Why Developers Should Care About Design, and How Metro Helps

Or…I was a Teenage Design Have-not

I’m going to avoid casting aspersions on my fellow developers and instead simply own up to my own failings…I’ve been developing software since I was 10 years old (my first program was written in BASIC on a Commodore PET), and professionally for well over a decade, and for most of that time, I believed that design was someone else’s job, and that it didn’t matter whether I could design my way out of a paper bag.


Design is everyone’s responsibility, at least to some degree. No, you don’t have to start wearing black turtlenecks or engaging in other clichés, but what you should do is start cultivating a basic knowledge of design, and training your eye for what is and isn’t good design, both in the world of pixels as well as in the real world. Have you ever found yourself marveling at how difficult it is to figure out how to use some basic device? Listen to that voice in your head…it’s telling you that you’re dealing with a bad design.

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Getting an App in the Windows Store: What, Why, and How

Most of my readers are probably aware that Windows 8 is on the horizon. If you’re a software developer, whether an experienced Windows dev, or one who works on other platform, chances are good that you’ve at least heard of it. What I propose to do in this post is argue for a simple proposition…every developer who would like to put some additional money in their pocket owes it to themselves to learn the What, Why, and How of the Windows Store.

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Windows 8 Dev Camp: Slides, Hands-on Labs, etc.

If you’ve attended one of the Windows Camp events that I or one of my peers have been running of late (or even if you couldn’t make it, but would like some great resources for learning more about Windows 8 Metro style apps), the materials from these events have now been made available online. You can download them from:


Perfect reading material for the weekend!

Databinding in Windows 8 JavaScript Metro style Apps

[ NOTE: This post was written using the Visual Studio 11 beta and Windows 8 Consumer Preview…as with any pre-release software, the code and concepts are subject to change in future versions ]

One of the nice features of the new JavaScript Windows Metro style app templates in the Visual Studio 11 beta is that they provide built-in support for databinding, using sample data in a JSON array. Folks who have experience in the XAML world may not see this as a particularly big deal, since Silverlight and WPF have supported databinding for a long time.

For web applications, however, data binding is still a concept that’s evolving. While there are third-party libraries like Knockout.js that provide client-side databinding (and my fellow DE David Isbitski recently published a blog post detailing how you can use Knockout in a Metro style app, if that’s your cup of tea), but in general the web world is a little behind the curve compared to XAML-based databinding.

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Grantophone on Windows 8 in NYC

Had to share this…Grant Kot, a cello student at Juilliard who also dabbles in C++, is the author of the fun and popular Grantophone app for Windows Phone. Grant was a special guest at the keynote of our New York City Windows 8 Developer event last week, and showed off his Windows 8 version of Grantophone (which you can get from the Windows Store if you have installed the Windows 8 Consumer Preview). Here’s the video, with Grant performing the Imperial March from Star Wars:

Fun stuff…I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!

Windows 8 on a Samsung Series 7 Slate?

Are you one of the lucky folks who has a Samsung Series 7 Slate? These are great touch-based devices for running Windows 7, and understandably, a lot of folks have expressed interest in trying out the Windows 8 Consumer Preview release on them.

Well I have some good news for you. Samsung has published a dedicated page with information on running Windows 8 on your Series 7 Slate:

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Installing .NET Framework 3.5 in Windows 8 Consumer Preview (updated for RTM)


Since the technique below was for the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, I wanted to share how you can accomplish this in the RTM release of Windows 8, from my reply to a commenter on the post:

For the RTM release, you can use “Turn Windows Features On or Off” in settings (just open the Search charm for settings (Win+W), and type “Turn Windows”, and you should see it at the top of the second column). Once you’ve got that dialog up, the first option available will be “.NET Framework 3.5 (includes .NET 2.0 and 3.0)”. Check the checkbox, click OK, and you should be all set.

Original post follows:

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W8WIL #1: Friendly Names for AppBar Icons

Today, I’m kicking off a new blog series, which I’m calling Windows 8: What I’ve Learned, or W8WIL for short. I’ve had the good fortune of spending some quality time with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview release, and there are plenty of little things that can make your life easier as a developer, and I’ll share those in this series.

In this first installment, I want to share some coolness in working with AppBars in your JavaScript Windows Metro style apps. For those of you who haven’t yet started playing with the new app types (if you haven’t, you can grab both the Consumer Preview release, and the Visual Studio 11 beta bits here), the AppBar is a common location for commands for users to interact with content in your app. Below is an example of one of the neat apps that’s currently available in the beta Windows Store, called Physamajig:

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CapArea.NET Follow-up: HTML5 Metro apps resources

caparealogoMy thanks to everyone who came out tonight for the Capital Area .NET User Group for my presentation on developing Windows 8 Metro style applications using HTML5 and JavaScript. Great questions and lots of great discussion. Thanks for keeping me on my toes!

As promised, I wanted to share pointers to some additional recorded sessions from BUILD that you may find useful, as well as a link to the sample Canvas Paint app that I used for my demos. If you’re interested in getting the additional tweaks I added to the sample to support persisting the brush color and size, etc. please drop me a note via my contact page, and I will be happy to share it.

Additional Related BUILD Sessions:

and the presentation on which my talk tonight was based:

UPDATE: Nevin House, who attended last night’s talk, got in touch with me via email, and recommended the following two talks on JavaScript, and I heartily agree…both are great talks and are highly recommended for anyone wishing to better understand JavaScript in the context of Metro style apps in Windows 8:

Both presentations feature some of the best presenters from BUILD. Enjoy!

Canvas Paint Sample App

canvasPaintLogo_2The Canvas Paint sample app, along with many other samples and demos, may be downloaded from the Samples area for Windows 8. The direct link to the Canvas Paint sample is:


Note that you can browse the code directly online, or download the sample and run it locally (if you have installed the Windows 8 developer preview).