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Windows 8 Metro Tips and Tricks


Windows 8 Metro Style

It is important to know some key shortcats in order to be productive and efficient when working in Windows 8 specially in Metro style Mode. Since any Metro App does not have Exit option it is important to know how to return back or how to log off or turn off our PC.

Since there is no Exit command in Metro, applications cannot be exited in the traditional way. In fact every Metro style app has three states Active- when it is showed on screen, Suspended- when it is in background and Destroyed- when OS kill the process of your app. When other Windows 8 Metro app is launched, the previous application goes off the screen and becomes suspended. After about 5 seconds application goes to transient state. It is important to know that suspended apps are not removed from memory, but all their threads are suspended. On that way suspended application can be activated and showed on the Metro screen immediately. On the other hand suspended apps don’t consume energy or they consume energy in minimum amount. Suspended apps can be terminated of a low memory condition. This is the case when the application is relaunched as a new run. During relaunching it can be implemented so that the app can restore its state from persistent storage and appear to the user as if it has never been gone.

At the end of this blog post let’s review the shortcuts for some action in Windws 8 Metro:

  • winkey – switch between Desktop and Metro mode
  • winkey+L – Log off from the Window current session
  • winkey+F – Open Metro Search engine for searching different content: Apps, files, settings, etc
  • winkey+P – Change Monitors layout.
  • winkey+any – Starts searching for content.
  •  winkey+ESC – Back to Desktop mode (Windows 7++).
  • winkey+i –    Setting of Desktop, Power, Audio and Network.
  • winkey+o – Lock screen rotation.
  • winkey+d –  Whos Desktop mode (Windows 7++)
  • winkey+h –  Open the share charm
  • winkey+k –   Open the connect share charm
  • winkey+TAB – Toggles between opened apps
  • winkey+SPACE – Toggles input language and keyboard
  • winkey+c –   Open the “charms bar” (share, settings, shutdown)
  • Mouse RClick on App Tile – shows the App Bar with advanced option.
  • ALT+TAB – Switch between apps.
  • Press any key – Unlock screen
  • CTRL+SHIFT+ESC – force to close metro app, since there is no Exit option in app.

Consuming WCF in Windows 8 Metro style app


Asynchronous programming is introduced in a new version of programming languages (C++, C# and JavaScript) which are part of the WinRT and .NET. If you are programming in C# you can program asynchronous by using async and await keyword. In fact when you program with async and await you actually program as ordinary synchronous code. That’s the big thing about this type of programming model.
More information about C# asynchronous programming you can found in my previous posts.
Since we have asynchronous programming model in all languages calling service operations asynchrony is not relevant at all. We can just forget it and start writing code like synchronous. To see hot new pattern is reflected in WCF lets implement simple service and simple metro style app consumer.
Implementation of the WCF Simple Service:

  • Create new ASP.NET Empty Web App
  • Add new Item-> WCF Service
  • Name it as SimpleService.svc


Service Interface looks like the following implementation:

[ServiceContract]
public interface ISimpleService
{
    [OperationContract]
    [WebGet(UriTemplate="AllData",ResponseFormat= WebMessageFormat.Json)]
    List<string> GetSomeData();
}

Implement one operation in the service like the following code implementation:

public class SimpleService : ISimpleService
{
    public List<string> GetSomeData()
    {
        List<string> lst = new List<string>();
        for (int i = 0; i < 10; i++)
        {
            System.Threading.Thread.Sleep(100);
            lst.Add(string.Format("Item number {0}", i + 1));
        }
        return lst;
    }
}

The mentioned operation returns list of string but between populating the collection we sleep the current thread for 0,5 second in order to simulate log running operation.

It is necessary to publish the WCF service on remote host, in order to consume it. I still dont know why WCF service cannot be consumed by Metro app on the localhost. After the service is published on remoter host, we are ready to create Metro style Consumer app.

  • Right click on solution item
  • Add New Project
  • Choose Application template from the Metro Style app
  • Name it WCFConsumer

  • Add service reference to C# Metro Stryle app.
  • Add the GridView and some other input controls (buttons, editbox , etc) that we can test application responsiveness. Add the following XAML code in MainPage.xaml:
<Grid x:Name="LayoutRoot" Background="#FF0C0C0C">
    <Grid.ColumnDefinitions>
        <ColumnDefinition Width="151*"/>
        <ColumnDefinition Width="326*"/>
        <ColumnDefinition Width="207*"/>
    </Grid.ColumnDefinitions>
    <Grid.RowDefinitions>
        <RowDefinition Height="74*"/>
        <RowDefinition Height="185*"/>
        <RowDefinition Height="68*"/>
    </Grid.RowDefinitions>
    <GridView x:Name="gridData" Grid.Column="1" Grid.Row="1" />
    <HyperlinkButton Content="HyperlinkButton"   Grid.Column="1" HorizontalAlignment="Left" Height="25" Margin="58,30,0,0" VerticalAlignment="Top" Width="126"/>
    <Button Content="Button" Grid.Column="1" HorizontalAlignment="Left" Height="40" Margin="69,8,0,0" Grid.Row="2" VerticalAlignment="Top" Width="182"/>
    <TextBox Grid.Column="2" HorizontalAlignment="Left" Height="27" Margin="21,79,0,0" Grid.Row="1" Text="TextBox" VerticalAlignment="Top" Width="161"/>
    <TextBox HorizontalAlignment="Left" Height="15" Margin="24,79,0,0" Grid.Row="1" Text="TextBox" VerticalAlignment="Top" Width="102"/>
    <Image Grid.ColumnSpan="2" Grid.Column="1" HorizontalAlignment="Left" Height="100" Margin="312,240,0,-272" Grid.Row="2" VerticalAlignment="Top" Width="100"/>
</Grid>

The picture below shows the example ot the mainPage.

  • Implement Loaded event in to MainPage.xaml and insert the following code.
private void UserControl_Loaded(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
{
        SimpleServiceNamespace.SimpleServiceClient client = new SimpleServiceNamespace.SimpleServiceClient();
        var servicedata = client.GetSomeDataAsync();
        gridData.ItemsSource = servicedata.Result;
}

Even if GetSomeDataAsync method is asynchronous we don’t implement callback because this operation is implemented based on the async and await C# keyword and no need to do that.
Just assign the result of the servicedata to the GridView.ItemsSource.
If we run the app, we can see that the data is loaded asynchronously and UI is not blocked. We can click on buttons, tipe some texts while data is loading. This is awesome and now we can think about application logic instead of callback service implementation. This programming pattern works not just for Metro style apps, in fact it works for all .NET 4.5 based applications.

The Designer cannot be displayed when running with elevated privileges. Please restart this program in non-elevated mode to enable the Designer.


If you see such a picture in your Visual Studio 2011 DP you probably have run VS as Administrator.

To enable designer run VS 2011 as ordinary user and you problem will disapier.

Metro style Apps in Windows 8


We have seen a lot of news from the past week. There is a new technology announced from Microsoft: Metro Style App and Windows Run Time. This is software platform under new Microsoft upcoming OS Windows 8, which can run on various hardware: PC, Notebook, Tablet and Phone. Great source about this can be found on http://www.buildwindows.com/ and related msdn web site. There are also plenty of sessions about all programming languages and platforms, so if you want to be uptodate with the latest Microsoft technologies don’t lose time, go to site and learn about new Metro style Apps and Windows 8.

I am going to show two diagrams which are very important, in order to understand how metro style apps and Windows Runtime stand in Windows 8 and what about existing .NET platform.

Arhitecture diagram of Windows 8 for developer perspective is shown here.

Windows 8 Architecture diagram

As can be see Windows Runtime is neither .NET nor a part of it. This is brand new platform natively supported by Windows 8. C# and VB are not exclusively .NET languages. By C# you can program .NET applications and Metro style App as well.

Regarding the Windows Runtime you can develop Windows 8 Metro style apps in several languages like C++, C# and VB, as well as JavaScript and HTML5. Every Metro style App goes through Language projection before access Windows Runtime and Windows 8 Core. Language projection has similar logic as IL in .NET but it is completely different technology.

The big thing is that every language supports asynchronous programming model which metro style applications gives responsiveness and better user experience.

You can also mix the JavaScript and C# components. Just make a C# components define it as WinMD file output type, include in JavaScript and HTML project and use it as ordinary JavaScript component. We can see this in further blog post. With WinMD file you can reuse some C# components and use them in HTML and JavaScript project.

Windows Runtime architecture

That’s all for the first blog post about new Windows 8 and Metro style app. In the next post we going to talk about WCF service and consuming it in Metro style apps.