Let me state at the outset, I have no intention to compare “JavaScript with HTML” and “C# with XAML” styles of building Windows Store Apps. This is a choice you have to make based on your skillset, reuse considerations (i.e. do you plan the target the app for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 OS), whether the functionality you are targeting for the app is already available as a web app or not, etc.

For last several years I have focused on the web technologies, starting with server-side technologies but lately client-side single-page style apps. So the h5c3js model is more suitable based my skillset. (Additionally, my knowledge of XAML is limited to WF serialization format.)

This model, which allows HTML-based native Windows 8 apps, is innovative in my opinion and I applaud the folks responsible for the language projection in Windows RT.

Read More…

The Microsoft Surface Pro, iPad 4, and the Nexus 10 are all great and revolutionary tablets, but which is better for the workplace? Ever since the release of the 1st generation iPad, businesses have made a slow and steady turn toward having tablets in their arsenal of technology, but why?

Once the future of portable PCs, today laptops can be considered big, heavy, expensive…and unless you are on the high-tech side of IT or a graphic designer, you are probably using your laptop primarily to check email, browse the web, VPN and use Microsoft Office. So why carry something around that is so bulky and needs its own carrying case when there are other options? In essence, laptops are too bulky, smart-phones are too small or restricting, and PC towers were not designed to be portable. This is where the tablet comes in.

The tablet PC, or simply tablet, has been around for some time but was revolutionized and made a modern household item when Apple introduced the iPad in 2010. Since then, the competition has worked furiously to catch up and make solid tablets that are great for both the consumer and the professional. In addition to the Nexus 7 and 10, the new Microsoft Surface Pro has quickly proven itself to be a strong alternative to the iPad 4. So which one is the best for the workplace? To start we will need to at look at the guts. Read More…

Congress may be lame duck but our new voting app is not!

 Netizen is a Windows 8 app (available in the Windows Store for free) that brings the voting record of your congressional representative to your finger tips, directly from your Windows 8 device. Simply select the member of Congress you want to follow and “flick through” their voting record. Information about each member’s voting record is stored in Windows Azure Storage and is updated daily.

But don’t just follow how your representative is voting in Congress, make your voice heard. By clicking on the “Like It” button on the mobile application, you can influence your friends and neighbors about the bill through the power of social networking. For each bill, Netizen automatically provisions a Facebook page[1] dedicated to your member of Congress. This page acts almost as a virtual ballot for a bill as well as a community hub where fellow constituents can gather to express their support. Read on for more, plus some screenshots from the application:

Read More…

“Utility billing” or “only pay for what you use” are often cited as cost-saving benefits of cloud computing. All that is fine and dandy, but it is still the consumer’s responsibility to turn any unneeded stuff, such as virtual machines, off. In fact, as most of you already know, turning virtual machines off is not enough. Unless you delete them, you will continue to accrue charges.

One way to make sure you don’t leave stuff running unnecessarily is to periodically check your current bill to make sure it is not out of line. Unfortunately, this means logging on to the billing portal, navigating to the page that displays the current balance etc., and doing so on a regular basis. Let’s be honest…we all know how likely that is.

Fortunately, products designed to alleviate the aforementioned challenge are beginning to be appear on the market — even though the market for cloud management tools is still fairly nascent. However, these solutions tend to be “enterprisy” (i.e. targeted towards enterprises that are running large cloud-based applications). We were looking for a simple tool that allowed us to keep an eye on the outstanding Windows Azure balance.

Enter Azure Ticker App.

Read More…

Windows 8 Desktop

Microsoft has been a busy company this year with refreshes on most of its biggest solutions. Not only has SharePoint gone through a massive update, but so has Windows. If you’re still unfamiliar with the changes in Windows 8, then be prepared for a shocker. In the new UI, applications have been stripped of chrome and are full-screen solutions. Windows 8 was designed with touch as a first-class input method.

SharePoint 2013 brings several new features, but the two that will empower client application development the most are the greatly expanded Client-Side Object Model (CSOM) and the REST APIs. While the maturity of these features is important for Microsoft’s push to SharePoint Online and client-side development, it also opens up complex functionality for Windows, mobile, and external web applications. Read More…

CensusMapper is a Windows 8 app that retrieves U.S. Census Data using the recently released Census API and displays that data on a map using Microsoft’s Bing Maps API. The application is built using XAML and C#. The intent of this version is to establish a proof of concept as well as introduce a design and user-experience direction to be explored and evolved going forward.

Upon startup, the app retrieves the population counts for each U.S. State and displays those counts in a marker positioned in the geographic middle of each state.

CensusMapper - Initial View

Read More…

Happy Friday! Here are some of the latest posts by AIS employees from around the web and their personal blogs:

Using Git-Tf: Suppress the TFS Warning When Loading a Solution: Using Git-TF? Getting annoying TFS warnings in Visual Studio? Senior Software Engineer Kip Streithorst can help. (It’s Null?)

Fight Clutter and Confusion in the Workplace. The Importance of Process Streamlining and How to Do It: Developer Terra Gilbert has discovered a natural knack for process streamlining and improving documentation. Here are her tips. (codeterra)

Recent Items in Windows 8: Oskar Austegard plays around with a new Windows 8 install and solves the case of the missing (or at least hard-to-find) Recent Items folder. (mo.notono.us)

KnockoutJS & ASP.NET Mvc Partial View Loading: How to dynamically load “partial views” bound to KnockoutJS view models. (Null != Steve)

Scrum Fundamentals Recording Available: In case you missed Ryan Cromwell‘s Scrum Fundamentals webinar, the presentation is available on his blog. (And be sure to check our Events page — we add new events every week!) (cromwellhaus)

Another Friday, another great round of links and blogs from the AIS team:

The Case of the Case-Sensitive CustomFilter Refiner: If you’re setting up FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint and need a custom date refiner, you’ll want to read about Tim Larson’s experience before you run into trouble. (Code Thug)

My Favorite Visual Studio 2012 Extensions: In honor of the recent launch of Visual Studio 2012, Ryan Cromwell shares six of his can’t-live-without extensions. (cromwellhaus)

Protecting Your API Keys: How to hide your API keys in your Windows 8 app source code. (And what to do if you’ve already accidentally exposed them!) (tewari)

BizTalk 2012 R2 and REST Example Walkthrough: A nice simple walkthrough on how to configure BizTalk to expose an Orchestration as REST service and consume a REST service. (madhukar gilla)

Code Samples from TechGate Conference: In case you attended Steve Michelotti’s Azure presentation at the TechGate conference in Reston last weekend, code samples can be found via his blog. (Steve Michelotti)