easier for developers to use Windows Azure to provide services across device platforms
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,
Techila is a middleware solution for High Performance Computing that enables existing applications to utilize more computing capacity. I believe that the key problem in business and operational computing is the lack of application performance. There are enormous amounts of computing capacity available using Windows Azure cloud service.
Techila allows applications to utilise all available computing capacity. To try demonstrate this a great example of the benefits of Techila and the Windows Azure with Techila integration is a case study, which Techila did with a leading cancer researcher. The researchers in question had a project, which would have taken 15 years. He had developed his research application in MATLAB. He used the Windows Azure with Techila integration to boost the performance of his application with the combined power of 1200 Windows Azure instances. This allowed him to complete the project in 4,5 days! Being able to do something in 4,5 days, which usually takes 15 years gives a real competitive advantage.
Techila develop the solution in close co-operation with end-users and system administrators from the very beginning.
Techila has selected Pharma, Economics/ Financial, and Universities/ Academia as the key markets because of the fact that they are strong on Techila's home market, Finland. But I want to emphasize that unlike many other distributed computing solutions, Techila is a fully horizontal middleware, which can be used in any segment and which can increase the performance of any application: The code can be a MATLAB application, or it can be R (or C/C++, Java, Perl, Python, Fortran,...) They also offer an open API, which can be used to connect any ISV application (3DSMax, SAS, COMSOL, Sungard,...) to the Windows Azure capacity.
Also please find below a demo of run a 2-day long computation in a couple of minutes using 500 Azure instances using MATLAB:
Techila with R language can be found here:
If you have been looking for an opportunity to develop curricula, work books, assessments or simply a walkthrough of a XAML/C# or HTML5/JS application step by step this it! Full source code and instructions are provided in both html and docx formats.
New Updates - What’s new
AppHub Integration: Linking your DreamSpark Account with a Microsoft Live ID
I’m very excited to inform you that we’ve completed our “AppHub Integration: Linking DreamSpark Account with Live ID”
This will now dramatically improve the experience of those students that were having difficulties with App Hub registration.
With the update to DreamSpark students and educators create a new DreamSpark account that is not a Windows Live ID. However for students who wish to produce application for Xbox or Windows Phone require a Windows Live ID, to create apphub accounts via http://create.msdn.com. We have now enabled the system, to enable educators or students to map their DreamSpark account to new or existing Windows Live ID.
Here is the workflow:
- Student/Educator visits the page https://www.dreamspark.com/Product/Product.aspx?ProductId=26 and sees [Map your Live ID] button enabled and [Register on AppHub] button disabled.
- Student/Educator Clicks on [Map your Live ID] button.
- Student/Educator Sign in on DreamSpark site with their Verified account (or get the account verified).
- Student/Educator then logs in using Windows Live ID account.
- Student/Educator is shown the message “Are you sure you want your map your DreamSpark login (email@example.com) with your Windows Live ID (firstname.lastname@example.org) with [Ok] and [Cancel] buttons.
- Student/Educator clicks on [Ok] button a Accounts will be mapped a User automatically signed out from Live ID account à User will be redirected to the page https://www.dreamspark.com/Product/Product.aspx?ProductId=26 with [Map your Live ID] button disabled and [Register on AppHub] button enabled.
If you have done any reading about Windows 8, one thing all the press is focusing on is Windows 8 offers and unprecedented opportunity to monetize your developer skills.
Combining the broad reach of Windows which already exists, a new developer platform in the form of Windows Store Apps, best-in-class developer tools Visual Studio 2012 and Team Foundation Server, a reimagined user experience with Windows Store, Metro Style Apps, support for new chipsets Intel and RTM, and a built-in Store with industry-leading business terms, with initial revenue share of 70% revenue for you 30 % for Microsoft and 100% in app purchase revenue to you.
Windows 8 is the largest developer opportunity, ever! So lets look at some of the reasons for developers to consider writing applications for the Windows Store.
There is more than 1.25 billion Windows users globally. The market potential for your selling your application is enormous. Clearly, the market for Windows-based applications far outnumbers anything else. Thinking about academia specifically, potential employers will be wanting to recruit students with the skills, experience and portfolio of existing Windows 8 apps to build their latest software releases.
2. The Scale of the Windows Opportunity
Simply put the Windows Store offers a marketplace for your application with a global reach of 200+ markets, 100+ languages, even distribution to enterprise customers. A generous revenue sharing model is in place. Imagine that you keep 70-80% of the revenue share from your application.
3. So what are we doing to help
4. So What type of App should I be building?
5. The Windows Store Ensures Visibility Strong support for search, category browsing, ranking lists, editorial content. The Windows Store features latest, most popular, and fast rising apps.
6. Enterprise Support Don’t limit yourself to consumer apps. Perhaps you have an idea for an Enterprise application. Luckily, the Windows Store will have rich support for deployment and management scenarios. Compliance and security is built in. There is support for direct control over the deployment of Metro style apps.
7. How you make money Your applications can be time-based and feature-based trials, paid apps, including in-app purchases. In-app purchases can help you customize the transaction flow with the customer. Sales analytics can also help you increase your reach.
8. Free Apps - Many choose to offer free applications + an ad model I personally think it makes the most sense to get your application out there as a trial. We have learned from the Windows Phone marketplace that trial versions get 70 times more downloads than paid versions. 10% of those convert to the paid version, typically within a few hours.
1. The Windows Dev Center
2. The Windows engineering and Windows Store teams are blogging regularly at the following sites
· Windows 8 app developer blog: Get coding and design best practices and tips, and updates on events and offers for developers.
· Windows Store for developers blog: Get all the latest news on doing business in the Windows Store.
Last weekend I went along to Hack to the Future, the idea of Alan O’Donohoe, Teknoteacher on Twitter. Alan is a Secondary School ITC teacher in Preston. However Alan really wants to make a difference for the next generation. Alan decided to setup up a unconference to support the development of Computer Science to young people in the form of a day of informal learning entitled – Hack to the Future or #h2df.
A direct quote from Alan
It is an un-conference that aims to provide young digital creators aged 11 – 18 with positive experiences of computing science and other closely related fields, ensuring that the digital creators of today engage with the digital creators of tomorrow. We plan to offer a day that will inspire, engage and encourage young digital creator
It is an un-conference that aims to provide young digital creators aged 11 – 18 with positive experiences of computing science and other closely related fields, ensuring that the digital creators of today engage with the digital creators of tomorrow.
We plan to offer a day that will inspire, engage and encourage young digital creator
I’m proud to say that Microsoft fully supports events such as so we involved Microsoft Research, MS Press and a number of other key partners to help support the event. Myself and Steven Johnston from Southampton University, who is also working with Microsoft Research as a Gadgeteer outreach manager developed a plan and we set off for Preston. The event was all about the young people and it was amazing to see over 350+ young people plus around 100 teachers and parents attending the various talks, workshops and sessions at H2df. I have to stress the workshops and sessions at H2df were all hands on, and code based and Steven and myself spent the day at Hack to the future #h2df getting attendees hands on with the Microsoft .NET Gadgeter and had a great day.
We ran 7 sessions each with 10 laptops/kits and were packed out each session. (each kit with 3/4 students, we had to turn some students away due to the demand so apologies if you did not attend). Below is a copy of the sessions which we completed. I have to state on the day we far more hands on with Visual Studio 2010 and C# and astounded by the skills of some of the younger developer (Hacklings, as Alan calls them)
During the session the attendees built the camera and those that completed early - built a cardboard case and mounted the components to create a a digital camera. Thanks to @coletteweston for these great pic of her daughter at the event who as you can see was very successful.
Overall the event was inspiring with children using Visual Studio 2010, some without any prior experience and writing C# and getting to play with the GHI Fez Spider Gadgeteer kits to build a fully working digital camera in around 30 mins – 45 mins. Hack to the Future was an amazing day and really well done to Alan and the team of Our Ladies High School.
To end the day, Alan put on some indoor fireworks and did his his famous #h2df rap. Well done to Alan and all the other volunteers at Hack to the Future and a great start to inspiring computer scientist of the future.
As your aware from the Building Windows 8 blog a key driver for Microsoft is that All editions of Windows 8 offer a no-compromise experience.
One of the key announcements by the Windows team is that, Windows 8 will be the official product name for the next x86/64 editions of Windows. PCs and tablets powered by x86 processors (both 32 and 64 bit), we will have two editions: Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro.
NOTE: As with previous versions of Windows, we will also have an edition of Windows 8 specifically for those enterprise customers with Software Assurance agreements. Windows 8 Enterprise includes all the features of Windows 8 Pro plus features for IT organization that enable PC management and deployment, advanced security, virtualization, new mobility scenarios, and much more.
Windows RT will be the official product name for Windows on ARM or WOA. This single edition will only be available pre-installed on PCs and tablets powered by ARM processors and will help enable new thin and lightweight form factors with impressive battery life. Windows RT will include touch-optimized desktop versions of the new Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.
The below chart breaks down key features by edition (this list should not be considered an exhaustive list of features):
Windows 8 Pro
Upgrades from Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium
Upgrades from Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate
Start screen, Semantic Zoom, Live Tiles
Apps (Mail, Calendar, People, Messaging, Photos, SkyDrive, Reader, Music, Video)
Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote)
Internet Explorer 10
Installation of x86/64 and desktop software
Updated Windows Explorer
Enhanced Task Manager
Switch languages on the fly (Language Packs)
Better multiple monitor support
Windows Media Player
ISO / VHD mount
Mobile broadband features
Remote Desktop (client)
Reset and refresh your PC
Touch and Thumb keyboard
BitLocker and BitLocker To Go
Boot from VHD
Encrypting File System
Remote Desktop (host)
Over the coming months,the Windows Team will share more information about Windows 8, including details on pricing.
Check out the preview of Windows 8 for yourself.
If your interested in developing for Windows 8 check out the following example from my colleague Mike Taulty, from the UK MSDN team. Mike has produced a number of walkthroughs in screencast form these include a simple music 'app' in HTML and a app for searching flickR in both XAML and HTML.
I’m pleased to announce that the 1st edition of “Building Windows Phone Apps: A Developer’s Guide” is available to download.
This e-book is a community effort to capture useful information and learning about building apps on the Windows Phone platform.
Download Building Windows Phone Apps: A Developer’s Guide
For more details on this publication and its authors see Mike Ormond's Blog, please feel free to use this book with students and your courses also if you have any comments suggestions or ideas for additional chapters or content please post your feedback on Mike’s Blog.