The goal of this site is to put relevant and applicable tools and information at the fingertips
With this blog we want to inform you on our latest initiatives.
Enjoy reading and stay tuned!
Guest blog by Simon Grey Lecturer in Games Development Studies at the University of Hull
XNA is a great framework for creating games, and we use it as a tool to motivate students to learn how to program whilst creating great games at extra-curricular events such as the three thing game. For us, a tools like XNA is an invaluable intrinsic motivator – inspiring students to want to learn to code, as opposed to being motivated because we said so, or because they will get better grades.
According to the official documentation XNA requires Visual Studio 2010. Now, clearly it’s possible to install both Visual Studio 2010 and Visual Studio 2012 on the same machine, but that would have a big impact on the size of the image.
To get around the limitation of our managed desktop Hard Drive capacity we would d rather not install both if we don’t have to, but if you try to install XNA on a machine that doesn’t include Visual Studio 2010 the installation will fail.
However after some monitoring of the install process here is a nice walkthrough produced by the University of Hull of how to install XNA onto a machine with Visual Studio 2012. The University of Hull we are keen to provide students with as seamless an experience as possible when moving from working at home to working in university, with this in mind I Simon has developed the following blog post, so that students can use XNA at home with Visual Studio 2012 to allow them an easy transition to and from the machines at the University
You’ll need to download this zip file which contains the entire XNA setup and the folders that you’ll need to copy yourself.
Visual Studio Professional 2013 https://www.dreamspark.com/Product/Product.aspx?productid=72
Visual Studio Professional 2012 https://www.dreamspark.com/Product/Product.aspx?productid=44
Visual Studio Professional 2010 https://www.dreamspark.com/Product/Product.aspx?productid=4
MonoGame for taking existing XNA Games and Apps to Windows 8 – http://www.monogame.net
XNA Game Studio - https://www.dreamspark.com/Product/Product.aspx?productid=3
Getting Started creating Xbox Indie XNA Games - http://www.slideshare.net/lee_stott/xbox-indie-account-via-xna-creators-club-for-all-students
For all of you who have asked what Windows 8 devices will be available later this year? Here is a quick run down on Windows 8 devices from the Computex, as you may be aware from the press announcements Intel made the statement that more than 20 Windows 8 tablets with Intel innards are on the way, meaning these are new slates from Acer, ASUS and Samsung here are some of the models which were on display at Computex and reviews via the verge and engadget.
Samsung teases Series 5 Hybrid PC, a Windows 8 tablet with magnetic keyboard dock and pen support (update: hands-on photos)
The Hybrid is rated for 10 hours of battery life and has a pair of 2- and 8-megapixel cameras. It also supports pen input, and will come bundled with the same S-Pen and S-Memo software used on the Galaxy Note 10.1 (but modified for Windows, of course). This might be a good time to clarify that unlike the 10.1 (or any other Galaxy Tab, for that matter), this is not an ARM-based slate, but rather, an X86 PC.
Samsung Series 5 Ultra Touch hands-on
Samsung Series 5 Ultra Convertible hands-on
ASUS outs Tablet 600, a Transformer-like Slate running Windows RT
Like any Android-powered Transformer, this one packs a quad-core Tegra 3 chip, except it has twice the RAM (2GB). At the center of it all is a 10.1-inch (1366 x 768) IPS+ display with viewing angles similar to what you'll find on current Transformer tablets. Around back, it has an auto-focusing 8-megapixel camera with an LED flash, complemented by a 2-megapixel shooter up front. Other specs include WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 and your usual array of sensors, including GPS, a gyroscope, e-compass and, last but not least, NFC
ASUS reveals TAICHI convertible notebook / tablet with dual 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch displays It http://www.engadget.com/2012/06/04/asus-taichi-n-trig-duosense-pen/
Two displays in one tablet? Yes you can. ASUS' new TAICHI series packs displays on both the front and the rear, letting you use the device in a variety of configurations. In 'notebook' mode, you can use TAICHI with a backlit QWERTY keyboard and trackpad. Once you close the lid, however, it's stylus time. TAICHI includes Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7 processors, 4 gigs of RAM, SSD storage, dual-band 802.11n WiFi, FHD/Super IPS+ displays and, naturally, dual cameras. Despite the display duo, both the 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch configurations are reportedly as thin and light as the Zenbook line. Both variants will offer 1920 x 1080 pixels on each side, and displays can be used independently, so you can even share the device with a friend -- with completely different content on each LCD.
Asus Transformer AiO dual-boots Windows 8 and Android 4.0 (hands-on video)
ASUS announces line of Transformer Books, laptops with detachable touchscreens
In addition to various Windows 8 tablets and a dual-booting all-in-one, ASUS announced the Transformer Book, a line of notebooks with detachable touch screens that can function as tablets -- not ARM-based tablets, mind you, but full-blown x86 slates. Look no further than the large screen sizes: 11.6, 13 and 14 inches. As mentioned, they pack laptop-grade chips to match, including a Core i7 Ivy Bridge processor, backed by discrete graphics. Storage options include SSDs and traditional hard drives, and we're told these lappies can accommodate up to 4GB of RAM.
MSI Slider S20 to make Intel's convertible 'Letexo' ultrabook concept a reality. MSI unwraps Slider S20 hybrid tablet with Windows 8 (hands-on)
S20 variant with a properly speedy low-voltage Ivy Bridge chip as well as 4GB of RAM, Bluetooth 4.0, HDMI and USB 3.0. Our friends at Engadget Spanish got an early look and found the tablet a bit chunky with a so-so display, but also thought that it looked like a "robust" design. Check our overseas companions' first impressions for more, and know that the Slider S20 is expected to reach Europe in September at €899 ($1,121) in its full Ivy Bridge glory along with a lower-powered model at €799 ($996).
MSI Slider S20
There's a Transformer-style tablet with detachable keyboard dock
Acer unveils 11.6-inch Iconia W700, 10.1-inch W510 Windows 8 tablets (update: hands-on pictures and video) http://www.engadget.com/2012/06/03/acer-iconia-w700-w510-windows-8/
That first flavor packs a relatively massive 11.6-inch full HD (1920 x 1080) display with touch support for up to 10 fingers, and ships with a cradle that positions the device at 70 degrees for landscape viewing or 20 degrees for touch use. It offers more than 8 hours of battery life and also includes a trio of USB 3.0 ports, along with Dolby Home Theater for enhanced audio. Acer appears to be marketing the W700 as a "desktop replacement" when paired with a cradle and keyboard. Unlike the W510, the dock is only used to hold and position the device -- you'll need to use Bluetooth to add an external keyboard. The tablet includes a bevy of connectivity options, including Thunderbolt, micro HDMI, USB 3.0 and a power jack on the left side, a pair of red-grilled speakers on the bottom, and a power button, headphone jack and volume rocker on the right. There's also a five-megapixel autofocus camera and microphone on the rear, and a Windows key and front-facing camera flanking the large, high-res display.
Acer introduces Aspire S7 Windows 8 touchscreen ultrabooks
The 1080p touchscreen laptop is coming in two sizes — 13.3 and 11.6 inches — and Acer is quoting 12 and 9 hours of battery life, respectively. Other details are light, but Acer is adding a glossy layer of glass to the outside of the 13.3-inch machine’s aluminum lid. It seems like the company is tempting fate a little by putting glass on the laptop's exterior, but the "trendy and elegant appearance" must be worth it
Acer introduces Windows 8 all-in-one U Series at Computex 2012 http://www.engadget.com/2012/06/03/acer-announces-windows-8-all-in-one-u-series-at-computex-2012/
Acer just introduced two Windows 8-equipped U Series all-in-one desktops here at Computer 2012 in Taipei -- the 27-inch Aspire 7600U and 23-inch Aspire 5600U. The 7600U features a 64-point capacitive multitouch tilt and swivel display and is only 3.5cm (1.38 inches) thick, while the 5600U is billed as "the thinnest AIO available" (no numbers specified). Both system feature HD visuals and Dolby Home Theater Surround sound, but the company isn't ready to share any other details on specs.
A1.5GHz dual-core APQ8060A with 2GB of RAM
Sony VAIO T ultrabook
Sony's 13-inch VAIO T ultrabook, on sale today
Big Data Solution
Microsoft’s end-to-end roadmap for Big Data embraces Apache Hadoop™ by distributing enterprise class Hadoop based solutions on both Windows Server and Windows Azure. The roadmap includes Microsoft BI tools such as SQL Server Analysis Services, Reporting Services and even PowerPivot and Excel. This enables you to do BI on all your data, including those in Hadoop.
On the more technical front, we have been working on a simplified download, installation and configuration experience of several Hadoop related technologies, including HDFS, Hive, and Pig, which will help broaden the adoption of Hadoop in the enterprise.
The Hadoop based service for Windows Azure will allow any developer or user to submit and run standard Hadoop jobs directly on the Azure cloud with a simple user experience. Therefore it doesn’t matter what platform you are developing your Hadoop jobs on -you will always be able to take a standard Hadoop job and deploy it on our platform, as we strive towards full interoperability with the official Apache Hadoop distribution.
This is great news as it lowers the barrier for building Hadoop based applications while encouraging rapid prototyping scenarios in the Windows Azure cloud for Big Data.To facilitate all of this, we have also entered into a strategic partnership with Hortonworks that enables us to gain unique experience and expertise to help accelerate the delivery of Microsoft’s Hadoop based distributions on both Windows Server and Windows Azure.
Finally, in line with our commitment to Interoperability and to facilitate the high performance bi-directional movement of enterprise data between Apache Hadoop and Microsoft SQL Server, we have released two Hadoop-based connectors for SQL Server to manufacturing.
The SQL Server connector for Apache Hadoop lets customers move large volumes of data between Hadoop and SQL Server 2008 R2, while the SQL Server PDW connector for Apache Hadoop moves data between Hadoop and SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW). These new connectors will enable customers to work effectively with both structured and unstructured data.
For more information see http://www.microsoft.com/bigdata
For those who have been asked about running Windows 8 Consumer Preview on the retail version of Nike-Tab (sold as the Series 7 Slate)… please note that has Samsung created a new webpage to assist users with the install + drivers which can be found here: http://www.samsung.com/global/windowspreview/
Last week I was travelling the country talking to academics and students about the opportunity of building apps for Windows 8.
During the week I had a number of really interesting discussions, however on Friday I had a comment from one student, who simply believed Windows 8, was for touch devices only.
We got onto the topic of keyboard and mouse as I was presenting using a Lenovo thinkpad which supports both touch and keyboard and mouse. I was simply demonstrating Windows navigation via touch and then via keyboard and mouse during the presentation demos and the student in question seemed to be blown away by this and when we discussed this it more detail after the event he wasn't aware of the number of Windows Shortcut keys available.
So here a quick list of some of my favourites
Charms and menus
Apps Search Screen
Files Search Screen
Split to the right
Split to the left
Scroll Start Screen
Apps Options/App bar
Ok I have to confess, I am addicted! I have been playing with a .NET Gadgeteer FEZ Spider Kit from GHI Electronics. The .NET Gadgeteer kits enable you to quickly prototype and test a wide variety of functionality for embedded devices. As you are all aware from some of my recent presentations I am a huge fan of the Microsoft .NET Gadgeteer.
A number of you have asked me about about the .NET Gadgeteer kits and how easy is it for Teachers, Lectures and academics to grasp and teach this technology to school, college and University students? Well firstly you need to know some C# if you don't then watch the following tutorials. So for all of you haven't heard about Gadgeteer or are simply wondering what you can do with Gadgeteer the following guide will hopefully be of assistance.
The following guide is to:
1. Introduces you to the basic hardware components of the GHI FEZ Spider Kit
2. Give you some examples of how to create your first .NET Gadgeteer application.
.NET Gadgeteer development requires that you have Microsoft Visual Studio installed on your computer. You can use either of the following Visual Studio packages:
Both of these are free to download for all UK Students via http://www.dreamSpark.com there is an extensive .NET Gadgeteer support and learning materials available from .NET Gadgeteer http://www.netmf.com/gadgeteer/get-started.aspx and GHI http://www.tinyclr.com/support
So lets get started
The FEZ Spider Kit consists of components, which are called modules, and cables that you can use to create various types of functionality in your device. To create your first .NET Gadgeteer device, you will need the following parts:
The FEZ Spider Mainboard includes a processor and memory, as well as 14 sockets. The sockets are outlined by a white box that surrounds the socket number (1 through 14) and groups the socket number with a set of letters that indicate which modules can be connected to the socket.
.NET Gadgeteer-compatible hardware modules connected to the FEZ Spider mainboard by these connectors allow you to extend the FEZ Spider mainboard with communication, user interaction, sensing, and actuation capabilities.
The FEZ Spider mainboard includes a Reset button to reboot the system. There is also a small LED (labelled D1) which lights up whenever the FEZ Spider has power.
The USB Client Dual Power (USBClientDP) module (coloured red) enables you to connect the FEZ Spider Mainboard to your computer for programming and debugging. The dual-powered module is itself powered either by a USB port on a computer or by a 7 -30 volt DC power source. A USBClientDP module supplies power to the FEZ Spider and to any other modules that are connected to it. You can plug in both power sources of the USBClientDP module to program and to power at the same time.
Never connect more than one red module to the FEZ Spider Mainboard at the same time. This will damage the hardware.
The USBClientDP module has a black socket, identical to the sockets on the FEZ Spider Mainboard. Next to the connector, there is a letter D. This means that this particular module can only be connected to a socket labelled D on the mainboard.
In a similar way, all .NET Gadgeteer-compatible modules have letters next to their sockets that identify which mainboard sockets they can be connected to. Many modules are labelled with multiple letters. This means that they can be connected to any of the labelled sockets.
Red USB Device Module
Your hardware kit includes many module connector cables of different lengths. Apart from the length, these cables are all identical and can be used interchangeably to connect modules to the FEZ Spider Mainboard. Note that all sockets have a notch and the cable headers have a protrusion that fits into this notch, so the cables can only be inserted one way.
A .NET Gadgeteer-compatible Module Connector Cable
Connect the red USB Device module to socket number 1 on the FEZ Spider Mainboard, which is the only socket that has the letter D. Then, connect the small end of the mini USB cable provided with the kit to the USBClientDP module. However, do not connect the other end to your computer yet.
Connecting the FEZ Spider to the USB Client module
When plugging or unplugging any module into a FEZ Spider socket, always make sure that power is not connected, by unplugging either end of the mini USB cable. The mini USB cable supplies power to the FEZ Spider; if you plug or unplug a module on the FEZ Spider while it is powered, the hardware could be damaged.
After ensuring that the FEZ Spider mainboard is not powered, continue by getting a Button module from your hardware kit.
A Button with Multicolour LED
Turn the Button module over. Next to the connector are the letters X Y. This means that a Button module can be connected to one of the sockets labelled X or Y on a mainboard.
The Reverse Side of a Button Module
Get a Camera module from your hardware kit. Turn the Camera module over. This module has a single connector labelled H. Only socket 3 on the FEZ Spider mainboard supports modules labelled with the letter H. Plug one end of a connector cable to the socket on the Camera module and the other end to the FEZ Spider on socket number 3, also labelled HI.
Camera with Socket labelled H
Connect the Button and the Camera to the mainboard using module connector cables as described in the previous sections.
The .NET Gadgeteer designer can identify the sockets on modules and on the mainboard that are compatible. This method is described in the following section titled Using the .NET Gadgeteer Designer UI. In this example we will connect the remaining Display_T35 module manually.
The Display_T35 module has four connectors. Connect sockets 14, 13, and 12 to the Display_T35 module sockets labelled R, G, and B. As you might expect, these letters signify the colour distribution of the Display_T35 module. Connect socket 10 on the mainboard to socket T on the Display_T35 module. Socket T on the Display_T35 module facilitates the touch screen features of this module.
Make the actual connections between all modules and the mainboard before you connect the USBClientDP to the USB port on your computer.
The following illustration shows the mainboard connected to a Display_T35 module, a Button module, a Camera module, and the USBClientDP module. Now, with all the other modules connected, you can connect the USBClientDP module to the USB port on your computer.
.NET Gadgeteer Modules with Connectors
Start Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 or Microsoft Visual C# 2010 Express. The following sequence will get your first .NET Gadgeteer Application up and running in less than half an hour.
Microsoft Visual Studio
Microsoft Visual Studio, New .NET Gadgeteer Application Project
The .NET Gadgeteer Designer opens with the FEZ Spider Mainboard displayed on the canvas. If the Toolbox is not visible, click the View menu and select Toolbox. The Toolbox with a list of installed modules will open. You can resize or hide the Toolbox to make more work space on the canvas.
Microsoft Visual Studio, .NET Gadgeteer Application and Toolbox
If you want to use a different mainboard, open the toolbox, and drag the mainboard icon of your choice onto the designer surface.
When you drag a new mainboard to the designer surface, you'll be prompted, as shown in the following illustration, to confirm replacement of the mainboard. All existing connections will be removed.
To continue building the example device, open the Toolbox and drag the modules for this example on to the work canvas. You will need the following modules:
The Designer canvas with modules is shown in the following illustration.
Microsoft Visual Studio, .NET Gadgeteer Application and Modules
As indicated by the instructions in the text box on the canvas, the .NET Gadgeteer Designer will graphically connect all the modules for you. Right click on the design surface and select Connect all modules. You can move the modules around on the design surface to make the connections easier to read. You can also delete any connection by right clicking on the connection and selecting Delete.
Microsoft Visual Studio, Designer Connected Modules
To manually set a connection, click on a socket in the diagram and hold down the left mouse button. Then you can drag a line that represents the connection from a module socket to a mainboard socket or in the opposite direction from the mainboard to a module. The sockets that the module can use will light up in green, as shown in the following illustration.
Writing Code for Devices that use .NET Gadgeteer Modules
To specify what the modules should do in this application, now edit the Program.cs file. The following illustration shows the Program.cs file open in Visual Studio.
Microsoft Visual Studio, New Project, default Program.cs Code
When using the designer, the modules are automatically instantiated by auto-generated code. This code can be found in the file Program.Generated.cs, but during normal use it is not necessary to view this file, and this file should not be edited because the Designer will automatically regenerate it and undo any direct changes made to it. The Program.Generated.cs file is shown in the following snippet.Program.Generated.cs file.
Microsoft Visual Studio, Progam.Generated.cs Code
Next, you generate code that will enable the program to react to a button press. To do this, assign an event handler for the Button.ButtonPressedevent. The IntelliSense feature of Visual Studio makes this process very easy.
In the Program.cs file, after the comment that reads:
Initialize event handlers here.
Type button.(button followed by a period). IntelliSense displays a list of properties, methods and events as shown in the following illustration.
IntelliSense Feature Showing Members of the Button class
Using the arrow keys, select ButtonPressed. Then type += (plus sign followed by an equals sign). IntelliSense offers option to automatically insert the rest of the declaration:
IntelliSense Offers to Create the Handler Declaration
Press TAB to confirm. IntelliSense offers to automatically generate a delegate method to handle the event:
IntelliSense Offers to Generate the Event Handler Method
Press TAB to confirm. The following code is generated:
Event Handler for the ButtonPressed Event
This event handler will be called each time the button is pressed. Delete the following line from the method:
throw new NotImplementedException();
And replace it with:
Now when the Button is pressed, the Camera module will take a picture.
Take Picture in ButtonPressed Event
The Camera module raises an event when the Cameracaptures a picture. You can use the event to display the picture in the Display_T35 module.
The PictureCaptured event is an example of an asynchronous event. Calling Camera.TakePicturein the Button.ButtonPressed delegate starts the process, but the result of the action is not returned by the ButtonPressed delegate. Instead, the GT.Picture object returns as a parameter of the asynchronous PictureCaptured event.
When the PictureCaptured event occurs, you can get the GT.Picture object and display it by using the SimpleGraphics interface of the Display_T35 module. The SimpleGraphics interface supports the DisplayImage method, which accepts a GT.Picture object as a parameter, along with integer values to indicate the X an Y coordinates that position the image on the display.
All code required to display the picture is shown in the following implementation of the PictureCaptured event delegate.
All the code for a .NET Gadgeteer Application that takes a picture and displays it in the Display_T35 module is shown in the following example.
Entire Code Listing
To deploy this application to a mainboard and begin running it, select Start Debugging from the Debug menu, or press F5.
Make sure that the Output Window is visible by pressing the CTRL + ALT + O key combination on your keyboard. If you have enabled sounds, you should hear Windows make the "USB disconnected" sound, followed by the "USB connected" sound as the Mainboard reboots. The Output Window should show the process of loading various files and assemblies. The final line, which appears once the application begins to run, should read Program Started.
When you see Program Started appear on the Output window, you can take a picture. Smile for the Camera, and push the Button. Your picture will appear on the screen of the Display_T35 module. If it works - congratulations! You have completed your first .NET Gadgeteer application.
To exit debugging mode, select Stop Debugging from the Debug menu, or press Shift + F5.
Note: The mainboard continues to be programmed, and will run this application whenever it is powered up, even if it is not connected to a computer.
An interesting extension of the camera application in the previous example is programming the application to take pictures automatically at an interval set by an instance of the GT.Timer class.
To create an instance of the GT.Timer class, add the following global variable to the Program class, as shown in the following example. This line of code initializes the GT.Timer to raise the Tick event at an interval of 2000 milliseconds (2 seconds).
GT.Timer timer = new GT.Timer(2000);
Create the delegate to handle the GT.Timer.Tick event, but stop the timer until the button is pushed. The following code shows the set-up in the ProgramStarted method.
In the ButtonPressed handler replace Camera.TakePicture with the following code. The new code starts and stops the GT.Timer.Tick event and toggles the LED indicator on the Button. When the GT.Timer is firing events, you can use the event handler to take pictures instead of the ButtonPressed handler.
The implementation of the GT.Timer.Tick event is shown in the following example.
When the LED is off and the user pushes the Button, the LED indicator turns on and remains on while the Camera module takes pictures at two second intervals. When the user pushes the button again, the GT.Timer stops, and the LED turns off.
The following code contains all the code for the camera with timer. The boxes show the changes to the previous example.
Code for Surveillance Camera
This section describes common issues that you may encounter and provides suggestions for how to fix them.
If VS is running when you install GadgeteerCore, you’ll need to close and restart it before creating your first project. Otherwise you won’t see the .NET Gadgeteer Application template.
You may need to change the USB name of the target mainboard in your first project. The most efficient way to do this is using the MFDeploy tool.
Sometimes VS will hang at the display: “The debugging target is not in an initialized state; rebooting”. Push the reset button on the mainboard to fix this.
If you’re using the Display_T35 and see a null reference exception on startup, verify that the touch socket is connected both in the designer and on the module.
If you’re using a laptop and you see errors on deployment like “Please check your hardware”, try plugging a 7 volt DC power supply into the USBClientDP module.
The camera image is blurred or not in focus The lens is screwed into camera base, by unscrewing or screwing in you can focus it.
If you receive compilation errors when you attempt to deploy and run your application, read the error message carefully. Most errors fall into one of two categories:
If your application does not behave as expected (for example, pressing the button does not raise the event), start by checking that the physical socket to which the hardware module is connected agrees with the initializion in code of the identifier that corresponds to the module.
For example, if you connect a Button to mainboard socket 4, but initialize it to socket 8, the button will not work.
// Button is actually plugged into socket 4.
button = new GTM.GHIElectronics.Button(8);
The programming model for the .NET Gadgeteer platform is event driven. Events are raised that correspond to a hardware change or physical action. For example, when you press a button, the ButtonPressed event is raised, and when you release it, the ButtonReleased event is raised.
You can use debug statements inside your event handlers to make sure that your handler is receiving the event. For example, if your LED does not light when you press the button, you can insert a statement inside the event handler for the ButtonPressed event to make sure that your button is in fact receiving the event.
private void Button_ButtonPressed(GTM.Button sender, GTM.Button.ButtonState state)
When you deploy and run your application, check the Visual Studio Debug Output window for your message. If the message does not appear at the expected time (for example, when you press the button), make sure that the physical socket and logical initializer are in agreement, as previously described. If they are, the button or the module connector cable might be defective. Unplug the mini USB cable from your computer, swap the module connector cable or the button with another from your hardware kit, reconnect the mini USB cable, and try again.
Occasionally, you may receive an error as you attempt to deploy your application to a mainboard. This can happen if the mainboard is not connected to your computer, or the mainboard requires a restart. If the mainboard is disconnected, connect it and retry. If the mainboard is connected when this happens, disconnect it from your computer (by unplugging the mini USB cable), wait a few seconds, and reconnect it. Then try the deployment again.
When you install the .NET Gadgeteer core, the device drivers that are needed to communicate with a mainboard are also installed. This process usually does not require any intervention on your part.
In some cases, the .NET Gadgeteer core installation or kit installation might not install the device drivers automatically. If your computer is having problems communicating with a mainboard that you suspect are related to the device drivers, please refer to the Tiny CLR Forum.
If you get any error during installation of .NET Gadgeteer ensure that you have installed .NET Micro Framework Version 4.1 drivers and SDK from http://www.netmf.com/
Have something to add? Got a request or suggestion?
You can email the Gadgeteer team at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow them on Twitter @netgadgeteer.
For the last few weeks, I have been attending a number of final year project submission meetings across the UK. I have seen a number of amazing apps/games and projects from students across the UK many of these have been produced as part of their academic coursework and now being used to demonstrate the skills which the students have mastered to potential employers.
One of the key things which frustrates me is the number of students who have built amazing apps or games and simply haven't published these a app store! to simply demonstrate their understanding of app development and more importantly have a app/game which they can demonstrate to a potential employer as part of their portfolio.
So the following blog is to simply help you all understand how to publish and maintain your published app or games and ideally help you get started on the development of a real portfolio of apps and games in the Windows 8 store.
So get your completed course, assignment or module published.
Log in to the Windows Store
Before you can publish your app, you need a Windows Store account. Go to the Windows Store to register. If you haven't claimed your free Windows Store account via dreamspark go to https://www.dreamspark.com/Student/Windows-8-App-Development.aspx
After you log in to the store with your live ID (the one you used for your store account), go to “Dashboard”
If this is your first time logging in since you created your account, you may see a message that says
“Before we can list any of your apps in the Store, you’ll need to verify your payment method. Verify your payment method.”
When you created your account you entered credit card information. A small amount was charged and then reimbursed on your credit card to validate the card. You need to find your billing statement (or call your credit card company) to find out the transaction amount that was charged.
Select the Verify your payment method link and you will be taken to the Payment account verification screen. When you get there scroll to the bottom of the screen. using the information from your credit card billing statement, enter the amount that was charged or the 3 digit code from the transaction description and select Next.
Once you see the message saying “We successfully verified your payment account” You are ready to begin submitting your app!
From the top menu, select “Dashboard” then select “Submit an app” from the menu on the right.
Use the dashboard to see all the applications you submitted and their status in the store certification process. It can take as little as 2 days or as much as 2 weeks for an app to be published after you submit it.
Choose a Name for App/Game Your app/game name is important! It is the first thing a customer sees when they find your app in the store. Be creative! Make sure you don't use names that are trademarked by others or those who own the trademark could ask to have your app removed from the store.
So step1. is do some research, search the store for names, phrase, titles and ensure you pick a unique one.
Enter the app name you wish to use and select Reserve App Name. If you get a message back informing you your app name is already in use, you will have to enter a different app name.
NOTE: The app name you enter here must match the Display Name in your app manifest in your created app/game
TIP: You can just do this first step to reserve your app name before you have the code ready to publish. Your name will be reserved for 12 months.
Price - This is where you set the price of your app, and your free trial options. If you choose to charge for your app, pricing can start at £0.99. The price you select may include a sales tax that the customer must pay. Your proceeds will be based on the pretax amount.
TIP: Apps with free trials of some sort usually get more downloads, you can either limit the duration of the trial, or in your code you can limit the features available on the trial version. Use the license Information class to determine if a trial has expired, or if a user is running a trial version. You can find more information about handling trials in your code here.
Markets - Select the countries where you want your app to be available. Selecting a country does not guarantee your app will be published there. There is some content and features that is restricted to certain regions, you could be using a feature that is not available in a particular region yet. You might want to consider the primary languages spoken in a particular country when deciding which countries you select.
TIP: When publishing a game, the countries Korea, South Africa, Brazil, and Taiwan require a game to be rated by a rating board and certified to prove the age rating of the game. If you do not have certificate files to prove you have completed that process, make sure you do NOT select those markets or your app will fail certification.
Release Date - If you want your app to be published as soon as it is certified select the first option.
Category - Now, select the category that best matches your app, this will affect where your app will be listed in the store, so consider your choice carefully. If a Windows user was searching for an app like yours in the store, which category would they choose to search? It's important to make it as easy as possible for users to find your app in the store. Picking the wrong category can also result in failing certification, because the testing team may not feel the category is appropriate for your app.
Hardware requirements – If your app has minimum RAM or DirectX requirements, you can specify that here.
Accessibility – Only select this check box if you have gone through all the accessibility guidelines and tested your app to ensure it is accessible. Accessibility includes testing for users with low vision or screen readers.
Advanced features - You only need to complete this section if your application supports push notifications (often used to update tiles), connect services such as SkyDrive and Single Sign-On, or in-app purchases. In app purchases is a popular way of making money with apps, the app is free, but a user can make in app purchases improve their app experience. For example, there are games where players can purchase weapons or armour. If you have not implemented any of the above features you can just leave all the fields in this section blank.
Age rating and rating certificates - This section is to describe the audience for your app and upload your rating certificates. If you can't decide between two age ratings, for example your app has content you feel is suitable for 12 and older, but requires an account that can only be created by users 16 or older, choose the higher age rating. Some countries requires will also require that your app be rated through a ratings board, especially for games. So check the list to see if a market you selected requires a rating certificate. If you try to publish to a market that requires a rating certificate and you do not provide the certificate file, your app will fail certification.
Cryptography - You must declare whether your app calls, supports, contains or uses cryptography or encryption. There are US regulations regarding the exporting of technology that use certain types of encryption. Apps in the Windows store must comply with these laws because the app files can be stored in the US. These rules apply even if you are a developer in UK selling apps in the UK through the store. So if your app is doing some type of cryptography or encryption you should read up on the regulations to see if your app requires an Export Commodity Classification Number (ECCN).
Packages - Now it's time to upload your app to the Windows Store. But there are a couple of things you need to do first:Build your package and run the WACK test.
· In Visual Studio, change the Build type from Debug to Release and Build the solution by choosing Build | Build Solution from the menu.
· From the menu choose Project | Store | Create App Packages…
· When asked “Do you want to build packages to upload to the Windows Store”, select Yes. and then select Sign In.
· Sign in with the same email account you used for the Windows Store.
· Select the app name you reserved to indicate the app for which you are creating a package. If you are resubmitting after a failed attempt to publish or to update your app in the store, you will want to select the checkbox “Include app names that already have packages” so you can see your app in the list.
· After you select the app name, select Next.
· Now you must choose which platforms will be able to install your application. If you pick Neutral, you will get a single package with builds that will run on any Windows 8 hardware. If you select individual builds you will get a different package for each build type. NOTE: If you are building an app which requires a lot of memory and processing power and you have not tested it on ARM, you might want to consider selecting x86 and x64 specifically and not including ARM in your release.
· For the version number, I recommend using the Automatically increment. Otherwise you must make sure the version number in your app manifest file matches the version number on this page.
· Make a note of the output location, because you will need to upload the file from that location to the store after the package(s) is/are created.
· Select Create when you are ready for Visual studio to generate the app package.
After your package is created, you are prompted to launch the Windows App Certification Kit. This will run your app through a series of tests to check for issues that could cause it to fail certification. While it is running you will see the app occasionally launch and close. Do not interact with the app while the WACK test is running.
To start the WACK test select Launch Windows App Certification Kit. This process can take 10 minutes or so. You will know when it is complete because you will see the test summary page informing you if your app passed or failed. The results window does not automatically appear in the foreground, so you may want to occasionally check your task bar and desktop to see if the test is completed..
If your app failed, select “Click here to view full report” then investigate and resolve the issues that caused it to fail, then create a new package and try again. If your app passed, you are ready to upload the package to the store.
Once your package is created you will find a new folder called “AppPackages” inside your application folder. Inside the “AppPackages” folder is a file that ends with “.appxupload” extension. This is the file you will select when you upload your app.
If you made changes to your app and rebuilt the package, make sure you pick the most recent app package, the version number in the package file name or the date created can help you identify the most recent package(s).
Go to the Packages section in the application submission and then drag your package(s) to the app submission page. (remember if you chose to make separate builds for x86,x64 or ARM you will have multiple packages and you will need to upload all of them to the store.)
You will know when your package is uploaded because you will see it listed as an uploaded package.
App Description - This is where you describe what your app does and this is what users will see when they look at your app in the Windows store. If you want your app to be downloaded by a lot of people, make sure to take time to write a good description. Take a look at the descriptions of similar apps in the store, how will your description stand out? Make sure the first couple of sentences grab their attention. Make sure you have a short list of your app's best features. If you offer a free trial, this is a good place to explain how the trial works. There are some good tips on writing your app description here.
TIP: If your app will require anyone to log in to complete certain tasks, you must mention that in your description or you will fail certification.
Screenshots - After you add the description of your app, you will need to upload images of your app including a logo that the will be used to feature the app.
If you don’t have these images already, you can create them using the simulator in Visual Studio. Change the launch option to Simulator using the drop down key in the menu.
When the app launches, on the right side of the simulator is a button with a camera icon which will let you to take a snapshot of the screen and put it in your clipboard. Then you can open an app such as Paint paste it and save it as a .PNG file. If your image is larger than 2 MB you may have to use a tool like Paint .NET (which you can download for free) to save it at a lower resolution. You can’t just resize the image because it must be at least 1366 x768 pixels (landscape) or 768X1366 pixels (portrait).
Keywords – If someone was searching the store, what keywords would they use to find your app? Specify these as keywords to help users discover your app.
Copyright and trademark info – this is a mandatory field where you specify the copyright information for your application. Basically this is where you get to say, whose app is this.
Promotional Images – If you have a great app, make sure you include some extra images so your app has the potential to be featured in the store! Being featured always results in more downloads, so if you’ve done something amazing, make sure to include all the promotional images so your app could be highlighted!
Website – If you have a website for your app or other apps you have built, you can include a link to it here
Support Contact Info – you must provide a way for users to contact you if they have problems with the app. An email address, or a link to a website with a Contact Us option will suffice.
This is a place for you to add any notes you wish to share with the people who are testing your app for certification. For example, if your app requires a login to an online service, you must provide the login information for an account the testers can use. If your app is only intended for a limited audience, it is good to mention that in notes to testers as well, because your app can be rejected because it does not appeal to a wide audience. So, if you are making an app for a specific audience, make that clear in the description and notes to testers. The information you enter in this section is not seen by users of the app, it is only seen by the team who tests your app to see if it is suitable for the Windows Store.
After you have completed all the sections you should see a checkmark beside every section. If there is a section without a checkmark, go back to see if you either missed a mandatory field, or you have a field entered incorrectly.
If every section is marked as complete you can now select Submit for Certification.
Congratulations! You have just submitted your app to the store!
Once you submit your app, it will take up to 1 weeks to get certified, you can track the progress of your app in the main dashboard. You don’t have to keep coming back here to check the status. If you fail certification, you will receive an email and a detailed error report explaining why it failed so you can correct any errors and resubmit. If you pass certification, you will receive an email with a link to your app in the store!
The Windows team has created this great checklist to help you prepare and organize all the required info to make it easier to enter the info when you submit an app.
Your app is now live and ready for consumers to download and install.
But what happens when you make a update or find a bug that needs fixing or even adding extra functionality?
Here is how do you submit a new version of an app/game to the Windows store after you have made updates to the code
You’ve submitted your app, and now you’ve made some improvements based on comments or feedback from users, or maybe just because you had some time to improve it. Here’s how you do it.
Log in to the Windows Store at dev.windows.com and go to the Dashboard.
Select Details for the app you want to update
When you get to the Details page, select Create New Release
You will need to upload a new package to the store containing your new code.
Go to Visual Studio, open the .appxmanifest file, go to the Packaging tab and increase the Version number, so it indicates this is a new version of your app.
You decide how you want to increment the version numbers, but here is some general guidance:
Now go to the menu and choose Project | Store | Create App Package and follow the prompts to build your new app package. It’s always a good idea to launch the Windows Application Certification Kit on your updated app to make sure it still passes the tests with your updates.
After you have built your new package, return to your app submission screen, select Packages, and upload the new package from your Visual Studio project AppPackages folder (REMINDER: the package is the file with the extension .appxupload).
When you submit a new version of an app, you must indicate the contents of your update in the Description section.
Enter a description of the update in the Description of Update field.
Although it is not required, if you are adding new functionality to your app, consider updating other fields that describe your functionality to users. You want to ensure potential users are aware of the full functionality of your application when browsing the store. Attributes you might want to updated include the Description, the App features list, or the Screenshots.
If you wish you may change other attributes of your app such as price, age ratings, but that is not required to submit the update.
After you have uploaded your new package, completed the description of update and made any additional changes you wish to make, select Submit for Certification to submit your updated app to the store.
That's it you have just submitted an updated version of your app to the store.
We are pleased to announce new versions of Blend + Sketchflow preview for Visual Studio 2012. Bringing Blend and Visual Studio together offers more value. Blend is a great tool offering a wide variety of designers and developers the ability to quickly and easily build great looking and powerful UI.
These new versions make available capabilities that were previously only available in Expression Blend such as Windows Presentation Foundation, Silverlight and SketchFlow support, unifying the design-centric tools for building Windows Store Apps and Windows desktop apps to Visual Studio users.
This is for evaluation only and none of the platforms contain a go-live license. Therefore you SHOULD use other released versions of Blend for production work.
What is the Blend + Sketchflow Preview for Visual Studio 2012?
Blend for Visual Studio 2012 can help you design user interfaces for applications with robust tools that solve complex design tasks for building Windows Store apps.
The Blend + Sketchflow Preview introduces powerful WYSIWYG design capabilities to Visual Studio developers by providing support for WPF and Silverlight.
What is the difference between Blend + SketchFlow Preview for Visual Studio 2012 and Blend for Visual Studio 2012 RTW? Do I need both?
Blend for Visual Studio 2012 is a unique, innovative authoring tool with rich visual tools for creating Windows store apps using HTML/CSS and XAML. Blend is installed with most versions of Visual Studio 2012.
Blend + SketchFlow Preview for Visual Studio 2012 delivers WPF, Silverlight, and SketchFlow support compatible with Visual Studio 2012. You can install this alongside Visual Studio 2012 RTW.
What is SketchFlow; how does it differ from Storyboarding in Visual Studio 2012?
SketchFlow provides an informal and quick way to explore, iterate and prototype user interface scenarios. SketchFlow is for building working prototypes of software for developers, while the new storyboarding capability allows PowerPoint to be used for capturing lightweight requirements from stakeholders.
A large number of the UK’s Universities and colleges have been using XNA since 2004 within gaming course curricula on Windows, XBox and Windows Phone. We have a huge set of Free curricula resources for XNA game development at http://www.microsoft.com/faculty
XNA over the last 7 years has provide a number of students and indie game developers with an impressive content pipeline, game assets, load functionality, animation, math, sound and user input tracking via gamepad, mouse, keyboard and touch with game logic organized in a straightforward game loop architecture, more recently we have also added curricula for XNA and Kinect.
Within education XNA has been a huge driver for a number of students and developers who wanted to learn how to create games. XNA along with Visual Studio made it as easy as File –> New –> XNA Game Studio Project and you were off developing.
Since Windows 8 is built on the strong foundation of Windows 7, any app built for Windows will run in the Windows 8 desktop environment. This includes apps based on XNA, Win32, .NET, WPF, Silverlight, etc.
Windows 8 also introduces a new type of app called a Metro Style App for developers that wish to make their app available in the Windows 8 Store, for free or for sale. Using Visual Studio 2012, you have a language choice of C++, XAML with C#, VB or C++, or HTML5/JS to create a Metro Style App.
Using the XNA Framework is not a choice for building a Metro Style App. Official Microsoft guidance on game development is documented here.
Windows 8 allows you too build highly immersive games using HTML5/JS, XAML/C#, XAML/VB or C++ and DirectX.
However a number of you have already stressed too me, that you and your students have been developing with XNA and have an existing code base, or would like to import existing XNA games too Windows 8 your only option it would seem is running as a desktop app.
This is where MonoGame comes in…
MonoGame is an Open Source implementation of the Microsoft XNA 4 Framework. The goal is to allow XNA developers on Windows & Windows Phone to port their games to the iOS, Android, Mac OS X, Linux with both PlayStation Suite and Windows 8 support currently under development.
NOTE : This project is not linked with Microsoft or any of it subsidiaries. It is a non-profit, open source project. MonoGame is licensed under the Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL)
NOTE : This project is not linked with Microsoft or any of it subsidiaries. It is a non-profit, open source project. MonoGame is licensed under the Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL)
MonoGame provides a cross platform XNA Framework implementation for XNA developers who want to take their code to non-Microsoft platforms as well as the ability, to target Windows 8.
MonoGame for Windows 8 you can take your XNA code and with a recompile and some additional features too simply create a Metro Style App for example Armed within the Windows Store uses MonoGame. I have too stress MonoGame is still under development and so any use of it should come with a note of advice to stay on top of that effort.
In order to provide a complete implementation of XNA on Windows 8, MonoGame leverages SharpDX , an open-source project delivering the full DirectX API for managed code (.NET) and Windows 8 (WinRT). SharpDX is an open-source project, free of charge available under the following MIT License.
One of the key goals for today’s developers is how to build an app or game and get it on as many platforms in the short most cost effective way.
However building rich applications targeting multiple mobile platforms and a variety of devices up to now hasn't been an easy task but with In case you haven’t heard yet, the final release of Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 is also now available.
This update brings many new features, including tools for Windows Phone 8.1 and universal Windows apps.
Visual Studio+ Xamarin
Microsoft’s partnership with Xamarin has enabled C# and Visual Studio developers to target additional mobile devices including iOS and Android. Developers using Xamarin and Visual Studio can create native apps taking advantage of the underlying device, with great productivity of C#, and sharing code and libraries between their iOS, Android and Windows applications.
Why use Apache Cordova and Visual Studio
2. These tools support end-to-end development of cross-platform mobile applications targeting Android, iOS, Windows and Windows Phone using Visual Studio.
4. Projects can be built, deployed, and debugged against a variety of devices, device emulators and web-based mobile simulators. By default, you can use the Apache Ripple Simulator to test your app on a number of emulators.
5. By installing and configuring the vsmda—remote npm package on a Mac, you can even build for iOS, deploy to a device via iTunes, or start your app in the iOS Simulator on a Mac right from Visual Studio.
See here how to get started for free
If you would like to get started with Cordova for Windows devices, you can refer to the Cordova documentation, or see here what you will need if you are working on a Mac, if you want to develop for Windows Phone 8, or for Windows 8.
You can read about Microsoft Open Technologies contributions to the project. Here