News

Microsoft Launches XBox Live Creators Program

Paul Ballard

1 Mar , 2017  

A new game developer program from Microsoft allows for fast, simultaneous publishing of Xbox Live-enabled games to Xbox One and Windows 10.

Announced at this week’s Game Developer Conference, the Xbox Live Creators Program is currently in preview. Developers who sign up gain access to the Xbox Live Creators SDK, and can integrate the following features into their games, according to Microsoft:

  • Xbox Live sign-in and profile, including gamertag.

  • Xbox Live presence, recently played and activity feed.

  • Xbox Live social, including friends, Game Hubs, clubs, party chat, gameDVR and Beam broadcast.

  • Xbox Live leaderboards and feature stats.

  • Title Storage and Connected Storage.

Participating developers can build games using Construct 2, MonoGame, Unity and Xenko, then ship them to either Xbox One, Windows 10 or both. Games built under the program will appear in a special ‘Creators’ section in the Xbox Store.

The new program aims to simplify the process for getting games into the Xbox Store without the need for a lengthy certification or concept approval. Developers can apply here and start building, with Microsoft saying publishing will be available in the near future.

However, the Xbox Live features available under the Creators Program are limited. Anyone who wants to take advantage of the full set of Xbox Live features, plus marketing and development support, will still need to join Microsoft’s existing ID@Xbox program.… 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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News

Submit Your UWP App to Xbox One, and Other New Windows Dev Center Features

Paul Ballard

30 Aug , 2016  

Developers who’ve built apps and games using the Windows 10 Anniversary Update SDK can now offer them in the Xbox Store. The change is part of a number of Dev Center updates announced Monday by Microsoft.

Games submitted to Xbox One will still be subject to concept approval. “This ensures games on Xbox deliver the experience our players expect,” reads a Microsoft blog post announcing the changes. The company encourages developers to join the ID@Xbox program before submitting games targeting the platform.

The move opens the Xbox Store to smaller, independent developers who were previously excluded from marketing there, according to Windows Central.

In other new features, Dev Center now offers a gradual package rollout option for developers who want to test app updates with a small percentage of customers before bringing them to all devices. And package flighting–previously only available for PC and mobile apps–is now also available for apps and games targeting Xbox One. There’s also an option to configure your app to require an update before it will run.

New analytics options for Dev Center Insiders include custom notifications for specific customer segments, and real-time reporting. And those are just some of the changes in what looks like a fairly meaty update to the Dev Center.… Read more

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News

Visual Studio 2015 Update 1 Released

Paul Ballard

30 Nov , 2015  

Microsoft has dropped Visual Studio 2015 Update 1 less than two weeks after it was announced during the Connect() conference.  Included in this release are new features such as support for Android Marshmallow and iOS 9 in Apache Cordova apps, new Universal Windows apps tooling, ASP.NET RC1, and the latest .NET framework (4.6.1).

This release features hundreds of bug fixes as well as the following new features.

  • Visual Studio Tools for Apache Cordova – support for Android Marshmallow and iOS 9, new Azure AD authentication.  There’s also a new location for samples and reference material at http://taco.visualstudio.com.
  • Visual Studio Tools for Universal Windows Apps – Updated tooling for targeting the November Windows 10 release (1511) as well as improvements to XAML designer, manifest designer, and debugging.
  • Visual C# – The C# Interactive Windows is back along with a scripting execution tool called csi.exe.
  • Visual C++ – Edit and Continue for /BigObj
  • Debugging and Diagnostics – Go To Implementation added to quickly move from interface to concrete implementations, Code Analysis enhancements, and improved filtering and search in diagnostic windows.
  • .NET Framework 4.6.1 – Updates to the latest .NET Framework including numerous bug fixes.
  • ASP.NET 5 RC1 – Latest version of the ASP.NET stack that can run in any platform including Bower support and a cleaner ASP.NET Solution folder.
Read more

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Wintellect Blogs

Taming the SplitView Control in Windows 10

Jeff Prosise

30 Jul , 2015  

Of all the new controls featured in Windows 10, SplitView is perhaps the most emblematic. SplitView makes it easy to implement “hamburger menu” interfaces like the ones featured in Windows 10’s built-in News, Sports, and Photos apps, among others. A hamburger icon consisting of three horizontal bars sits atop a ribbon on the left side of the window. The ribbon contains iconic buttons, most of which navigate to another page in the app when clicked. Typically, but not always, clicking the hamburger icon expands the ribbon to reveal labels to the right of the icons. It’s an easy navigation pattern to learn, and even if somewhat controversial, it’s already familiar to users who have seen similar UI paradigms used in Web sites and mobile apps.

Most developers who set out to use SplitView for the first time are surprised at how lean it is. SplitView has little in the way of a default UI other than a pane that expands and collapses. There is no SplitViewItem class for placing buttons in a SplitView, and precious little guidance on how to implement them. Plus, incorporating a SplitView in your app requires some restructuring of the code that Visual Studio dumps into App.xaml.cs.… Read more

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Wintellect Blogs

Handling the Back Button in Windows 10 UWP Apps

Jeff Prosise

30 Jun , 2015  

The cool thing about Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps is that they run on an assortment of devices, from PCs, tablets, and phones to (soon) Xboxes and HoloLens, among others. Personally, I can’t wait to see some of the apps I’ve written light up on my kids’ Xbox. They’ll think I’m a hero (“my dad writes Xbox apps!”) even though I’m not.

But as every hero knows, with great power comes great responsibility. One of the issues you’ll run into when writing a UWP app is how to handle the Back button. Windows phones have Back buttons, but other devices don’t. One way to handle the Back button on phones is to add a reference to Microsoft’s Mobile Extension SDK and write adaptive code that responds to HardwareButtons.BackPressed events, as I wrote about in a previous post. Of course, that doesn’t solve the problem of allowing users to navigate backward on devices that lack Back buttons. Which is why Microsoft introduced the Windows.UI.Core.SystemNavigationManager class. SystemNavigationManager does two important things for you:

  • Upon request, it displays a software Back button when your app is running on a device without a Back button
  • It allows you to handle clicks of the Back button (software or hardware) without adding extension SDKs and without writing adaptive code

Here’s what Contoso Cookbook looks like on a PC with a SystemNavigationManager-provided Back button:

Cookbook

Making the Back button appear requires just one line of code:

SystemNavigationManager.GetForCurrentView().AppViewBackButtonVisibility = AppViewBackButtonVisibility.Visible;

Responding to clicks of the Back button is a simple matter of wiring up a handler for SystemNavigationManager.BackRequested events:

SystemNavigationManager.GetForCurrentView().BackRequested += (s, e) =>
{
    // TODO: Go back to the previous page
};

The beauty of it is that this code works without change on phones and other devices.… Read more

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Wintellect Blogs

Spicing Up Universal Windows Apps with Per-Platform Views and Compiled Data Bindings

Jeff Prosise

6 May , 2015  

Adaptability is one of the hallmarks of the Universal Windows Platform (UWP). Apps that run on devices large and small must be able to adapt their UIs to the screen space available. UWP offers a number of tools for building adaptive UIs, including AdaptiveTrigger, RelativePanel, and controls that are cognizant of the screens they’re running on and willing to adapt themselves to provide the best user experience possible.

But sometimes the best way to optimize the experience on a particular device is to design the UI just for that device. I ran into that while porting Contoso Cookbook from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10. On a large screen, I wanted to use a GridView control to present rows and columns of recipes, starting in the upper-left corner and moving to the right, wrapping as needed to fill the screen with delicious recipes. On a phone, I envisioned a different experience built around a ListView control with a scrolling column of recipes.

Fortunately, UWP anticipates such scenarios and makes it rather easy to tailor UIs to individual devices – specifically, to device families: mobile devices, desktop devices, and so on. While doing the port, I also decided to leverage a new feature of Windows 10 that delivers faster performance and lower memory consumption.… Read more

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Wintellect Blogs

Using AdaptiveTrigger to Build Adaptive UIs in Windows 10

Jeff Prosise

2 May , 2015  

Like a lot of developers, I’ve been watching the development of Windows 10 and digesting all the features Microsoft announced at BUILD. And I’m eager to build apps that target the Universal Windows Platform (UWP). UWP is a new model that allows you to write apps that run on a wide range of Windows devices, including desktop PCs, tablets, phones, Xboxes, IoT devices, and yes, even HoloLens. It’s the future of Windows application development, especially if you care to target the ever-expanding family of devices that run Windows. And there’s no time like the present to start learning about it.

Unlike universal apps in Windows 8, universal apps in Windows 10 truly are universal – at least as far as Windows devices are concerned. In Windows 8, a universal app solution in Visual Studio typically contained one shared project and additional projects, or “heads,” for individual devices. For example, it was common to have one shared project, one Windows project, and one Windows Phone project. Building the solution produced two binaries: one for Windows and one for Windows Phone. While the shared project contained shared code that worked on both devices, you created the UI for the Windows app in the Windows project, and the UI for the phone app in the Windows Phone project.… Read more

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