FREE Building Real-World Cloud Apps with Windows Azure e-book (Jan 2014)

Not the one I did back in 2010 (which is now horribly out of date!), rather a shiny new one which walks you through a patterns-based approach to building real-world cloud solutions. It covers the development process as well as architecture and coding practices.

Download the E-book (PDF) and optionally the companion Fix It Project

The content is based on a presentation developed by (the awesome) Scott Guthrie

  • Norwegian Developers Conference (NDC) in June of 2013 (part 1, part 2)
  • and at Microsoft Tech Ed Australia in September, 2013 (part 1, part 2)


Pinning sites in Windows 8 – add two meta tags to make it high quality

Windows 8 IE10 allows you to pin sites to the start screen. But the site end up pinned with a favicon (if defined) and an auto generated colour.


That is unless you add two meta tags and create yourself a png of 144px by 144px.

<meta name="msapplication-TileImage" content="images/benthepcguy-144.png"/>
<meta name="msapplication-TileColor" content="#d83434"/>

Which can take you from this:


to this:


Simple 🙂

Related Links:

New to Expression Blend? Then check out these two videos over on BlendInsider

Many of us are familiar with:

  • Editing code in Visual Studio
  • Editing HTML files in a text editor (perhaps Visual Studio)
  • Editing XAML files in a text editor (perhaps Visual Studio)

But… far fewer of us are familiar with Expression Blend… which turns out to be a “must have” for Windows 8 Metro style app development as it does a great job of editing HTML and XAML.

JavaScript Programming with Douglas Crockford

New to JavaScript programming?
Think you know what JavaScript is… but haven’t really used it for many years?
Considering building Metro apps for Windows 8 using JavaScript?

Then … you could do worse than setting aside a few hours to watch, well, pretty much anything by Douglas Crockford.

I’ve started with the following from 2007 but there are plenty more to go with:

History and introduction
The Good Parts

Douglas and his relationship with JavaScript is nicely summed up as

“a journey from deep scepticism about a flawed, half-baked scripting language in the earliest days to a growing affection for what is now a still-flawed but surprisingly beautiful and powerful language that has ‘radically changed my way of thinking about programming languages.’”

Q&A: Can I use Visual Studio 11 to do Windows Azure development?

This one seems to keep popping up…

The following is true as of 12th March 2012

Short Answer: No. You will need Visual Studio 2010 or 2008.

Long Answer:  You will need to setup a development environment for Windows Azure using Visual Studio 2010 before installing Visual Studio 11. You can find details here.

Day 3 of Windows 8 training… JavaScript OMG :-)

I am just completing the final day of some rather good Windows 8 Metro App developer training. 90% of the time we have been using JavaScript.JavaScript has many “omg” moments when compared to trusty C#. Which is why it has been very handy to have Mike T sitting next to me. If you find yourself “without Mike” (as I will next week), then I would recommend you take a look at his series of OMG posts!

JavaScript OMG! #1 to #5 

  • Semi colons are optional
  • Type system
  • underflow/overflow/Divide by Zero
  • Regular Expressions are built in
  • Truth and Falsy – true unless one of undefined, null, 0, –0, Nan, “”

JavaScript OMG! #6 to #10

  • Global variables live on a global object
  • Expando objects
  • Wrappers
  • Type conversions
  • Object to primitive conversions

JavaScript OMG! #11 to #15

  • Variable Scope – no scope blocks, can use before declare
  • Bitwise operators – avoid
  • Equality and Strict Equality – === and !==
  • “use strict” – use it!
  • Magic of short-circuiting ANDs and Truthy/Falssy

JavaScript OMG!: #16 to #20

  • Optional Function Arguments
  • Nested Functions
  • Arrays vs Lists
  • Function Invocation Context and Strict Mode
  • Nested functions and Invocation Context

JavaScript OMG #21 to #25

  • Everything is a function
  • array.sort won’t sort numbers correctly
  • parseInt() needs help
  • Callbacks and scope
  • Function Literals create functions

JavaScript OMG #26 to #30

  • Partial Application and Mapping
  • Self Defining Functions
  • This or That
  • Events
  • And finally… “It’s just like everywhere”

Deploying PHP and ASP.NET Sites in a Single Azure Web Role

One of the companies on asked us about the specifics of deploying into a single web role two solutions – one built in PHP and one built in ASP.NET.

I reached out to Brian Swan for help. Brian is one of the Microsoft team focused on making PHP developers very happy on the Microsoft technology stack.

Brian created a great post in response to the customers question. Thanks Brian.


Very handy utility –

This is a very handy utility when working with web apis – I assumed I was last to discover it, turns out I’m not 🙂

  • Hurl makes HTTP requests.
  • Enter a URL, set some headers, view the response, then share it with others.
  • Perfect for demoing and debugging APIs

And… as is the trend these days… it is a utility delivered as… a web site. Sweet.


Windows 8 and developers

Post BUILD conference, much has been written about “Windows 8” and the impact of the announced technologies on developers, especially existing .NET developers.  Some of the conclusions people reached in those early days and weeks were quite frankly… a little weird IMHO.

Which is why I was pleased to see this short summary from Andrew appear on Tuesday in Visual Studio Magazine: Windows 8: Times Are Changing for Developers. I would humbly suggest you check it out.

Some one liners to ponder on:

  • “HTML and JavaScript were vehicles for bringing in new developers, not forcing out developers already in the Microsoft camp.”
  • “Microsoft’s track record of helping developers through platform shifts was excellent; the BUILD message leaves this record untarnished”

Thanks Andrew!

Related Links:

October 4th to 6th–FREE Online Conferences on Phone, Azure and IE

Three days of FREE conferences on the latest technologies from Microsoft – without even needing to get out of your pjs 🙂

Windows Azure Online Conference / Tuesday 4 October, 3-5pm

Register for this event here / Click here for more details

If you are just getting started with cloud computing with Windows Azure, this is the perfect starting point for you This online conference will help you get over any initial stumbling blocks, so you can quickly be productive in this new environment.

Windows Phone Online Conference / Wednesday 5 October, 3-5pm

Register for this event here / Click here for more details

We’ll help you familiarise yourself with different aspects of designing for Windows Phone, including the philosophy behind Metro and Application design. You don’t need any experience of Windows Phone development, you just need an interest in developing phone apps.

Internet Explorer Online Conference / Thursday 6 October, 3-5pm

Register for this event here / Click here for more details

In this conference we’ll discuss the difference between a website and a web application. You’ll also learn about HTML5 features that allow applications to do more than is currently possible with just AJAX and HTML 4. In-depth web development experience isn’t necessary you just need to be keen to build your knowledge of the different aspects of IE9.

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