Bitesized tidbits for building Modern (Metro) apps.
For a while now, there have been a few ways for developers to allow a user to sign into Facebook:
With Windows 10, there’s a new way for developers to be able to authenticate their users, and that’s the WebAccountProvider. This allows account providers (like Facebook) to provide authentication using their Windows 10 app. Using this approach would mean your users would never have to leave the comfort of your app to get authenticated.
So what does all this mean? What is WebAccountProvider? It’s possible, in Windows 10, for apps to allow developers to explicitly use them as an authentication provider, without having to use URI schemes and callbacks to be set up by the calling app. The difference between this approach and the URI/Callback approach is this can be done silently so the user can potentially never leave your app but still get successfully authenticated.
All of this blog post is based on the current Windows 10 Facebook beta that came out recently. If you submit a Windows 10 app to the store before this version leaves beta, this code will not work as the user will likely be using the non-beta Facebook app. If you only depend on this approach, then your users will not be able to authenticate with Facebook, so it’s important to have some fallback methods.
This is now available in the non-beta version of Facebook for Windows 10 too, so will work for anyone who has updated their app.
If you’ve tried submitting a Windows 10 app to the store recently, you may have come across a problem where it’s asking you to enter store information for a language your app isn’t configured to support (in my case, I had an app that was en-GB, but it was requesting details for en-US, too). This can be frustrating because you probably don’t want to have to create the assets and store information for that extra language; so why is it appearing?
There are a number of blog posts, that show off a new feature in Windows 10 development call xaml views, that allow you to have a different xaml file for the same page depending on the device family (a great one here by Morten). There may be genuine reasons where going for an adaptive approach might not be right for your app depending on the design constraints of your app, in which case it makes perfect sense that you’d want device specific views.
Coming soon with the new Lumia devices is a nice feature called Continuum, which allows you to effectively use your phone as a PC, where you can connect it to a monitor, and use a mouse and keyboard with it, and really shows to highlight the universal aspect of Universal Apps as you effectively then have a desktop UI that you can use. So using a desktop on a mobile, what could go wrong?
Localising your apps can be hard, whether it’s finding the funds to get all your resources localised, or finding community members who will help you do it, it’s never easy. Those levels of difficulty can also be increased when you start to consider right-to-left languages, such as Arabic, or Hebrew, because it’s not just a question of adding those languages and you’re done. Far from it, in fact. Not only do you have to write extra code just to enable right-to-left, there are other practical matters that you may need to consider for your app’s design. Why? Because with right-to-left languages, the whole UI gets mirrored. Let’s look at some of those things you may need to think about.
In Windows 10, we’ve seen apps that look to have different tile faces and they cycle between those tiles. It’s a really nice effect and can be a very powerful thing for your app to use, it allows you to present more data to the user without having to have your tile all cramped. A good example of this would be a weather app where you might want to allow the user to show the weather for different places. So, how do you go about creating a tile like this?
In your Universal app, you may want to have AppBars that have different colours from the default theme colours, which is understandable if you want to add your own branding to it. But when you set the Foreground/Background colours, you may end up with behaviour you weren’t fully expecting.
With Windows 10, two key areas of personalisation for a user are the lock screen and the wallpaper images, and this is both on phone and desktop. And on both you’ve always been able to set the lock screen image (for now we’ll just forget that WPA8.1 apps couldn’t!), but setting the wallpaper was something you couldn’t do in either desktop or phone. Now that’s changing with Windows 10. Whilst the APIs for settings these aren’t the most complicated ones in the world (Wallpaper/Lock screen), no-one would ever say they wouldn’t like things even simpler, right? Also, how about being able to set these things from a viewmodel in a PCL?
When creating a nuget package that’s intended for a UWP, you’d be excused for creating your package in the same way you always have done, you include the new uap10.0 TFM (Target Framework Moniker) and drop your dll file(s) in there. This is 95% of it, but there’s a sneaky extra 5% that you still need to do, otherwise, whilst your package will still be valid, and will still get pulled into a UWP project, that project won’t be able to build.
Yesterday Microsoft [finally] released the MS Health APIs they’d talked about at this year’s Build conference. These APIs are a way of accessing the data that’s been accrued from your Microsoft Band, so any bike rides, runs, sleep tracking, etc. These APIs are a set of REST endpoints that, once authenticated, you can call to access this data. So, naturally, I’ve decided to make this easier.
One of the new ways users can interact with your app is through notifications. Now, notifications are nothing new, for either Phone or Desktop, however, what’s been added to 10 is new. With Universal Windows Apps, you can now have interactive toast notifications. So what are these? They are like regular toast notifications only they can have elements that the user can interact with, maybe make a selection, or type in a response to something.
There’s an excellent blog post on MSDN that covers all the different types of interactions you can have within your app’s toasts, along with all the xml elements that are required in order to build your toast notification, but that does mean dealing with xml, and who likes that?!