News

Microsoft Launches Platform for Connected Cars

Paul Ballard

9 Jan , 2017  

Microsoft has created a new platform for building connected cars, and Nissan is its first partner.

Announced at CES on Thursday, the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform will draw on the Microsoft Azure cloud and will bring services like Office 365, Cortana and Skype into the car.

In Nissan’s keynote address, company execs demonstrated how Cortana could help a driver reroute when a meeting location is changed, make breakfast plans and schedule oil changes, all while en route. Car owners could even use remote car monitoring to track where family members are in their journey.

While Microsoft and the Nissan/Renault Alliance already announced their plans to collaborate on connected vehicles last year, the presentation more clearly illustrated what such a partnership could look like.

It’s one of a number of car-tech partnerships visible at CES this past week, as companies vie to see who will lead development of the smart vehicles of the future. Ford and Toyota are launching a new consortium to help developers build apps for connected cars. The SmartDeviceLink consortium will open-source its code on GitHub, allowing developers to potentially build one app that could work on all SDL-enabled cars.

Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant will start showing up in Ford vehicles this summer, and the automaker is already rolling out the ability for owners of hybrid and electric cars to track them from home.… Read more

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News

Webinar: Using TypeScript with React

Eric Greene

6 Jan , 2017   Video

Want to learn how to combine TypeScript with React for top-notch enterprise JavaScript coding?

TypeScript makes available critical programming features from C# and Java such as strong-typing, interfaces, and generics. React has become a very popular library for building multi-platform UI components. Combine the two, and you get a powerhouse of rich functionality to code even the most complicated applications. TypeScript even supports the popular JSX language commonly used by React developers.

A new one-hour webinar from Wintellect instructor Eric Greene explores how easy it is to build React components with TypeScript. Click on the video above to view, and share your feedback in the comments.… Read more

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Wintellect Blogs

Running Spectron Tests in Visual Studio Team Services Build

Jonathan Wood

5 Jan , 2017  

Having end-to-end tests and running them locally can definitely be beneficial, but one of the main reasons to have them is to run them automatically during a nightly build. Getting these tests to run in Visual Studio Team Services isn’t trivial. Here’s some tips on how to get them going.

Setting up build definitions

When first setting up a build for your Spectron tests all the build definitions need to be manually entered. However, the first step is to actually specify what repository you want to use. This gets set when you start your first build definition.

New Build Definition

Select the “Empty” template when the dialog pops up.

Empty Template

From there you can then choose what repository you want to from VSTS or even choose a repository from GitHub.

Choose Repository

Here we can set up our steps to have our tests run. If you recall from our [first post on Spectron with our demo project I set up an npm run script to run our tests. In this case, we only have two tasks to create for our build definition:

  • npm install
  • npm run

NPM Install

NPM Run

Setting up the build agent

So the easy part is done. I only say that, though, because this next part was a bit tricky and wasn’t very well documented on what to do to get these types of tests to run.… Read more

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Wintellect Blogs

Unexpected Benefits of End-to-end Testing

Jonathan Wood

3 Jan , 2017  

End-to-end Testing

Testing where the entire application is tested in a real-world scenario such as communicating with the database, network, hardware and other applications.

The above is the general definition of what an end-to-end test is. Most of these tests are written to make sure general flows of the application that a user may take are working correctly and as expected. However, there are other benefits to running and writing these tests that may not be as well known.

Find bugs when writing tests

True, end-to-end tests are supposed to find bugs, but that’s mainly when you run tests that have already been written to make sure no bugs were introduced as the project is being developed on. However, there are a lot of bugs you can find when you’re writing end-to-end tests. In my experience, I’ve usually found an issue while writing an end-to-end test on a specific functionality that I’m testing.

Unit tests will do this, too, but end-to-end tests can find issues that aren’t always logical, such as UI issues and components not interacting as expected. This, to me, is probably the most useful thing about having end-to-end tests.

Find hard to detect issues

Applications depend on all components of the application interacting and working correctly.… Read more

News

Free Xamarin Training for Your New Year’s Weekend

Paul Ballard

30 Dec , 2016  

New Year’s Eve weekend is a time to party, but for the geeks among us, it may also be a good opportunity to curl up with some dev training videos.

Enter Microsoft/Xamarin with their on-demand recordings of Xamarin Dev Days sessions. The mobile development training event takes place periodically in cities around the world, and as of this month, you can also participate virtually via Xamarin Dev Days Live on Microsoft’s Channel 9. (Hat tip to Petri’s Paul Thurrott for first pointing this out.)

The five-episode track, which first aired Dec. 14, kicks off with Introduction to Xamarin,  Cross-Platform UI with Xamarin.Forms and Cloud First Apps with Azure. The “afternoon” sessions are more hands-on; you can follow along as the instructors walk through building an app.

Log on and get to brainstorming about what you’ll build in 2017.

 … Read more

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Wintellect Blogs

Get Function Keys By Default with Parallels and a MacBook Pro Touch Bar

John Robbins

27 Dec , 2016  

Having purchased a 15 inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar recently, I’ve been having a good time seeing how that Touch Bar can be used. With applications that know about the Touch Bar, it is an interesting UI approach. But with many macOS applications not having full Touch Bar support, I’ll reserve full judgment until most apps support it. I will say that the Photos app shows a tremendously useful way to use the Touch Bar.

One app I use all the time, the virtual machine program Parallels, does not currently support the Touch Bar, so whenever you are in it, you see the default Touch Bar view:

image

The only problem is that for Windows development, you really, really need those function keys. Sure you can press the FN key to have them come back, but I wanted the function keys to be the default. A little poking around in System Preferences, Keyboard settings, Shortcuts, showed the Function Keys section. I added Parallels Desktop to the list and, voila, now Parallels defaults to showing the function keys whenever Parallels has focus. Not the most earth shattering of tips, but one that certainly made my life better.

image

Now if only Apple would sell a Touch Bar external keyboard…… Read more

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Wintellect Blogs

Top NPM Packages for Spectron Testing

Jonathan Wood

27 Dec , 2016  

Spectron is a great tool for testing your Electron applications. However, some help is needed to get the full use out of it. This post will go through all of the npm packages I’ve found useful in my Spectron testing.

Jasmine Reporters

The default reporter for Spectron is to just log out to the terminal. That’s great, but I like pretty colors in my terminal, especially when they’re green for success and red for error. That’s where the jasmine reporters package comes in. Actually, there are a few reporters in this package. Not just one for the terminal. In fact, I use two reporters from this package – the terminal reporter and the JUnit XML Result reporter.

Why do I use the second reporter? Well, that reporter plays very well with the jasmine-xml2html-converter package. This package converts the XML results from the JUnit XML Result reporter into an HTML file with graphs and a much easier way to view the tests.

Gulp

Yep, the package to have build tasks in your JavaScript projects has been useful for running Spectron tests. Whether you’re using Jasmine, Mocha, or Karma for your tests, there are gulp versions.

Something I’ve used that seemed to help is to break up your gulp tasks to run tests by scenario.… Read more

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Wintellect Blogs

Introducing the Spectron Command Line Tool

Jonathan Wood

21 Dec , 2016  

After some Spectron experience there tends to be some things that can get repetitive when creating Spectron tests. I figured creating a tool to do just that would be handy to have. So I created the spectron-cli npm package.

Granted, this command line tool doesn’t do all that much. Currently, it only has two commands to it.

The “init” command will create an e2e directory, if it doesn’t already exist in the current directory it’s run in. It will also create two files in that directory for you – a test.spec.js file and a test.page.js file. These files will include templates to help you get started writing your Spectron tests.

The “add” command will just create a spec file and a page file with the name of your choosing inside the e2e directory.

The way the templates are laid out, however, you would have to include chai and chai-as-promised packages if you don’t already have them. These tests can be run with mocha or jasmine test runners.

So feel free to install the tool with npm install spectron-cli and see how it works for you (or just find ways to break it). It is open source so feel free to submit and enhancements or fixes or just create an issue.… Read more

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News

Teach Cortana New Tricks (and Reach Her Users) With the Cortana Skills Kit

Paul Ballard

14 Dec , 2016  

Microsoft announced Tuesday that it’s introducing a Cortana Skills Kit, allowing developers to add new capabilities to the virtual assistant.

Developers using the kit will be able to turn their web services, bots created with the Microsoft bot framework, and existing Alexa skills into new skills for Cortana. Currently in private preview, the kit will be more widely available in 2017.

Microsoft partners already using the kit include Expedia, which trained Cortana to book hotels using its bot, and CapitalOne, which programmed Cortana to have hands-free, natural language conversations with users about their money.

Developers can sign up here to be notified when the kit is available.

The Cortana Skills Kit was part of a small flurry of AI-related announcements Microsoft made this past week, as the company continues its push to “democratize AI” (and make Cortana more competitive with Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa).

Microsoft is partnering with manufacturers on a range of Cortana-enabled IoT devices, with and without screens. The Cortana Devices SDK will allow manufacturers to integrate Cortana across devices and platforms, and Harmon Kardon has already released a sneak preview of what appears to be an Echo-like audio system, set to debut next year, that combines Cortana with its speakers.… Read more

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News

Master Containers on Windows Server 2016 With This New Webinar

Blaize Stewart

12 Dec , 2016   Video

One of the most anticipated features of Windows Server 2016 is container services. Microsoft has worked closely with Docker to create this exciting new feature for on-premise CaaS. Wintellect senior consultant Blaize Stewart has created a webinar in which you can learn  all about the new technology, the types of containers you can deploy on Windows Server 2016, and the Docker tools available to run and manage them.

Click on the video above to view, and share your feedback in the comments.… Read more

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News

Microsoft Outlines Plans for Budget VR, Will Share Dev Kit in February

Paul Ballard

8 Dec , 2016  

If you’re not ready to shell out $3,000 for a Microsoft HoloLens mixed reality device, you’re not alone, and Microsoft knows this. That’s why it’s partnering with companies including Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP and Lenovo to create a line of lower-cost augmented and virtual reality headsets for the Average Joe or Jane Gamer.

The head-mounted displays (HMDs), will start at $299, according to details revealed during yesterday’s keynote at the company’s WinHEC hardware event in Shenzhen, China. They’ll draw on the same Windows Holographic technology that powers HoloLens, but unlike the standalone HoloLens, they’ll need to be connected to a PC to operate.

System requirements for using the HMDs, which are set to start shipping in the first half of 2017, are as follows, according to Thurrott.com:

CPU: 6th or 7th generation Intel Core i5 mobile dual-core CPU with Hyperthreading or equivalent

GPU: Integrated Intel HD Graphics 620 (GT2) or equivalent or greater DirectX12-capable GPU

RAM: 8 GB+ Dual Channel required for integrated graphics

Video-out: HDMI 1.4 with 2880×1440 @ 60 HzHDMI 2.0 or DisplayPort 1.3+ with 2880×1440 @ 90 Hz

HDD: 100GB+ SSD (Preferred)/HDD

USB: USB 3.0 Type-A or USB 3.1 Type-C Port with DisplayPort Alternate Mode

Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0 for accessories

The upshot of this is, of course, that developers will enjoy a much broader market for apps and games.… Read more

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News

Non-Admin Users Can Now Create Symlinks in Windows 10

Paul Ballard

6 Dec , 2016  

With the Windows 10 Creators Update, Microsoft is making it easier for developers to create symlinks, virtual files that link to actual physical files located somewhere else. The change should speed development in Windows 10, making use of symlinks on the platform as seamless as it already is on Linux and OSX.

As Microsoft notes in a blog post, symlinks are widely used by developers to save disk space and for swifter deployment of projects, and are supported by code repositories like GitHub. While Linux, OSX and other Unix-based systems allow symlinks to be created without restrictions, Windows 10 users have until now needed a command-line console elevated as administrator to make and modify the links.

But starting with the Creators Update, any Windows 10 user with Developer Mode enabled will be able to create symlinks using either the mklink command or the CreateSymbolicLink API. Microsoft’s got some information on how to do this here.

Windows 10 Insiders running Build 14972 can go ahead and preview the feature now.

 

 

 … Read more

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News

AdDuplex Wants to Help You Monetize Your App

Paul Ballard

2 Dec , 2016  

AdDuplex has launched a new ad monetization program for Windows developers, citing a lack of monetization options for apps and games on the UWP platform.

The invite-only program has been operating on select apps for a few months now, Windows Central reports, and AdDuplex is now offering developers the opportunity to join through an application process.

AdDuplex was originally founded as a cross-promotion network for Windows Store apps and games, allowing developers to build their user base by running free ads for each others’ products, under the slogan “advertise before you monetize.”

But the company recently began to look at the other side of the equation, writes founder Alan Mendelevich in a blog post, concluding that the dearth of ad monetization options is “a problem for those trying to make money in the Store.”

Developers trying to make money in other ways, such as in-app purchases, also ran into the challenge that “there’s just no way to do user acquisition at scale on Windows,” writes Mendelevich, who has published a detailed critique of what he sees as Microsoft’s failure to help nurture good apps in the Windows 10 ecosystem.

AdDuplex says the new monetization program has brought in revenues of thousands of dollars per month for most developers using it.… Read more

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Humor

Making Tech Great Again

Paul Ballard

25 Nov , 2016  

imageRead more