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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

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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.

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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):

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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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Slides and sample code for my presentations at #VSLive Boston

.NET, Conferences, Universal Windows Platform UWP, VSLive, Windows 10, Work, WPF, XAML
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Thanks to everyone who came to my sessions at VSLive Boston. I had a great time. I hope it was informative and useful. I am aware that you take time out of your job to come and see us speak and I really hope that you found it worth your time.

I had two sessions:

Windows 10 – The Universal Application: One App To Rule Them All?

You can find the slides and sample code for this session here. This page also links to a video showing how Windows 10 Universal apps work on HoloLens!

Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) 4.6

Here are the slides and sample code.

Thanks again for your warm welcome in Boston!! I even had some time to visit the city and had a blast in the historical places.

Happy coding
Laurent

GalaSoft Laurent Bugnion
Laurent Bugnion (GalaSoft)
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Back from Sweden! Slides and code for my #DevSum16 session

.NET, Conferences, HoloLens, Technical stuff, Universal Windows Platform UWP, Windows 10, XAML
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I am back from Stockholm and the DevSum conference! It was a great trip, what a beautiful city and lovely people! It was great to be there with so many friends from our beautiful community, and especially my colleague and friend Rene Schulte.

On Thursday, I started by helping my good friend Tim Huckaby with his keynote. My role was very limited, just monitoring the live stream coming from Tim’s HoloLens. Tim is a great speaker and his keynote was very interesting and funny. So nice to see him! Later, Rene did a talk about HoloLens 3D development. Always a great pleasure to see Rene show how to use Unity and build 3D apps!

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On Friday, it was my turn to speak. I have a Windows 10 Universal session and I decided to spice it up with a few demos of new platforms. It was a bit scary because there were quite a few moving pieces, and everything had to play together perfectly. And it almost did! The only thing I didn’t think about is that the Continuum dock is “protected” with HDCP. That means that you cannot connect the Dock to a projector. Such an annoying (and useless) feature! Thankfully, the conference center where DevSum took place had awesome technicians, and one of them saved my day by connecting an HDMI-to-VGA adapter which circumvented the issue.

The talk was quite beefy: We defined what a Universal app is, then we talked about Adaptive UI. We discussed the Centennial and Islandwood bridges before talking about Continuum and HoloLens. The final demo saw me switch my presentation to my Windows 10 mobile phone (950XL), show some slides in Powerpoint, then demo some Universal apps on this platform. Finally I started the HoloLens application on my phone, in Continuum mode. Since this is also a Universal app, it adapted to the big screen beautifully and I could stream what I was seeing through my HoloLens. I demonstrated how universal applications run on the holographic platform, including our own apps. It’s just as simple as deploying them to the HoloLens!

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We definitely live exciting times, and it’s really great to be working on these new platforms. You can find the slides and sample code for this talk on my website. The session was recorded, and I will tweet when the recording is available for your viewing please, so stay tuned to my Twitter feed. Thanks to everyone who came to see this session. I really hope it was informative and useful to you!

Happy coding
Laurent

GalaSoft Laurent Bugnion
Laurent Bugnion (GalaSoft)
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Slides and Samples for my talk at TechDays Switzerland

.NET, Phone, TechDays, Technical stuff, Universal Windows Platform UWP, Windows 10, XAML
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On Tuesday, I had the pleasure to talk to an almost full movie theater room about Windows 10 and the Universal Windows Platform UWP. I think the talk went well, and I had a lot of positive feedback later. 50 minutes sure is short for a talk, but on the plus side it forces you to concentrate on the essential. I really loved finishing my talk with a demo on the Windows Continuum, and even presenting the last few slides from my trusted Lumia 950XL directly on the big movie screen.

To all the participants, I extend a big thank you for the welcome. Unfortunately the session was not recorded, but I am sure I will have other occasions to show this material!

As promised I posted the slides, sample code as well as a small video I made. This video shows the Windows Islandwood (iOS) Bridge sample application running in the iOS simulator. In the sample code, you will find the iOS project after conversion to Windows 10. Finally make sure to check the slides for various resource links.

Happy coding!
Laurent

GalaSoft Laurent Bugnion
Laurent Bugnion (GalaSoft)
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