Brian Hitney

developing on the microsoft stack

Posts
  • Brian Hitney

    Migrating a Blog to Windows Azure Web Sites

    For many years, I’ve hosted my blog on Orcsweb .  I moved there about 5 years ago or so, after outgrowing webhost4life.  Orcsweb is a huge supporter of the community and has offered free hosting to MVPs and MSFTies, so it seemed like a no brainer to go to a first class host at no charge.  Orcs is also local (Charlotte, NC) and I know many of the great folks there.  But, the time has come to move my blog to Windows Azure Web Sites (WAWS).  (This switch, of course, should be transparent...
  • Brian Hitney

    Taking your Apps to Market

    I’ve written a lot of apps (and have used a lot of apps) so one thing I’m always on the lookout for is what is working when it comes to top apps – getting users, feedback, and ultimately monetizing your apps.  The market is always changing and the trends are different in different app categories, and the key seems to be able to adapt quickly. Pricing and Making Money Games are completely different than productivity apps, which are entirely different than entertainment apps, just to name a few broad categories...
  • Brian Hitney

    APIMASH Quakes & Astronomy

    A bit overdue, but I just realized I never really announced the APIMASH project we’ve been working on.  It’s up on github .   The purpose of the project is to illustrate how to go about constructing a mashup application from a variety of data sources.  We’re adding to the project all the time, and have both Windows 8 and Windows Phone app starter kits to get you going.  What makes the APIMASH concept so fun, to me, is that we’re consuming real-world data.   Whether you use...
  • Brian Hitney

    Building for Cost Part 2

    In the last post , we looked at ways to separate content using different pieces of Windows Azure for the benefit of creating a more cost-effective solution using Windows Azure Web Sites (WAWS) and Windows Azure Storage for storing images and other binary/static files.   Although we’re looking at this just for cost efficacy, frankly that approach just makes sense from an availability and performance aspect, too. Another fantastic service is Windows Azure Mobile Services (WAMS), but unsurprisingly, it...
  • Brian Hitney

    Building for Cost using Windows Azure

    One of the great advantages of having a green field cloud-based infrastructure is being able tailor the app using specific features of the platform.  Sometimes, cost isn’t an issue.  But, many times – particularly for indie devs – it is.  Scale isn’t the foremost concern here, and often times dependability isn’t, either.  Rather, it’s flexibility and cost.  In this post, I’m going to dissect a few ways to take advantage of Azure and save some coin in the process.  Estimating Azure...
  • Brian Hitney

    Windows 8 to 8.1 App Considerations: Screen Size

    One of the most frequent questions/concerns I’m seeing in community is:  what application changes do I need to consider for Windows 8.1 development?   Is there anything I should be doing today in my Win8 apps to make it easy to move to 8.1 in the future? There’s a ton of great info that came out of the recent //build conference .  In my opinion, the main design consideration to take into account with applications in Win8.1 is to handle multiple screen sizes and states effectively.  Conceptually...
  • Brian Hitney

    Creating a Great Mashup Part 3

    This post details features used by Earthquake Explorer , a Windows 8 app that displays earthquake information on Bing maps. Earthquake Explorer was based off of the Earthquakes mashup starter kit on github . Read part 1 here . Read part 2 here . We left off Part 2 talking about creating a compelling live tile in Windows 8. This really is a must-do feature in Windows 8 – primarily because a live tile creates a more compelling app experience. It encourages the user to keep the live tile ‘pinned-left’ (that is...
  • Brian Hitney

    Microsoft DevRadio: (Part 2) APIMASH – Earthquake and Messier Sky Object API Starter Kit for Windows Store Apps

    My latest DevRadio episode has been published – here are the details! Abstract: In today’s episode Brian Hitney demos for us the Messier Sky Object Explorer and Earthquake Starter Kits for your Windows 8 apps. Tune in as he walks us through both APIs and show us how easy it is get started building for Windows 8 . Check out all the APIMASH Starter Kits here Download Earthquake APIMASH Starter Kit Download the Messier Sky Object Explorer APIMASH Starter Kit Next Steps: Step #1 – Download the Tools for Windows...
  • Brian Hitney

    Creating a Great Mashup Part 2

    This post details features used by Earthquake Explorer , a Windows 8 app that displays earthquake information on Bing maps.   Earthquake Explorer was based off of the Earthquakes mashup starter kit on github .  Read part 1 here .  In the first part , we created a Windows Azure Mobile Service to store data as a back end for our mashup.  A big benefit of this approach is that it lets us filter/sort/query the data any way we’d like, and our application is now resilient against outages and...
  • Brian Hitney

    Microsoft DevRadio: (Part 7) Using Windows Azure to Build Back-End Services for Windows 8 Apps – Authentication Tips and Tricks

    At long last!  Our final installment to the series – check it out! About this Video: Wrapping up their  “Using Windows Azure to Build Back-End Services for Windows 8 apps” series Brian Hitney , Andrew Duthie   and Peter Laudati , as they showoff some useful tips and tricks around authentication for your Windows Azure Mobile Server based apps. Tune in as they enable persistent login for a mobile service, and then discuss how we can get additional information about users from the configured identity...
  • Brian Hitney

    Creating a Great Mashup using Windows Azure

    This post details features used by Earthquake Explorer , a Windows 8 app that displays earthquake information on Bing maps. Earthquake Explorer was based off of the Earthquakes mashup starter kit on github . Creating a mashup is pretty easy in Windows 8 – creating a great one requires a bit more work. In this case, I'm working with the USGS earthquake GeoJSON feeds , a very easy-to-use feed that contains earthquake information for either the past hour, day, week, or month. Overall, it’s a pretty ideal feed....
  • Brian Hitney

    APIMASH and Intro to Game Dev Raleigh

    I’m really excited to be hosting a few events in the Microsoft Raleigh office focused on Windows 8 development.  The first on revolves around our APIMASH starter kits – a great way to get started building mashup style applications in Windows 8, with templates and examples in both C# and HTML/JS.  The other sessions are intro to gaming, developing some simple games using Construct2, and GameMaker/other frameworks as time allows.   Here are the events/times: APIMASH: Tue 6/4/2013 from 10:00am...
  • Brian Hitney

    Microsoft DevRadio: Spring Azure Update Review - IaaS, Web Sites, Licensing and more!

    Abstract: Brian Hitney and Peter Laudati review and demo some of the latest updates and features made to Windows Azure such as the general availability of Windows Azure Infrastructure as a Service, Azure Web Sites, the Azure SDK 2.0 for .NET and the new licensing and pricing model. After watching this video, follow these next steps: Step #1 – Try Windows Azure: No cost. No obligation. 90-Day FREE trial. Step #2 – Download the Tools for Windows 8 App Development Step #3 – Start building your own Apps for Windows...
  • Brian Hitney

    Microsoft DevRadio: (Part 6) Using Windows Azure to Build Back-End Services for Windows 8 Apps – Adding Authentication

    Abstract: In Part 6 of of their “Using Windows Azure to Build Back-End Services for Windows 8 apps” series Brian Hitney and Andrew Duthie   explore the world of built-in support for authentication in Windows Azure Mobile Services. Tune in as they quickly demo for us the process of adding authentication for your mobile and Windows Store apps.  Check out the full article here. Watch Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 After watching this video, follow these next steps: Step #1 – Try Windows Azure...
  • Brian Hitney

    Windows 8 “Elev8” App Challenge

    We’re coming up on the annual Code Camp here in Charlotte, and this year, we thought it would fun to hold a hackathon leading up to the code camp, rather than simply run an all day event at the code camp.  Here’s your chance to develop a great app for Windows 8, elev8 your skillset, and potentially win some cool stuff  Here are the details: The short version: develop a Windows 8 app, optionally attend some of our workshops, and submit it to the challenge.  At some point you need to be in person...
  • Brian Hitney

    Microsoft DevRadio: (Part 5) Using Windows Azure to Build Back-End Services for Windows 8 Apps – Adding Push Notifications

    Abstract: In Part 5 of of their “Using Windows Azure to Build Back-End Services for Windows 8 apps” series Peter Laudati , Brian Hitney and Andrew Duthie   show us how to quickly add the ability to implement push notifications for his GameLeader Service using Azure Mobile Services. Check out the full article here. Watch Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 After watching this video, follow these next steps: Step #1 – Try Windows Azure: No cost. No obligation. 90-Day FREE trial. Step #2 – Download the Tools...
  • Brian Hitney

    Microsoft DevRadio: (Part 4) Using Windows Azure to Build Back-End Services for Windows 8 Apps – Azure Mobile Services

    Abstract: In Part 4 of of their “Using Windows Azure to Build Back-End Services for Windows 8 apps” series  Peter Laudati , Brian Hitney and Andrew Duthie show us how to build the same game leaderboard service on top of Windows Azure Mobile Services. Tune in as Andrew demos for us how to get started as well as lays out what some of the +/- are for using Azure Mobile Services for this kind of service.  Check out the full article here. Watch Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 After watching this video, follow...
  • Brian Hitney

    Microsoft DevRadio: (Part 3) Using Windows Azure to Build Back-End Services for Windows 8 Apps – ASP.NET Web API

    Abstract: Back for part 3 in their series for “Using Windows Azure to Build Back-End Services for Windows 8 apps”, Peter Laudati , Brian Hitney and Andrew Duthie show us how easy it is to host services built with the ASP.NET Web API using the new Windows Azure Web Sites feature. Check out the full article here. Part 1 | Part 2 After watching this video, follow these next steps: Step #1 – Try Windows Azure: No cost. No obligation. 90-Day FREE trial. Step #2 – Download the Tools for Windows 8 App Development Step...
  • Brian Hitney

    Bing Maps Mashup in Dark Skies

    I’ve gotten a few requests about how to do a mashup in Dark Skies … so, thought I’d do a blog post on how it was put together. First, what’s a mashup? A mashup is an application that combines data from multiple sources into what is, hopefully, a more useful or interesting way to view the data. They are often done as web applications because the data is often pulled from online sources. But, mashups are ideal for Windows 8 and Windows Phone apps, too. Dark Skies is simply a mashup that combines 3 main sources...
  • Brian Hitney

    Compressing as Individual Files in Folder

    Let’s see how long it takes Jim Christopher to jump in with a better PowerShell solution. :) I had a directory full of .avi files that contains RAW, uncompressed data at 60fps from a camera (for astroimaging). Even capturing just a few minutes of data amasses over 10GB of data: No wonder my drive filled up so quickly. For archiving the data, I wanted to zip each file into its own file, not into a folder. Because I had about 50GB of videos to do, I wanted a simple cmd to do it for each folder. This is pretty...
  • Brian Hitney

    Microsoft DevRadio: (Part 2) Using Windows Azure to Build Back-End Services for Windows 8 Apps

    Abstract: Peter Laudati , Brian Hitney and Andrew Duthie are back for part 2 of their series and in today’s episode Andrew shows us how to deploy the OData Service for his Windows 8 app to Windows Azure as well as outlines the advantages and disadvantages to building back-end services via this approach. After watching this video, follow these next steps: Step #1 – Try Windows Azure: No cost. No obligation. 90-Day FREE trial. Step #2 – Download the Tools for Windows 8 App Development Step #3 – Start building...
  • Brian Hitney

    Skipping SSL Connections Locally

    When developing locally, often times you don’t want to use SSL for a variety of reasons.  There’s no real point, since the request isn’t going over the wire.  Most of the time, connections are done via the loopback 127.0.0.1 address (although localhost can be used) which throws certificate errors.  This one problem is often easy to solve, but it relates to a bigger issue: dictating when (and when not) to use SSL on your site.  In the ol’ days, you wouldn’t want an entire site to be SSL for...
  • Brian Hitney

    WinRT RoamingSettings and Serialization

    Recently, a colleague of mine, Adam Hoffman, posted a great tip on serializing a generic List<t> to a Windows 8 App’s RoamingSettings. As Adam points out, taking advantage of roaming storage is so easy to do, it’s criminal not to take advantage of it. There are three basic types of data: local, roaming, and temporary. The APIs are all used similarly, and more info on them can be found here . There are a few things to keep in mind when using roaming data. One is: the data might change after the app is running...
  • Brian Hitney

    Microsoft DevRadio: (Part 1) Using Windows Azure to Build Back-End Services for Windows 8 Apps

    Abstract: Peter Laudati and Brian Hitney welcome fellow Developer Evangelist, Andrew Duthie to the show as they kick off their series on how to build back-end services for their Windows 8 apps using Windows Azure. Tune in for part 1 as Andrew gives an overview of the series and introduces some potential techniques you could incorporate as you build your back-end services. After watching this video, follow these next steps: Step #1 – Try Windows Azure: No cost. No obligation. 90-Day FREE trial. Step #2 – Download...
  • Brian Hitney

    Win8 Apps: Check for Network Connectivity

    A lot of apps require internet connectivity to function – like my app, Dark Skies .   One thing I overlooked when first releasing Dark Skies was a graceful check for network connectivity.  If the app launches and there is no connectivity, it should fail gracefully and notify the user.  Ideally, we should also plug into the Network Status Changed event handler, so our app is notified when the internet goes up or down during the app’s session. There are a couple of ways to accomplish this. ...
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