[UPDATE – 7/30/2014: Wanted to share some feedback from one of my brothers, who purchased a Nessie mic for doing some screencast work. Apparently, he’s had some issues with low signal and lots of noise, and inconsistencies in operation depending on where he plugged it in. I took a look at the Nessie page on Blue’s website, and it lacks a support link, which is a pity in a product that seems to be designed for folks who are new to computer audio recording. Given that, I’d recommend that folks who aren’t comfortable with troubleshooting audio and USB issues look elsewhere.]
As I mentioned on Saturday, I just updated my blog theme to something a bit more clean and modern. In addition to just wanting something that looked good, one of the features that factored into my choosing the Wise Words theme for Orchard was its support for responsive web design, leveraging Twitter bootstrap and bootstrap responsive to automatically reformat content and resize elements depending on the available screen real estate.
I got a new shiny this week (actually arrived on Friday, but since I was heading to Roanoke Code Camp over the weekend, I did not have time to set it up before I left). As an aside, pictures don’t do this machine justice…I’ve always thought that ThinkPad was synonymous with chunky business laptops with squared edges, and a look only a CPA could love (sorry CPAs, no offense meant). The Lenovo X1 Carbon Touch is flat gorgeous. And fast.
After getting home from the code camp, I started the process of migrating data from my current day-to-day machine (thankfully, data migration is pretty automated and painless these days), and installing the various bits and pieces I need.
If you’ve spent any time at all browsing the Windows Store, you may have noticed that there are more than a few apps that show up with the default store logo, which is a simple box with an X through it. The default logo included with the Visual Studio project templates is intended to look unfinished, so that developers will hopefully replace this logo with one that’s appropriately branded for their app. Here’s what one of these apps looks like (I’ve obscured the name of the app to avoid embarrassing the developer):
Notice that the app doesn’t have a great rating. Not necessarily a direct result of not having a nice store logo, but it doesn’t leave a great impression with potential customers.
I’m a big fan of reuse wherever possible, so in this 6th installment of my Windows 8: What I’ve Learned series, I’m going to share a tip on how you can essentially get some great features for your app, with very little effort, by leveraging an app that ships with every copy of Windows 8.
The Maps app
Windows 8 machines will ship with several handy apps included, such as the Mail app, the People app and a few others. One of the more useful apps is the Maps app. It can, with the user’s permission, use location features built into the machine (GPS, or network-based location services) to find your current location, integrated search for finding a desired address or point of interest, and built in support for directions, traffic, etc. You can see a screenshot of the maps app below:
In this, the 5th, installment of Windows 8, What I’ve learned, I’m going to share a single line of code that can make your search-enabled Windows Store app absolutely awesome!
Start by enabling Search
For starters, if you haven’t enabled the Search contract in your app, you probably should. Unless your app is a game or other kind of app that has no content to search, implementing the Search contract will enable your users to more easily find content in your app, whether it’s running or not, and allow them to do so via a consistent UI that’s part of Windows 8 itself:
In my own projects I really like to have correct colors. With Windows 8 coming out, more and more of my projects are around Windows 8. I’m not much of a designer, but sometimes I like to play pretend. I was able to grab these colors from Windows 8 RTM. I’m only including the HEX code because RGB would have been a pain to copy from the programs I use. If you need RGB, there are lots of HEX to RGB color converters online. I hope you find these useful!
This first set of colors is from the tiles found on the Start Screen, such as Mail, Calendar, Store, Video, Music and Messaging. With these tiles there is a gradient from left to right that is dark to light for both sizes of tiles. The colors listed are for the wide tile except for Sky Blue since SkyDrive only has the smaller tile.