• Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Check out this set of Microsoft Visual Studio research tools and services.

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    VS2012

    These versatile tools range from games to help you get started in a new programming language to analysis engines that enhance the power and usability of Visual Studio. These are tools made by researchers for researchers, designed specifically to meet the needs by people who share their needs.

    Microsoft Research has a range of Microsoft Visual Studio tools that aid in programming safe and secure code. These tools bring programs alive for every skill level, from games to help young developers get started in a new language, to analysis engines operating at the highest level that enhance the power and usability of Microsoft's premier development environment.

    Tools


    Fakes
    The Fakes framework runs in Visual Studio Ultimate and helps developers create, maintain, and inject dummy implementations in their unit tests. Fakes makes development more robust and scalable when individual components are tested in isolation.

    Code Contracts
    Code Contracts provide a language-agnostic way to express coding assumptions in Microsoft .NET programs in all versions of Visual Studio. The Code Contracts tools include a runtime checker, a static checker based on abstract interpretation, and a documentation generator.

    Social for Team Foundation Server
    Social for Team Foundation Server (Social for TFS) is a community add-on for Visual Studio to aggregate teammates’ content from various social sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, into the developer’s workspace. Social for TFS is developed in C# and available under MPL license.


    Microsoft Automatic Graph Layout

    Microsoft Automatic Graph Layout (MSAGL) is a tool in Visual Studio Ultimate for graph layout and viewing. MSAGL can be used to represent complex directed graphs, such as those found in business management, manufacturing, network analysis, and bioinformatics research.

    Debugger Canvas
    Debugger Canvas is used for debugging programs in Visual Studio Ultimate. It visually brings together the code being explored into a single pan-and-zoom code bubbles display. Debugger Canvas helps to see variables through the code bubbles, make notes and see the bigger picture in one place.


    Pex4fun
    Pex4fun brings programming in C#, Microsoft Visual Basic, and F# to any web browser. Pex4Fun is an interactive coding game environment where the player discovers a secret program. Pex4fun is based on Code Contracts and the unit testing tool Pex, which runs in Visual Studio and also as a dedicated app on Windows Phone.

    Try F#
    Try F# is a web browser–based interactive cross-platform learning environment. It features tutorials and resources for learning F#, which is a functional language ideal for data-rich, concurrent, and algorithmic development. The full power of F# is available in Visual Studio.

    Learn more or read the blog.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Want to know more about Microsoft Research?

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    Science@Microsoft, an e-book that commemorates our many years of Microsoft Research activities with the academic research community.

    This celebration of collaboration, demonstrates the breadth of our collaborative research and the potential of computer science to address some of the world’s problems. These stories demonstrate the amazing power of technology to impact areas far afield from traditional computer science.

    Science@Microsoft is available as a PDF at microsoft.com/scienceatmicrosoft. It is also available for the Kindle at Amazon.

    Learn more:

    · Download the PDF

    · Get the Kindle version

    · Read the blog

    · Read more

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft Research Faculty Summit

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    The Microsoft Research Faculty Summit was held July 16 to 17 on the Redmond campus, with 431 attendees from 235 institutions in 30 countries. In addition, this year we streamed the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit live.

    This year’s focus on advancing the state of the art covered two key themes: big insights from big data and blending virtual and physical reality. Eric Horvitz provided an enlightening keynote about how machine learning intelligence is making it easier to gain insight from large amounts of data and Rick Rashid inspired attendees with his presentation on how hardware and software advances are contributing to a simpler, more natural integration of the physical and virtual worlds.

    Learn more:

    · Watch the virtual 2012 Faculty Summit sessions on demand

    · Read our blog about the virtual event

    · Read our blog about the David Breashears keynote

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    What are the key things I should check before submitting my app to store? Follow this 7 step guide.

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      Win8_logo

    1. Build a single, flexible app vs. many replicated apps. - For example, a book publisher should not publish 100s of apps, one for each book. Rather, the publisher should deliver a single app that allows the user to browse their full book catalogue.

    2. Check privacy requirement (Certification Requirement 4.1).  This is by far the most common reason for failure – well over half of submissions fail on this requirement.  The good news is that in the vast majority of cases, this is simply a documentation issue that does not require code changes, i.e., providing a link to the apps privacy policy on the Description page. 

    3. Another very common reason for failure that is simple to fix is inappropriate Age Rating.

    4. Ensure all app builders run the WACK before app submission.

    5. Take advantage of App Fast Track (AFT) review where appropriate.

    6. Familiarize yourself and app builders you engage with App Certification Tips on the Dev Center:  Common Certification Failures and Guidance for Resolving Certification Failures.

    7.  Review apps locally before app submission with Store certification requirements in mind.

     

    Further Resources

    Windows 8 App Store Requirements – http://aka.ms/storereq

    Resolving certification errors – http://aka.ms/storefix

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

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

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    DreamSpark

    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.

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    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

    Visual Studio 2012 Events

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    VS2012

    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

    Windows 8 Camps Students, Educators all welcome

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    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

    Three things game and Monogame Windows 8 fun

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    MonogameLogo100x100 Win8_logo Hull_Logo

    Registration for the October incarnation of Three Thing Game are now open at the University of Hull.  The week long event It starts on Monday 22nd of October with the "Amazing Thing Auction" with real fake money. Then on Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th The students face the infamous 24 hour overnighter, this time with added Mono Game and Windows 8 fun.

    The team from Mono Games and Microsoft will be on hand to help you port your game to Windows 8. The University of Hull we will have some Windows 8 systems set up for testing. There are some great prizes up for grabs and win even bigger, by getting your game into the Windows 8 Store before anyone else via a FREE Windows 8 store accounts via Microsoft DreamSpark.

    Today MonoGame announced 3.0 BETA available for download.

    What is MonoGame?

    MonoGame is an Open Source implementation of the Microsoft XNA 4 Framework. The goal of Monogame is to allow XNA developers on Xbox 360, Windows & Windows Phone to port their games to the iOS, Android, Mac OS X, Linux and Windows 8 Store apps. 

    We have over a 100 first, second and third year students attending and University of Hull, lecture Rob Miles will be running a special XNA sampler in the week before the competition where students will get to grips with  "skeleton code and get a understanding of Microsoft XNA” 

    Hull Students can find the registration form here. Simply compete it and return it to Rob Miles, with your registration fee.

    Watch out for an update during the weekend of the 27th/28th and announcement of the winners and their games on the 28th.

    .

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Lifelong learning and Professional Certifications

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     Lifelong-Learning

    I had the pleasure of attending a fascinating meeting yesterday, the event had a number of commercial organisations and UK Universities discussing the following challenges which the UK education and employers face.

    • The pace of both social and technological change means that education, including higher education, can no longer be confined to the early years of life.
    • The demand from employers to re-skill or develop their existing work force. For example an increasing number of universities are providing continuing professional development (CPD) to business … currently around £250m out of a £23bn market opportunity as stated by a recent DfES report.
    • It was fascinating to hear how the traditionally HEIs have ‘supply driven’ not ‘demand led’ approach which really presented a huge opportunity for continuous professional development and its truly an era of lifelong learning.

    What was interesting is that the fact that in both academia and employment the most common measures of skills are qualifications.

    • For individuals they provide portability in the labour market,
    • For employers they provide valuable signals when recruiting new workers
    • They motivate employees to complete their training.

    Qualifications form a major part of employer recruitment strategies, especially screening candidates prior to interview. As a result, the majority of individuals prefer studying towards a qualification and over one half of employers say they would like to support their employees to gain qualifications.

    So the debate is should Universities meet employers requirements of providing not only academic qualifications but also professional certification in the form of vendors certifications?

    Should Universities provide more life long learning opportunities and tailored courses which meet the demand of employers or specialised around specific employer requirements.

    Such as fascinating debate and discussion.. If your interested in the learning more about Microsoft Professional certification look at the following presentation.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

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

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    WinAzure_rgb

    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:

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    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:

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    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

    .LoginAsync(MobileServiceAuthenticationProvider.Facebook);

    iOS app (using Objective C):

    UINavigationController *controller =

    [self.todoService.client

    loginViewControllerWithProvider:@"facebook"

    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:

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    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 >>');

    sendgrid.send({

    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) {

    console.error(message);

    }

    });

    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

    httpRequest.post({

    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) {

    console.log(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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