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  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    What is Continuous Integration–GitHub, WebSite Deployment Example



    Continuous Integration is a software development practice where members of a team integrate their work frequently, usually each person integrates at least daily - leading to multiple integrations per day. Each integration is verified by an automated build (including test) to detect integration errors as quickly as possible.

    Many teams find that this approach leads to significantly reduced integration problems and allows a team to develop cohesive software more rapidly. 

    Learning more about Continuous Integration

    Paul Duvall's appropriately titled book on the subject

    The process of Continuous Integration, take a look at Jez Humble and Dave Farley's book

    Why use continuous Integration

    Projects with Continuous Integration tend to have dramatically less bugs, both in production and in process. However I should stress that the degree of this benefit is directly tied to how good your test suite as students and academics you get Access to Visual Studio Online you can learn more about Visual Studio online at Fundamentals of Visual Studio Online via Microsoft Virtual Academy.

    You should find that it's not too difficult to build a test suite that makes a noticeable difference. Usually, however, it takes a while before a team really gets to the low level of bugs that they have the potential to reach. Getting there means constantly working on and improving your tests.

    If you have continuous integration, it removes one of the biggest barriers to frequent deployment. Frequent deployment is valuable because it allows your users to get new features more rapidly, to give more rapid feedback on those features, and generally become more collaborative in the development cycle. This helps break down the barriers between customers and development.

    Continuous Integration - where do you start?

    Some quick best practices are

    1. Get the build automated. Get everything you need into source control get it so that you can build the whole system with a single command. For many projects this is not a minor undertaking - yet it's essential for any of the other things to work. Initially you may only do build occasionally on demand, or just do an automated nightly build. While these aren't continuous integration an automated nightly build is a fine step on the way.

    2. Introduce some automated testing into your build. Try to identify the major areas where things go wrong and get automated tests to expose those failures. Particularly on an existing project it's hard to get a really good suite of tests going rapidly - it takes time to build tests up. see online video learning on Software Testing Fundamentals via Microsoft Virtual Academy

    3. Try to speed up the commit build. Continuous Integration on a build of a few hours is better than nothing, but getting down to that magic ten minute number is much better.

    4. If you are starting a new project, begin with Continuous Integration from the beginning. Keep an eye on build times and take action as soon as you start going slower than the ten minute rule. By acting quickly you'll make the necessary restructurings before the code base gets so big that it becomes a major pain.

    5. Learn from others.  Like any new technique it's hard to introduce it when you don't know what the final result looks like so do as much background research and learning as possible.

    Example of setting up continuous Integration to deploy a Web Site

    Here are the basic steps for getting started with continuous integration

    1. Setting up a GitHub repository
    2. Creating a new Web app in Azure
    3. Setting up continuous integration
    4. Updating and committing new code

    Step 1: Setting up a GitHub repository

    If you don’t currently have a GitHub account, you’ll want to set one up and then log into it to follow the rest of this walkthrough. If you have a brand-new account, or one without any repositories, your browser will look like this:

    Initial screen for new GitHub accounts.

    On this screen, you’ll want to click on the + New Repository button, which will create a new repository for your code in your GitHub account.

    Green + New Repository button for creating new repos.

    Once you’ve clicked the + New Repository button, you’ll see a new screen that allows you to make a new Repository name, a description, select either public or private settings, and whether to initialize with a README (we’ll leave this unchecked for our walkthrough). Once you’re satisfied with your repo’s unique name and descriptive text, click on the Create repository button to create this new repo with no code in it.

    GitHub repository setup screen and options.

    Brand-new GitHub repository waiting for your code.

    We want to make sure that this repository works, so you’ll want to use your favorite Git client to commit code back to the repo you’ve created. There are many different Git clients available, such as GitHub for Windows, posh-git or git bash. Create or use any file that you’d like (and don’t mind sharing publicly) and then use your Git client to commit and push your file into the repository.

    Example of using posh-git client command line to add a file.

    Back in your web browser, refresh to see the newly-added file in your repository.

    The default.html file added via the Git client is now visible in the repository.

    Step 2: Creating a new Web app in Azure


    We’ve confirmed that our GitHub repository is working, since committing and pushing changes is confirmed, so now we work on creating our Web app in Microsoft Azure.

    In your favorite browser, open the Azure website, log in, and then open the Azure Portal.

    Access your account either from the Account or Sign In buttons on the Microsoft Azure site.

    Access the Azure Portal.

    The main Azure Portal, a convenient dashboard for checking your Azure project status.

    From the main Azure Portal, in the lower right-hand corner, click on NEW to start creating a new web app.

    After selecting the NEW button, you’ll be offered a menu full of different things you can create on Azure, but for now, focus on Web+Mobile, and then from the Web+Mobile menu, choose Web app.

    Menus for selecting and creating a new Web app.

    Once you select Web app, a new menu will open up to the right side. You’ll want to enter a URL for your project, and choose to name and create a New AppService Plan. Keep the pricing on F1 Free for now, and create a New Resource Group. Azure will let you know if names are taken, so keep adjusting your naming if it turns out a name you’d like is unavailable. Keep the location used for your cloud development on South Central US for now, though in future projects you’ll be able to customize this if you’d like. Leave the checkbox for Add to Startboard checked, so that it’s easier to access this work in the near future.

    Once everything has been entered to your liking, hit the Create button.

    Completing the details for the new Web app.

    New tile depicting Web app creation in-process.

    Microsoft Azure will work on setting everything up and initial creation of your Web app, and then the tile will appear on your Startboard once it’s ready.

    Click on your web app’s tile to open up the related display, which gives you information about your web app’s live performance. 

    Web app information blade.

    Step 3: Setting up continuous integration

    Now that the app is ready for your work, you’ll want to connect it with your GitHub repository so that changes are synced across both. First thing is to go into Settings.

    Settings menu icon available from the Web app’s main page.

    This opens up a new blade with all of the settings available, and we want to select Deployment credentials. This will open up another new blade next to the Settings blade, called Set deployment credentials. Fill in the appropriate username and password for your deployments to use.

    Blades for Deployment credentials-related settings.

    Now that you’ve set that up, go back to the main blade for your web app and scroll down, far below the Monitoring graph. Toward the bottom, you’ll find a section for Deployment, and a tile for Set up continuous deployment. Go ahead and click on that box and we’ll work on the main setup for continuous integration with GitHub.

    Click the Set up continuous deployment tile to proceed.

    The Continuous Deployment menu blade will open up, so Choose Source, and then from that blade, select GitHub from the list of providers. 

    Select GitHub as your source for this Web app.

    After you’ve selected GitHub as your source, you may be prompted to authorize your GitHub account to enable the connection between GitHub and your Azure web app. Log in with your GitHub credentials (same as those used to create your repository), and then once you’ve authorized the connection between Azure and GitHub, you’ll be able to select the repository you want to integrate.

    Your Continuous Deployment blade will update with the chosen source and authorization name, and then you will need to choose the GitHub repository to integrate with under Choose Project.

    Once you’ve selected your repo, click the OK button in the Continuous Deployment blade.

    Select your repository from the Choose Project blade, click OK in Continuous Deployment.

    After you click OK, your code is fetched from the specified branch in your GitHub repository and deployed to Azure automatically. 

    Fetching code in progress.

    The deployment status will update on the Azure portal’s Deployments blade as soon as the deployment completes, and then you can see the Active Deployment under the portal blade.

    Successful code deployment, and updated Azure information.

    Now click on the Browse button in the Web app blade’s toolbar to see your code running in your Azure Web app, in your browser.

    Click Browse to see your code in action.

    Updated site visible in-browser.

    Step 4: Updating and committing new code

    Now that we’ve confirmed successful deployment of your code, we can work on updating it and confirming that those changes are pushed forward.

    Open the GitHub repository where you committed your code, and then open one of those committed files using the Edit this file toolbar icon.

    In the upper-right corner, click on Edit this file to start making changes on GitHub.

    In our example, we’ll add a new paragraph via GitHub, below our header.

    New paragraph added to the file on GitHub.

    Once you’re satisfied with your code updates, you’ll want to consider adding a commit message explaining the changes. Below the editor area, there’s a Commit changes section where coders can either take the default message, or provide a more detailed explanation to help give context to the changes. When you finish updating the commit message, go ahead and click on the Commit changes button to save your work to the repository.

    Main commit changes section on GitHub.

    Once your code is committed to your repo, continuous integration kicks in and the code on GitHub will be pulled into your Azure Web app and redeployed automatically. If you open up and watch the Azure Portal again after your GitHub commit, the change is quickly pulled in and deployed to your live site.

    Latest changes appear in Azure after GitHub repository’s code is updated.

    Now you can refresh your browser to see your changes live on your Azure web app.

    Updated version of the Web app in-browser

    Advantages and Disadvantages of Continuous Integration

    These are some of the advantages of continuous integration:

    • You catch build breaks early on.
    • In a distributed development environment where developers do not always communicate with one another, continuous integration is a great way to assure the developer that the build he or she is building is the latest one.
    • Continuous integration also causes less regression
    • The feedback loop is smaller.
    • A developer does not have to wait for the end of the day or week to find out how the check-in affected the build.
    • Integration testing moves up in the chain.
    • Every check-in goes through the integration testing where problems are caught early.
    • Continuous integration enforces better development processes.
    • Each developer is held accountable.
    • You always have a latest-and-greatest build to use in demos, showcases, etc.

    On the other hand, there are some disadvantages:

    • Maintenance overhead often increases.
    • Some teams find that the level of discipline required for continuous integration causes bottlenecks.

      This often requires a shift in the developer mindset.

    • The immediate impact of a check-in often causes a backup because programmers cannot check in partially completed code.

    In my next blog I will look at continuous integration using Microsoft Visual Studio and Visual Studio Online.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft Architectural Patterns and Practices–BluePrint Examples and Resources for Microsoft Azure



    The Microsoft blueprint resources illustrates real-world scenario that uses Microsoft Azure to manage and monitor the data flows.


    These example range from the very small to larger enterprise systems leveraging Azure Big Compute, Big Data, and infrastructure services including Batch, HDInsight, Machine Learning, Virtual Machines, Virtual Network and more to build cost-effective solutions.

    To build your next solution, check out the collection of scenario-based Microsoft Architectural Blueprints and additional resources on the Pattern & Practices GitHub repository which include source code and machine configurations

    Azure in education

    Using Azure in your research or in teaching a course? Microsoft is committed to supporting education and has various programs to meet your needs.


    Empower faculty to leverage Microsoft Azure in teaching cutting edge courses

    See all services

    The Educator Grant is a program designed specifically to provide access to Microsoft Azure to college and university professors teaching advanced courses. As part of the program, faculty teaching Azure in their curricula are awarded subscriptions to support their course.

    To apply for an Educator Grant fill out this simple application form.

    Apply now


    Accelerate the speed of scientific discovery with Microsoft Azure

    The Microsoft Azure for Research program accelerates scholarly and scientific research customized for academic, government, and industry researchers to use big data computations, collaboration, and data-intensive processing in the cloud. Take full advantage of the power and scalability of Microsoft Azure, a platform that supports frameworks like Azure Machine Learning and programing tools including Linux, Python, Java, Hadoop, and Microsoft .NET. Get access to a variety of tools and resources to maximize the benefits of cloud computing by the following:

    • Free access to Azure cloud computing and storage (submit proposals for Azure for Research Awards)
    • Training classes and webinars
    • Technical resources and support
    • Community discussion on LinkedIn (Microsoft Azure for Research group) and Twitter (@Azure4Research)

    For more information, visit

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Using your DreamSpark Azure accounts with GitHub to build a Node.js application which uses Azure Mobile Services




    The Azure offers available to student via DreamSpark allows you gets you started developing services in the cloud at no cost:

    The services offering which this blog is focusing on

    • Azure App Service Web Apps is a part of a fully managed cloud offering that enables you to build and deploy web apps in seconds. you can use technologies such as ASP.NET, Java, PHP, Node.js or Python.

    This blog is going to focus on Node.Js and deployment workflows with GitHub, enabling you to automatically build and deploy your application.

    Source Control and GitHub

    Many institutions request Students to use some form of source control source control DreamSpark offers this for FREE in the form of Visual Studio Online or the GitHub Student Developer Pack.

    For this blog I am going to focus on GitHub, I have talked about Visual Studio Online in a number of other blogs see here 


    student developer pack assembles a great set of tools and services, free to students! Get your own domain name with SSL, explore crowdsourcing, email services, and much more. Combined with the free Visual Studio Community 2015 and Visual Studio Online, it’s an unbeatable combination to get your coding project off the ground. Get your GitHub Student Developer Pack today!

    In the following blog I will share how to upload a Node.JS Package from GitHub repository to a Microsoft Azure Mobile Services

    Register for your DreamSpark and GitHub accounts

    1. Register for your DreamSpark account and an Azure Account for these instructions
    2. Now we need to register and download the GitHub Student Developer Pack

    Setting up GitHub

    1. You will need a GIT client.

    2. Git is a distributed revision control and source code management (SCM) system a number of colleges and Universities now stimplaute source control must be used,

    3. Git was initially designed and developed by Linus Torvalds for Linux kernel development in 2005.

    4. We will need Git in order to be able to add node.js packages to Azure mobile service.

    5. Once you install, consider a reboot, simply follow the instruction from the installer.

    Finding the Azure Mobile Services EndPoint Url

    1. Azure Mobile Services directly supports GitHub

    2. Navigate to the Azure Portal

    3. Select Mobile Services

    4. Select the CONFIGURE menu


    Once you copy the url to the clipboard, proceed to the next step.

    Cloning a Git Repository to an Azure Mobile Web Services

    1. Open up a Command prompt in the desired folder where you want your source control

    2. Type in git clone [ your Azure End Point URL]

    Checking the result
    1. You will need to provide a user name and password

    2. Now if you take a look at the  folder (the one I am using),

    3. Now navigate to the folder. you defined it when you created your Azure Mobile Service.

    4. Navigate into the service folder and view the file

    5. You can see the package.json file.

    6. This is the key file to edit.

    Node.js application resources

    1. Your first goal is ensure you have your Node.js code and packages on your local machine.

    2. For more details on Noje.Js and Azure see 

    3. Ensure that the  package.json, which contains all of the packages that you require to be installed into Azure Mobile Services.

    4. You can't just copy packages directly to the web services, ou must use Git to copy packages Azure mobile services

    Modify the package.json file

    1. Now you will need to modify the package.json file to include new node packages.

    2. For example purposes, we will include the packages qs (QueryString)

      • QS is a query string parser for node and the browser supporting nesting
    The json package structure
    1. We need to modify the dependencies section of package.json.

    2. For this example I will be adding an new dependency of quality of service (qs) 


    Simply edit the file in your favourite text editor
    1. Notice the qs is now part of dependencies


    1. Save and close the package.json

    Commit the changes

    1. You will need to commit the changes before you push them up to the portal.

    2. The command is, git commit .

    3. You will be asked to enter in a commit comment. Its always great best practice to add comments to any code revisions so enter a clear and concise comment to change/update undertake.

    Pushing changes back to the Azure Mobile Service

    1. Now we need to  push  the changes back to the Azure Mobile Services

    2. The command for this is simple: git push [remote-name] [branch-name].

    3. But we want to push our master branch to the origin server (Azure Mobile Services)

    4. We will push our work back up to Azure Mobile Services with this command:

      • $ git push origin master
    5. We have now successfully pushed up the latest copy of our Node code using Github
    6. We have successfully added the node package qs to our Azure Mobile Services

    Checking the update of Node.js Code is live on the Azure Mobile services

    1. We will now make use of the **qs ** package in node.js


    2. As you can see in the figure above, we are now able to leverage the node package known as qs .

    Additional Resources Curriculum & Training

     Using Microsoft Azure for students

     Azure App Service Web Apps Overview

     Node.Js and Azure Developer Center

     Online learning Azure Mobile Services and Node.js

     Using Windows Azure and Node.js – Starting at the basics

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft’s Imagine Access: The student’s one-stop shop for all things code




    Microsoft’s Imagine Access: The student’s one-stop shop for all things code

    At Imagine Access, they will find the tools they need based on their skill level, in one location.

    Sometimes getting started in programming can be intimidating, but finding the tools to learn how to code shouldn’t be. That’s why we’ve created a single destination for all students developer resources, tools, software and tutorials.

    Imagine Access, your all-access pass to the software tools you need no matter your skill level or experience, and all at no cost to students!

    Imagine Access is now your single destination point for all resources whilst you are in education.

    Through Imagine Access, you can get all a single destination to all these resources including Full licensed versions of Microsoft Professional Developer Tools and Server Software for FREE including Windows Azure Cloud Services, Unity Game Engine and Xamarin.

    Microsoft Imagine Access is simply a resource to help you gain a competitive edge so you can turn your application or game into the next big thing.

    Jumpstart your creativity

    Empower your creativity and transform your ideas into real apps and games. Microsoft Imagine will help harness your vision and start you on the path to making it the next big thing.

    Imagine Cup brings together students from around the world interested in creating the technology of the future. With programs and competitions that foster cross discipline collaboration, you’ll turn brilliant ideas into amazing projects, while developing skills and connections that can launch your career

    Microsoft Virtual Academy helps you learn the latest technology, build your skills, and jumpstart your careers. With free, comprehensive, professionally developed training in 11 languages, you’ll keep learning and developing

    Channel 9 has dozens of webseries and special shows on every coding topic and technology you can imagine, all free. Plus special live shows where you can ask questions and get the real information you need to build your skills.

    Start by Building your future

    You’ve got the idea, Microsoft Imagine provides you with free professional developer tools and expert advice you need to complete your coding journey. Put your skills into action and start developing for any platform. Microsoft Imagine helps you build your future, one line of code at a time.

    Visual Studio Community 2015 is the foundation of your career in app and game development. Design, code, and debug your own apps for Windows, iOS, and Android.

    With Xamarin and Visual Studio Community 2015, you’ll become a mobile developer virtually overnight.
    you can get a free Xamarin subscription, giving you everything you need to create fully native mobile apps for iOS, Android, and Windows in C# or F# with Visual Studio.

    Microsoft Azure is the fastest and most flexible cloud platform around. And it’s the best way for you to create and develop your ideas for a global audience. The world works in the cloud and Microsoft Azure gets you developing for it today.

    Using Source Control GitHub  The Student Developer Pack assembles a great set of tools and services, free to students! Get your own domain name with SSL, explore crowdsourcing, email services, and much more. Combined with the free Visual Studio Community 2015 and Visual Studio Online, it’s an unbeatable combination to get your coding project off the ground. Get your GitHub Student Developer Pack today!

    Ready to go from student to startup? BizSpark is here to help. It’s the free software, tools and support to build apps, the technology to get in the cloud and the exposure to get noticed — and funded. BizSpark ignites your business idea.

    Imagine Access is your portal to tools like Visual Studio Community 2013, the Unity Game Engine and Xamarin – everything you need to create apps, games and websites just like the pros.

    Make sure you Stand out

    Microsoft Imagine gives you the professional support you need to showcase your idea. Share your work with your family and friends. Sell it in the app store or even launch a startup. Show the world what you can do

    Imagine Cup provides you with a unique opportunity to grow your confidence and experience by competing on a global stage. Pitch your ideas to industry professionals, win cash prizes and be seen as the next generation of developers, entrepreneurs and innovators.

    Windows Store is where you can sell your universal apps that work on both Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone. With Microsoft Imagine you can get a free Store Developer Account and start publishing your apps.

    Check it out and get started on your first or next amazing game, app, website or service today! And don’t forget to tell us what you think of Imagine Access on Twitter (@MSFTImagine), Facebook or share a screenshot of what you’ve got going on Instagram. We want to hear from you. 

    Go make the next big thing. We’ll be waiting for you over at Imagine Access!

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    UK Students Fancy winning $1000 for completing a challenge with Microsoft Azure–HELLO CLOUD CHALLENGE


    Cloud computing is changing the technology industry. When you start looking for your first job, will you have the cloud on your résumé? You will if you compete in our new Hello Cloud Challenge!

    With Microsoft Azure, students can get a free subscription with no credit card required and start creating web apps, running databases and much more.

    Every month, one student will win our $1,000 sweepstakes. To compete, you just complete one or more of our Hello Cloud activities. Each activity you complete gives you another chance to win. And you only have to do each activity once – your name will still be in the sweepstakes month after month!

    Register for our Hello Cloud contest today and you can get started!

    So what are these activities? They’re actually kind of cool, and doing them will help you learn how to manage and deploy projects in the cloud!

    Activity One: Deploy a Web app

    Check out our blog for a step-by-step tutorial on how to deploy a web app to Azure from Visual Studio Community 2015. You can use your own web app or just copy and paste our code from right here:

       1: <!DOCTYPE html>
       2: <html>
       3: <head>
       4:  <title>Hello Cloud!</title>
       5:  <meta charset="utf-8" />
       6: </head>
       7: <body>
       8: <h1>Hello Cloud!</h1>
       9:  <p>Check out this sweet website I made in Visual 
      10: Studio 2015!</p>
      11: </body>
      12: </html>

    When you’re ready, copy your web app’s URL (it’ll look something like ) and paste it into our Hello Cloud contest submission form available from your Imagine Cup Dashboard. For contest purposes, if we draw your name, we’ll click your URL and verify you have a web app running there. That’s it!

    Activity Two: Deploy a WordPress Website

    WordPress is a powerful and widely used tool for building and managing websites and blogs. It’s both free and open source, with a huge community of users worldwide. And with Microsoft Azure, you can deploy and configure your own WordPress website in minutes at no cost for students!

    To deploy your own WordPress website, just check out our blog for the step-by-step process. When you’re done deploying and configuring your WordPress site, copy your web app’s URL (it’ll look something like ) and paste it into our Hello Cloud contest submission form available on your Imagine Cup Dashboard. For contest purposes, if we draw your name, we’ll click your URL and verify you have a WordPress site running there. That’s it!

    More Activities Coming Soon

    We’ll have more activities soon, including MySQL, Azure Machine Learning and others. So, get started with these two now and then keep coming back to increase your chances to win!

    When is the Deadline

    We will draw each month’s sweepstakes winner on the last Wednesday of the month. The deadline to get your activity URLs submitted to our Dashboard is the last Tuesday of each month at 2359 GMT that evening.

    Once you’ve submitted, you’ll be in all future drawings for the duration of the contest. You can update your submission to add additional activity URLs whenever you want.

    How do I get Microsoft Azure?

    We’ve got a blog explaining exactly how to sign up. But if you’re already a member, just go straight there and get Azure right away!

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Coding curriculum for beginners and educators



    Microsoft has released a new computer science curriculum designed for teens who may not have expressed much interest in computer programming – and teachers who don’t necessarily have any background in the field, either.

    The curriculum, called Creative Coding Through Games And Apps, is available for free to any educator who wants to use it.

    The course aims to encourage a wide range of students to explore computer science by teaching them to program and publish real apps and games.

    TouchDevelop book cover

    It teaches kids how to code using Microsoft Touch Develop, a programming language developed by Microsoft Research. Touch Develop is designed so that even students without any computer science background can quickly learn how to write simple programs.

    Touch Develop also works on any device that has a modern Internet browser. That means students can write programs on smart phones, tablets, laptops or desktop computers, regardless of the operating system the device is running.

    It’s the same technology that’s being used for the BBC���s micro:bit program, which is providing every Year 7 student in the UK with a gadget and the tools to program on it.


    Tom Ball, a research manager in the software engineering group at Microsoft Research who has worked extensively on Touch Develop.

    Tom Ball Touch Dvelop post

    Tom first got involved with the team behind the Creative Coding curriculum when they collaborated on’s Hour of Code project. That’s a program that aims to introduce millions of kids to the basics of programming through simple, introductory coding exercises.

    He hopes this new curriculum will introduce kids to the foundations of computer programming, even if they’ve never considered programming in the past.

    “It’s not so much about learning Touch Develop,” Ball said. “Touch Develop is the vehicle to learning about computer science concepts. Creative Coding through Games and Apps was designed by computer science teachers, and it comes with prep materials, lesson plans, assignments, homework and other resources. It’s recommended for students aged 7 and up.


    Learn more about Creative Coding Through Games And Apps and download the course materials.

    Find out more about Microsoft Touch Develop

    Microsoft and the BBC micro:bit: A million ways to inspire a generation

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Cross Platform development with Visual Studio 2015 and Visual Studio Online


    One of the great advantages of being an educational establishment or a student is access to Microsoft Imagine and Software from DreamSpark.

    Today there is a huge desire for students to learn and build applications for as many platforms as possible.

    As educators and students you need to learn and embrace modern way of doing cross-platform mobile development.

    Todays studios and agencies can no longer afford or simply  recruit  and retain dedicated teams on all different platforms (Android, iOS, Windows).

    So the question I have is are  you teaching or learning with Visual Studio 2015? If the answer is No.. here are some reasons to upgrade now!

    Getting Started with Cross Platform development


    If you’re teaching, learning web development  with CSS, HTML, JavaScript or Typescript you can target Windows, Android, and iOS devices by using Visual   Studio Tools for Apache Cordova.

    Getting Started



    You can also build a native application for Android or Windows devices with C++ templates


    You can build native apps for Android and iOS by using C# and the Xamarin framework Apps not only look the way the end user expects; they behave that way too. Xamarin apps leverage platform-specific hardware   acceleration, and are compiled for native performance. This can’t be achieved with solutions that interpret code at runtime.

    Visual Studio Online


    What is Visual Studio Online?

    Visual Studio Online (VSO) is the cloud-hosted toolset to organize, build, test, deploy and report on your software project.

    Again Visual Studio Online is free to all students via at

    Why use source control from Visual Studio

      • Cross platform / all languages

        • You can write code in Java or any other language using any IDE and fully leverage the capabilities of Visual Studio Online

      • Git/Github is great but will not support you enough

        • You can keep your code in Git/Github and use Visual Studio Online for all the other processes. GitHub is great with some nice features like collaborative code review but you have the same capabilities in VSO (if not better like the team management) with a fundamental difference: traceability and predictability

      • Traceability is the foundation

        • VSO will connect the dots between the requirements, the project management, the source code, the versions, the defects and the tests. VSO (or TFS for the on premise version) is by far the best (if not the only) candidate to support any organization looking to regroup all the important project artefacts in one place.

        • By using VSO today, you will get a full traceability on what is happening in your project starting from any angle (requirements, project, code, defect, test…)

      • Move to Predictability by controlling the quality

        • Quality is not a “phase” or a “campaign” in the project cycle, it’s something that is diffused from requirements (bad alignment), project management (wrong estimation or no control on the team capacity), code (bad quality), test (not enough or wrong functional and performance tests) or defect (no prioritization)

        • Tests are the best way to reveal the quality but they will not increase it. It’s the combination of early tests, process (tests at the right time, get insights back to the developer, review practice, automate part of the testing effort) and coverage (code, architecture, functional, performance, mobile scenario ….) that will validate if the task closed was done the right way. To “trust” what you are tracking, you need to validate them with tests.

        • Visual Studio Online will offer you a platform to track each part of the project, integrated them, set practices and process, manage/run/automate tests and also deploy the solution (with a full release management capability)

      Check the links below for more information and start using VSO today for your projects.

    Visual Studio Online

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Imagine Cup Earth - Microsoft and NASA student competition $36,000 prize fund



    Who can enter?

    Students ages 6-18 worldwide are invited to explore this exciting and vital area of scientific research in Imagine Cup Earth, a new coding competition for students. Whether you have never coded before and would like to learn, or if you’re already studying coding and want to take on a new challenge, all skill levels are welcome to dream big, build creatively, and boldly bring your ideas to life.

    What's the competition?

    Microsoft Imagine and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are co-presenting this contest for students around the world. Together, we have created Imagine Cup Earth to inspire the next generation of thinkers, dreamers and future programmers to learn the basics of coding and explore the latest science about our precious home.

    What's the prize?

    During our 2015-16 Imagine Cup Earth season, a total of 18 winning students will share $36,000 in prizes for their earth-science coding projects. Students who choose our Beginner category can create games, apps and simulations using Microsoft’s free learn-to-code tools, including Kodu Game Lab, Microsoft Touch Develop and Project Spark. More advanced students can create web apps using HTML5/CSS/Javascript, Python, or other web languages of their choice.

    How to enter?

    Students can get started by visiting our Imagine Cup Earth contest page to learn more about the requirements and read the official rules. Because school schedules vary from country to country around the world, Microsoft Imagine is providing three contest rounds each with their own deadlines and prizes. Students are welcome to compete in any or all of these as is most convenient for them – each round stands alone. All deadlines are given in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

    First Round Deadline: 23:59 GMT December 15, 2015

    Second Round Deadline: 23:59 GMT March 31, 2016

    Third Round Deadline: 23:59 GMT June 15, 2016

    Each round will have six prizes:

    Beginner Category

    Intermediate Category

    For the best earth-science themed game, app or simulation using Kodu  Game Lab, Microsoft Touch Develop or Project Spark.

    For the best web app exploring an earth-science topic using actual  NASA data and imagery.

    1st Prize: $3,000

    1st Prize: $3,000

    2nd Prize: $2,000

    2nd Prize: $2,000

    3rd Prize: $1,000

    3rd Prize: $1,000

    Microsoft Imagine and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory look forward to seeing what our global community of students creates.

    .Students can get started by visiting our Imagine Cup Earth contest page to learn more about

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Start measuring your success with Application Insights free with DreamSpark


    To start using the Visual Studio Application Insights SDK in your app.

    For those of you not familiar with Application Insights, the service collects telemetry data from your app and uses Azure to store the data. The Windows Dev Center can access this telemetry data to provide you with a view into how customers are using your app.

    You can use Visual Studio 2015 or 2013 to add Application Insights to your app in about 10 minutes. To get started, open up your Windows app (Windows 8 or 10 – client or phone), and do the following:


    1. Right click on your project in Visual Studio and select ‘Add Application Insights Telemetry…’
    2. Application Insights will then launch a wizard that walks you through adding the service into your Windows app. As part of this process, it will ask you where you want to keep your data (if you don’t already have a free Azure account, you’ll need to create one simply activate your Free DreamSpark Azure subscription 
    3. Once you’re done with the wizard, it will set up and configure your project for telemetry collection.


    At this point, you’ll be able to see on Azure, in near real-time, how many folks are using your app in the wild. This telemetry can tell you a lot about your app and where to direct your development efforts – you can measure what features are being used, by how many people, and for how long.

    And once you publish your app into the Store and enable the app usage telemetry setting on the Windows Dev Center dashboard (under ‘Account settings’), the data will be visible on the Usage report.

    You can then use the TelemetryClient class to gather additional telemetry data like page views (or even pivot/hub control activity), interesting events you want tracked, and exceptions. Beyond the basic page telemetry you get by using Application Insights, you can taking advantage of exception tracking to get a near real-time view into trouble spots (particularly useful when launching an update to the public). To track exceptions, use the following code



    // ...


    catch (Exception ex)


    private TelemetryClient telemetry = new TelemetryClient();



    As you get more comfortable with analytics, you can start instrumenting all kinds of things. For example, this sample code tracks how long it takes to accomplish a task:

    var stopwatch = System.Diagnostics.Stopwatch.StartNew();

    // ... perform the timed action ...


    var metrics = new Dictionary <string, double>

    {{"processingTime", stopwatch.Elapsed.TotalMilliseconds}};

    // Set up some properties:

    var properties = new Dictionary <string, string>

    {{"signalSource", currentSignalSource.Name}};

    // Send the event:

    private TelemetryClient telemetry = new TelemetryClient();

    telemetry.TrackEvent("SignalProcessed", properties, metrics);

    Get started with Application Insights

    Application Insights comes as part of Visual Studio with automatic instrumentation for ASP.NET or Windows developers. You get vital application telemetry data out of the box, including usage, exceptions/crashes, requests, performance & logs.

    Enable monitoring for Azure web apps and VMs directly via Azure portal or install Status Monitor on your ASP.NET web server to get performance monitoring without need to update code and redeploy your application.

    Easily add Application Insights SDK to Java, iOS or Android apps. Monitor apps written in languages like Ruby, Python, PHP, Node.JS, etc. with open source SDKs on GitHub.

    Explore supported platforms

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Support for video interstitials on Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 10



    Microsoft Universal Ad Client SDK for Windows 10

    The Microsoft Universal Ad Client SDK is now available for Windows 10 devices. The ad SDK also supports Windows and Windows Phone 8.1 apps. The new ad SDK is built using native code and does not require .NET runtime, reducing the memory used and increasing performance.

    To use the SDK, install the new ad SDK, then drag and drop the control, and configure it.


    Support for video interstitials

    Video ads are a highly popular way of monetizing apps and games, and can offer higher eCPM than banner ads. Video Ads are supported in Windows 10, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 through the Microsoft Universal Ad Client SDK released today.

    Read the instructions on how to use video interstitials to get started.

    Ad mediation for Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 apps, enhancements for Windows Phone


    Dev Center has supported ad mediation for Windows Phone apps for some time now, allowing you to manage multiple ad SDKs from different providers to achieve up to a 99% fill rate, thus increasing the ad revenue in your apps. Enabling ad mediation is easy, just add the Windows ad mediation SDK to an app and submit it to the Store. You can then managing multiple ad networks without having to modify the app code or resubmit the app for certification.


    Ad mediation is supported by both Visual Studio 2015 and Visual Studio 2013, and supports Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8.x, and Windows 10 UWP apps.

    To try out ad mediation, follow the steps described in the documentation. I also recommend reading the best practices to help you get started.  All these new capabilities are detailed in the Announcing the Microsoft Universal Ad Client SDK with support for video interstitial ads and ad mediation post from Microsoft Advertising.

    You can also take this DVLUP challenge to earn great Rewards


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