26 Aug 2011

Windows Phone 7 Submission: Where are my stats!?!

imageAs I have been submitting a number of Windows Phone 7 apps and in the market place is a nice dashboard which shows downloads, crashes etc…

The problem is that I have been very frustrated that my stats for my applications aren’t there!

In the screenshot my cricket run rate tool is missing!

So I contacted the marketplace support, who are BRILLIANT, to see if they could help and they told me it is BY DESIGN Sad smile Here is what they sent me:

The details you are trying to view in App Hub reflect a delay, by design. Newly published apps will not appear on the download report for 10 days, and of that data there will be a 6 day lag.

I don’t understand the reason for this but at least there is a cause and I just need to be patient and eventually my states will appear Smile

Thankfully I can augment these stats with Rudi Grobler’s excellent Keep An Eye app which lets me from my Windows Phone see the status of my apps!

26 Aug 2011

App.Config Transformations: The community shines where Microsoft drops the ball

Last year May, I spoke at DevDays Durban about what is new in ASP.NET 4? One of the highlights of that talk is a feature called Web.Config transforms. In short you have a base web.config and then a file per compiler target (i.e. RELEASE, DEBUG). These extra files contain rules on how to transform your web.config when it is published.

In a way of an example you have might your web.config to use your local SQL Server when in Visual Studio, but when you publish a DEBUG build to testing it changes the config to use the test SQL Server. Or when you publish to production it turns off a bunch of logging and shows friendly error messages.

image

There is TWO caveats in this process:

  1. ONLY works for ASP.NET* projects as this is something the ASP.NET team built into their publishing tool support.
  2. ONLY works for publish, if you have an ASP.NET* project and hit F5, nothing happens Sad smile

*ASP.NET = ASP.NET Core, and thus systems that build on top of it (WebForms, MVC & WebPages) all get it.

This is something we need in EVERY project type and we need with F5. Thankfully some bright people did just that for us, with the VS add-in Slow Cheetah.

So now you get the full experience on any project type, PLUS you get a brilliant feature missing in the ASP.NET one – PREVIEW. You can see what the resulting config will look like!

22 Aug 2011

Game development in South Africa and dealing with the Film and Publications Board

imageIf you walk into any store to buy a game or movie you will find a little blue triangle sticker which contains the age restriction from the Film and Publications Board who review and rate content.

Since I created a game recently I decided to see what the process is for classification of a game is and learnt some very interesting things for developers.

Put simply only games/films that are sold or hired require to be classified – so if you are developing a game/films that will be available for FREE then you do not require classification! Below is the email from the head of the classification unit confirming that!

image

GREAT NEWS for hobbyist developers!

If you do plan to sell your game then you need to complete the forms on the website (game submission form), provide a disc with screenshots and videos of your game, a game synopsis and pay the registration fee (currently R1 508.64) and then wait for the classification.

Microsoft have confirmed & I have tested that the forced requirement for the FPB certification in the marketplace no longer exists. You can submit a certification but you are not forced to. Only downside at the moment is Window Phone 7 – when you submit a game for the South African market regardless of price they require the certification which is incorrect. I have submitted a request to Microsoft for details on this and will update you as soon as I have any information.

26 Jul 2011

Are you using the .NET name correctly & other interesting brand info

Not talking about the technology but various identifiers in the .NET world are often abused. I know this is SUPER pedantic of me, but it is something I come across watching lots of presentations. Getting this right shows a level of polish and knowledge, and getting it wrong shows that either you not paying attention, don’t know what you are talking about or just don’t care.

So here are some brand/naming problems I see:

  • .NET – I often see people use .net or .Net, the correct capitalisation is ALL caps. There is NO excuse for this one, just do it right.
  • .NET Framework 4 – With .NET 4, the marketing people dropped the .0 like we had with 2.0 or 3.5, so stop saying four-oh, it’s just 4.
  • Windows Phone 7 – It is Windows Phone 7, not Windows Mobile 7 (no such product) or Windows 7 Phone.
  • Microsoft Visual C♯ 2010 – I make this one often and call it C♯ 4, it is actually Microsoft Visual C♯ 2010.
  • Should you use ♯ or # with C♯ – either is acceptable. However Microsoft recommends the “Music Sharp Sign” for marketing material.
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate – That is the full product name. The issue I see often is people putting .NET in there, ala Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2010. There is NO .NET in the name. There was a release in 2002 called Visual Studio .NET, but that was a specific release and is not the product name.
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 – A lot of people are using the term MOSS to describe SharePoint Server. It is not MOSS in 2010. In 2007 it was Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, but the Office part was dropped for the 2010 release and the MOSS acronym along with it.
  • Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Foundation – Like MOSS above people love to use WSS for SharePoint Foundation. It’s not called that in 2010…. there isn’t even a W in the whole name now.
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Documentation – There is a very bad habit (I do it too) to call this MSDN. MSDN is not the help that is install on your machine with Visual Studio! MSDN is a website Microsoft runs for developers which has help on it and also a subscription service where you can get Microsoft software legally and cheap for development purposes. So while it is two things on the Internet, it is NOT on your machine.
  • MacLean – Thought I would just throw this one in, it’s my surname. It has a ‘a’ in the second position and a capital L. It is not Mclean, McLean, Maclean or ‘Hey you, stop kicking my dog…’ Smile with tongue out
26 Jul 2011

Time to move from YallaApps

Stormtrooper: Let me see your identification.
Obi-Wan: [with a small wave of his hand] You don't need to see his identification.
Stormtrooper: We don't need to see his identification.
Obi-Wan:These aren't the droids you're looking for.
Stormtrooper:These aren't the droids we're looking for.
Obi-Wan: He can go about his business.
Stormtrooper: You can go about your business.
Obi-Wan: Move along.
Stormtrooper: Move along... move along.

This memorable quote above is exactly what is happening at the moment, South African Windows Phone 7 developers are being told to move along away from YallaApps, which has helped us to the official Microsoft AppHub, as it is now available here.

Should you do it though is an important question? The answer – YES!

YallaApps is like when Luke decided to leave Tatooine, there is nothing there for him. Yalla has even confirmed this to me:

image

What about the money you paid to Yalla (or your free $100 credit) – well if you migrate before 20 August 2011 you will  be refunded Smile SO GO GO GO!

Last and importantly, how do you do this?

Please note that there is a deadline to complete this process by August 2011 15 September 2011 (edit: this date was extended, and thus the update! More details are the DPE blog) in order to be eligible for a refund.

  1. Go to http://create.msdn.com. Click on ‘Join to submit your apps & games’ on the left. (You must be a member of a Windows Phone Marketplace supported country, as indicated by your country code – list provided in FAQ).
  2. Click ‘join now’ and sign in using your Windows Live ID.
  3. In the ‘personal details’ step, provide the same email address you used when registering with  Yalla Apps.
  4. In the ‘my profile’ step, choose a display picture and enter a Gamertag. This is required to enable your account for Xbox LIVE development.
  5. In the remaining steps, pay the registration fee using a credit card from one of the Windows Phone Marketplace supported countries (list provided in FAQ). Only the 1st year’s registration fee will be eligible for reimbursement.
  6. Login to your Yalla Apps account and go to http://www.yallaapps.com/dashboard/apphubmigration-refund. Fill the form and tick the option ‘I have created a new AppHub account and wish to cancel my Yalla Apps account’, and click ‘Update’.
  7. Remove all your Apps from Yalla Apps and re-publish them normally to AppHub.
  8. In case you had Paid Apps on Yalla Apps, please send an email to [email protected] to notify Yalla Apps once you have removed your Apps so that your final payout can be processed.
  9. You will receive the final payout of all amounts due to you from Paid App sales from Yalla Apps within 2 months after you have deleted all your Apps from Yalla Apps. Your payout amount must exceed US $25 in order for the payment to be processed. The payout will be conducted via PayPal or MoneyBookers, according to the payout details you have specified on your user profile. In case of any questions regarding pending payouts, kindly send an email to [email protected] .
  10.   Within 2 months of registering on the App Hub, your registration fee will be reversed on your credit card, if you correctly followed all the instructions. You can review your credit card charges at the Microsoft Billing and Account Management website by following the instructions here.
12 Jul 2011

YallaApps - Delays in submission!

Updated: This has been resolved, see comments below for details from YallaApps.

YallaApps, the company that submit Windows Phone Apps in parts of the world Microsoft forgets, has a BIG problem at the moment and to make things worse they are not talking about it publically!

In short something is borked between YallaApps and App Hub (the Microsoft submission side) and as such there is a hold on all submissions! So the very purpose for it has stopped, and there is not a mention on the blog or site about this. Very poorly done Yalla!

How did I find out? I emailed them because after 5 days my app hadn’t been submitted! Below is their response.

image

06 Jun 2011

Pepper: Issue causing crashes

Update 6 June 2011 15h30 (GMT +0200): All is working now, post left for archival purposes.

Pepper, everyone's favourite Visual Studio add-in for synchronisation of Visual Studio settings, is currently DOWN Sad smile and trying to use Pepper will cause it to crash Visual Studio Sad smile

Something has gone seriously wrong in the SQL Azure database that powers it and I’ve logged a call with Microsoft to have it investigated and repaired.

As soon as I have any updates, I will update this page. Thanks for your patience.

Updates:

Update 6 June 2011 13h45 (GMT +0200): Testing is showing the database issue is resolved however I am awaiting confirmation from Microsoft Support before I sound the all clear.
Update 6 June 2011 15h30 (GMT +0200): All clear. The cause was the database disappeared! Seriously, just gone. Couldn't see it in SQL management studio or in the Azure management portal and the web services Pepper uses couldn't talk to it either. During the Microsoft investigation the database reappeared and unfortunately support has been unable to identify what happened (or they not telling me... but I'm paranoid).
19 Apr 2011

What's new in Microsoft .NET Framework 4 Platform Update 1?

Even this Pooh is confused by the new PU!Microsoft today made me happy & sad all at once! Let’s hit the bad news bit first: (rant start) WTF is a Platform Update? The .NET Framework must be the least logically named thing ever! We have had to endure such inconsistencies major releases be a point difference release (.NET 1.0 vs. .NET 1.1 and again with .NET 3.0 vs. .NET 3.5) while other times major releases are major number differences (.NET 2.0 & .NET 4 come to mind), we've had service packs be patch updates until .NET 3.5 SP 1 which included MASSIVE new functionality and had finally .NET 4 dropped the .0 after the 4 (see how many Microsoft staff mess this up still), in contrast to every release before it! There is zero logic or pattern in this naming, which just adds to MASSIVE customer confusion. Today we are introduced to a Platform Update, and not just PU (like Poo or Pooh) but PU1… that implies more is coming… so WTF is it? Rant over, promise.

It is NOT the new name for bug fixes, the PU is in fact the best news for Workflow Foundation people as it includes some seriously powerful new features.

untitled2We finally get a complete state machine in WF (dance):

  • Entry and exit actions for a state
  • Conditional and default transitions that have transition actions
  • Scoped variables for a state machine
  • Improved tracking support

I know this was available on Codeplex for a while (and there is still other good stuff on there for WF not included in this), but this is just awesome to get it officially as this implies to customers a seriousness & support that having on Codeplex does not.

I would be happy if it was just that but they have ALSO given us the ability to use SQL Azure as a store for WF instances!!

This is HUGE!!

Just imagine storing a workflow in the cloud until you need it later? Ideas for roaming devices, workflows that span across devices and, naturally, better usage of worker instances in the cloud themselves all are opened up by this.

Lastly (and least-ly for me) they add the CompensationExtension class, which is used if you are creating your own host and wish to enable support for compensations in workflows. Not a big deal for me, but this could bring new features into my favourite host AppFabric, but we will need to see if that happens in the future.

The update comes in three parts:

  1. The runtime update. You need this to do development & you need to install this on machines that make use of the new features. You can get the update at KB2478063.
  2. The multi-targeting update allows Visual Studio to give you the option for this in VS as a drop down (see below) you can get this from KB2495638.

    untitled

  3. The designer update, which does include both of the above and provides all the bits needed to make use of the new features in VS. You can get it from KB2495593

So what you waiting for?! Go and get your workflow on!

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