GamesMobileTechnologyWeb

Goodbye Zune Music Pass, Hello Xbox Music

If your currently subscribe to the Zune Music Pass, this has now changed to Xbox Music. As depicted below, you should have got an email from Xbox with a gift of 1000 Microsoft Points to use on any of the music, video or game content on Xbox Live.

I look forward to using the new Xbox Music service and the new functionality it brings.

XboxMusic

MobileTechnology

Microsoft Surface now available for pre-order

Yesterday Microsoft revealed pricing and availability for the Microsoft Surface RT tablet. http://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-us

Since the announcement, their cheapest Surface RT model without the touch case has sold out and there is now a minimum 3 week back order.

Canadian Pricing and Availability

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It looks like your order will ship by October 26 and arrive by October 30. If you want to try to get it sooner, then try visiting a Microsoft "Popup Holiday” Store. I know I will to checkout the device first hand and probably buy one.

Further Reading: Everything you need to know

Checkout this amazing blog post on Neowin for more details on everything you need to know about Microsoft Surface RT.

DesignDevelopment

iOS, iPhone and iPad Storyboarding

Three new sets of storyboarding shapes are now available for iOS, iPhone and iPad.

These shape libraries are available with the Storyboarding functionality that is included with Visual Studio 2012 Premium, Ultimate and Test Professional products.

Here are a sample of the icons included with these shape libraries…

Common iOS Icons

iPhone controls

iPad controls

You can read more about Storyboarding functionality in my blog post  an introduction to PowerPoint storyboarding.

Downloading the Shapes

You can download these shape from the Visual Studio Gallery.

DevelopmentWeb

TypeScript – JavaScript for Modern Apps

Last week Microsoft announced a superset of JavaScript called TypeScript, which is aimed at solving a very specific problem…getting JavaScript to scale.

“Today, we’re introducing a new programming language that solves a very specific problem – getting JavaScript development to scale,” Microsoft corporate vice president Soma Somasegar writes on his blog. “That language is TypeScript. You can learn more about the TypeScript project, download an early preview, read and discuss the language specification, explore the online playground, and peruse the source of the compiler (on the TypeScript project site on CodePlex, with git).”

TypeScript is a programming language that makes it easier to write cross-platform, application scale, JavaScript that runs in any browser or in any host.  Microsoft Technical Fellow Anders Hejlsberg explains how TypeScript, which is a typed superset of JavaScript that compiles to idiomatic (normal) JavaScript, can dramatically improve your productivity by enabling rich tooling experiences, all while maintaining your existing code and continuing to use the same JavaScript libraries you already love.

TypeScript adds some great functionality like type checking, static analysis, explicit interfaces and best practices. TypeScript is also an open, standards-based and 100% compatible with JavaScript.

Here’s a good overview of and introduction to TypeScript by Anders Hejlsberg:

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This all seems good and only time and adoption will tells us whether TypeScript can truly scale past the success of JavaScript.

DevelopmentQA

An Introduction to Microsoft Feedback Client (Visual Studio 2012 Features)

Another one of the new features introduced in Visual Studio 2012 is the Microsoft Feedback Client, which can help your development team gather both solicited and unsolicited feedback about your software projects from your customers and stakeholders.

The feedback client allows you to capture your interaction with the application as video and/or verbal or type-written comments. Your feedback is then stored in Team Foundation Server 2012.

Let’s have a quick look at how to get started and provide some feedback.

Getting Started

Start by going to the Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 program folder and select Microsoft Feedback Client  as shown here:

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You will then be prompted to connect to your Team Foundation Server. You may have noticed that I’m connecting to my TFS Preview account. This is a FREE preview to TFS in the cloud. I’ll write more about that in a future post.

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After you’ve connected to your Team Foundation Server, you will see the Microsoft Feedback Client. This is a very simple, yet powerful tool for capturing essential feedback and of course it’s got a similar look and feel to Visual Studio 2012.

1. Launch the application

In this scenario I’m providing voluntary feedback, so I have to manually start the application I want to provide feedback on.

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However when you initiate a feedback session, your user/stakeholder will receive instructions via email on how to start providing feedback. Once the feedback tool opens to the Start tab, the user will launch your application by following the instructions provided. In this example, a link to start your web application:

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2. Provide feedback

The feedback tool contains a lot of options for how and what feedback you provide. I will start by providing some simple feedback. In this example I took a screenshot of MS Paint and included a comment.

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As mentioned above, you can record your interactions with the application, include verbal and/or written comments, attach files and/or screenshots.

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3. Review and submit your feedback

After you’ve entered your feedback, you can review, make corrections and/or additions and rate your feedback with the stars. Once your ready happy with what you have, click on the Submit and Close button to submit your feedback.

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After you’ve submitted your feedback, the Microsoft Feedback Client will then close and your feedback is sent to your Team Foundation Server, where the system automatically creates a work item which contains the feedback you submitted.

Now when you connect to your Team Foundation Server and do a query on Feedback, you will see your feedback work items:

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Downloading the Feedback Client for TFS

If you don’t already have the Microsoft Feedback Client installed, then you will need to browse to the Additional software section on the Visual Studio download page. Here you will expand the Feedback Client for TFS section and select the appropriate download:

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Wrapping Up

I think this is a great addition to Visual Studio 2012 and is something I look forward to using when developing and testing my software projects and recording the necessary feedback to share with my team.

If you’re not using this tool…you should be.

Further Reading

Here is some additional reading that is available on the MSDN site:

Engage Stakeholders: http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/hh301769(VS.110).aspx#provide_feedback

Provide Feedback: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh362461.aspx

DesignDevelopment

An Introduction to PowerPoint Storyboarding (Visual Studio 2012 Features)

One of the new features introduced in Visual Studio 2012 is an add-in for PowerPoint that allows you to do Storyboarding.

PowerPoint Storyboarding allows you to quickly and easily put together an interface design, whether it be for a website, a mobile device, Windows 8, or a desktop application, and then get the necessary feedback from your stakeholders. And since it’s PowerPoint, then even your stakeholders can easily make changes and show you exactly what they want.

NOTE: This feature is only available for Visual Studio Premium and Ultimate users.

Let’s Get Started

Start by going to the Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 program folder and select PowerPoint Storyboarding as shown here:

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This will launch PowerPoint with a blank slide and take you to the Storyboarding tab. You will notice the Storyboard Shapes to the right of your slide and provide all kinds of shapes for your interface design. These shapes are also searchable via the search box.

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Here is a sample slide of what can be accomplished:

storyboading sample

Managing Shapes

One of the neat features found in PowerPoint Storyboarding is the ability to manage your custom shapes as well as export them for other team members to use.

Additionally you can also download community shapes by going to Visual Studio Gallery and downloading any of the available shapes. Most are free, but at the time of this post…there was 1 paid set of shapes.

Once you’ve downloaded a set of shapes, you can import them from the Import Shapes button found in the Shapes section:

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Team Integration

If you’re using Team Foundation Server, then you can link your storyboard to one or more requirements/user stories with the Storyboard Links button:

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NOTE: If you’re not using Team Foundation Server, then there is now a free Team Foundation Server Express 2012 edition, which can be used by up to 5 developers. You can download it from Visual Studio Download page.

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So there is no reason not to be using Team Foundation Server .Smile

Further Reading (Documentation)

I found the following links pretty good at documenting Storyboards and providing greater details:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh409276(VS.110).aspx

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh301773(VS.110).aspx

DatabaseDevelopment

SQL Server Data Tools – September 2012 update is now available!

New updates are now available for SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT). The latest update is called SQL Server Data Tools – September 2012. You can get the update from here:

SSDT for Visual Studio 2012: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/jj650015

SSDT for Visual Studio 2010: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/jj650014

As posted on the following blog post, here is a recap of what’s new:

“What’s New?

Visual Studio 2012

In keeping with our goal of supporting the most recent version of Visual Studio, this release of SSDT supports the Visual Studio 2012 shell. SSDT – September 2012 contains several bug fixes to the SSDT version that shipped in Visual Studio 2012 and this release can be applied as an update on top of Visual Studio 2012 Professional, Premium, and Ultimate Editions. If one of these SKUs is not present on the box, running the SSDT installer for Visual Studio 2012 will lay down a standalone version of SSDT for the Visual Studio 2012 Integrated Shell.

Keep in mind that the underlying engine and functionality for SSDT – September 2012 is the same for both Visual Studio 2010 and Visual Studio 2012, so you don’t need to upgrade to Visual Studio 2012 to use the latest version of SSDT. If you wish to have both shells of SSDT in your environment, they can exist side by side and SSDT projects will successfully round-trip between both shells.

LocalDB Configuration Improvements

We received feedback that SSDT’s policy of creating a new localdb instance for each SSDT solution was too verbose, so we created a single localdb instance called Projects to host all the project debug databases. We’ve also enhanced SQL Server Object Explorer by surfacing the default localdb instance and enabling the deletion of localdb instances.

Support for ANSI_NULLS and QUOTED_IDENIFIER Properties

In previous releases, SSDT didn’t support database objects with non-standard ANSI_NULLS or QUOTED_IDENTIFIER properties. SSDT – September 2012 has enabled this scenario by adding support for ANSI_NULLS and QUOTED_IDENTIFIER properties on project and script files.

Updated Data-Tier Application Framework

SSDT – September 2012 includes the latest redist of SQL Server Data-Tier Application Framework (DACFx), which contains several feature enhancements and bug fixes. Most notably, the updated DACFx version enables packaging and deploying data using SqlPackage.exe. You can learn more about the new DACFx release here.

Updated SSDT Power Tools

The September 2012 update is compatible with updated Power Tools that include new features and support for both Visual Studio 2012 and Visual Studio 2010 shells.

SSDT Power Tools for Visual Studio 2012

SSDT Power Tools for Visual Studio 2010

Bug fixes to customer-reported issues

This release includes many bug fixes for issues reported by customers using SSDT RTW or Visual Studio 2012 RTM. Here are some of the most impactful bugs that this release addresses:

· Unable to override Publish Profile properties when using the msbuild command line

· Slow performance on "Add New Item" from SSDT project

· Absence of debugger functionality due to errors in assembly registration

· Publish fails with no message when "extended verification" is disabled

· SSDT overwrites Visual Studio shortcut on Windows8

· Steps to edit and save a Publish Profile editor aren’t intuitive”