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With this blog we want to inform you on our latest initiatives.
Enjoy reading and stay tuned!
It has been less than four months since we introduced the first public preview for Windows Azure Mobile Services and in this short time we have seen continual improvements to the service offering including:
· SDKs for Windows Store, Windows Phone 8 and iOS app
· Auth using Microsoft Account, Facebook, Google and Twitter
· Push Notification support via WNS, MPNS and APNS
· Structured storage
· Deployments in East and West US and European data centres
New functionality has been released for Mobile Application developers on all platforms.
· Scheduler (a.k.a “CRON”): you can now run a server script on a pre-set schedule.
· Availability in the North Europe datacenter: you can now deploy your mobile services in Europe to enjoy reduced latency for your European customers.
· Command-line support: you can now use the Windows Azure command line tools to create and manage your mobile services.
Learn how Windows Azure can be used in curricula, support research endeavours, and enable student projects. Institution administrators can explore how to use Windows Azure for infrastructural and application needs
Would you like to start teaching the cloud? Apply for a grant - http://www.windowsazure.com/education
Grant applications are designated for faculty who are teaching Windows Azure in their curricula as well as faculty preparing to integrate Windows Azure into their curricula. Educator Grant awards are subject to demand and availability. Educators will receive a special 12-month pass for their exclusive use, and may request 5-month non-renewable passes for distribution to their students. Each pass is valid from the date of redemption. Educators may apply for passes for each of the courses they are teaching, and may only distribute these passes to students registered as part of their educational institution.
Got a great idea for a Windows Azure project? Compete in the Imagine Cup and you can get access to Windows Azure for 9 months and could win a trip to St. Petersburg, Russia, and up to $10,000 in the 2013 Windows Azure Challenge! Get all the details and get started at http://www.ImagineCup.com/.
Not ready to take the Imagine Cup challenge? As a student you can take advantage of the free Windows Azure trial offer and run a Small Windows Azure instance with a 1GB SQL Azure database for 90 days*.
We have released 6 new sample applications that demonstrate step-by-step how users can use the key functionality available within Windows Azure Mobile Services from your Windows Store apps. Each of these samples is released in both XAML/C# and HTML/JS in the Dev Center for Windows Store apps MSDN Code Gallery
Event Buddy Sample - Storage, Auth and Push Notifications with Mobile Services (New)
In this sample you will start with a disconnected Windows Store app that manages events & sessions. You will connect it to Windows Azure Mobile Service to provide structured storage, auth using Twitter or Facebook and push notifications.
Get Started with Data in Windows Azure Mobile Services Tutorial Sample
This sample supports the Get started with data in Mobile Services tutorial, which shows you how to use Windows Azure Mobile Services to leverage data in a Windows Store app.
Visual Studio Toolbox – Using Mobile Services in a Windows 8 App (New)
In episode 56 of Visual Studio Toolbox Robert Green demonstrates a sample Windows 8 app that uses Azure Mobile Services. This sample is the corresponding app which manages customers and their projects. The code shows you how you connect to the mobile service and how to perform CRUD operations on data.
Authenticate Microsoft Account, Facebook, Twitter and Google w/ Mobile Services (New)
This sample demonstrates how you can easily wire up your Windows Store application to require your users to Authenticate against well know social identity such as Microsoft Account, Facebook, Twitter and Google using Windows Azure Mobile Services.
Tile, Toast and Badge Push Notifications using Windows Azure Mobile Services (New)
This sample demonstrates how you can easily register a channel in Windows Azure Mobile Services and then send different types of push notifications such as tile, toast and badge notifications from a server side script to your client application.
Raw Notifications using Windows Azure Mobile Services (New)
This sample demonstrates how you can easily send Raw push notifications to your Windows Store apps using Windows Azure Mobile Services.
Send Push Notifications at Periodic Interval with the Mobile Services Scheduler (New)
This sample demonstrates how you can offload work from your Windows Store app to be processed on a scheduled basis using Windows Azure Mobile Services. It shows how to create a Scheduled Script that polls a feed and send a Push Notification to update the tile with latest news.
Geolocation sample end to end using Windows Azure Mobile Services (New)
This sample provides an end to end location scenario with a Windows Store app using Bing Maps and a Windows Azure Mobile Services backend. It shows how to add places to the Map, store place coordinates in a Mobile Services table, and how to query for places near your location.
Enqueue and Dequeue messages with Windows Azure Mobile Services and Services Bus (New)
My Store - This sample demonstrates how you can enqueue and dequeue messages from your Windows Store apps into a Windows Azure Service Bus Queue via Windows Azure Mobile Services. This code sample builds out an ordering scenario with both a Sales and Storeroom and app.
Capture, Store and Email app Feedback using Windows Azure Mobile Services (New)
This sample shows how you can implement a Feedback charm option in your Windows Store application and submit the feedback to be both stored Windows Azure Mobile Services and emailed directly to you.
Upload File to Windows Azure Blob Storage using Windows Azure Mobile Services (New)
This demonstrates how to store your files such as images, videos, docs or any binary data off device in the cloud using Windows Azure Blob Storage. In this example we focus on capturing and uploading images, with the same approach you can upload any binary data to Blob Storage.
Create a Game Leaderboard using Windows Azure Mobile Services (New)
The My Trivia sample demonstrates how you can easily add, update and view a leaderboard from your Windows Store applications using Windows Azure Mobile Services.
We just launched a new Windows Azure Mobile Services series to help people get started with each of the Mobile Services features. In addition to the previous channel9 videos from Scott Guthrie and Josh. We have published 8 new getting started and how-to videos for Windows 8 & Mobile Services. We will add more videos to this series for iOS and Windows Phone 8 soon.
Introduction to Windows Azure Mobile Services
Creating your first app using the Windows Azure Mobile Services Quick Start (New)
Connecting your Windows Store app to Windows Azure Mobile Services (New)
Validate and Modify Data with Server Scripts in Windows Azure Mobile Services(New)
Getting Started with Authentication in Windows Azure Mobile Services (New)
Authenticate and Authorize users with Server Scripts in Windows Azure Mobile Services (New)
Add Push Notifications to your apps with Windows Azure Mobile Services (New)
Getting Started with the Windows Azure Mobile Services Scheduler (New)
iOS Support in Windows Azure Mobile Services
Creating your first iOS app with the Windows Azure Mobile Services Quick Start (New)
· Tech Q&A – Use this MSDN forum
· Feature voting – Use this UserVoice forum
· Customer Feedback – please email this DL
Well there is Visual Studio IDE, then there is Team Foundation Server and Office integration and… well you get the picture.
Yes its a vast set of products which as academics and students you get for FREE via DreamSpark http://www.dreamspark.com
Additionally we have now adopted a continuous delivery schedule of both the Visual Studio IDE and Team Foundation Server to continuous delivery with a 3 monthly cadence. Yes, that means that you should now be upgrading your Team Foundation Server every Quarter and that your developers should be updating their client. Before you all shout yes we know this is issue for managed desktop estates so… You know what… they don’t have to upgrade huge services packs in addition to windows updates, VS updates are now a “patch” that just updates your install.
With the move to continuous improvement and service delivery comes many problems that need solving. Like any continuous service improvement programme these may create new problem but rather than fix them, and like real world examples these raise a number of important learning issues which are vital for the modern IT professional and developer to understand and work out benefits vs risks.
For example students should be continually asking the following questions in relations to their exercises and assignments.
If you solve these problems not only will you be able to deliver more frequently, but what you will deliver will be in smaller chucks and therefore at a significantly lower risk. Not only that, in solving your deployment problems and essentially continuously practicing them you minimise the risk of delivering to production any significant issues or problems. The result is happy consumers…
So what has Microsoft doing about this
Just 3 months after RTM and barely 6 weeks after the Visual Studio 2012 launch the first quarterly update, Visual Studio 2012 Update 1, became available and planning for Visual Studio 2012 Update 2 started.With the launch of Visual Studio Team Foundation Service the Team Foundation Server team, arguably responsible for the most complex component of Visual Studio are delivering even more frequently.
The summary is:
They are effectively on a 3 week Sprint cycle and are delivering new features to production every three weeks as well as hotfixes every Monday if needed. So for more keep an eye on Brian Harry Blog site see http://blogs.msdn.com/b/bharry
So what is TypeScript?
So where is TypeScript being used?
Microsoft Team Foundation Server 2012
The approach... more details at http://blogs.msdn.com/b/bharry/archive/2012/10/24/typescript-a-real-world-story-of-adoption-in-tfs.aspx
All told, it took us (1 dev) less than a week to write a tool (in Typescript, of course, :)) that would recognize Javadoc and the rest of our patterns and convert them to the corresponding Typescript constructs. It took about another week to run the tool, tweak our Javadoc comments (like filling in some that had been missed), update our build process, test the conversion, etc. Of course there's more we can do with Typescript. For instance, we didn't have any previous recognizable pattern for interface contracts - so there was nothing for the tool to use to generate the Typescript constructs. Over time, we'll be going through by hand, as we have reason to revisit modules and further tightening up the Typescript. I expect we'll find more issues that we don't know about now.
If you've not met TouchDevelop before it provides a drag-and-drop scripting environment which, it has now been revealed, has been developed in TypeScript.
The Web App has some amazing features, including code synthesis and trace+ replay and its a great tools for inspiring school children and beginners to programming. see http://blogs.msdn.com/b/uk_faculty_connection/archive/2012/12/13/touchdevelop-making-apps-for-mobile-devices-on-mobile-devices.aspx
Although TouchDevelop was designed for devices, specifically Windows Phone 7, with touchscreens, it can also be used with a keyboard or a mouse and so the browser-based version probably is an improvement in terms of productivity. It also provides the "work everywhere" element that allows for collaboration; as all the TouchDevelop client apps use the touchdevelop.com cloud service, all of your scripts will get synchronized between all platforms and devices and you only need to log in with the same credentials to access them. TouchDevelop Web App loads automatically on TouchDevelop.com and, having logged in with your Windows Live, Google or Facebook credentials, you find yourself in the Hub, where can view tutorial videos, visit the showcase to see apps already developed or just get on with creating your own apps in a highly intuitive environment. And once you have created an app you want to publish there are buttons to create a Windows Store app and to create a Windows Phone app.
TypeScript and the opportunity
Exciting gifts for Global Game Jam UK venues.
I pleased to announce that Microsoft will be providing Global Game Jam prizes for UK venues.
The UK venues will hosting a differentiator competition based on building games for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, as part of the differentiator we will be offering prizes for the for the best game jam game made for Windows Phone 8 or Windows 8 at each UK Global Game Jam venue.
To top it off, we are also offering a national prize selected from all the UK GGJ games that makes it to the marketplace by the end of February.
To enter this competition there will be an online entry system at www.ubelly.com/gaming which will go live during the Global Game Jam, teams simply need to register online and confirm the details of their games Windows store/marketplace submission,
So what are you waiting for! Get over to http://globalgamejam.org/ and register today and check out the following resources.
Windows Phone http://dev.windowsphone.com
Windows 8 http://dev.windows.com
Ubelly Gaming Resources http://www.ubelly.com/gaming
Developer Resources, Camps and howtos – http://www.microsoft.com/uk/msdn/windows8
Even if your not physically attending a Game Jam you can enter the following online competition. http://www.ubelly.com/global-game-jam/
Interview with Paul Boocock, Computer Games Programming Lecturer at Staffordshire University
1) Why did you make the decision to develop / teach for Windows Phone and Windows 8? It was an easy decision. The tools are free and easily accessible, not to mention easy to use. Developing for these platforms is always popular too, our students have previously enjoyed developing XNA games for PC/XBOX, so moving those modules towards Windows Phone and Windows 8 is the obvious progression. I’m really optimistic for the future of Windows Phone and Windows 8 and I hope developing for the platform at this stage will give students a good opportunity to get applications into the marketplace and for them to prove popular whilst there is a little less competition.
2) What were some of the features you used from Windows Phone and Windows 8 and why? The key reason was the introduction of DirectX on Windows Phone. This gave us an opportunity to create a new Mobile Games Development module, which takes the DirectX skills the students have already learnt by this stage and apply them on a mobile platform by building 3D games on Windows Phone. Also, our Games Development students are taught heavily in C++, so being able to write Native Code on Windows Phone was a big bonus. We also found that students could get applications up and running much faster on these platforms when compared to others, through a combination of the tools and the platform features, many students are especially fond of designing their UI using XAML.
3) What was the experience like of using Windows Phone and Windows 8 and would you recommend it to students and other educators teaching game development? I find Windows Phone development great. It’s extremely easy to pick up and the documentation is second to none. Building a module around it is easy as all the features are now present in the platform, the only issue is the SLAT Processor requirement for the Windows Phone 8 emulator but this is something which we’ve come up with a solution for quite easily. I’d definitely recommend it to other educators and I push my students towards Windows Phone development whenever I get the opportunity.
4) How did you go about persuading senior academic or decision maker re the opportunity of Windows Phone and Windows 8? This was an easy one! There’s a lot of enthusiasm around mobile development and we we’re looking into getting more mobile development in our course, especially in Games Programming. As Windows Phone and Windows 8 gives us the opportunity to continue developing in the programming languages we predominately teach, this was a popular choice for many of the teaching staff.
5) What are doing to help students develop portfolios and CVs are you successfully getting students to submit their game to the Store? I believe the assignments which we set the students give them a really good starting point to getting together an application or game which makes a great item in their portfolio but could be a starting place for creating something worthy of the store. I’m also teaching more about what is required to be an indie developer, especially looking at publishing games and the financials involved. This is a strong interest area of mine, as it’s what I have done previously and still do to some extent. It’s a great opportunity for students to earn some money and to really show off by getting their applications and games published.
Thanks for the interview Paul and looking forward to seeing what your students deliver.
Using Construct 2 to build an awesome Windows 8 HTML5 game.
Construct2 is a superb application for building HTML5 games, you can download the Free edition and get going with the Beginner's guide to get started on building great games in a very short time period also I have produced a really nice framework for curricula adoption see http://blogs.msdn.com/b/uk_faculty_connection/archive/2012/10/15/learning-to-build-a-html5-windows-8-game-in-15-lessons.aspx
You will need Windows 8. You then need to install Visual Studio 2012 Express on Windows 8 if you have a DreamSpark account then you can install any version of Visual Studio 2012. You will also need to ensure you setup a FREE windows 8 and Windows Phone developer account via DreamSpark see https://www.dreamspark.com/Student/Windows-Store-Access.aspx
First, ensure your project has the right Name, Description and Author properties set, since these will be used in the exported app. In the Export Project dialog, choose Export for Windows 8 and follow the next steps as you would for exporting an ordinary project. In the export directory you will find a Visual Studio project.
Note there are three image files for the app icons, app-logo.png, app-smalllogo.png and app-storelogo.png. You should replace these with your own images but keep them exactly the same dimensions. The main project file has the extension .sln (solution). Double-click it in Windows 8 and Visual Studio should open it.
If you've not used Visual Studio before, it's a complex and sophisticated tool for application development. However, you only need to use a small number of commands to configure and test your app. Find the "Solution Explorer" bar which lists all the files in the project.
Double-click package.appxmanifest. This file contains all the settings for your app. There is one thing you need to set up because Construct 2 can't export it for you, which is the publisher certificate for your app. Click the Packaging tab, which probably has a red X by it because the certificate is not set. Now click Choose Certificate.... In the dialog that opens, click the dropdown and select Create test certificate....
A dialog appears with your Publisher ID and a password entry. Don't enter a password - leave it blank and hit OK. Click OK on the Choose Certificate dialog as well, and you should now have a certificate set.
If you've done this correctly the red X should have disappeared too.
Test certificates only allow you to test your app. When publishing to the Windows 8 App Store, you'll need a different certificate to publish your app. Now you can launch your app by pressing F5. Visual Studio will build it and launch it as a Windows 8 app, which uses the Internet Explorer 10 browsing engine. This allows you to test everything is working in the new browser and OS. You can also try tweaking the settings in package.appxmanifest, which include options like orientation lock and other tile images.
Are you ready to launch your Windows Store app at DEMO Mobile 2013?
If you have a Windows Store app idea, we want you to apply and compete for a chance to launch your app at DEMO Mobile on April 17th, 2013.
It’s easy to enter the challenge
1. Submit app prototype! This can be a video, a slideshare presentation, screenshots, whatever as long as it hits on the judging criteria
2. Get votes! Once your app prototype is approved, tweet the link using #windowschallenge and share it to collect votes (50% of your score will be based on public voting)
First Prize: Top team will receive a free trip to San Francisco to launch at DEMO Mobile on April 17th, 2013.
Second Prize: Top five teams will receive a marketing package to promote and launch the app
Third Prize: All semi-finalists will receive free design and technical support from experts
About the Challenge
This is a joint effort between Microsoft, Startup Weekend and DEMO to accelerate apps from prototype to development to launch.
The entry period ends on January 29, 2013. Please submit a prototype of your app here.
For other related inquiries and questions, go to our support group on Facebook or email us at WindowsChallenge@microsoft.com. More information including the Official Rules can be found here.
New curricula available Learn programming on the go with TouchDevelop! In this short course, you will learn how to write mobile apps directly from your web browser. With its simple language, touch-friendly interface and cloud-connected environment, TouchDevelop is a great place to get started.
Download teaching curriculum pack.
I am excited to announce an update to the Visual Studio Achievements extension: the availability of nineteen new achievements all oriented toward Windows 8 app development.
If you are new to Visual Studio Achievements, check out this post.
If you already have the extension installed for Azure or Visual Studio achievements, you can update the extension right from the Visual Studio Extension Manager.
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.
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
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.
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.
Please click here to view the terms and conditions of the competition (PDF, opens in a new window).