October, 2012


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Build apps that Windows Phone users will love


    Windows Phone

    Windows Phone offers a compelling approach to bringing distinctive apps to its customers, offering an experience not found on other platforms. Similarly, the Windows Phone developer platform is designed to help you build apps that extend the experience throughout the phone in easily discoverable ways. Check out this podcast on designing great Windows Phone apps using our design team's philosophy of "fierce reduction" – making the most out of animation, pivots and other key Windows Phone visual elements.

    For even further guidance on how to build outstanding apps for Windows Phone – check out our favourites below.

    Windows Phone UX Guidelines

    Windows Phone Design Resources

    Design Day Event

    Windows Phone UX Style Design

    Designing Apps

    App Design Best Practices

    Prototyping in Blend

    Windows Phone Design Assets

    PSD Templates

    PNG Grid (Useful in Blend)

    SDK (contains Blend and icons)

    Windows Phone Tool Kit (contains extra controls for prototyping)

    Faculty and Student Resources

    FREE Windows Phone developer kit and store accounts from DreamSpark and teaching resources and curriculum from Faculty Connection

    Windows Phone Developer Support

    Did you know you can visit our forums and connect with the community of Windows Phone developers to ask questions and get answers? For the top issues and answers being discussed, check out the following:

    Register and manage account

    Submitting and publishing apps

    Payouts and reporting

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows 8 Camps Students, Educators all welcome



    Windows 8 DevCamps

    For Developers & Designers who want to get hands on help to kick start their Windows 8 app development

    The Windows 8 Camp is open to everyone and offers an experience catered to your background and technology preference. Find out how to make sure your app is in the Windows Store by the time Windows 8 hits the market.

    We don’t expect you to have finished your application in one day (although that’s not impossible). You will at least understand the Windows 8 operating system, what makes a great Windows 8 style application and the development paths that are available to you. If you choose to take advantage of one of our 1:1 UX labs, then you will also leave with a set of wireframes that you can use to start your base your Windows 8 style application on.

    You can then return to one of our future camps to carry on with your application build and take further advantage of our Windows 8 experts who will be present all day to personally answer your questions.

    Windows 8 DevCamps

    For more details and resources see http://www.microsoft.com/uk/msdn/windows8/

    For students and educators get all the necessary software and windows store accounts from www.dreamspark.com

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Visual Studio 2012 Events



    Hearing directly from our experts is the best way to get a really good understanding of Visual Studio, especially now we’ve launched Visual Studio 2012. We have scheduled free in-person events on Application Lifecycle Management capabilities of Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server for you to come and learn more about the new version.

    In the meantime we will continue to add ad hoc events and helpful videos which will cover all aspects of the latest Developer tools from Microsoft.

    If you would like to attend one of these events please register here http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/en-gb/visual-studio-events

    Want to try Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server in your teaching and learning see http://www.dreamspark.com

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    DreamSpark – Batch Creation of Registration keys for Windows 8 for students



    I am happy to confirm that DreamSpark has been modified and we have reinstated the ability to download batches of Windows 8 Professional and Windows Server 2012 unique retail keys.


    These student keys, are available from the MSDN Subscriber Portal for Program Administrator to distribute to their students. This is to allow, students  to successfully register Windows 8 and Windows Server products downloaded from DreamSpark.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft Imagine Cup 2013 – Is your institution entering teams



    Microsoft’s Imagine Cup is the world’s most prestigious student technology competition, bringing together student innovators from all over the world. If you have a great idea for a new app, bring it to life through Imagine Cup. With Microsoft resources and support, you can make a great app and win travel and cash prizes!

    This year, Imagine Cup opens the door wide with three big competitions



    World Citizenship

    The biggest prizes in the history of Imagine Cup.

    1st Prize: $50,000

    2nd Prize: $10,000

    3rd Prize: $5,000

    And we’ll fly the UK finalist team to St. Petersburg, Russia, in July of 2013 for the thrilling showdown at Worldwide Finals.


    For more details see http://www.imaginecup.com


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Want to know what it’s like to be an Imagine Cup Entrant?



    The Quest, is a new six-part web series following a real-life Imagine Cup team, FlashFood, as the students made their way to Sydney, Australia, for the 2012 Worldwide Finals.

    Microsoft sent a camera crew to their campus in Arizona, on the plane to Sydney, and on the ground during finals to document this experience from the inside.

    The Imagine Cup team will be releasing new episodes every week through mid-November. Buckle up so make sure you follow their journey and get ready for your journey.

    See Facebook and on YouTube.


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Azure Mobile Services: New support for iOS apps, Facebook/Twitter/Google identity, Emails, SMS, Blobs, Service Bus and more



    Windows Azure  makes it incredibly easy to connect your client and mobile applications to a scalable cloud backend.

    New features include:

    • iOS support – enabling you to connect iPhone and iPad apps to Mobile Services
    • Facebook, Twitter, and Google authentication support with Mobile Services
    • Blob, Table, Queue, and Service Bus support from within your Mobile Service
    • Sending emails from your Mobile Service (in partnership with SendGrid)
    • Sending SMS messages from your Mobile Service (in partnership with Twilio)


    iOS Support

    This initial support for connecting iOS based devices (including iPhones and iPads) to Windows Azure Mobile Services.  Native iOS libraries to enable this under an open source (Apache 2.0) license on GitHub.  We’re excited to get your feedback on this new library through our forum and GitHub issues list, and we welcome contributions to the SDK.

    To create a new iOS app or connect an existing iOS app to your Mobile Service, simply select the “iOS” tab within the Quick Start view of a Mobile Service within the Windows Azure Portal – and then follow either the “Create a new iOS app” or “Connect to an existing iOS app” link below it:


    Clicking either of these links will expand and display step-by-step instructions for how to build an iOS application that connects with your Mobile Service:


    Read this getting started tutorial to walkthrough how you can build (in less than 5 minutes) a simple iOS “Todo List” app that stores data in Windows Azure.  Then follow the below tutorials to explore how to use the iOS client libraries to store data and authenticate users.

    Facebook, Twitter, and Google Authentication Support

    The preview of Mobile Services supported the ability to authenticate users of mobile apps using Microsoft Accounts (formerly called Windows Live ID accounts).  This week we are adding the ability to also authenticate users using Facebook, Twitter, and Google credentials.  These are now supported with both Windows 8 apps as well as iOS apps (and a single app can support multiple forms of identity simultaneously. Therefore offering far more choice to you app user.)

    The below tutorials walkthrough how to register your Mobile Service with an identity provider:

    The tutorials above walkthrough how to obtain a client ID and a secret key from the identity provider. You can then click on the “Identity” tab of your Mobile Service (within the Windows Azure Portal) and save these values to enable server-side authentication with your Mobile Service. You can then write code within your client or mobile app to authenticate your users to the Mobile Service.

    For example, below is the code you would write to have them login to the Mobile Service using their Facebook credentials:

    Windows Store App (using C#):

    var user = await App.MobileService


    iOS app (using Objective C):

    UINavigationController *controller =



    completion:^(MSUser *user, NSError *error) {



    Learn more about authenticating Mobile Services using Microsoft Account, Facebook, Twitter, and Google from these tutorials:

    Using Windows Azure Blob, Tables and ServiceBus with your Mobile Services

    Mobile Services provide a simple but powerful way to add server logic using server scripts. These scripts are associated with the individual CRUD operations on your mobile service’s tables. Server scripts are great for data validation, custom authorization logic (e.g. does this user participate in this game session), augmenting CRUD operations, sending push notifications, and other similar scenarios.  

    Server scripts are written in JavaScript and are executed in a secure server-side scripting environment built using Node.js.  You can edit these scripts and save them on the server directly within the Windows Azure Portal:


    You now have the ability to work with other Windows Azure services from your Mobile Service server scripts.  This is supported using the existing “azure” module within the Windows Azure SDK for Node.js.  For example, the below code could be used in a Mobile Service script to obtain a reference to a Windows Azure Table (after which you could query it or insert data into it):

    var azure = require('azure');

    var tableService = azure.createTableService("<< account name >>",

    "<< access key >>");

    Follow the tutorials on the Windows Azure Node.js dev center to learn more about working with Blob, Tables, Queues and Service Bus using the azure module.

    Sending emails from your Mobile Service

    We have also added the ability to easily send emails from your Mobile Service, building on our partnership with SendGrid. Whether you want to add a welcome email upon successful user registration, or make your app alert you of certain usage activities, you can do this now by sending email from Mobile Services server scripts.

    To get started, sign up for SendGrid account at http://sendgrid.com . Windows Azure customers receive a special offer of 25,000 free emails per month from SendGrid. To sign-up for this offer, or get more information, please visit http://www.sendgrid.com/azure.html .

    One you signed up, you can add the following script to your Mobile Service server scripts to send email via SendGrid service:

    var sendgrid = new SendGrid('<< account name >>', '<< password >>');


    to: '<< enter email address here >>',

    from: '<< enter from address here >>',

    subject: 'New to-do item',

    text: 'A new to-do was added: ' + item.text

    }, function (success, message) {

    if (!success) {




    Follow the Send email from Mobile Services with SendGrid tutorial to learn more.

    Sending SMS messages from your Mobile Service

    SMS is a key communication medium for mobile apps - it comes in handy if you want your app to send users a confirmation code during registration, allow your users to invite their friends to install your app or reach out to mobile users without a smartphone.

    Using Mobile Service server scripts and Twilio’s REST API, you can now easily send SMS messages to your app.  To get started, sign up for Twilio account. Windows Azure customers receive 1000 free text messages when using Twilio and Windows Azure together.

    Once signed up, you can add the following to your Mobile Service server scripts to send SMS messages:

    var httpRequest = require('request');

    var account_sid = "<< account SID >>";

    var auth_token = "<< auth token >>";

    // Create the request body

    var body = "From=" + from + "&To=" + to + "&Body=" + message;

    // Make the HTTP request to Twilio


    url: "https://" + account_sid + ":" + auth_token +

    "@api.twilio.com/2010-04-01/Accounts/" + account_sid + "/SMS/Messages.json",

    headers: { 'content-type': 'application/x-www-form-urlencoded' },

    body: body

    }, function (err, resp, body) {




    The above features are all now live in production and are available to use immediately.

    Access to Azure for FREE for students and educators

    If you don’t already have a Windows Azure account, you can sign-up for a FREE academic educators pass at http://www.windowsazure.com/education and start using Mobile Services today.

    Curriculum Resources for Windows Azure

    See http://www.microsoft.com/faculty for teaching materials for Windows Azure

    Development Resources

    Development Resources Visit the Windows Azure Mobile Developer Center to learn more about how to build apps with Mobile Services.

    For details as new features become available soon http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/community/blog/

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