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Maybe you want to build your own Windows 8 app … but you’re not a developer. But you have an interesting hobby you want to share information on. Or you know interesting websites containing useful information. De App-in-a-snap template can help you out!

App-in-a-snap is a template that helps you in a few easy steps to create your own news reader app. The templates uses RSS feeds to do this. Here is an example of an RSS feed (for this blog): http://mtirionblog.azurewebsites.net/?feed=rss2. A link to an RSS feed is often indicated on websites with this icon: rss_41E042C4. It is very easy to add one or more feeds to the template.

Interested? Do you want to try it? Go to http://aka.ms/appinasnap. It contains the template and the documentation (in Dutch) to help you build your own Windows 8 app.

Is your app done? Is it complete? Didn’t forget anything? Or testing an app someone else created? The problem is – what to test, where to start and not to miss important things. Maybe this quick checklist can help you cover the basics. It was created by using information from the App Fast Track team. First here is the brief checklist, then we go a bit more into detail.

  1. User Experience
  2. Navigation and App bars
  3. Network
  4. Suspend mode
  5. Search
  6. Share
  7. Settings
  8. Scaling
  9. Interaction
  10. Tile and Notification
  11. Touch, keyboard and mouse
  12. Windows App Certification Kit (WACK)
  13. Performance

This information is also available in PDF format including a checklist for testing an app. Read more

Let’s say you have a website and a Windows Store app. If a user on Windows 8 navigates to the website and never installed the app, you can provide an easy way to point out the existence of the app in the Windows Store. Or if the user already installed the app, direct the user to the app, even in a specific section of the app.

Internet Explorer in Windows supports this scenario in the bottom app bar. It looks something like this:

IC591657 IC591658
If the app is NOT installed.                                             If the app is installed.

To accomplish this, some meta tags must be added to one or more webpages on your website. By using these meta tags you can direct to the app, and even add parameters that the app can use to show specific content. This is not an automated process, the app has to process the parameters and navigate to the appropriate page and content.

More information on this can be found in an article on MSDN describing the meta tags.

The app bar or the menu as shown above are not opened automatically by IE. So it might be a good idea to also add visual clues on the page to direct users to the app.

 

On the discussion board of the Player Framework there were a number of discussions about specific UI customizations. To have some more samples how to create a sample UI on top of the player framework I actually created one. If you look at it, it looks a bit like a well-known player. Of course there are lots of other UI elements in this sample one to enable all the Player Framework goodness. This is what the player looks like (it’s an image, not the actual player):

SamplePlayerUI_60FCDF34

Read more

You can’t think of the web without video these days it seems. And even on the phone we see more and more video as networks get more speed. If you want to build an application or website that shows video, how can you do that easily? The Microsoft Media Platform Player Framework, formerly known as Silverlight Media Framework, is a very useful and powerful toolkit for using a video player. There is support for various types of video/audio, use of advertisement (VAST/MAST/VPAID), markers, captions and more. And even better, you can customize that player to your needs. That means that you can determine what the framework does for you, you can extend it with your functionality, and you can customize the UI of the player. Read more