• Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Rapid2D C++/DirectX Gaming Engine and Competition

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    Are you using or teaching C++/DX?

    Teaching C++ is like teaching no other programming language or development tool. Among the complications in designing and presenting a C++ course are:

    The worst fault a C++ course can have is to focus exclusively on the rules, but many courses do just that. I have seen some courses which explain every detail of every language feature drawing little distinction between important and unimportant or between good and bad. Such courses may
    help the student pass a certification examination, but they won't help him or her to develop high-quality software.

    The value of any programming course lies in conveying a solid grasp of problem solving and good programming practice. Because of the vast range of
    choices in C++ that need is especially acute here. We shouldn't  worry if students haven't memorized every detail of C++ syntax and semantics; they can always
    look something up when they need it. If they understand the purpose of each feature, the relationships among features, and how to use C++ well, they will
    have gotten value from the course.

    Teaching C++

    From the feedback I had this year from games educators the majority say teaching C++ is an enjoyable experience.  However with the release of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 C++ is also an educational experience for many of the lectures with new opportunities and new enhancements to DirectX. Any many lectures have already commented that they  learn something new about the subject matter each time. Given the pace of growth in the language, in related libraries, in add-on products, and in object-oriented C++ and the opportunity of Windows is pretty exciting.


    Having fun

    Despite the daunting difficulties, a good C++ course ought to be an enjoyable and satisfying experience. More than most other languages, C++ lets us exercise
    creative design over a wide range of levels.

    It's fun to design and build classes and other object-oriented constructs and then see them exhibit the desired behaviour.

    It's fun to debate the pros and cons of alternative approaches to some problem.

    One of the key issues students state is that they spend lots of time on framework design or development and not actually producing a fully operational game. Well, for all you who want to let your students experiment and develop a game I would like to make you aware of Rapid2D.

    Rapid2D C++ Framework

    Rapid2DLogo

    Rapid2D is the only Game Engine that has been specifically designed for the production of Windows 8 Apps. The Rapid2D engine can be used to produce apps for Windows 8 PC, Tablet and Windows Phone 8.

    Rapid2D has a unique GUI interface that makes games production fast and accessible to both the experienced and novice developer. Rapid2D is designed to be intuitive allowing the fast production of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 applications. The engine uses the widely uses C++ for scripting.

    Rapid2D Easter Competition

    We've got a great competition for you! Make an app using Rapid2D and - provided the game meets the Windows 8 submission criteria - we'll help you publish your app to the Windows 8 Marketplace. In addition, the app that is judged to be the best by our Rapid2D team will receive a Windows 8 Tablet.

    Competition Details
    • The competition is open from today and closes on 1st March 2012.
    • The theme for the app must be Bunnies or All Things Easter.
    • You can submit your entry any time from today until the closing date of 1st March 2012 at 5pm.
    • Provided your game meets the Windows 8 submission criteria we'll publish your game in time for Easter.
    • After the closing date one winner will be selected by our Rapid2D programming team. The winner will receive a Windows 8 Tablet.
    • There will be two runners up who will receive Windows 8 phones.
    • Please send your zipped entry to competition@rapid2d.com to arrive with us not later than 5pm on 1st March 2012. We are hoping that your entry will not be too large to email, but if it is please contact us by email at competition@rapid2d.com, tell us the size of the file and we will arrange an upload location for you and respond via email.

    Please click here to view the terms and conditions of the competition (PDF, opens in a new window).

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Understand Cloud Computing with Patterns and Practices

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    Microsoft Patterns & Practice team have released Twenty four design patterns Each pattern is provided in a common format that describes the context, solution, considerations for applying the pattern, and an example based on Windows Azure.

    Two primers and eight guidance topics Basic knowledge and descriptions of good practice techniques for developing cloud-hosted applications.

    Ten sample applications Usage of the design patterns described in this guide. You can use and adapt the source code to suit your own specific requirements.

    About patterns & practices

    The Microsoft Patterns & Practices team is responsible for delivering applied engineering guidance that helps software architects, developers, and their teams take full advantage of Microsoft’s platform technologies in their  application development project.

    Their goal is to help software development teams be more successful with the Microsoft application platform. We do this by delivering guidance that:

    ─     Helps to simplify the Microsoft application platform.

    ─     Provides solution guidance to common problems.

    ─     Helps development teams grow their skills and learn.

    For more information: http://www.microsoft.com/practices

    How to get it the new Windows Azure Cloud Patterns & Practices?

    You can view the documentation at http://aka.ms/cloud-design-patterns .

    The sample code is available for download at http://aka.ms/cloud-design-patterns-sample. A poster, book, and PDF is coming soon.

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  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Get Started with Microsoft Digital Literacy

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    Whether you are new to computing or have some experience, Digital Literacy will help you develop a fundamental understanding of computers. The courses help you learn the essential skills to begin computing with confidence, be more productive at home and at work, stay safe online, use technology to complement your lifestyle, and consider careers where you can put your skills to work.and click “go”, and you will be taken to the appropriate page.

    Choose your language English (UK) & Welsh both available

    The Microsoft Digital Literacy curriculum has three levels.

    The Basic curriculum features a course called A First Course Toward Digital Literacy. This course teaches the value of computers in society and introduces you to using a mouse and the keyboard.

    The Standard curriculum features five courses that cover computer basics; using the internet and productivity programs; security and privacy; and digital lifestyles. These five courses are available in four versions that use examples and screenshots from different versions of Windows and Microsoft Office. Please read the details below.

    Which includes

    Computer Basics: Learn the fundamentals of computing, the components of a computer, operating system basics, and how to use a mouse and a keyboard.

    Launch “Computer Basics” course

     

     

    The Internet, Cloud Services, and World Wide Web: Learn how to connect to people, information, and resources around the world, using Web sites, search engines, and e-mail programs.

    Launch “Internet, Cloud Services, and WWW” course

     

    Productivity Programs: Games, demos, and interactive guides help you quickly learn the basics of word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and databases.

    Launch “Productivity Programs” course

     

     

    Computer Security and Privacy: Identify and protect your computer and data from threats, and learn the ethical and legal issues related to Internet usage.

    Launch “Computer Security and Privacy” course

     

    Digital Lifestyles: Learn how new digital technologies like smart phones and digital cameras are creating new career opportunities and shaping the world we live in.

    Launch “Digital Lifestyles” course

     

     

    The Standard curriculum is available in four versions.

    Version 4 uses examples and simulations from Windows 8 and Microsoft Office 2013.

    Version 3 uses examples and simulations from Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010.

    Version 2 uses examples and simulations from Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007.

    Version 1 uses examples and simulations from Windows XP and Microsoft Office 2003

    The Advanced curriculum features five courses that cover building your first app, creating an e-mail account, creating a great resume, searching for content on the World Wide Web and social networking.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    //Build/2013 Conference See what's next • Learn from our engineers • Network with your peers

    • 0 Comments

    The right content for your role

    image

    There are hundreds of thousands of topics in the Dev Center, http://dev.windows.com and http://dev.windowsphone.com. We know in any organisation discoverability and sharing of content is critical to success.

    So why not get to grips with this detail in person at Microsoft //Build/2013.

    Last month Steve Guggenheimer announced //Build/ 2013, the conference is taking place June 26-28, 2013 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. //build/ is a great opportunity to learn more about developing Windows Store apps.

    The conference will include great presentations, demos, info sessions, etc.  There will be no better place to get the latest and greatest info on Windows Store app development.

    You can see all the details about the conference and register at www.buildwindows.com.

    Here are some key resources for the each roles in your organisation.

    Developers

    When you go to the Windows Store apps home page, you’ll see:

    • “Key tasks and content” prominently called out to help you jump into the content you need. Events as well as new resources.
    • Downloads to help you dive right into coding, all the resources you need to get started, and our detailed guidance on getting your app into the Windows Store.
    • Important code samples are highlighted, and how-to guidance is more easily navigated with an eye toward the development lifecycle.
    • One Dev Minute” videos throughout the site, which give you a quick look at how to add features to your app.
    Designers

    The Design section. You can find useful downloads and reusable design assets more easily, and design inspiration and case studies give you the tools you need to make a unique experience on Windows.

    Businesses

    The business opportunity of the Windows Store is significant, with a better economic model than competitive platforms and flexibility that enables you to build the business you want. The new Market section of the site provides great tips for marketing your apps, evaluating telemetry data, and passing app certification.

    There’s more to come

    With //BUILD/2013 less than a month away, stay connected by following @windevs @ukmsdn on Twitter and subscribing to the Windows Store newsletter for the latest information on Windows 8.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows 7.1 Mango Announcement

    • 0 Comments

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    Today, along with the release of the new Windows Phone Developer Tools for Mango, we are proud to announce a set of new and updated samples and articles tailored for Windows Phone game developers to get up to speed on Mango changes quickly, all free, and all on App Hub!

    To jump right in, see the new and improved Game Development page on App Hub with a section just for Windows Phone OS 7.1 and the Mango Tools.

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    The Game Development Tutorial, launched less than two months ago, has already seen over 50,000 unique visitors, over 175,000 aggregate page views, and close to 7,000 “graduates”.

    Here's a full list of the new and updated samples and articles that we have for you in this release!

    Remember, this content is designed for Windows Phone OS 7.1 and the Windows Phone Developer Tools for Mango. Be sure to download the update to the Tools before trying out this content!

    Articles

    What's New for Games in Mango
    This high-level article calls out a few of the changes in Windows Phone OS 7.1 and Windows Phone Developer Tools that affect game developers.

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    XNA Game Studio or Silverlight - Which is Right for Me? (Updated for Mango)
    This article, which discusses the differences between Silverlight and XNA Game Studio on Windows Phone, has been updated to include information about the new combined Silverlight and XNA architecture in Mango.

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    Migration Guide: From the Game Class to Silverlight/XNA
    This article explains why and how to move your Windows Phone game to an architecture that integrates Silverlight with the XNA Framework.

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    Visual Basic Support in XNA Game Studio
    Beginning with XNA Game Studio 4.0 Refresh, the XNA Framework expands programming language support to include Visual Basic (VB). This article introduces basic XNA Game Studio programming concepts for Windows Phone in VB.

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    Samples

    Game State Management (Updated for Mango)
    This popular sample, showing how to manage the transitions among menus and gameplay states, has been updated for Mango to handle the new Fast App Switching feature in Mango.

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    Paddle Battle
    This new sample shows a very basic game written on top of the new Silverlight/XNA application model.

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    Model Viewer Demo
    This new sample showcases a complex application built on top of the Silverlight/XNA application model, leveraging full 3D rendering, Silverlight’s animation engine, and the use of dependency properties to act as the proxy between Silverlight UI and the XNA Framework based rendering system.

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    Silverlight/XNA Game Components
    This new sample provides an implementation and demonstration of a GameComponent system for use in games leveraging Silverlight and the XNA Framework.

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    Your task is now simply go and  Create Games for Windows Phone!

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    So what's new in Windows Phone 8

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    WinPhone8

    Over the past few days I have been at a number of events and had a lot of questions of what’s new in Windows Phone 8.

    htc-8x-1 lumia820_main lumia920_main


      So here a quick video of what’s new.

     

    Here a quick video on Windows Phone speech integration

     

     

    For more details of Windows Phone see http://www.windowsphone.com don't forget you can get the SDK from www.dreamspark.com and we have specific Windows Phone competition in the www.imaginecup.com

    For detail technical content see the following WindowsPhone content from http://www.Buildwindows.com

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Interested in the next generation Kinect for Windows sensor

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    image

    You can apply to take part in the Kinect for Windows developer kit program. This program, which begins in November 2013, will provide developers with tools and a pre-release sensor as soon as possible so they can start building new applications before general availability in 2014.

    The program fee will be US$399 (or local equivalent) and offers the following benefits:

    Direct access to the Kinect for Windows engineering team via a private forum and exclusive webcasts
    Early SDK access (alpha, beta, and any updates along the way to release)
    Private access to all API and sample documentation
    A pre-release/alpha sensor
    A final, released sensor at launch

    There are a limited number of spots in the program. Applications must be completed by July 31, 2013, 9:00 A.M. (Pacific Time). Register here http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/kinectforwindowsdev/newdevkit.aspx

    We will begin notifying successful applicants in August.

    Additionally, in September the Kinect for Windows SDK will be updated with several exciting updates including:

    • The ability to extract the user from the background in real time
    • The ability to develop Kinect for Windows desktop applications by using HTML5/JavaScript
    • Enhancements to Kinect Fusion, including capture of color data and improvements to tracking robustness and accuracy

    The feature enhancements will enable even better Kinect for Windows-based applications for businesses and end users, and the convenience of HTML5 will make it easier for developers to build leading-edge touch-free experiences.

    This will be the fourth significant update to the Kinect for Windows SDK since the Kinect team launched 17 months ago.The Kinect team are committed to continuing to improve the existing Kinect for Windows platform and with the announcement of the programme above were excited to see what the academic community can do with the new generation Kinect for Windows sensor and SDK. 

    If you aren’t already using Kinect for Windows to develop touch-free solutions, now is a great time to start for more details see the Kinect for Windows Blog  .

    http://blogs.msdn.com/b/kinectforwindows and Resources at http://www.kinectforwindows.com

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Programming Windows Store Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, Second Edition, by Kraig Brockschmidt

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    Front cover of Kraig Brockschmidt's Programming Windows Store Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, Second Edition

    Download the PDF, the Mobi, the ePub, as well as the companion content.

    We’re pleased to announce our free (1311-page) ebook: Programming Windows Store Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, Second Edition, by Kraig Brockschmidt.


    Kraig began updating the first edition exactly a year ago, and when you examine the new ebook’s Table of Contents you’ll quickly see how much work he has done to share his deep understanding of Windows Store app building. Even in the simplest sense—new pages added to this edition: 478—Kraig’s effort and generosity are impressive. Thank you, Kraig, and enjoy, app builders!
    The following excerpt from Kraig’s introduction to the ebook shares our goals for the title:

    Introduction from the Author

    Work on this second edition began almost as soon as the first edition was released. (I’d make a quip about the ink not being dry, but that analogy doesn’t work for an ebook!) When Windows 8 became generally available in the fall of 2012, work on Windows 8.1 was already well underway: the engineering team had a long list of improvements they wanted to make along with features that they weren’t able to complete for Windows 8. And in the very short span of one year, Windows 8.1 was itself ready to ship.

    At first I thought writing this second edition would be primarily a matter of making small updates to each chapter and perhaps adding some pages here and there on a handful of new features. But as I got deeper into the updated platform, I was amazed at just how much the API surface area had expanded! Windows 8.1 introduces a number of additional controls, an HTML webview element, a stronger HTTP API, content indexing, deeper OneDrive support, better media capabilities, more tiles sizes (small and large), more flexible secondary tile, access to many kinds of peripheral devices, and more options for working with the Windows Store, like consumable in-app purchases. And clearly, this is a very short list of distinct Windows 8.1 features that doesn’t include the many smaller changes to the API. (A fuller list can be found on Windows 8.1: New APIs and features for developers.)

    Furthermore, even as I was wrapping up the first edition of this book, I already had a long list of topics I wanted to explore in more depth. I wrote a number of those pieces for my blog, with the intention of including them in this second edition. A prime example is Appendix A, “Demystifying Promises.”

    All in all, then, what was already a very comprehensive book in the first edition has become even more so in the second! Fortunately, with this being an ebook, neither you nor I need feel guilty about matters of deforestation. We can simply enjoy the process of learning about and writing Windows Store Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. And what about Windows Phone 8.1? I’m glad you asked, because much of this book is completely applicable to that platform. Yes, that’s right: Windows Phone 8.1 supports writing apps in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, just like Windows 8.1, meaning that you have the same flexibility of implementation languages on both. However, the decision to support JavaScript apps on Windows Phone 8.1 came very late in the production of this book, so I’m only able to make a few notes here and there for Phone - specific concerns. I encourage you to follow the Building Apps for Windows blog, where we’ll be posting more about the increasingly unified experience of Windows and Windows Phone.

    Who should read this book?

    This book is about writing Windows Store apps using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Our primary focus will be on applying these web technologies within the Windows platform, where there are unique considerations, and not on exploring the details of those web technologies themselves. For the most part, I'm assuming that you're already at least somewhat conversant with these standards. We will cover some of the more salient areas like the CSS grid, which is central to app layout, but otherwise I trust that you're capable of finding appropriate references for most everything else. For Java Script specifically, I can recommend Rey Bango’s Required JavaScript Reading list, though I hope you’ll spend more time reading this book than others!

    I'm also assuming that your interest in Windows has at least two basic motivations. One, you probably want to come up to speed as quickly as you can, perhaps to carve out a foothold in the Windows Store sooner rather than later. Toward that end, Chapter 2, “Quickstart,” gives you an immediate experience with the tools, APIs, and some core aspects of app development and the platform. On the other hand, you probably also want to make the best app you can, one that performs really well and that takes advantage of the full extent of the platform. Toward this end, I've also endeavoured to make this book comprehensive, helping you at least be aware of what's possible and where optimizations can be made.

     
    Let me make it clear, though, that my focus in this book is the Windows platform. I won’t talk much about third-party libraries, architectural considerations for app design, and development strategies and best practices. Some of these will come up from time to time, but mostly in passing. Nevertheless, many insights have come from working directly with real-world developers on their real-world apps. As part of the Windows Ecosystem team, myself and my teammates have been on the front lines bringing those first apps to the Windows Store. This has involved writing bits of code for those apps and investigating bugs, along with conducting design, code, and performance reviews with members of the Windows engineering team. As such, one of my goals with this book is to make that deep understanding available to many more developers, including you!

    View the full article...

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Enabling your IT Support teams to deploy the right technology to ensure your curricula is appropriate and suitable

    • 0 Comments

    Over the past few weeks we have had a number of interesting meetings with IT Services teams and academic faculties within UK Universities. These discussions have been particular interesting as we have discussed the opportunity of enhancements academics can make to curriculum if they had access to the latest desktop OS and web browsers.

    These discussions were particularly interesting as a number of the IT Services teams highlighted a need for applicants/employees with very specific Microsoft skills sets. For example. experience in virtualisation and cloud computing, as well as product specific skills such as System Centre, Windows 7 and MDOP. 

    Microsoft has a number resources available including IT Pro resources such as TechNet and IT Developer resources such as MSDN. To the specific training and certifications resources Microsoft IT Academy programme as one route for institutions to help their staff and students get recognised certifications and knowledge.

    Another service we discussed was, The Microsoft Virtual Academy, MVA is a online training centre which uses some of the characteristics of game-based learning to motivate learners. It’s free and open to anybody, not just those staff and students in formal education institutions, and it focuses on a range of Microsoft cloud-based technologies. 

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    Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) is a fully cloud-based learning experience focusing on Microsoft Cloud Technologies. You can access a variety of training content online and become one of the renowned experts in the IT Pro community around the world. MVA provides its users with a virtual university experience: the student can select a track and study the material and then do the self-assessment. By doing so, they will collect points that will promote them to a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum Level. Students on MVA can get access to all the information, statistics and advancements of their training career, allowing them to maintain a long-term relationship with Microsoft. Learning through MVA is FREE of charge, and you can study the contents at any time and at your own pace.

    In the UK there are currently

    9.1K
    students registered
    7.8K
    self-assessments passed
    85.5K
    hours of training delivered

     

    Topics covered include:

    Clustering
    Hyper-V
    Office 365
    Private Cloud
    Public Cloud
    Security
    SQL Azure
    System Center
    Virtual Machine Manager
    Virtualisation
    Windows Azure
    Windows Phone
    VMWare

    The whole system runs in the Cloud, as it’s built on Windows Azure so is extremely scalable and reliable. So let me know how you get on with these resources.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows 8 Pinned sites - make your web site look like a Windows 8 app

    • 1 Comments

    One of the neat little feature of Windows 8 is the ability to pin Web Pages to the start screen through IE 11.

    Here a great example of the pinned wpcentral site on Windows 8

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    This is what it looks like on my start screen as large tile

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    Instructions for uses on how to use Pinned sites.
    1. Make sure IE11 is set as the default browser—at least to pin, you can always switch it later. To choose your default browser, just type in “default programs” on the Start screen and launch the settings.
    2. Launch IE11 in Windows 8 UI mode (not desktop) and head to www.wpcentral.com
    3. Tap the Star icon (for favourites)
    4. Hit the Pin button
    5. Rename the Tile or just keep ‘WPCentral’
    6. Choose Tile size (you can always change it later)

    And that’s it! The tile should refresh with WPCentral direct news feed and depending on the size you chose, it will have a slightly different layout.

    Adding Pinned sites to your web page

    So you have seen this in action with WPCentral and now you can add this feature really simply to your site.

    To do this you can use the IE Pinned app builder tool at http://www.buildmypinnedsite.com/en this will  refresh your site code so that the IE pinned app looks like a windows 8 app and appear on users start screen. 

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