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Using the #mvvmlight DispatcherHelper in your .NET Standard libraries

.NET, .NET Standard, MVVM, Technical stuff, Universal Windows Platform UWP, Windows 10, WPF, XAML
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You might have heard that MVVM Light is now available as a .NET Standard 1.0 package, which means that you can use it in all your .NET Standard libraries (including 1.0, 1.4, 2.0 etc). Since .NET Standard is always backwards compatible, having MVVM Light running on .NET Standard 1.0 is quite convenient.

With .NET Standard, the incentive to use MVVM Light in even more applications is pretty huge, and with this the desire to use the DispatcherHelper to “translate” calls from a background thread into the UI thread of a UWP application, for instance. However as you might have already noticed, you cannot simply use the DispatcherHelper from within a .NET Standard library (nor from within a Portable Class Library for that matter). This is because the DispatcherHelper is a platform-specific component. In other words, the implementation for WPF is not compatible with the UWP or the Xamarin implementations. As a result, the DispatcherHelper class lives in the GalaSoft.MvvmLight.Platform DLL which gets added to your WPF, UWP or Xamarin applications, but NOT to your PCL or .NET Standard libraries…

The following article and sample propose a workaround. The article also details a few changes I want to add to MVVM Light to make it much easier to use DispatcherHelper in .NET Standard and Portable Class Libraries. Hopefully this will be useful!

Happy coding
Laurent

GalaSoft Laurent Bugnion
Laurent Bugnion (GalaSoft)

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Installing #mvvmlight for .NET Standard 1.0

.NET, MVVM, Technical stuff, Universal Windows Platform UWP, WPF, Xamarin
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I just released the new MVVM Light preview version for .NET Standard 1.0. I also published an article in the MVVM Light documentation describing the installation of the .NET Standard 1.0 version of MVVM Light as well as the changes needed to existing applications.

Hopefully you find this helpful.

This is a pre-release version and I am eager to hear your feedback. If you have any issue during the uninstallation process, installation process or while using MVVM Light for .NET Standard 1.0, send me an email at Laurent@galasoft.ch for assistance.

Happy coding!
Laurent

GalaSoft Laurent Bugnion
Laurent Bugnion (GalaSoft)

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Joining Microsoft

IdentityMine, Microsoft, MVP, MVVM, Personal, Universal Windows Platform UWP, Valorem, Work, Xamarin, XAML
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Well here is a post I didn’t quite expect to write… but the best things in life are unexpected. I am thrilled and proud to announce that as of August 1st 2017, I joined the Cloud and Enterprise group (aka Azure) at Microsoft.

My role will be a Senior Cloud Developer Advocate and I will explain in this post what it is I will do! I guess an FAQ format is most appropriate here, so here goes:

Are you moving to the USA?

No, I am staying put in Zurich Switzerland, my home for the past 23 years. While I don’t exclude living in the US at some point in the future, now is not that time and I will stay close to the friends and family I have in Switzerland. The role is global, and I will be travelling about the same amount than I am now, including coming to Redmond about 3-4 times a year and going to events worldwide.

It’s really interesting to see all the new people joining the team and I can’t wait to hear more about who else will get on board. Because it is a global role, we will have local offices around the world (in exciting places such as London, Shanghai, Bangalore etc). I really hope I will have a chance to be present at events in places where I couldn’t go yet, especially in Asia and South America. While I am super happy about all the talks I gave in Europe and the USA, I feel that it’s time to go “advocate” in more places now. Can’t wait to create that content and teach.

What will you do?

This is the most interesting part! This group is helping to redefine how we engage with developers on a big scale and be an empathetic advocate to the product engineers building the tools, services, APIs and other tech you use on a daily basis!

If you follow Twitter, you might have seen quite a few very talented people joining the Developer Advocate group. These people have very diverse skills, from web to open source to Linux to Docker and more. Even though I will be “advocating” Azure, my main expertise is going to be with Xamarin development and cloud-connected mobile app experiences, and of course MVVM. XAML has been a primary interest for more than 10 years now, and Xamarin is a technology and a team that I worked with for the past 4 years now. I am really enthusiast about working with these technologies even more intensively now, and most importantly to teach people worldwide how to use them.

Who is employing you? Who is your boss?

Because I am living in Switzerland, technically I will be an employee of Microsoft Switzerland. But I am reporting to Tim Heuer (a great friend!) who is based in Redmond. Our team is a part of the engineering group in Azure and reports up through Scott Guthrie. It’s kind of a hybrid situation, and I expect to be regularly in Wallisellen in the Microsoft Switzerland offices, as well as in Redmond for team meetings a few times a year.

What makes you most excited about this job?

Difficult to answer. When I received the call three months ago, and heard about the amazing job description, I thought it was just great for me. In a later call, I heard that Tim Heuer would be my boss and that was an amazing cherry on a fantastic cake. I have to admit that the thought of getting into Microsoft at this time, under Satya Nadella and Scott Guthrie, is making me very happy. It is a great time for Microsoft and especially Azure. I started getting more and more interested in Azure after I joined the Microsoft Regional Directors group. This group of experts is composed of very experienced people who have strategic roles in various firms, big and small. A large portion of the discussions have been focused on Azure, which led me to understand how important this technology is. There are just so many applications and the pace of innovation is quite breathtaking. I have a huge respect for everyone I will be working with, and especially of course for Scott Guthrie, who I have met many times over the past 10 years. He is as nice as he seems but most importantly, he is really, really clever and drives innovation amongst his people. I am delighted to be a part of this new adventure.

What do you regret the most?

I will certainly miss working for Valorem and especially all my friends. I met some of you guys 10 years ago, and we have been working together as a team for more than 8 years. I will be forever grateful to the IdentityMine team who gave me a chance in 2008 and decided to create a whole branch in Switzerland just for me. I think in retrospect it was a win-win, just look at all the amazing projects we realized!

But maybe most painful of all is the fact that I will have to resign from the MVP awards (both Microsoft and Xamarin) and the Regional Director program. Of course the joke is that joining Microsoft is the best reason for losing these awards, but I will really miss the amazing community of peers, some them who grew to become more than dear friends, a family.

Of course the good news is that I will continue to see many of you at conferences and other events around the globe. I will also continue to participate to some of the distribution lists and so we will be able to keep in touch. And as always, if you come to Zurich, let me know and we’ll have a fondue! (or something…).

Will something change for MVVM Light?

Short answer: No.

Slightly longer answer: Microsoft is very open regarding open source. I retain the full ownership of the project and I expect to be working on it about the same amount of time than I do now (of course on my free time). In the next few weeks you will see a move to Github as well as a version for .NET Standard so keep watching this space for updates.

What’s next?

Well while today is officially my first day at Microsoft, it is also Switzerland’s national day (Happy 726th birthday Switzerland!) and so my first day will be tomorrow. I have the new employee orientation (NEO yay) at the Swiss HQ in Wallisellen near Zurich. I expect that I will get my blue badge as well as a ton of information. At some point I should also get a new laptop (I was given a choice between a PC and a Mac and selected a Surface Pro 4 because I still love the Surface form factor, especially when I travel). Then I will spend a few days in Redmond next week, and connect with some of the team. Really impatient to get started!

I am sure I will have a lot more to say about all this in the next few days, so stay tuned!

Happy coding
Laurent

GalaSoft Laurent Bugnion
Laurent Bugnion (GalaSoft)
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Using the Windows Template Studio with #MVVMLight

.NET, Build, MVVM, Technical stuff, Universal Windows Platform UWP, Visual Studio, Windows 10, Work
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Here is a story of a great collaboration between Microsoft and the community.

Last year in August, as I was speaking at VS Live in Redmond, I was asked by my friend Clint Rutkas for coffee because he had an idea he wanted to run by me. Now if you know Clint, that is usually really intriguing and I was really excited to hear about his idea.

Clint told me about the project he was thinking of starting. This was just conceptual at the time, but his idea made a lot of sense: Why not make the process of creating a new Universal Windows application a lot easier. Why not help people with all the tedious tasks that you get right after File, New, Project.

Usually when you get started, you need to add a bunch of pages and helpers to your application. The Blank application template is just that, blank. In MVVM Light, I added a project template for the supported frameworks (Universal Windows Platform, Xamarin.iOS, Xamarin.Android, Windows Presentation Foundation, Silverlight).

2017-05-24_11-09-27
The MVVM Light templates in Visual Studio 2017

However creating a meaningful project template is really difficult. You are constantly navigating between “too much content” and “too little content”. If you have too much, the developer ends up having to remove a whole lot of code, which is tedious. If you have too little, then the developer needs to spend time adding the basics, as well as sometimes having to look for guidance on how to do common things like navigation, dialogs, a Settings page, etc.

Building a wizard

Of course I thought of building a wizard to help people getting started. This is not easy though. First of all, the Visual Studio automation can be complex. You need to support multiple versions of Studio, and the extensibility model changes from version to version, so that is a big commitment. And this is where Microsoft has a huge advantage, they own the extensibility model, they know in advance is something is going to change, and they have the resource to create and maintain the code. And since the WTS is open source and available on Github, you can also contribute, and help make this project even better.

Installing the Windows Template Studio

Before you get started, you will need to add the Windows Template Studio (WTS) to Visual Studio 2017. Thankfully this is really very easy. In Visual Studio 2017, just select Tools, Extensions and Updates. Click the Online item on the left, and enter Windows Template Studio in the search box on the top right.

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The Extensions and Updates dialog with WTS

In Visual Studio 2017, you are now required to close the application to install the extension, so after the download is complete, close Studio and it will get installed.

Getting started

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The WTS starts in the File, New, Project dialog. Under the usual Universal Windows templates, you will see the entry for the WTS. Select it, give a name to your new application and press OK.

The project type

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The project type and framework dialog

The next screen is about the foundation of your app. You can select a type of navigation (currently you can select an app with a navigation pane, or an app with tabs), or simply a blank template without navigation.

The framework

Then comes the framework selection. This is where you will notice MVVM Light front and center. The other options at the moment are Code Behind, or a basic “no-name” MVVM implementation which can be useful in situations where the usage of 3rd party frameworks is completely forbidden.

The pages

2017-05-24_11-20-12
The pages dialog

The next step is probably the one I am the most excited about. It is usually so tedious to add the same pages over and over in every application I create. Here, you can choose to add pages such as blank page, map page, master/details, web view, settings etc. I can’t stress enough how much of a time saver this step is.

Note that the studio also supports you in finding out which licenses the 3rd party frameworks use. For example, if you add a Settings page which uses JSON.Net for the serialization of the settings, a link to the license is added to the Summary pane on the right, and so you don’t have any surprise.

The features

The features dialog is as exciting. With one click, you can add new experiences to your application such as Suspend/Resume, Background tasks, notifications, live tiles and more.

2017-05-24_11-54-40
The features dialog

This is probably the easiest way to offer a fully featured application to your users.

Why only MVVM Light at this time?

Microsoft ran numbers of the Nuget downloads and saw a confirmation that MVVM Light is the most widely used framework to build MVVM applications on Windows. In addition, its modularity and simplicity of use makes it a prime candidate for the first version of the WTS. However this is an open source project and so the developers of other projects (such as my good friends at the Prism or MVVM Cross projects) are already working to add support for their own framework in the WTS.

What about other application types?

At the moment, the WTS only works for Universal Windows applications. However nothing would prevent it to be updated for other application types. Personally I would welcome Xamarin support! And here we can predict that this will probably happen sooner or later, supported by the community of open source developers. I can see a lot of advantages in adding support for Xamarin or even WPF desktop applications. So I encourage everyone to head to Github and start contributing!

Resources

Here are some videos and links to get started:

I hope that you also see the potential of this great tool and that you will contribute.

Happy coding!
Laurent

GalaSoft Laurent Bugnion
Laurent Bugnion (GalaSoft)
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Live blogging the Microsoft Build keynote, day 2 #msbuild

.NET, Build, Conferences, Technical stuff, Universal Windows Platform UWP, Visual Studio, Windows 10, Work, Xamarin, XAML
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And the show continues on day 2! In this post, I will be live blogging the Microsoft Build keynote on day 2. This should be a very exciting event with focus on client development, Windows and Mixed Reality. Get ready!!

Live blogging the Microsoft Build keynote, day 1 #msbuild

.NET, Build, Conferences, HoloLens, Technical stuff, Universal Windows Platform UWP, Visual Studio, Windows 10, Work, Xamarin, XAML
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Build day 1 is a wrap and you can find all the live notes taken during the keynote in this post!

My plans for Build 2017 #msbuild

.NET, Blog, Build, Conferences, Technical stuff, Universal Windows Platform UWP, Visual Studio, Windows 10, Xamarin
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Days are passing and the time is getting closer to pack my stuff and fly to Seattle again. This will be my first trip to my third home this year, and I am really impatient to be there. I just love that place.

Getting there

I will be arriving in town on Saturday evening, quite late. My plan is to pick a rental car and get to the hotel in Pioneer Square and get to bed :) The next morning, based on experience, I will be up super early (thank you jet lag). This is a droning day! I am not 100% sure yet where I will drive but I am considering getting close to Rainier National Park if the weather is good enough. Alternatively maybe take the ferry to Bainbridge to make footage of the islands. Or maybe the Snoqualmie area. Or maybe all of the above. This will be a day like I love, driving around on my own schedule, relaxing, flying, filming, editing pictures at a cafe… Should be a lot of fun if the clouds are cooperating!

Visiting the office

Monday will be an office day. Seattle is an important hub for Valorem, and this is the office where it all started for me. I love going there and seeing the new and improved space. So as usual I will be looking forward to meet new colleagues and meet old colleagues again!

The conference: Live blogging

During the conference itself, I will try something new this year: I will be live blogging the keynotes and the sessions that I can attend. In previous years, I was always taking notes during the events and posting these notes to my blog every so often. Surprisingly, this has been quite popular, even though these are my raw notes without much commentary. I found out that not everyone can watch the live stream, and people were reading my notes and getting some of this keynote feeling there. But of course posting a blog post is a lot slower than taking the actual note. So this year I installed a new plugin on my blog called 24LiveBlog. This will allow me to publish my notes about the keynote in real time as well as hopefully post pictures too. That should be a fun exercise!

You will be able to follow the live blogs at the following URLs. However please note that these links will only be active on and after the keynote day 1 and 2 respectively!

Keynote day 1 (Wednesday May 10, 2017): http://blog.galasoft.ch/posts/?p=1601
This keynote will take place from 8AM to 11AM PST
(4PM London time, 5PM Zurich time).

Keynote day 2 (Thursday May 11, 2017): http://blog.galasoft.ch/posts/?p=1606
This keynote will take place from 8:30AM to 10AM PST
(4:30PM London time, 5:30PM Zurich time).

I am really looking forward to this exercise and hope that it will be useful to you all!

Wednesday: Mix2017 party with iHeartRadio and Valorem

Yes yes I know, the name is really significant… this is not a revival of the MIX conference! I know we all miss this amazing conference… No, the Mix2017 event is Valorem’s and iHeartRadio’s party at Build!

Join iHeartRadio and Valorem for #Mix2017, a fantastic night where music meets mixed reality. iHeartRadio’s DJ will mix your favorite music and Valorem will mix your reality with exciting HoloLens experiences on Wednesday, May 10, at the Living Computers Museum + Labs. As a bonus, event attendees get free admittance to the museum.

More details and registration on the Valorem website! I hope to see many of you at this event!

Happy coding!
Laurent

GalaSoft Laurent Bugnion
Laurent Bugnion (GalaSoft)
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Two millions #mvvmlight downloads

.NET, MVVM, Technical stuff, Universal Windows Platform UWP, Work, WPF, Xamarin, XAML
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Sometimes between last week and this week, we crossed a threshold: Two millions MVVM Light downloads.

I don’t have many metrics about MVVM Light, because the toolkit itself is not instrumented in any way. You get the raw binaries without added sugar :) So the only numbers I can rely on are the number of downloaded copies, either on Nuget or as the VSIX extension for Visual Studio. Obviously this doesn’t say much about the number of applications created with MVVM Light, since once the VSIX is downloaded, every File / New Project command creates a new app without any download. Still, it’s been interesting to see the evolution in downloads since I started to track the numbers.

Recently, I had a memory on my Facebook wall reminding me that 2 years ago, I was posting about 500’000 downloads, just before my Visual Studio Live sessions in Las Vegas. Two years later I was in Vegas again, for VS Live again, and about to cross two millions. Clearly the curve went up quite a bit. I tried to analyze what was the most significant change, and I think the port to Xamarin definitely played a significant role there. I also saw an uptake in interest in conference submissions since MVVM Light is truly cross platform, especially since Xamarin Evolve 2014 where I had a session. Since then a lot more sessions were given about Building Truly Universal Applications with MVVM Light, and quite a few full rooms too.

Tracking the downloads

As I mentioned, it is difficult to track downloads in a significant manner. There are automated build stations that will restore Nuget packages every so often. On the other hand there are people who download the Visual Studio extension once and create new applications without downloading anything. The only significant metric, I guess, is the evolution in downloads over time. Here is a chart (click to enlarge):

2017-03-21_11-13-37

Right now I track downloads on the following pages:

What’s coming

Currently I am working on the following topics:

  • A post about Working with MVVM Light in Visual Studio 2017. This is a pretty long post, which will also end up in the documentation pages. It will also explain how the sample applications (created by the templates) work and what features they demonstrate.
  • Improving the project template for WPF. I want to add more features there and be on par with what I have for Windows 10, iOS and Android.
  • Adding a project template for iPad and iOS Universal.
  • MVVM Light for Xamarin Pluralsight course. No ETA on this at the moment, sorry.

And of course the backlog is still active! Don’t hesitate to send your feedback :)

Happy coding!
Laurent

GalaSoft Laurent Bugnion
Laurent Bugnion (GalaSoft)
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Code and slides posted for my latest talks

.NET, Conferences, HoloLens, MVVM, Technical stuff, Universal Windows Platform UWP, UX, Windows 10, Work, Xamarin, XAML
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October and November have been quite busy with travel. I talked at a few occasions in some cool events and want to take a moment to share the code and slides below:

Xamarin Dev Day, Zurich, Switzerland

I love the concept of the Xamarin Dev Day. It’s a great way to reach out to local communities and have a day of fun teaching and training with Xamarin content. This year I took part to the Zurich, Switzerland occurrence. It definitely didn’t hurt that it was help in a very cool space, under a train viaduct in the previously industrial area of the city, which is these days a pretty cool place to live and work.

I held my talk titled “Building truly cross platform applications with Windows, Xamarin and MVVM Light” which comments on the fact that the so called “UWP” (Universal Windows Platform) applications are only for Windows (hence the W) and that if you want to target mobile iOS and Android devices, you need something more. Xamarin and MVVM Light are great solutions in this scenario, because they maximize the amount of code that can be shared, all the while increasing the testable surface of the application. You can find the code and slides at this page.

KC .NET User Group & Xamarin KC Dev, Kansas City, Missouri

You might have read that the company I joined in 2008 (IdentityMine) was acquired this year by a company based in Kansas City named Valorem Consulting. On November 1st and 2nd, I spent time at the head office to meet with a maximum of new colleagues. It was a nice stay in a city (and state) I had never visited before. In fact I even “visited” two states during that stay, because Kansas City is laid over Missouri and Kansas! Earlier on I had tweeted about me visiting KC, and the local .NET developer user group contacted me and asked if I wanted to speak at a user group meeting on that evening. Of course the answer was a resounding yes! And the best part is that the Xamarin KC user group also joined the fun for their first ever joint event. We had a great attendance with a full room of about 65 people, and a very nice interaction. After the event, a small group gathered at a local bar and we had pie and drinks (I had a root beer float, because why not). Excellent way to make new friends in a new city! I also held my talk “Building Truly Universal Applications with Windows, Xamarin and MVVM Light”.  You can find the slides and code here.

DevIntersection Europe, Haarlem, The Netherlands

Right after my return from the US (with the visit to Kansas City, a few days in the office in Seattle and then the MVP and Regional Directors Summit in Bellevue/Redmond), I had another short trip to the Netherlands. I spoke at the DevIntersection conference in Haarlem, a small city not far from Amsterdam. The location was superb, a convention center close to the historical center of the city, the hotel was great too (though the bed was wayyyyy too soft for me :) and the audience was very nice. It is definitely smaller than DevIntersection in the US (where they have events in Vegas and Orlando), but I had a good albeit small audience nonetheless and some great interactions with attendees and fellow speakers.

I spoke about the Windows 10 Universal Windows Platform, a dense session which contains information about creating a new UWP app; adapting the user interface to the various form factors, resolutions, orientations etc; porting classic windows applications to the Windows 10 ecosystem with the Desktop App Converter (also known as Centennial bridge); the Windows Continuum; and Microsoft HoloLens. Unfortunately because of unknown technical issues, I was not able to stream the HoloLens output to my phone nor to my Surface like I used to do. Unfortunately we ran out of time before I was able to solve the issue (which would probably have required restarting the HoloLens and the phone). I want to apologize to the audience for this technical glitch. I hope that the people who joined me later for a quick trial of the HoloLens were happy anyway, and that the others didn’t go back home with a bad image of this amazing technology :) I recorded a few videos showing the various demos I wanted to give, you can find all the material including code and slides on this page.

Thanks all for attending and happy coding!
Laurent

GalaSoft Laurent Bugnion
Laurent Bugnion (GalaSoft)
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Slides and code samples for VS Live Redmond

HoloLens, MVVM, Technical stuff, Universal Windows Platform UWP, VSLive, Windows 10, Work, WPF, Xamarin, XAML
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VS Live just took place in Redmond, and I had a great time. I had three sessions in one day, and I was really exhausted in the evening, but it was absolutely worth it. Speaking in Building 33 (the conference center on Microsoft campus) was an amazing experience. I have spent so many hours in this building, listening to amazing speakers of Microsoft and others, during MVP summits and other events… so really it was quite magical to be on the speaker side this time, in room St Helens.

vsliveredmond

Thanks to every one who came to my talks! I hope it was informative and useful, and that it encourages you to try those technologies and techniques.

Here are the pages for the talks I gave:

Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) 4.6
Windows Presentation Foundation is what people are using to build real applications for the enterprise, the industry, the workplace, and for every situation where Windows 10 Universal isn’t quite ready yet. Far from being dead, WPF is 10 years old this year, and it’s still alive and kicking. It gives Universal Applications a run for their money. In this session, you’ll learn what is new in Windows Presentation Foundation, where it’s going in the future, and what you can achieve with WPF that Universal Application developers can only dream of. We’ll also see how these two roads cross and how existing WPF applications can be brought to Windows 10 using the Centennial bridge. Finally we’ll discover new features and tools recently implemented for WPF developers.

Windows 10 – The Universal Application: One App To Rule Them All?
Windows 10 and the Universal Windows Platform offer a lot of productivity and flexibility around targeting the broad set of devices that run Windows. As a developer, you have a lot of choice–from building a single binary that is identical on all devices, through to an app that adapts to the type of device and on to the point of building an entirely different app for each class of device. What’s the right thing to do? How should you think about building the “One App to Rule Them All?” What are the design and implementation trade-offs you need to consider? This session dives into these areas with a hands-on approach and shows what it really means to be building apps across families of Windows devices that have different capabilities. We will also talk about bridges (and especially the iOS Bridge to Windows 10), and new platforms such as Continuum and HoloLens (with live demos).

Building Truly Universal Applications with Windows 10, Xamarin and MVVM
With Windows 10 supporting an unprecedented number of platforms and form factors (from IOT to phones to tablets to laptops and desktops to XBOX and SurfaceHub, and even the new HoloGraphic computer HoloLens), the name ‘Windows 10 Universal application’ is fairly accurate. But to be honest, shouldn’t a truly Universal application run on Windows 7, iOS and Android devices too? Thankfully, this is possible thanks to a clever architecture pattern named Model-View-ViewModel, the .NET portable class libraries and the Xamarin frameworks. With these tools, we can structure an application so that most of the code is shared across all the platforms, and then build truly native UI that adapts without any compromises to the device it runs on. In this session, we will understand exactly how such universal applications are built. Laurent Bugnion, a XAML/C# expert, Microsoft and Xamarin MVP who started making universal applications before it was even a thing, will show you practical knowledge with a lot of demos. Come listen from the creator of the popular MVVM Light Toolkit how this powerful but simple library can be leveraged to help you target more users than you ever dreamed of!

Happy coding!
Laurent

GalaSoft Laurent Bugnion
Laurent Bugnion (GalaSoft)
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