As I mentioned in a previous post, I have the honor of speaking at VSLive this December. I would like to give a little more background and detail about the one of the sessions: Going from Silverlight or WPF to Windows 8 Apps.

Over the past year I have had many discussions about the development options for WinRT, mostly focused on XAML/C# and HTML/JS. There has been concern about which stack developers should focus their skills, but I get the impression that it’s not a battle. If you already know XAML by either working in Silverlight, WPF or Windows Phone, you should heavily consider continuing to use XAML. With that being said, use the best tool for the job and don’t make it a religious war! I have also heard concerns about the apparent shift from Silverlight, but it is just a change in run-time. The technologies used to write Silverlight applications, XAML and C#, are still a major focus and will be for a long time.

That leaves many Silverlight and WPF developers looking to use their XAML and C# skills to make Windows 8 Store apps. I’m going to discuss this exact process, what to expect and provide my personal experience during my VSLive session. Spoiler alert: Your existing skills port nicely! I’ll dig into the async shift, new user experience features in Windows 8 and what it’s like to actually port an application. There are considerations like navigation, controls, app model, designing for touch, animations, transitions, visual states, file & storage APIs, and validation. None of those are deal breakers though. My process of getting into XAML was with WPF first, then Silverlight, then Silverlight for Windows Phone and now Windows 8 Store apps. Each step meant a different run-time and various platform adjustments. As anyone with time in our industry realizes, things change rapidly. This is just the next step in our learning process and I happen to be thoroughly enjoying creating Windows 8 Store apps.

If you’re interested in coming to my session and want to save $300 on @VSLive Orlando? Register before the Early Bird deadline on 11/7: http://bit.ly/VOSPK17Reg

I have the honor of speaking at VSLive Orlando from December 12-14th. I get to speak on two topics, which are

Going from Silverlight or WPF to Metro

So you learned Silverlight and WPF, but now Metro is the scene. Fear not! Those XAML and C# skills are extremely useful. Let Greg walk you through some of the changes when moving to Metro/XAML. Come see what additional considerations are needed for creating a Metro application. You know you’re curious to see if you can hit the ground running, so come see if that is indeed the case!

You will learn:
• What the breaking changes are from Silverlight and WPF to Metro/XAML.
• If your previous skills will pay off.
• What additional considerations need to be handled for Metro applications

Using Azure with Windows Phone and Windows 8!

With phones, tablets and other devices exploding in market share, it’s important to know what technologies and tools will help you develop better applications. These devices are often short on processing power and storage, which is where Azure can really help out. Come see what it’s like to use Azure with Windows Phone and Windows 8, including examples with push notifications, storage and authentication for both platforms and a Metro application using the Azure Service Bus.

You will learn:
• How to use Azure notifications with Windows 8 and Windows Phone
• How to use Azure storage with Windows 8 and Windows Phone
• How Metro applications can benefit from the Azure Service Bus

To get all of the information and register, please visit  http://bit.ly/VOSPK17

I hope to see you there!

On October 10th, 2012 I’ll be presenting at the Fox Valley .NET Users Group. I hope to see you there and have some great discussions.

Developing Windows 8 Store Apps (formerly Metro Apps)

Getting started with a new technology can sometimes have its hurdles. Greg will help eliminate those obstacles, whether you’re interested in the HTML/JS side or the XAML/C# side, come see what it means to develop Windows 8 Store Apps (formerly Metro Apps). He will discuss the tools, changes, new features and how your existing tool set carries over into this new platform. There will be plenty of demos and resources, so don’t miss out!

I had the pleasure of discussing Windows 8 Store app development with Richard Campbell and Carl Franklin on their podcast, TheTabletShow. Yes, they are the .NET Rocks guys too! Please have a listen and I would love to continue the discussion with any of you.

TheTabletShow Episode 50 – Greg Levenhagen Builds Contracts in Windows 8

http://thetabletshow.com/default.aspx?showNum=50

This past weekend, Skyline Technologies held a Windows 8 Store app developer camp. As I stated in a previous post , our associates were directly involved in what apps to build. We collectively decided on six different apps with teams ranging from four to eight developers. We also had a team of designers that helped make the apps have a great look and feel. This was a very organic process in order to provide a great learning experience and a chance to work with colleagues outside of traditional engagements.

I believe Skyline Technologies has nailed it with this camp. It offered a fun environment for learning a cutting edge technology. It brought associates together and helped team build in a great way, as this post on our camps discusses. There is still work left to do before associates get their hands on a Windows Surface RT device because we need to get these apps to the Windows Store! The passion I witnessed over the weekend has continued as I’ve already seen teams sending emails, scheduling review meetings and staying on top of the finishing tasks.

As a teaser, each app falls into one of the categories listed below.

  • Games
  • Productivity
  • Recreational / Leisure
  • Sports
  • Child Organizations
  • Non-profit for community stewardship

For app technology stack, three are HTML, CSS and Javascript based and three are based on XAML and C#. I tried to gather as much feedback from the teams as I could. Most of the feedback from the XAML based teams was along the lines of, “I feel like I’m just doing XAML and C# and picking up bits specific about Windows 8”.  This drives home the point that if you know those languages already, you can get up to speed on making Windows 8 Store apps with your existing skill set. On the HTML, CSS and Javascript side there seemed to be more of a learning curve. I believe this is because WinJS is brand new and required research to figure out certain things. Also, for developers that may be used to an object-oriented language some of the patterns differ or are not needed in a functional language, which can bring up interesting architectural decisions. Finally, custom CSS that has been introduced for Windows 8 required reference material to often be used.

It’s worth mentioning that all of the teams used TFSpreview and we didn’t have any issues. It was great to see some of our project managers / scrum masters trying out the new features and tools.

I’ll have a wrap up post once the apps make it to the Windows Store so that everyone can check out what they offer, but in the mean time here are some photographs of the weekend.

Earlier this year, my employer, Skyline Technologies decided to host a Give Camp for Riverview Gardens.

Building off of that success, we have decided to host a Windows 8 Developer Camp. The idea is to hold a two day event for our associates to get fully immersed in Windows 8 development with the ultimate goal of having the apps released to the Windows Store by the Windows 8 general availability date. We have already picked our dates and the event will be held on Saturday, September 15th and Sunday, September 16th, 2012. As a bonus to the Skyline associates that donate their time, Skyline will purchase a Windows 8 Surface RT (arm) device for them. How cool is that? It’s just one of the many benefits of working at Skyline.

We had an overwhelming amount of associates sign up and had to actually cut off registration. After all, there is a fair amount of planning and logistics that go into an event like this. Myself and 3 other associates are leading the way. In order to help ensure that everyone involved stays passionate, we wanted to include associates in determining what apps to build. We met over a week ago to have an ideate session in which we came up with over a dozen app ideas and then had a voting process to narrow down the selection. We are targeting to have somewhere between 4-7 apps.  Next up is for our associates to decide which app(s) they want to work on and get ready for the big weekend.

If you’re not sure about the potential market, you may find the following interesting. There are over 1.25 billion Windows desktops around the world. As successful as iOS devices (iPad, iPhone) are, there are only about 150 million of them and about 250 million Android devices. With the upgrade price to Windows 8 from XP, Vista and Windows 7 only being $39.99, Microsoft is making a good push at enticing people to upgrade. If you have bought or will buy a Windows 7 PC after June 2, 2012 the upgrade price is only $14.99. It will be interesting to see what effect those prices have on the market. There are also plenty of rumors about the Microsoft Surface prices being put at a price point below the iPad, which would help Microsoft take a big chunk of the tablet market. What does all of it mean? Well, as a developer, I think it means there is potential for a large market and a right now is the chance to get in early.

This event clearly shows how Skyline Technologies is excited about Windows 8 Apps! I’ll be sure to post updates as things progress.

I will be co-hosting the Windows 8 Developer Camp being held at the Chicago Microsoft Training Center (MTC) on June 7th, 2012. Topics that I will be presenting on are the HTML/JS stack for Windows 8 development, asynchronous constructs to use in both the XAML/C# and HTML/JS stacks, the Sharing contract, Toasts, Tile notifications, Secondary Tiles and more. I’ll be around during the entire day to help answer any questions too. Microsoft will be providing access to virtual machines to those that don’t have a device or laptop to run Windows 8.

There are plenty of other topics being covered too, so check out the agenda.

Come learn about what cool things you can do with Windows 8 and see what your future holds!