Mister Goodcat

Peter's home of all things life

Sunday, 12/16/2012 9:06 AM
by Peter Kuhn
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My Impressions of Visual Studio Live in Orlando

Sunday, 12/16/2012 9:06 AM by Peter Kuhn | 0 Comments

This week I attended a Live 360! conference in Florida for which I won a free pass in SilverlightShow's "Futuristic Challenge" a few weeks ago [1]. If you're interested in reading my impressions on the the conference, you can find an article with some detailed descriptions and photos here:

http://www.silverlightshow.net/items/Visual-Studio-Live-Impressions-from-Orlando.aspx

Thanks to everybody for attending and the nice talks and discussions we had!

Tuesday, 12/11/2012 5:34 PM
by Peter Kuhn
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Windows Phone 8: Developer Tools

Tuesday, 12/11/2012 5:34 PM by Peter Kuhn | 0 Comments

In the last part of the series [1], we talked about the new screen resolutions that have been introduced with Windows Phone 8. This is one of the features not only exciting for end users, but also important to learn about for developers. However, one thing we didn't see was how the development eco system enables you to actually test your apps with these different device features. Time to get our hands on the improved developer tools, including a detailed look on the emulators, the Windows Phone Profiler, the Store Test Kit and the new Simulation Dashboard. The full article is available on SilverlightShow:

http://www.silverlightshow.net/items/Windows-Phone-8-Developer-Tools.aspx

Have fun!

Monday, 12/3/2012 6:40 PM
by Peter Kuhn
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Windows Phone 8: Multiple Screen Resolutions

Monday, 12/3/2012 6:40 PM by Peter Kuhn | 0 Comments

Microsoft has always been quite strict on hardware specifications for Windows Phone devices. This has both advantages as well as some drawbacks. For example, to developers this means that they don't have to worry as much about what features are available on devices and which ones aren't, something that is a lot more annoying to deal with on other platforms like Android. On the other hand, strict specifications also limit the possibilities of hardware vendors to divert and the options of customers to choose between e.g. high-end and low-end devices.

One of the details of these specifications is screen resolutions. All Windows Phone 7.x devices on the market have the same resolution of WVGA, which is 480 by 800 pixels. Initially there was a planned additional resolution of 320 by 480 (HVGA) [1] to support lower end devices, but no such devices or even platform updates with support for this ever showed up. Practically, we faced a very homogenious environment in that context, with a single resolution to target. In Windows Phone 8 however, the supported screen resolutions are extended to some additional high-end options. In this part of the series, we will take a look at this in detail and see how it will affect developers. The full article can be found on SilverlightShow:

Windows Phone 8: Multiple Screen Resolutions

Wednesday, 11/28/2012 12:30 PM
by Peter Kuhn
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Meet Me at ALM Days 2012

Wednesday, 11/28/2012 12:30 PM by Peter Kuhn | 0 Comments

I'll be at the ALM Days 2012 conference tomorrow and on Friday. If any of you are interested in meeting me in person, contact me on Twitter. Of course we can talk non-ALM topics like Windows Phone or other things there too :-). I'm also doing one of the workshops on Friday (living your architecture and ALM in practice), including a short guest appearance by ALM MVP Sven Hubert – it's still possible to get tickets for it.

Wednesday, 11/28/2012 12:02 PM
by Peter Kuhn
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Windows Phone 8: Native Code Support

Wednesday, 11/28/2012 12:02 PM by Peter Kuhn | 0 Comments

Developing software for Windows Phone always meant developing managed code. Whether it was traditional development in Silverlight to create your apps or if you decided to build games in XNA, you never left the cozy world of a managed runtime environment. While usually this is something that gives you much more benefits than drawbacks, there are situations where having the possibility to use unmanaged code would be very desirable. Unfortunately, until now using managed code was not a conscious decision you could make as the developer, but rather a limitation of the platform that was imposed on you, and a choice that you didn't have. With version 8 of Windows Phone, Microsoft opens up the platform to unmanaged third party code and allows you to develop in C++.

In this part of the series I demonstrate how you can benefit from native development by integrating an existing simple C++ Mandelbrot renderer into an C# app. The full article is available on SilverlightShow:

Windows Phone 8: Native Code Support

Friday, 11/23/2012 8:59 PM
by Peter Kuhn
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Windows Phone 8: Compile in the Cloud

Friday, 11/23/2012 8:59 PM by Peter Kuhn | 0 Comments

In the first part of this series, I have introduced you to some of the fundamental changes in Windows Phone 8 on the operating system level. A lot of the improvements however go far beyond that and affect not only the local situation on devices, but the surrounding infrastructure and phone ecosystem as a whole. With this, I not necessarily mean the great improvements that have been introduced for the Windows Phone Store [1] or in the field of business opportunities – there's also a lot in the box on a very technical level that's not obvious to a quick passing view. One of these things is what I want to talk about today: Compile in the Cloud.

The full article can be found on SilverlightShow:

http://www.silverlightshow.net/items/Windows-Phone-8-Compile-in-the-Cloud.aspx

Monday, 11/19/2012 9:09 PM
by Peter Kuhn
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Windows Phone 8 Article Series Started

Monday, 11/19/2012 9:09 PM by Peter Kuhn | 0 Comments

It’s now two years, almost to the day, since I have received my first Windows Phone device – a shiny Samsung Omnia 7 that allowed me to develop and test applications outside the emulator for the first time. The device is still around and serves well, even though I personally have moved on to a Lumia. I may have switched devices, but I never considered switching to a different platform. I still love Windows Phone, both as a user and as a developer. So naturally, now that the Windows Phone 8 platform and tools have been officially launched and are available publically to everyone, I want to pick up writing articles again to "bring the joy" of all the new features to the developer community :).

The first part of an open-ended series of articles on Windows Phone 8 talks about the platform itself, and what dramatic changes have been introduced to it under the hood. You can find the article over at SilverlightShow:

Windows Phone 8: Introduction to the Platform

As always, feedback and comments are very welcome. Let me know if you have anything to say on what I write, or if you want to see some particular details covered in an upcoming part. Have fun!

Friday, 11/2/2012 9:46 AM
by Peter Kuhn
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Installing the Windows Phone 8 SDK

Friday, 11/2/2012 9:46 AM by Peter Kuhn | 0 Comments

I finally came around installing the SDK for Windows Phone 8 that has been released just a few days ago. The download page can be found here, where you can choose from using the web installer or download the whole package as iso file. I choose the latter because I wanted to put the SDK on multiple machines and not download the components multiple times. When I double-clicked the downloaded iso, I was presented with a rather bland error message though:

image

Not very helpful, and I wasn't able to figure out what Windows 8 didn't like about the iso. Downloading the file a second time resulted in the same problem. I was however able to handle the file using the excellent open source tool 7-Zip. It would open the iso, verify the contents and extract everything without errors. So if you run into the same error, I suggest you go and try alternate ways to open the file too – it may indeed be a glitch with the current version available for download.

Edit: the iso file correctly mounts on another machine, so apparently it’s an isolated issue with the computer I was working at before.

Installation Experience

The SDK has some particular system requirements (all of which can be found on the download page also), one of them being support for a CPU feature called Second Level Address Translation. This is required for the emulator in the SDK, or more specifically for Hyper-V which the emulator runs on. If you want to learn more about it, a starting point is the corresponding Wikipedia article, and in particular the additional link provided there that provides information on how to find out whether your CPU supports it or not. During the installation, Hyper-V (which is a Windows feature) will be turned on automatically for you if necessary and if it is supported by your CPU.

image

This may result in the irritating experience that the SDK setup prompts you to restart the computer, and when you do that, the system may restart a second time automatically just after it finished booting. Don't worry, that's normal, at least in the Microsoft world :-). If your CPU is not supported by Hyper-V, you will still be able to install the SDK, but you can't use the emulator during development.

After the reboot(s), you can start developing for Windows Phone 8 right away. Have fun!

Monday, 10/1/2012 7:12 PM
by Peter Kuhn
1 Comments

Windows 8: Using WinRT APIs in Desktop Apps

Monday, 10/1/2012 7:12 PM by Peter Kuhn | 1 Comments

It's not a secret that desktop applications are able to use certain WinRT APIs too. In some of the documentation, for example that of the Accelerometer class, you can read:

Applies to: Windows Store apps | desktop apps

There's even an overview list of all the WinRT classes that can be used from the desktop, conveniently compiled and linked to on a single page. So clearly there must be a way to include them in your normal, non-Windows Store applications. But when I tried to actually do that, I found little to no documentation on it and was struggling to set up everything. More...

Friday, 9/21/2012 8:15 PM
by Peter Kuhn
3 Comments

The Windows Phone 8 SDK Preview Mistake

Friday, 9/21/2012 8:15 PM by Peter Kuhn | 3 Comments

When I got up this morning, I read the following e-mail from The Windows Phone Apps Team which I had received some time that night:

"Thankyou for your interest in the Windows Phone SDK 8.0 Developer Preview program, designed to help our active Windows Phone developers ready their apps for Windows Phone 8. Unfortunately, you were not selected for participation at this time; […]"

Being the grumpy developer I am, I'm not prepared for that kind of news before I even had the first cup of coffee, so I immediately posted the following on Twitter:

image

That produced a bit of responses, and looking around I realized that others are in the same situation. But instead of continue the whining, I'll try to reason a bit why Microsoft is doing a bad job with their selection process. More...