Bitesized tidbits for building Modern (Metro) apps.
I realise the first question you have: “Unplated?” Well, give me a chance. In your app’s package manifest, you have a section for Square44x44Logo, this logo is used in the task bar and in the application list in the start menu. What you will notice is that, by default, your image will have a border around it, like so:
Notice the grey all around the icon (note: that grey is defined in the package manifest too, so doesn’t have to be that colour)? Now, for your app’s branding, maybe you don’t want that border as that goes against how your actual tile looks, and consistency is key, right!
When creating your awesome layout to your awesome new app, you’ll often use Grids as a way of ensuring things are placed where you want them to be and you’d most likely use the ColumnDefinitions and RowDefinitions. Using these has a number of benefits, not least letting you specify exact heights/widths for your columns/rows, but you can also use Auto and the * values to set screen percentages. What this means is you can have a very exact UI or one that adapts as the size of the window changes.
Adapting to the size of the window is something that’s more relevant to UWPs than ever before with you bringing one UI to all possible screens the user can use your app on. But what if you still want to keep some rows at a certain screen percentage until the user hits a trigger point? Well, a small, but subtle change to xaml now allows you to do more with your Column/RowDefinitions.
Pocket is a brilliant service that allows you to essentially bookmark links and (as the old name suggests), read it later. Pocket has no official app on the Windows Phone platform, but there are more apps coming from other sources (including my own Squirrel).
One of the things each of the apps has in common (other than being a Pocket client), is the ability to add links to Pocket from other apps. This is done using a custom URI scheme and works as expected. The only problem is, if you’re writing an app that you’d like to add Pocket support to, what do you do? Do you pledge your allegiance to one app? What if your users are using a different Pocket app? What then?
This was a problem I decided to address whilst writing my own Pocket app.
While I was working on In Two (a great game by the way, you should check it out), I was working on one feature that allowed the user to set their profile picture, which involved letting them either choose a photo from one of their many, many albums, or taking a new picture. Most of the development of that game was done using the emulator, which was no problem, I thought, as I knew the emulator came with stock images for you to use. But every time I went to choose an image from my app, all I had was the empty camera roll folder, no stock images.
Previously I spoke about the SuperImage control that came into 2.0.6 of the Coding4Fun Toolkit today, well now I want to introduce you to another new control, LockScreenPreview. LockScreenPreview is a control for Windows Phone 8 and Windows Store (not Windows Phone 7), that does exactly what the control name suggests it does, it offers you a preview of what a user’s lock screen will look like.
The Cimbalino toolkit is fast becoming a big favourite of mine and is starting to be used in more and more apps that I’m building. In it, you’ll find a huge amount of useful tools for building Windows Phone apps, from converters, to behaviours, to controls, to services. It’s a monster! I’m going to try and do a number of posts detailing certain parts of the toolkit and thought I’d start with Services.