My First Metro App - Currency Converter for Windows 8

by Dmitry Kirsanov 23. September 2013 14:40

Currency Converter logoFinally, here comes the Windows 8 port for my Windows Phone 8 (and 7) currency converter published 3 weeks earlier.

There was no real need for it, excerpt for the Microsoft’s challenge to create an application and get 100 installations by the end of September (so I still have a week!). Anyway, the result is good and even useful, which is quite unusual for Metro apps.

I have to operate 3 currencies on a daily basis, and therefore I have to use converter. But I wanted to get rid of advertisements and privacy issues. For example,  the XE Currency converter, apart from usual advertisement, has a problem with privacy. For some reason it sends to its server a lot of irrelevant information, such as the model of my notebook. Why? I have no idea, but I didn’t like that.

So, when I had to create the first Metro app, the topic of choice was very obvious and not very original - the currency converter.

The saga of certification and myth busting (remember the “just copy your code to another platform and it works!” fairy tale?) will follow soon, but for now - Ladies and Gentlemen, you are very welcome to install and use the brand new free currency converter for Windows 8.

Here is the link to Windows Market: http://byte.lv/Z

My First Application for Windows Phone 8

by Dmitry Kirsanov 1. September 2013 16:33

It finally happened - I am releasing my first application for Windows Phone 8. And Windows Phone 7.1, for a change. Taking into account the average (in all meanings of that word) quality of applications in Windows Phone Store, I should be proud of myself.

If, by chance, you own a Windows Phone device, and in need of a currency converter for Windows Phone, I highly recommend this app, as it’s the most advanced one in the store at the moment, and will become even more useful in time.

Here are the few images of it that you can also see at the store:

wxga1 wxga2 wxga3 wxga4


I really like how it looks and works so far. Planning to release its Windows 8 analogue in a few days.

If you are planning to give it a try, let me know what you think and what else you’d like to see in it. Your feedback is important!

Design Language is not Design

by Dmitry Kirsanov 8. June 2013 03:14

Last year I visited event at Dublin’s Aviva stadium, where Microsoft’s principal researcher at Microsoft Research, Bill Buxton, presented a keynote about design. Microsoft Windows Apps team was generous enough to share this video with the world, and I highly recommend it to everyone who wants to understand the concepts and reasons behind the design shift we experience today.

It’s almost 90 minutes, but they might well worth it, despite the quality.

Bill Buxton–Design Language is not Design, keynote at Aviva Stadium, Dublin

Getting Rid of Windows 8 Virtues

by Dmitry Kirsanov 29. May 2013 12:40

I had two problems with my Windows Me 8. At least two which were clearly bugs in operating system and not a usual Dell hardware failure. And seems like both of these problems had the same solution, which potentially should be able to fix some other issues with Windows 8. More...

Introduction to Windows 8 Development: XAML Controls

by Dmitry Kirsanov 29. January 2013 11:00

This is the second part of Controls section of my introduction to Windows 8 Development, and today we are going to review the developing of XAML applications for Windows Store. First part is available here.

A little off topic

One of my favorite quotes belongs to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and that is – “The God is in the details”. I’ve checked – this was the sixth time I quoted him in my blog, and the first three quotes insist that devil is in details as well. Depends from the details, I guess. And there are many details of both kinds in the ways you develop HTML5 or XAML applications for Windows Store or Windows Phone.

Sometimes it’s pure HTML5, sometimes it’s XAML application with web browser control to display HTML5 contents. Sometimes you have UI preview, and sometimes you have to use external editor, like Blend. Some controls belong to particular technology and have no counterparts in another… So when someone is saying “it’s a matter of style” again, I look like this:Cheshire Cat in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

Because when you are in nights-and-weekends marathon for having your Big Idea project done (or should I say – a marathon-long race?), you could see the difference between technologies, and it’s displayed in form of a price tag, where the currency is time.

There are few things that could buy you some time. Your expertise in domain is one of them, and that’s where the difference between technologies matter most. Other things include the value of your brand (if Microsoft or Google would release a copy of your project a few months later, it would be a tough time for you, so their brands could buy them some time and grant market share), the availability of ready made components (elements of the framework, third party controls and libraries) and perhaps some performance boosters like Resharper.

And since I mentioned the competition, maybe you wouldn’t like to publish your work as open-source HTML5 / JavaScript project, but rather as half-compiled XAML/C# one?

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Why you don’t have to close applications in Windows 8

by Dmitry Kirsanov 16. January 2013 16:19

I had to answer this basic question today, so I guess others may have it as well, so I thought it’s worth sharing :)

If you had a chance to play with new Windows 8, you should have noticed that applications do not have a “close” button or even the menu item to exit the application. You still can close the application by pressing Alt + F4, or drag the title of the application to the bottom of the screen to exit it, but that’s not convenient, right?

The reason for that is that you don’t have to do that.

As I’ve illustrated earlier, in Windows 8 the “Metro” application doesn’t get any resources once it loses focus. So when you start another application, press Start button on your device or the keyboard, or browse back from your application – it takes up to five seconds to stop the execution of that application. It may still reside in memory, but only while that memory is not claimed by anyone else, so the performance of the computer doesn’t suffer.

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QA

Introduction to Windows 8 Development: Working with Controls

by Dmitry Kirsanov 14. January 2013 08:00

Windows 8 everyday controls

One essential part of Windows 8 software development is developing the user interface. Which means – placing right controls in right place, and make them an organic part of overall user experience. And what an exciting topic is that!

In Windows 8, there are only few new controls, but the ones you knew were changed drastically. You can choose either XAML or HTML5 for your application, and among other things, the set of available controls will change, so now you’ll have to master your skills of using more controls than before.

The “same” controls may look the same at the screen, but they are different inside. HTML5 provides you with additional controls specified in HTML5 standard, and you don’t have to worry about multi-browser support (unless you want to keep the certain degree of compatibility, anyway), but the problem is – HTML5 is not covered fully by MSIE 10, which provides you it’s HTML5 engine – the Trident.

We’ll cover both native and 3rd party controls available to you for both XAML and HTML5 applications. For the sake of simplicity, this article will be more about HTML5, while the next one – about XAML controls, and the third part – about general rules and principles of user interface design in Windows 8. Then we’ll cover Windows Phone 8 controls as well.

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Introduction to Windows 8 Development: Working with Sensors

by Dmitry Kirsanov 5. January 2013 09:00

Nearly all mobile devices (not necessarily cell phones, but anything that’s mobile enough) these days have sensors. And that will be our topic for today.

By the way, the way the term “mobile” is used today, reminds me an old anecdote with lady asking an IT guy, who tried to explain the difference between floppy disk and hard disk, whether that floppy disk isn’t hard enough for him. So, let’s settle on the definition that mobile devices are not stationery.

As we found previously, Windows 8 supports many platforms, and each platform has it’s own sensors, and new sensors are invented and need to be supported by OS.

Also, you may find out that your mobile device has more sensors than listed in your device specs. For instance, you may enjoy such sensors as compass and inclinometer, even though you have no such hardware in your device, and that’s because some sensors are “fusion”, or “virtual” – i.e. their data are results of computational analysis of data from other, “real” or “raw” sensors.

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Classic Start Menu in Windows 8

by Dmitry Kirsanov 4. January 2013 14:16

Clasic Shell screenshot - Windows XP themeWith beta version of Windows 8, we had native legacy start menu, which disappeared in the release version of the OS. For many people it is still the reason to not upgrade, but seems there is the light at the end of the tunnel, after all.

Even though this might be old news by now, but there are few free applications, which provide the classic start menu to your Windows 8. And I just tried the most popular one, the Classic Shell. It’s more advanced than even the original Start menu of Windows 7 / Vista / XP, as it may look as you want and you can tune just about anything in it. See for yourself.

Frankly, I wouldn’t install it, as I have no problems with adopting the new Start menu of Windows 8, but the last update to Windows 8 just killed the new Start menu in one of my laptops. Of course I used the “sfc / scannow” command to fix the problem, but I felt need a backup just in case.

This thing reminds me the “good old” days of Windows 3.1 with application called Calmira – the Start menu of Windows 95 for Windows 3.1.

Introduction to Windows 8 App Development: HTML5 or XAML?

by Dmitry Kirsanov 30. December 2012 15:19

As you, perhaps, already know, in Windows 8 you can develop Windows Store applications by using one of 3 ways:

MetroLanguageProjections

It’s either C++ native application using DirectX, or C# / VB .NET application using XAML, or HTML5 / CSS3 / JavaScript application.

Although Microsoft says that it’s more a matter of style, there are some advantages and disadvantages in using each of these methods and we are going to discuss them now.

As you know, Windows 8 is the first Microsoft’s operating system whose kernel works on servers, workstations, tablets and even mobile phones, which means that it supports a lot of scenarios beyond the scope of any single platform. Windows 8 shares it’s kernel with Windows Server 2012 (servers), Windows RT (ARM based tablets) and Windows Phone 8 (mobile phones), but fortunately you can’t build application that would work on each platform without changes. This reminds me Linux (shares kernel with Android) and MacOS (shares kernel with iOS) – even though at low level it’s the same OS, what’s stands on the shoulders of that kernel is what makes real difference. As Ludwig Mies van der Rohe said, “the God is in the details”.

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