26 Oct 2011

The Arturo Grid for Windows Phone 7 in PNG & GIMP

layoutArturo Toledo works at Microsoft on the Windows Phone Design Studio team, and last week I had the chance to attend phone training with him. In that training he showed a grid he used for layout so that his apps match the layout of Windows Phone 7 apps – I call this the Arturo Grid.

Yesterday he posted about it and released an Expression Design version of it, which is great if you have Expression Design… but if you don’t it can be a problem. So I recreated it using the free graphics tool, The GIMP, and produced a transparent PNG version so that it can work in just about anything!

Downloads

How I did it?

GIMP is a fantastic tool and I thought I would share how I created this layout. First I started with a new image, with the resolution of 480 x 800 and a transparent background.

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Next run FiltersRenderPatternGrid and set the parameters as in the screen shot below. Note the offset horizontal & vertical lines are not linked. What we are doing here are creating grids of 37x37 (25 + 12 based off the Arturo Grid) with line width of 12 (so the space that is left is 25x25). The offset is +6 so that it pushes out, because the line widths are based on the middle of the line and not the edge.

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Now add two layers, another transparent one and a white backed layer.

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Place the new transparent at the bottom and the white in second place.

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and now merge down the grid layer onto the white layer.

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Now drag on guides:

  • Vertical: 24px
  • Vertical: 456px
  • Horizontal: 56px
  • Horizontal: 784px

and select that region.

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Create a new

Then use Select ► Invert and press delete. This removes the area around the grid for the bleed (padding) area that your app shouldn’t use.

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Now use the Fuzzy Select Tool (aka the magic wand selector tool) and click on the black.

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Now hit delete to remove those black lines leaving just the white squares.

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You can tweak the colours using the colour exchange tool (Colors ► Map Color ► Exchange) and you can tweak the transparency using the Opacity option on the layer tool to make it more transparent.

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There you go, now you are done Smile

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25 Oct 2011

Windows Phone 7: Professional Tips - Double tap

D04When you want to make sure something is dead (finished), you shoot it twice – also known as a double tap. Windows Phone 7 supports this too… for sentences.

When typing, double tap the space key and it will insert a full stop and a space!

Considering the size of the space key and how easy it is to double tap, rather than find the smaller dot key and move to the space key it can save you a little.

This is just one of the many awesome UX features in the phone!

13 Oct 2011

Tech·Ed Africa 2011 for Windows Phone 7 - 1.1 released

Update: This application has been retired - it was for TechEd 2011 and used the website a lot, the moment the site changes the app will break. It's goal & use are done, so I am happy to retire it.

iconI’m very happy to announce the 1.1 version of the Tech·Ed Africa app for Windows Phone 7 is now out with a TON of new features:

First up is dedicated in app pages for speakers. This means no more browsing to the website for speaker info. There is also options to view their Twitter, website etc… and since we not on Mango it supports saving the contact details to the device.

teched-1.2_10-6-2011_16.9.27.591

Second  is similar, dedicated pages for the sessions too!

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Third improvement is on the sessions list page – a lot of cleanup and bug fixing there plus lots of options for the grouping (level, audience etc..). This should help finding session info very easily.

teched-1.2_10-6-2011_16.7.31.361

The MVP page got a BIG facelift too, with buttons for contact details for each MVP, and a cleaner more bold experience. Of the whole application I am most happy with the UI on this page. I also added a community tweets page that has tweets searched by hash tags!

teched-1.2_10-6-2011_16.9.41.901

The welcome page got a cleanup with more focus on the news tweets and the removal of the refresh option, since it refreshes in a lot of ways manual isn’t really needed. It also allows you to launch the BIG new feature…

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Session planner! You can now browse and book sessions on your phone! And your phone will give you reminders to attend the sessions!

teched-1.2_10-6-2011_16.9.55.431

There is also a lot of UI tweaks – first the background was swopped to the latest UI from Tech·Ed and made a lot darker, so the contrast to the white stands out more the readability is WAY better. I also spent a lot of time with Rudi Grobler getting some of the smaller UI things right, so a big thanks to him! It even has a new and MUCH nicer icon Smile So what are you waiting for, go update NOW!

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30 Sep 2011

Tech·Ed Africa 2011 for Windows Phone 7

Update: Check out the info on the 1.1 version
Update: This application has been retired - it was for TechEd 2011 and used the website a lot, the moment the site changes the app will break. It's goal & use are done, so I am happy to retire it.

iconI am passionate about Microsoft Tech·Ed Africa, not because I’m a speaker there (and have been many times in the past) but because it is an awesome event. Now in this mobile world every awesome event needs an equally awesome mobile app. Since Microsoft isn’t releasing one for Tech·Ed, I decided to put my skills to use and build a Windows Phone 7 app for the event Smile

This app is a little different from my other apps as I didn’t have the data, and it is a constantly moving target so I am doing some very smart (and maybe a little sneaky) things to get the content from the www.teched.co.za website!

Version 1 allows you to browse sessions, speakers, get pro tips, see who the awesome MVP’s are, and get official news!

I am working on version 1.1 which include community tweets, proper speaker & session pages and will update with more info as it is released so keep an eye on those updates!

teched-1.0_9-26-2011_15.3.42.322teched-1.0_9-26-2011_15.3.46.594teched-1.0_9-26-2011_15.3.56.67teched-1.0_9-26-2011_15.4.8.664teched-1.0_9-26-2011_15.4.11.309

20 Sep 2011

Windows Phone 7 Weekend - Feedback, slides etc...

wp7logo_webThis past Saturday myself & Rudi Grobler presented a full day workshop on Windows Phone 7 development and we were BLOWN away with the event!

We had a great turn out, easily over hundred people were there and they  were one of the most amazing audiences I’ve ever had the honour to present to – they were insanely engaged in the discussion and really brought up all the tough issues that we love to discuss Smile

In addition to that Microsoft, Nokia & BBD were awesome sponsors, but I have to single out Nokia who put up the most amazing prizes:

  • 3 x Microsoft Xbox 360 for the first people to get 100 downloads for their WP7 app!
  • 10 x Nokia Windows Phone 7 (when available) for the first people to get 1 000 downloads for their WP7 app!

JUST WOW!

As we stated on the day you need to email both Dave Russell (drussell@microsoft.com) & Derrick Kotze (

(derrick.kotze@nokia.com) now to register and let them know when you reach your 100 or 1 000!

My big disappointment was the lab room, which never really got any traction, but with awesome presentations all day can you blame it Winking smile

If you are looking for the slides, we have shared them using BitBucket so you can grab them at: https://bitbucket.org/rudigrobler/windows-phone-weekend-workshop-v2

15 Sep 2011

Windows 8: How to get it working

(Update 1) Note: This relates to the Windows 8 Developer Preview, your mileage may vary and this may change.

This post is here to help you, and me, by sharing solutions that I am finding while trying to get Windows 8 running for a professional developer. I am using a HP 8510w laptop so some things maybe specific. This will be updated randomly and will be more like a live blog than a polished post.

(Update 1) As I update this I will prefix new content with (Update #) where # is the update number. The latest ones will be in bold.

Problems & Solutions

Graphics

I have a NVidia Quatro graphics card and to get it working correctly with Win8 (rather than the basic graphic driver) I needed to use the BETA driver from: Beta and Older Driver Versions – I used the Verde 285.27 Driver and that worked just fine, everything else was broken in one way or another.

(Update 5) This just worked with the Windows 8 Community Preview

.NET 3.5

imageA bunch of apps use .NET 3.5 or earlier so I needed that. To install it you must install it via the Turn Windows Features On/Off  option in the control panel (it’s under Programs). I had a BUNCH of issues (error 0x800F0906) getting it to work as it needs to download it which I think are proxy related. Once I downloaded via 3g it finally came down (took an hour Sad smile).

(UPDATE 2) Tried this via a transparent proxy and it worked too. Seems it is related to proxy servers that require basic authentication.

(UPDATE 4) Finally found a solution Smile Thanks to Zayd Kara for helping me with this:

Copy the SXS folder from the Windows 8 ISO to the C:\Temp folder.

Then run: dism.exe /online /enable-feature /featurename:NetFX3 /All /Source:c:\temp\sxs /LimitAccess

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Metro Style Apps Don’t Run

Details: http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/windowsdeveloperpreviewgeneral/thread/cd6df64d-737d-40e0-b999-03e654204448

(Update 1) Found the error message in the Event Log (Application and Services Logs –> Microsoft –> Windows –> WwaHost –> Admin)

Windows Web Application Host has encountered an unexpected exception. The error is number 0x8007000E.

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(UPDATE 2) One of the best new features in Windows 8 is the ability to reset your machine without affecting your files. I did this and this solved all my issues image

(UPDATE 4) The cause of this is the DLink modem software for my 3G modem. It is screwing up com. No idea why, and no way around it. That’ll teach me to use a 3g modem that doesn’t work with the natively Windows 7/8 mobile internet support.

Windows Phone Developer Tools

The 7.0 RTM release will NOT install at all. The 7.1 RC will install so you may need to get that one.

YOU MUST install .NET 3.5 first (see above). Once installed I didn’t have any emulator options and trying to run it would cause: HRESULT: 0x89721800

I resolved this by deleting “%LOCALAPPDATA%\Microsoft\Phone Tools\CoreCon\10.0” (source for that App Hub Forums)

The emulator option appeared but now when I try to run it, it crashes Windows 8 with a BSOD related to vmm.sys – no solution yet.

(UPDATE 2) I have tried everything and nothing seems to help. Resorted to using a Windows 7 boot from VHD to be able to run these tools Sad smile

(Update 5) Solved: http://sadev.co.za/content/installing-windows-phone-developer-tools-windows-8

Microsoft Security Essentials

It would not install because of a compatibility issue Sad smile Downloaded it again from the website, which doesn’t tell you version numbers and the file size looked the same, but this newer one did work fine.

(UPDATE 2) Paul Adare pointed out on the forums that this is included now out of the box, so not needed Smile 

Switch to Live ID

Not working, error 0xD00000072 – suspecting proxy again.

Install of Visual Studio 2010 Offline Documentation

Completely failed, no idea why.

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D-Link 3G Modem

It could not find the drivers, so I had to go to device manager, select the unknown devices –> Right click –>  Update Driver –> Browse my computer –> C:\Program Files (x86)\D-Link Connection Manager\drivers\64bit\WIN7

Then it found and installed the drivers for the 3G modem

(Update 1) Visual Studio 11 Express for Windows Developer Preview

Cannot build or run Metro Style apps.

Designer is failing with Server execution failed (Exception from HRESULT: 0x80080005 (CO_E_SERVER_EXEC_FAILURE))

And running them fails with Unable to activate Windows Tailored application

I suspect this is related to the Metro app issue above.

Capture5Capture6

(Update 1) Internet Explorer 10

Two interesting issues, one browsing our intranet which runs on HTTPS any content from HTTP fails to load and there is NO option to allow it.

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Second issue is in the IE desktop mode there is no tooltips Confused smile 

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However the solution is to run the Metro Style Internet Explorer, and it shows tooltips… and they are LOVELY:

ie-metro

(Update 3) SharePoint

I am referring to connecting to SharePoint server using IE 10, in short – it is horrid for anything other than basic browsing. I have installed Chrome to get around this.

(Update 3) Windows Server AppFabric

imageI needed Windows Server AppFabric installed so I could do development, however AppFabric does not install on Windows 8 Sad smile

To work around this I waited for the error to appear, then browsed to the extracted files (the moment you click ok on the error it cleans itself up) and used the expand command to extract the msu file which you can find in the packages folder.

That gets me a cab file which I extract again and that produces another 1 996 files. In there I used the file search to find the assemblies I needed to get the code to build, won’t run but at least I can code Smile

(Update 4) HP LaserJet 4250 Printer

I have this printer on the network but it was horrid trying to get Windows to see and work with it. The trick was to download the actual PCL6 drivers from the HP website. This has all the options to set it up and it works fine now Smile

(Update 5) This just worked with the Windows 8 Community Preview

Things that just worked

For balance here are application that have been installed with no issue.

  • Visual Studio 2010 + SP1
  • Firefox 6
  • Chrome (what ever the latest is)
  • Windows Live Writer
  • TweetDeck
  • Office 2010 + SP 1
  • (Update 1) VLC
  • (Update 3) Pull

There is also some more info in the comments!

08 Sep 2011

Windows Phone 7 Weekend Workshop

I have mentioned an awesome event that is being run by Microsoft before, the Windows Phone 7 Weekend Workshop and I just want to highlight it again (it is about 70% full already so you need to hurry up).

It is a FREE full day event with TWO tracks available. There is a lecture/presentation style track where you learn about the phone and a developer room track where you can build your phone apps with expert guidance or do some hands on labs. 

I am most excited about the developer room, because if you want to get an up out to the market place THIS IS THE BEST PLACE TO BE. Expert help, focused time and who knows, maybe some prizes for those who get them up!

The event is being run in conjunction with a number of groups

  • Microsoft – Being just after //BUILD may be a GREAT time to get some extra insight or clarity.
  • Nokia – You know the phone guys, they are sponsoring this event and will have someone there to answer questions.
  • BBD & MVP – Both myself & Rudi Grobler are speaking and we both work at BBD & are both Microsoft MVP’s.

Details:

29 Aug 2011

Windows Phone 7: Professional Tips - Always show the SystemTray

imageIn Windows Phone 7 there is an option to show a little strip at the top of your application which shows time, battery and signal strength. This is called the SystemTray.

My suggestion for a professional applications, is that you should be showing that SystemTray. Full screen games & media viewing excluded, but most tool like applications should be showing it.

My reasoning is two fold:

  1. If you user is spending any time in your application they may need to check their battery or  they will need to check the time. Having it available keeps them in your application and keeps them from being frustrated by the toggling backwards and forwards (glance and go!).
  2. If you application connects to the internet, and you fail to connect you are required to tell the user that it failed. For me internet connection failures are often due to signal or due to being connected to a hotspot. If it fails and I do not have a SystemTray, then I need to leave the application to check those details. Once again, the glance and go principal!

It takes up a few pixel’s but your users will be happier for it being there!

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