Category Archives: Uncategorized

TweetWrap: For the TweetDeck desktop lovers running Windows 10

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share

Download TweetWrap for Windows 10 here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/apps/tweetwrap/9nblggh4nbpp

A couple of weeks ago I saw a notice that TweetDeck for Desktop was going to be discontinued on April 15 and even if it was already installed it would stop working. I have tried several other Twitter apps for Windows 10, including the official Twitter app, Tweetium, Tweet It!, and more, but each falls short for my needs in one way or another. The biggest reason in these apps is because I value my screen real estate, and even at the smallest font and scale of the app, I can’t seem to fit as much information as I want to. Could be just me, if you are happy with your twitter experience, this isn’t for you.

Personally every time over the past year or so that I reset my laptop or got a new one, the first thing I did was go find an installer for an old version of TweetDeck so I could install it. This ended when Twitter disabled even that option on April 15.

I noticed that the TweetDeck desktop app and the web site are extremely similar. Actually I would be shocked if the old desktop app wasn’t just a wrapper for the web site, so I thought why can’t I just wrap it myself in an app? That was when TweetWrap was born.

Note: After I created TweetWrap, Simon Bisson (@sbisson on twitter) told me about the TwitDuck app written by Mark Allan (@markxa on twitter) which was doing basically the same thing. I was far enough along in my app that I felt I should publish it anyway.

I have no goal or motive with this app except having a twitter client on Windows 10 desktop that I can use. So you may say why not just use the web version? Again I value my screen real estate and I don’t like having and address bar or tabs taking away from that when I just want an app. Also it’s easier to launch and manage.

I have also published the source code to GitHub with a hope that others will contribute to make it better. You can get the source code here: https://github.com/billreiss/TweetWrap 

The main glaring issues I see with the app at this point are that the scrollbars show up on hover, instead of either being hidden always or showing always like they are when you run the TweetDeck site in the browser. I don’t know why this happens and fixing this would be a huge improvement. Also if there was a way to enable push notifications I think that would be something a lot of users would want. Let’s work together to provide a quality Twitter experience for Windows 10 users.

Note: Yes I know there may be other options for this, I think Chrome has a way to launch a web site without all the other stuff. Please post details on other options to the comments section. Thanks!

Visual Studio 2015 Update 2 XAML Debugging Improvements

I felt one of the coolest things in Visual Studio 2015 for XAML developers was the Live Visual Tree Debugger. In the past there were tools like Snoop and XAML Spy which were so very useful but it was exciting to see this kind of functionality built in to Visual Studio.

Visual Studio 2015 Update 2 was announced and released at the BUILD conference last week, and when I installed it (download it here) and ran my app in the debugger, I saw an unexpected surprise. Overlaid on top of the app window was a new set of buttons:

image

The first button is to go to the Live Visual Tree debugger window in Visual Studio, not too interesting.

image

The second button enables selection. This one is really interesting, because when you click on a visual element in your app, it will be selected in the visual tree debugger. This button was already available in Visual Studio in the Live Visual Tree pane, but it’s a lot more convenient to have it right in your app.

image

The third button, “Display Layout Adorners”, I’m not really sure how useful this is, but maybe I’m missing something.

These buttons also exist inside Visual Studio 2015 in the Live Visual Tree pane just like they did before, but there is a new button which lets you turn on and off the toolbar that shows up inside your app.

image

If you are debugging an app with source code, then in the Live Visual Tree pane, beside any element can be resolved to the corresponding XAML file, you’ll see an icon that lets you navigate to the XAML definition:

image

Another thing I think is pretty interesting is that you can debug other XAML based applications even if they aren’t yours. One example of this is the Settings dialog in Windows 10. If you open the settings dialog, and then switch to Visual Studio 2015 Update 2 and you select Debug and then Attach to Process, you should be able to pick to debug SystemSettings.exe:

image

You can do the same with the Edge browser, Groove Music, the Store app, or a bunch of other apps. Most of the built in Windows 10 dialogs use XAML. So if you attach the debugger, you should see the same toolbar show up inside this app:

image

The one difference is that since you don’t have the source code, you won’t see the buttons next to elements that let you navigate to the XAML, but you should still be able to see all of the visual elements in the Live Visual Tree pane.

UPDATE: It works for WPF too! Here is a debugger attached to another instance of Visual Studio (Visual Studio uses WPF for its user interface):

image

By running this tool against other apps you can see how they implemented their XAML and it can give you some ideas for your own app.

I’m Joining Microsoft!

It’s an exciting time in app development using .NET technologies. Today Microsoft announced that they are acquiring Xamarin, and I have some news of my own. I will be joining the Microsoft Premier Developer consulting team, focusing on app development, specifically Universal Windows Platform development and Xamarin.

So what does this mean for this blog? It means a lot of new content and continuation of what I have posted so far. The past few months have left me very little time to focus on the blog, but that should change now. I am excited to continue my XAML 101 series, and also to start talking about XAML in Xamarin Forms and related topics.

Windows 10 development for Absolute Beginners

I’m hoping over time that my XAML 101 series will be an indispensable reference for XAML development on Windows 10 but it isn’t meant to be a comprehensive end to end guide to Windows 10 development, and it will take a while just to get through all I want to with XAML specific topics.

The good news is that there is some other great content out there, and I’ll try to post about these as I find them. Here is the first. Bob Tabor had a couple of very popular series on Windows Phone 8 and 8.1 development for beginners, and now Bob is back working with Microsoft’s Channel 9 with a series of video tutorials on getting started with Windows 10 programming. There are several hours of material here, and in the second half of the series he creates 4 different complete apps from start to finish to reinforce the techniques covered in the first half. You can find the series at the following link:

https://channel9.msdn.com/Series/Windows-10-development-for-absolute-beginners

Blend for Visual Studio 2015–A New Beginning

When doing XAML development, some things are just so much easier to do in Blend for Visual Studio (formerly called Expression Blend). These usually lean towards the designery side of things, creating styles and templates, adding animations and visual states, etc. This being said, Blend had some real drawbacks. It could be slow, especially on large solutions. It didn’t support solution folders and your solution would show up as a flat tree structure. The XAML source editor didn’t provide as much functionality as was available in the Visual Studio editor. Source control wasn’t fully featured, and a few other things.

This has all changed with Blend for Visual Studio 2015. It is now based on the same shell as Visual Studio, even though it still runs as a separate application. This means it can take advantage of what Visual Studio provides out of the box instead of implementing its own thing for the features above, and provides parity with Visual Studio 2015. On top of this it still provides its own unique feature set to help with all of the things it was good at before. Kind of like a best of both worlds scenario. If you haven’t looked at Blend in a while, it’s a good time to take another look. It will make you a much more productive XAML developer.

image

Now that the Blend team can focus on providing features instead of spending time duplicating what Visual Studio provides, I look forward to seeing what they come up with in the future to make XAML development easier. If there are any features you specifically want to see, go to the UserVoice site for Blend here and let the team know: https://visualstudio.uservoice.com/forums/121579-visual-studio/category/90110-blend-for-visual-studio

Welcome to the XAML Native Blog

This blog has been a long time coming. I originally came up with the idea before Windows 8 launched, thinking XAML would be a big part of Windows 8 apps and believing the hype that the Windows 8 Store would be a big deal. A few things happened to derail my grand design. Steven Sinofsky got on stage and said use WinJS to build your apps. Windows 8 didn’t take off the way Microsoft hoped it would (a bit of an understatement there). Windows 8 apps were harder to develop than things were on Windows Phone. Even though there were various XAML based technologies (Windows 8, Windows Phone, Silverlight, WPF, etc.) they were all different and things kept changing and shifting. We really didn’t know the future of XAML and whether Microsoft thought it was core to their strategy.

Fast forward to August 2015. Windows 10 has 75 million installs in a month. Microsoft uses XAML for a bunch of built in shell functionality and first party apps. There is a new Windows 10 Universal Windows Platform (UWP) SDK to easily build apps using XAML for Windows 10 from desktop to tablets to phone. These apps will run in a window on the desktop instead of full screen, making them a first class member of the Windows Desktop ecosystem. Let’s hope that we are finally on a stable platform where the technology can evolve instead of changing drastically with every release.

I was presenting at the Tampa Code Camp about a month ago and someone came up to me after my presentation on Windows 10 UWP apps and said “I’ve been writing applications in C# for years and just never really got a handle on XAML.” I thought about my plans to create this blog, and specifically about creating a series of posts for beginners on Developing Windows 10 apps using XAML. Not for complete beginners, I will expect that you have a working knowledge of C#, but I won’t assume any knowledge of XAML. I also plan on mixing in posts about some more advanced topics related to UWP development using XAML.

I hope you enjoy, and you can shape the direction of this blog in the comments of any of the posts. I am very excited about the future of XAML and that we can take this journey together.

Sincerely,
Bill Reiss