Sunday, May 5, 2013

Integrating with the Windows Phone 8 Lock Screen

A nice new feature in Windows Phone 8 is integration with the lock screen. As a developer, you can now display notification icons the same way the Outlook app displays New Mail notifications. You can also change the background image of the lock screen from your app. The information used for displaying notification is the exact same information that an app uses to display notifications on the app’s primary tile regardless if the app is pinned to the start screen or not

Notification Icon

To display an icon on the lock screen you must follow a small set of strict rules on how your image file should be. The image has to be a 38 x 38 PNG image that contains only white pixels and some levels of transparency. Yes, I know it’s a bit strict but it makes sense as the icon notifications are designed to be very discreet.

App Manifest

You need to define a few extensions to let the operating system allow your app to integrate with the lock screen. So here’s what we need to do, open the WMAppManifest.xml file using an XML editor, to do this right click on the WMAppManifest.xml file and select Open With, and use the XML (Text) Editor. First, we need to define the <DeviceLockImageURI> element in the primary token. The DeviceLockImageURI describes which image file to display in the lock screen as an icon. To define DeviceLockImageURI, insert the following element in the <PrimaryToken>
<DeviceLockImageURI IsRelative="true"
                    IsResource="false">Assets\YourLockImage.png</DeviceLockImageURI>
Then, insert the following lines after the between the <Tokens> and <ScreenResolutions> definitions
<Extensions>
  <Extension ExtensionName="LockScreen_Notification_IconCount"
             ConsumerID="{111DFF24-AA15-4A96-8006-2BFF8122084F}"
             TaskID="_default" />
  <Extension ExtensionName="LockScreen_Notification_TextField"
             ConsumerID="{111DFF24-AA15-4A96-8006-2BFF8122084F}"
             TaskID="_default" />
  <Extension ExtensionName="LockScreen_Background"
             ConsumerID="{111DFF24-AA15-4A96-8006-2BFF8122084F}"
             TaskID="_default" />
</Extensions>

Lock screen settings

Before our app can display notifications we need to configure our Lock Screen settings to allow the type of notification that we are interested in displaying. Currently an app can display 3 types of notifications: background image; detailed status; and quick status. Detailed status is similar to the textual calendar notifications that are displayed using the Outlook Calendar app. Quick status is similar to the way the Outlook Mail app displays notifications, an icon and a count indicator.

To configure the device to display notifications from your app, go to the settings app and select Lock screen

settings

In the lock screen settings, choose the notification type that will display notifications from our app

image

For this example we’ll show a quick status notification

quick status on

Code

To update the background image of the lock screen we need use the LockScreen class of the UserProfile API. First we check if the user configured the app to be able to set the background of the lock screen, we can do this through LockScreenManager class. If the app isn’t allowed to change the lock screen background then we can open the lock screen settings page.

Lock screen background (C#)

if (await LockScreenManager.RequestAccessAsync() == LockScreenRequestResult.Granted)
{
    var uri = new Uri("ms-appx:///Assets/LockScreenImage.png", UriKind.Absolute);
    LockScreen.SetImageUri(uri);
}
else
{
    // Open the Settings -> Lock Screen settings
    await Launcher.LaunchUriAsync(new Uri("ms-settings-lock:"));
}


To display an icon notification just update the primary application tile with a notification. We can do this by using the ShellTile API

Display notification (C#)

var tile = ShellTile.ActiveTiles.First();
var data = new FlipTileData
                {
                    Count = 1,
                    Title = "Lock Screen Demo"
                };
tile.Update(data);


To clear the notification just update the primary application tile to its original state

Clear notification (C#)

var tile = ShellTile.ActiveTiles.First();
var data = new FlipTileData
                {
                    Count = 0,
                    Title = "Lock Screen Demo"
                };
tile.Update(data);


Pretty simple isn’t it?

Testing on the Emulator

To test on the Windows Phone emulator you can use the Simulation Dashboard which integrates directly into Visual Studio. To launch this, go to Tools –> Simulation Dashboard. You can use this tool to Lock and Unlock the emulator to test your apps lock screen integration

image

I hope you found this interesting. You can grab the source code here

Monday, April 15, 2013

Using the Windows Phone Custom Contact Store

In previous versions of Windows Phone, you could always query the contact store to retrieve contact or calendar items. During that time I always wondered why I couldn’t just create my own contacts that can be shared with other applications and accessed through the People Hub. I guess more people had this problem and in Windows Phone 8 this has been addressed. Windows Phone 8 introduced the custom contact store in which apps can create contacts that are accessible from the People Hub and from other apps. Items in the custom contact store may only be modified by app that created them

How to create contacts in Windows Phone 8

In this section I would like to demonstrate how to use the custom contact store API. In order to do so we’ll create a UI that accepts the display name, email address, and mobile phone number. To make it a bit more fancy, we’ll add a feature that accepts a photo which can be loaded either from the camera or the media library

So here’s the code…

XAML
<phone:PhoneApplicationPage x:Class="CustomContactStore.MainPage"
                           xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml/presentation"
                           xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml"
                           xmlns:phone="clr-namespace:Microsoft.Phone.Controls;assembly=Microsoft.Phone"
                           xmlns:shell="clr-namespace:Microsoft.Phone.Shell;assembly=Microsoft.Phone"
                           xmlns:d="http://schemas.microsoft.com/expression/blend/2008"
                           xmlns:mc="http://schemas.openxmlformats.org/markup-compatibility/2006"
                           mc:Ignorable="d"
                           FontFamily="{StaticResource PhoneFontFamilyNormal}"
                           FontSize="{StaticResource PhoneFontSizeNormal}"
                           Foreground="{StaticResource PhoneForegroundBrush}"
                           SupportedOrientations="Portrait"
                           Orientation="Portrait"
                           shell:SystemTray.IsVisible="True">

    <Grid x:Name="LayoutRoot" Background="Transparent">
        <Grid.RowDefinitions>
            <RowDefinition Height="Auto" />
            <RowDefinition Height="*" />
        </Grid.RowDefinitions>

        <StackPanel x:Name="TitlePanel" Grid.Row="0" Margin="12,17,0,28">
            <TextBlock Text="CUSTOM CONTACT STORE" Style="{StaticResource PhoneTextNormalStyle}" Margin="12,0" />
            <TextBlock Text="Sample" Margin="9,-7,0,0" Style="{StaticResource PhoneTextTitle1Style}" />
        </StackPanel>

        <Grid x:Name="ContentPanel" Grid.Row="1" Margin="12,0,12,0">
            <StackPanel>
                <Grid>
                    <Grid.ColumnDefinitions>
                        <ColumnDefinition Width="Auto" />
                        <ColumnDefinition Width="*" />
                    </Grid.ColumnDefinitions>
                    <Grid.RowDefinitions>
                        <RowDefinition />
                        <RowDefinition />
                        <RowDefinition />
                        <RowDefinition />
                    </Grid.RowDefinitions>
                    <TextBlock Text="Display Name" VerticalAlignment="Center" />
                    <TextBox Grid.Column="1" Name="displayName" />
                    <TextBlock Grid.Row="1" Text="Email" VerticalAlignment="Center" />
                    <TextBox Grid.Row="1" Grid.Column="1" Name="email" />
                    <TextBlock Grid.Row="2" VerticalAlignment="Center" Text="Mobile" />
                    <TextBox Grid.Row="2" Grid.Column="1" Name="mobile" />
                </Grid>
                <Button Content="Attach New Photo" Click="AttachNewPhotoClicked" />
                <Button Content="Attach Existing Photo" Click="AttachExistingPhotoClicked" />
                <Button Content="Save Contact" Click="AddClicked" />
            </StackPanel>
        </Grid>
    </Grid>

</phone:PhoneApplicationPage>

Code Behind (C#)
using System;
using System.IO;
using System.Linq;
using System.Windows;
using System.Windows.Controls;
using Microsoft.Phone.Tasks;
using Windows.Phone.PersonalInformation;

namespace CustomContactStore
{
    public partial class MainPage
    {
        private Stream photo;

        public MainPage()
        {
            InitializeComponent();
        }

        private async void AddClicked(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
        {
            var store = await ContactStore.CreateOrOpenAsync();
            var contact = new StoredContact(store)
                              {
                                  DisplayName = displayName.Text
                              };

            var props = await contact.GetPropertiesAsync();
            props.Add(KnownContactProperties.Email, email.Text);
            props.Add(KnownContactProperties.MobileTelephone, mobile.Text);

            if (photo != null)
                await contact.SetDisplayPictureAsync(photo.AsInputStream());

            await contact.SaveAsync();

            if (photo != null)
                photo.Dispose();
        }

        private void AttachNewPhotoClicked(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
        {
            var task = new CameraCaptureTask();
            task.Completed += OnTaskOnCompleted;
            task.Show();
        }

        private void OnTaskOnCompleted(object o, PhotoResult result)
        {
            photo = result.ChosenPhoto;
        }

        private void AttachExistingPhotoClicked(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
        {
            var task = new PhotoChooserTask();
            task.Completed += OnTaskOnCompleted;
            task.Show();
        }
    }
}

To create a custom contact we need to use the ContactStore API, we create an instance of this using the helper method CreateOrOpenAsync(). Now that we have an instance of the contact store, we create an instance of a StoredContact and set the DisplayName property to the value of the display name entered in the UI. The StoredContact object is very limited but we can add KnownContactProperties such as Email and MobileTelephone. This is done by using the GetPropertiesAsync() method of the StoredContact instance. The photos can be attached using the CameraCaptureTask or the PhotoChooserTask. We attach the photos by calling the SetDisplayPictureAsync() method of the StoredContact instance. The API’s for the custom contact store are pretty straight forward and easy to use.

Manifest

The custom contact store requires the ID_CAP_CONTACTS capability, we should enable that in the WMAppManifest.xml file. In order to that, in the Visual Studio Solution Explorer, expand the project properties folder and double click the WMAppManifest.xml file. This will open the new UI editor for the manifest file. Go to the Capabilities tab and enable the ID_CAP_CONTACTS

id_cap_contacts

Once the manifest file has been updated the app should be able to launch.

The user interface looks like this:

Custom Contact Store

Once the contact is created it will be available in the People Hub

People Hub

When the contact is viewed from the People Hub the owner of the contact will be displayed on top

Custom Contact

I hope you found this useful. You can check out the source code using the link below

Friday, January 18, 2013

The missing ResWFileCodeGenerator custom tool for Visual Studio 2012

I've been doing quite a lot of Windows Store Apps on Windows 8 lately. Ever since I started I always seemed to miss the ResXFileCodeGenerator custom tool. This is because in WinRT when you want to load a localized string in code then you will have to do something like this:

var resources = new ResourceLoader();
var localizedString = resources.GetString("SomeResourceName");

This of course can easily lead to a lot of errors. In my case I got a little to eager while refactoring and forgot to notice that I was also changing hard coded strings. This broke the code quite a lot. Because of this frustration I decided to implement my own custom tool since Microsoft didn't provide one

The project is open source and is available at CodePlex. Here's a preview of the description which I took directly from my CodePlex project site.

Project Description
A Visual Studio 2012 Custom Tool for generating a strongly typed helper class for accessing localized resources from a .ResW file.

Features
- C# code generator
- VB.NET code generator


Visual Studio 2012 Custom Tool (C#)


Visual Studio 2012 Custom Tool (VB)


Resource File Contents


C# Usage
private string test1, test2, test3;

private void LoadLocalizedStrings()
{
    test1 = App1.LocalizedResources.Resources.Test1;
    test2 = App1.LocalizedResources.Resources.Test2;
    test3 = App1.LocalizedResources.Resources.Test3;
}

Visual Basic Usage
Dim test1, test2, test3

Private Sub LoadLocalizedStrings()
    test1 = AppVb.LocalizedStrings.Resources.Test1
    test2 = AppVb.LocalizedStrings.Resources.Test2
    test3 = AppVb.LocalizedStrings.Resources.Test3
End Sub

Generated C# Code
//------------------------------------------------------------------------------
// <auto-generated>
//     This code was generated by a tool.
//     Runtime Version:4.0.30319.18010
//
//     Changes to this file may cause incorrect behavior and will be lost if
//     the code is regenerated.
// </auto-generated>
//------------------------------------------------------------------------------

// --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
// <auto-generatedInfo>
//  This code was generated by ResW File Code Generator (http://reswcodegen.codeplex.com)
//  ResW File Code Generator was written by Christian Resma Helle
//  and is under GNU General Public License version 2 (GPLv2)
// 
//  This code contains a helper class exposing property representations
//  of the string resources defined in the specified .ResW file
// 
//  Generated: 11/08/2012 22:41:22
// </auto-generatedInfo>
// --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
namespace App1.LocalizedResources
{
    using Windows.ApplicationModel.Resources;
    
    
    public partial class Resources
    {
        
        private static ResourceLoader resourceLoader = new ResourceLoader();
        
        /// <summary>
        /// Localized resource similar to "Test 1 value"
        /// </summary>
        public static string Test1
        {
            get
            {
                return resourceLoader.GetString("Test1");
            }
        }
        
        /// <summary>
        /// Localized resource similar to "Test 2 value"
        /// </summary>
        public static string Test2
        {
            get
            {
                return resourceLoader.GetString("Test2");
            }
        }
        
        /// <summary>
        /// Localized resource similar to "Test 3 value"
        /// </summary>
        public static string Test3
        {
            get
            {
                return resourceLoader.GetString("Test3");
            }
        }
    }
}

Generated Visual Basic Code
'------------------------------------------------------------------------------
' <auto-generated>
'     This code was generated by a tool.
'     Runtime Version:4.0.30319.18010
'
'     Changes to this file may cause incorrect behavior and will be lost if
'     the code is regenerated.
' </auto-generated>
'------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Option Strict Off
Option Explicit On

Imports Windows.ApplicationModel.Resources

'--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
'<auto-generatedInfo>
' This code was generated by ResW File Code Generator (http://reswcodegen.codeplex.com)
' ResW File Code Generator was written by Christian Resma Helle
' and is under GNU General Public License version 2 (GPLv2)
'
' This code contains a helper class exposing property representations
' of the string resources defined in the specified .ResW file
'
' Generated: 11/12/2012 21:30:52
'</auto-generatedInfo>
'--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Namespace AppVb.LocalizedStrings
    
    Partial Public Class Resources
        
        Private Shared resourceLoader As ResourceLoader = New ResourceLoader()
        
        '''<summary>
        '''Localized resource similar to "Test 1 value"
        '''</summary>
        Public Shared ReadOnly Property Test1() As String
            Get
                Return resourceLoader.GetString("Test1")
            End Get
        End Property
        
        '''<summary>
        '''Localized resource similar to "Test 2 value"
        '''</summary>
        Public Shared ReadOnly Property Test2() As String
            Get
                Return resourceLoader.GetString("Test2")
            End Get
        End Property
        
        '''<summary>
        '''Localized resource similar to "Test 3 value"
        '''</summary>
        Public Shared ReadOnly Property Test3() As String
            Get
                Return resourceLoader.GetString("Test3")
            End Get
        End Property
    End Class
End Namespace

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Parenthood

Once again I have taken a break from blogging. Parenting and my new family has been my absolute top priority and I've been having a hard time finding the time to write articles. I really enjoy spending time with my son and wife and I take advantage of every possible moment to do so.

I ended up at a schedule that starts around 5:30 AM in which my son wakes up, and wakes me up. I go and start preparing some breakfast for him. We then have a cozy morning playing around the house. I drop him off at day care as late possible (in my case 9:00 AM) and then drive to the office, or to a customer, or back home if I'm working from home. I pick my son up at between 3:00-4:00 PM and spend time with him and my wife until around 6:30 PM (this is his bed time and I'm very lucky that he has no trouble sleeping). From around 6:30 to 8:00-9:00 PM I spend some time with my wife discussing how our days went and do some planning for the following days. My wife goes to bed a bit early, and when that happens I go back to work. Since I drastically shortened by day, I need to do quite a bit of catching up at night. I usually work an extra 2-3 hours more at night, then I have an hour or 2 to give my mind a rest or work on a hobby project. My day usually ends between 12:30 AM and 2:00 AM. I need at least 4 hours of sleep to recharge for the next day, otherwise I won't be able to last a full week on my schedule.

Hence the break from blogging :)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Windows Phone and HTML5 - Danish Developer Conference 2012 Session Recording

Here's the recording of my session on Windows Phone and HTML5 for the Danish Developer Conference 2012, for those who missed it...



You can also watch it from Channel9

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Accessing the Accelerometer from HTML5 and Javascript with Windows Phone 7

In my previous post I discussed how to have Javascript code hosted in a WebBrowser control execute .NET code in the host application and vice versa. I also demonstrated how to retrieve and display device status information using HTML5 hosted in a WebBrowser control.

For this sample I would like to demonstrate how to access the Accelerometer sensor from HTML5 and Javascript. To make things more interesting, the Accelerometer reading data will be constantly updated every 100 milliseconds and .NET code will repeatedly call a Javascript method as Accelerometer reading data gets updated

































And here's the code...

Default.html (HTML5 + Javascript)

The code below is going to be used as a local html file that is to be copied to isolated storage. Let's put this in a folder called HTML

<!DOCTYPE html>

<html>

<head>

    <meta name="viewport" content="width=480, height=800, user-scalable=no" />

    <meta name="MobileOptimized" content="width" />

    <meta name="HandheldFriendly" content="true" />

    <title>HTML5 and Windows Phone 7</title>

    <style>

        body

        {

            color: White;

            background-color: Black;

            font-family: 'Segoe WP Semibold';

            text-align: left;

        }

        h3

        {

            font-size: 20pt;

        }

        input

        {

            color: #ffffff;

            background-color: #000000;

            border: 2px solid white;

            vertical-align: baseline;

            font-size: 17pt;

            min-width: 40px;

            min-height: 40px;

            margin: 5;

        }

    </style>

</head>

<body onload="onLoad()">

    <div>

        <h3>

            X:</h3>

        <input id="x" type="text" value="0" />

        <h3>

            Y:</h3>

        <input id="y" type="text" value="0" />

        <h3>

            Z:</h3>

        <input id="z" type="text" value="0" />

    </div>

    <script type="text/javascript">

        function onLoad() {

            window.external.notify("startAccelerometer");

        }

 

        function accelerometerCallback(x, y, z) {

            document.getElementById("x").value = x;

            document.getElementById("y").value = y;

            document.getElementById("z").value = z;

        }

    </script>

</body>

</html>

 


MainPage.xaml

The code below is the main page of the Silverlight application that will host the HTML content

<phone:PhoneApplicationPage x:Class="PhoneApp.MainPage"
                           xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml/presentation"
                           xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml"
                           xmlns:phone="clr-namespace:Microsoft.Phone.Controls;assembly=Microsoft.Phone"
                           xmlns:shell="clr-namespace:Microsoft.Phone.Shell;assembly=Microsoft.Phone"
                           xmlns:d="http://schemas.microsoft.com/expression/blend/2008"
                           xmlns:mc="http://schemas.openxmlformats.org/markup-compatibility/2006"
                           mc:Ignorable="d"
                           d:DesignWidth="480"
                           d:DesignHeight="768"
                           FontFamily="{StaticResource PhoneFontFamilyNormal}"
                           FontSize="{StaticResource PhoneFontSizeNormal}"
                           Foreground="{StaticResource PhoneForegroundBrush}"
                           SupportedOrientations="Portrait"
                           Orientation="Portrait"
                           shell:SystemTray.IsVisible="True"
                           Loaded="PhoneApplicationPage_Loaded">

    <Grid x:Name="LayoutRoot"
         Background="Transparent">
        <phone:WebBrowser Name="browser"
                         IsScriptEnabled="True"
                         Source="HTML/Default.html"
                         ScriptNotify="browser_ScriptNotify" />
    </Grid>

</phone:PhoneApplicationPage>

MainPage.xaml.cs

And here's the code behind the xaml file

public partial class MainPage : PhoneApplicationPage

{

    private Microsoft.Devices.Sensors.Accelerometer accelerometer;

 

    public MainPage()

    {

        InitializeComponent();

    }

 

    private void PhoneApplicationPage_Loaded(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)

    {

        using (IsolatedStorageFile store = IsolatedStorageFile.GetUserStoreForApplication())

        {

            if (!store.DirectoryExists("HTML")) store.CreateDirectory("HTML");

            CopyToIsolatedStorage("HTML\\Default.html", store);

        }

    }

 

    private static void CopyToIsolatedStorage(string file, IsolatedStorageFile store, bool overwrite = true)

    {

        if (store.FileExists(file) && !overwrite)

            return;

 

        using (Stream resourceStream = Application.GetResourceStream(new Uri(file, UriKind.Relative)).Stream)

        using (IsolatedStorageFileStream fileStream = store.OpenFile(file, FileMode.Create, FileAccess.ReadWrite, FileShare.ReadWrite))

        {

            int bytesRead;

            var buffer = new byte[resourceStream.Length];

            while ((bytesRead = resourceStream.Read(buffer, 0, buffer.Length)) > 0)

                fileStream.Write(buffer, 0, bytesRead);

        }

    }

 

    private void browser_ScriptNotify(object sender, NotifyEventArgs e)

    {

        if (e.Value == "startAccelerometer")

        {

            if (accelerometer == null)

            {

                accelerometer = new Microsoft.Devices.Sensors.Accelerometer { TimeBetweenUpdates = TimeSpan.FromMilliseconds(100) };

                accelerometer.CurrentValueChanged += (o, args) => Dispatcher.BeginInvoke(() =>

                {

                    var x = args.SensorReading.Acceleration.X.ToString("0.000");

                    var y = args.SensorReading.Acceleration.Y.ToString("0.000");

                    var z = args.SensorReading.Acceleration.Z.ToString("0.000");

 

                    browser.InvokeScript("eval", string.Format("accelerometerCallback({0},{1},{2})", x, y, z));

                });

                accelerometer.Start();

            }

        }

    }

}


What happens in the code above is that a Javascript method is executed that notifies the host application telling it to start the Accelerometer when the HTML has loaded. We then add an event handler to the Accelerometers CurrentValueChanged event that invokes the accelerometerCallback Javascript method and passing in Accelerometer reading data as the arguments. Notice that I use eval as the Javascript method to invoke and passing the method call as an argument, this is because the accelerometer reading data is retrieved on a worker thread and for some reason an unknown system error occurs even when executing code on the UI thread through the Page Dispatcher.BeginInvoke() method. I figured out that using eval was the only way to execute Javascript code from a .NET worker thread.

I hope you found this useful. You can grab the full source code for the example here: