Programming Windows 8 Apps with HTML, CSS and JavaScript, 2Ed


Kraig Brockschmidt Windows® 8 Apps Programming with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript SECOND PREVIEW PUBLISHED BY Microsoft Press A Division of Microsoft Corporation One Microsoft Way Redmond, Washington 98052-6399 Copyright © 2012 Microsoft Corporation All rights reserved. No part of the contents of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without the written permission of the publisher. ISBN: 978-0-7356-7261-1 This document supports a preliminary release of a software product that may be changed substantially prior to final commercial release. This document is provided for informational purposes only and Microsoft makes no warranties, either express or implied, in this document. Information in this document, including URL and other Internet website references, is subject to change without notice. The entire risk of the use or the results from the use of this document remains with the user. 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Acquisitions, Developmental, and Project Editor: Devon Musgrave Cover: Twist Creative • Seattle Introduction ....................................................................................................... 11 Who This Book Is For ................................................................................................................................................................. 12 What You'll Need ........................................................................................................................................................................ 13 A Formatting Note...................................................................................................................................................................... 13 Acknowledgements .................................................................................................................................................................... 13 Errata & Book Support .............................................................................................................................................................. 14 We Want to Hear from You ..................................................................................................................................................... 15 Stay in Touch ................................................................................................................................................................................ 15 Chapter 1: The Life Story of a WinRT App: Platform Characteristics of Windows 8 .......................................................... 16 Leaving Home: Onboarding to the Store ............................................................................................................................ 17 Discovery, Acquisition, and Installation ............................................................................................................................... 20 Playing in Your Own Room: The App Container .............................................................................................................. 23 Different Views of Life: View States and Resolution Scaling ......................................................................................... 27 Those Capabilities Again: Getting to Data and Devices ................................................................................................. 30 Taking a Break, Getting Some Rest: Process Lifecycle Management ......................................................................... 33 Remembering Yourself: App State and Roaming ............................................................................................................. 35 Coming Back Home: Updates and New Opportunities .................................................................................................. 39 And, Oh Yes, Then There’s Design ......................................................................................................................................... 40 Chapter 2: Quickstart ........................................................................................ 42 A Really Quick Quickstart: The Blank App Template ....................................................................................................... 42 Blank App Project Structure ................................................................................................................................................ 45 QuickStart #1: Here My Am! and an Introduction to Blend for Visual Studio ........................................................ 50 Design Wireframes ................................................................................................................................................................. 50 Create the Markup ................................................................................................................................................................. 53 Styling in Blend ....................................................................................................................................................................... 55 Adding the Code .................................................................................................................................................................... 59 Extra Credit: Receiving Messages from the iframe ...................................................................................................... 71 The Other Templates ................................................................................................................................................................. 73 Fixed Layout Template .......................................................................................................................................................... 73 Navigation Template ............................................................................................................................................................. 74 3 Grid Template .......................................................................................................................................................................... 74 Split Template .......................................................................................................................................................................... 74 What We’ve Just Learned ......................................................................................................................................................... 75 Chapter 3: App Anatomy and Page Navigation ........................................... 76 Local and Web Contexts within the App Host .................................................................................................................. 77 Referencing Content from App Data: ms-appdata ..................................................................................................... 81 Sequential Async Operations: Chaining Promises ............................................................................................................ 84 Debug Output, Error Reports, and the Event Viewer ................................................................................................. 87 App Activation ............................................................................................................................................................................. 89 Branding Your App 101: The Splash Screen and Other Visuals............................................................................... 89 Activation Event Sequence .................................................................................................................................................. 92 Activation Code Paths ........................................................................................................................................................... 93 WinJS.Application Events ..................................................................................................................................................... 95 Extended Splash Screens ...................................................................................................................................................... 97 App Lifecycle Transition Events and Session State ........................................................................................................... 99 Suspend, Resume, and Terminate ...................................................................................................................................100 Basic Session State in Here My Am! ...............................................................................................................................104 Data from Services and WinJS.xhr .......................................................................................................................................106 Handling Network Connectivity (in Brief).....................................................................................................................109 Tips and Tricks for WinJS.xhr ............................................................................................................................................109 Page Controls and Navigation ..............................................................................................................................................111 WinJS Tools for Pages and Page Navigation ...............................................................................................................111 The Navigation App Template, PageControl Structure, and PageControlNavigator ....................................112 The Navigation Process and Navigation Styles ..........................................................................................................118 Optimizing Page Switching: Show-and-Hide ..............................................................................................................120 Completing the Promises Story ............................................................................................................................................120 What We’ve Just Learned .......................................................................................................................................................122 Chapter 4: Controls, Control Styling, and Data Binding ........................... 124 The Control Model for HTML, CSS, and JavaScript ........................................................................................................125 HTML Controls ...........................................................................................................................................................................126 4 WinJS stylesheets: ui-light.css, ui-dark.css, and win-* styles ...................................................................................129 Extensions to HTML Elements ..........................................................................................................................................130 WinJS Controls ...........................................................................................................................................................................130 WinJS Control Instantiation ...............................................................................................................................................132 Strict Processing and processAll Functions ..................................................................................................................133 Example: WinJS.UI.Rating Control ...................................................................................................................................134 Example: WinJS.UI.Tooltip Control..................................................................................................................................135 Working with Controls in Blend ...........................................................................................................................................137 Control Styling ...........................................................................................................................................................................139 Styling Gallery: HTML Controls ........................................................................................................................................141 Styling Gallery: WinJS Controls ........................................................................................................................................143 Some Tips and Tricks ...........................................................................................................................................................146 Custom Controls ........................................................................................................................................................................147 Custom Control Examples .................................................................................................................................................149 Custom Controls in Blend ..................................................................................................................................................151 Data Binding ...............................................................................................................................................................................154 Data Binding in WinJS .........................................................................................................................................................157 Additional Binding Features..............................................................................................................................................162 What We’ve Just Learned .......................................................................................................................................................165 Chapter 5: Collections and Collection Controls .......................................... 167 Collection Control Basics ........................................................................................................................................................168 Quickstart #1: The HTML FlipView Control Sample ..................................................................................................168 Quickstart #2a: The HTML ListView Essentials Sample .............................................................................................170 Quickstart #2b: The ListView Grouping Sample .........................................................................................................172 ListView in the Grid App Project Template ..................................................................................................................177 The Semantic Zoom Control .................................................................................................................................................181 FlipView Features and Styling ...............................................................................................................................................184 Data Sources ...............................................................................................................................................................................187 A FlipView Using the Pictures Library ............................................................................................................................187 Custom Data Sources ..........................................................................................................................................................189 5 How Templates Really Work..................................................................................................................................................191 Referring to Templates .......................................................................................................................................................191 Template Elements and Rendering.................................................................................................................................192 Template Functions (Part 1): The Basics ........................................................................................................................193 ListView Features and Styling ................................................................................................................................................195 When Is ListView the Wrong Choice? ............................................................................................................................195 Options, Selections, and Item Methods ........................................................................................................................197 Styling .......................................................................................................................................................................................200 Backdrops ................................................................................................................................................................................201 Layouts and Cell Spanning ................................................................................................................................................202 Optimizing ListView Performance .......................................................................................................................................208 Random Access .....................................................................................................................................................................209 Incremental Loading ............................................................................................................................................................210 Template Functions (Part 2): Promises, Promises! .....................................................................................................210 What We’ve Just Learned .......................................................................................................................................................216 Chapter 6: Layout............................................................................................ 218 Principles of WinRT app Layout ...........................................................................................................................................219 Quickstart: Pannable Sections and Snap Points ..............................................................................................................223 Laying Out the Hub .............................................................................................................................................................223 Laying Out the Sections......................................................................................................................................................225 Snap Points .............................................................................................................................................................................225 The Many Faces of Your Display ..........................................................................................................................................226 View States ..............................................................................................................................................................................227 Screen Size, Pixel Density, and Scaling ..........................................................................................................................234 Adaptive and Fixed Layouts for Display Size ...................................................................................................................238 Fixed Layouts and the ViewBox Control .......................................................................................................................239 Adaptive Layouts ..................................................................................................................................................................241 Using the CSS Grid ....................................................................................................................................................................243 Overflowing a Grid Cell ......................................................................................................................................................244 Centering Content Vertically ............................................................................................................................................245 6 Scaling Font Size ...................................................................................................................................................................246 Item Layout .................................................................................................................................................................................247 CSS 2D and 3D Transforms................................................................................................................................................247 Flexbox .....................................................................................................................................................................................248 Nested and Inline Grids ......................................................................................................................................................249 Fonts and Text Overflow ....................................................................................................................................................250 Multicolumn Elements and Regions ...............................................................................................................................251 What We’ve Just Learned .......................................................................................................................................................254 Chapter 7: Commanding UI ........................................................................... 256 Where to Place Commands ...................................................................................................................................................257 The App Bar ................................................................................................................................................................................261 App Bar Basics and Standard Commands ....................................................................................................................263 App Bar Styling ......................................................................................................................................................................272 Command Menus .................................................................................................................................................................274 Custom App Bars and Navigation Bars .........................................................................................................................276 Flyouts and Menus....................................................................................................................................................................277 WinJS.UI.Flyout Properties, Methods, and Events ......................................................................................................279 Flyout Examples ....................................................................................................................................................................280 Menus and Menu Commands ..........................................................................................................................................283 Message Dialogs ........................................................................................................................................................................288 Improving Error Handling in Here My Am! ......................................................................................................................289 What We’ve Just Learned .......................................................................................................................................................294 Chapter 8: State, Settings, Files, and Documents ....................................... 295 The Story of State ......................................................................................................................................................................296 Settings and State .................................................................................................................................................................298 App Data Locations ..............................................................................................................................................................299 AppData APIs (WinRT and WinJS) ...................................................................................................................................301 Using App Data APIs for State Management ..............................................................................................................310 Settings Pane and UI ................................................................................................................................................................316 Design Guidelines for Settings .........................................................................................................................................317 7 Populating Commands .......................................................................................................................................................320 Implementing Commands: Links and Settings Flyouts ............................................................................................321 User Data: Libraries, File Pickers, and File Queries .........................................................................................................326 Using the File Picker ............................................................................................................................................................327 Media Libraries ......................................................................................................................................................................336 Documents and Removable Storage..............................................................................................................................337 Rich Enumeration with File Queries................................................................................................................................338 Here My Am! Update ...............................................................................................................................................................344 What We’ve Just Learned .......................................................................................................................................................344 Chapter 9: Input and Sensors ........................................................................ 346 Touch, Mouse, and Stylus Input ...........................................................................................................................................347 The Touch Language, Its Translations, and Mouse/Keyboard Equivalents .......................................................348 What Input Capabilities Are Present? ............................................................................................................................355 Unified Pointer Events .........................................................................................................................................................357 Gesture Events .......................................................................................................................................................................360 The Gesture Recognizer .....................................................................................................................................................369 Keyboard Input and the Soft Keyboard .............................................................................................................................371 Soft Keyboard Appearance and Configuration ..........................................................................................................371 Adjusting Layout for the Soft Keyboard .......................................................................................................................374 Standard Keystrokes ............................................................................................................................................................376 Inking ............................................................................................................................................................................................377 Geolocation .................................................................................................................................................................................380 Sensors ..........................................................................................................................................................................................383 What We’ve Just Learned .......................................................................................................................................................386 Chapter 10: Media .......................................................................................... 387 Creating Media Elements .......................................................................................................................................................388 Graphics Elements: Img, Svg, and Canvas (and a Little CSS) ......................................................................................390 Additional Characteristics of Graphics Elements ........................................................................................................393 Some Tips and Tricks ...........................................................................................................................................................394 Video Playback and Deferred Loading ..............................................................................................................................398 8 Disabling Screen Savers and the Lock Screen During Playback ............................................................................400 Video Element Extension APIs ..........................................................................................................................................401 Applying a Video Effect ......................................................................................................................................................402 Browsing Media Servers .....................................................................................................................................................403 Audio Playback and Mixing ...................................................................................................................................................403 Audio Element Extension APIs..........................................................................................................................................405 Playback Manager and Background Audio .................................................................................................................406 Playing Sequential Audio ...................................................................................................................................................410 Playlists .........................................................................................................................................................................................411 Loading and Manipulating Media .......................................................................................................................................414 Media File Metadata ............................................................................................................................................................414 Image Manipulation and Encoding ................................................................................................................................423 Manipulating Audio and Video .......................................................................................................................................429 Media Capture ...........................................................................................................................................................................433 Flexible Capture with the MediaCapture Object ........................................................................................................435 Selecting a Media Capture Device ..................................................................................................................................439 Streaming Media and PlayTo ................................................................................................................................................440 Streaming from a Server and Digital Rights Management (DRM) .......................................................................441 Streaming from App to Network ....................................................................................................................................442 PlayTo .......................................................................................................................................................................................443 What We Have Learned ..........................................................................................................................................................446 Chapter 11: Purposeful Animations ............................................................. 448 Systemwide Enabling and Disabling of Animations ......................................................................................................450 The WinJS Animations Library ..............................................................................................................................................451 Animations in Action ...........................................................................................................................................................454 CSS Animations and Transitions ...........................................................................................................................................458 The Independent Animations Sample ...........................................................................................................................463 Rolling Your Own: Tips and Tricks .......................................................................................................................................464 What We’ve Just Learned .......................................................................................................................................................469 Chapter 12: Contracts ..................................................................................... 470 9 Share ..............................................................................................................................................................................................472 Source Apps............................................................................................................................................................................474 Target Apps ............................................................................................................................................................................480 The Clipboard ........................................................................................................................................................................491 Search............................................................................................................................................................................................493 Search in the App Manifest and the Search Item Template ...................................................................................496 Basic Search and Search Activation ................................................................................................................................496 Providing Query Suggestions ...........................................................................................................................................499 Providing Result Suggestions ...........................................................................................................................................503 Type to Search .......................................................................................................................................................................504 Launching Apps: File Type and URI Scheme Associations ...........................................................................................504 File Activation ........................................................................................................................................................................506 Protocol Activation ..............................................................................................................................................................508 File Picker Providers .................................................................................................................................................................509 Manifest Declarations ..........................................................................................................................................................510 Activation of a File Picker Provider .................................................................................................................................511 Cached File Updater .................................................................................................................................................................518 Updating a Local File: UI ....................................................................................................................................................521 Updating a Remote File: UI ...............................................................................................................................................522 Update Events ........................................................................................................................................................................523 Contacts .......................................................................................................................................................................................527 Using the Contact Picker ....................................................................................................................................................529 Contact Picker Providers ....................................................................................................................................................531 What We’ve Just Learned .......................................................................................................................................................534 About the Author ........................................................................................... 536 Survey ............................................................................................................... 537 10 Introduction Welcome, my friends, to Windows 8! On behalf of the thousands of designers, program managers, developers, test engineers, and writers who have brought the product to life, I'm delighted to welcome you into a world of Windows Reimagined. This theme is no mere sentimental marketing ploy, intended to bestow an aura of newness to something that is essentially unchanged, like those household products that make a big splash on the idea of "New and Improved Packaging!" No, Microsoft Windows truly has been reborn—after more than a quarter-century, something genuinely new has emerged. I suspect—indeed expect—that you're already somewhat familiar with the reimagined user experience of Windows 8. You're probably reading this book, in fact, because you know that the ability of Windows 8 to reach across desktop, laptop, and tablet devices, along with the global reach of the Windows Store, will provide you with tremendous business opportunities, whether you're in business, as I like to say, for fame, fortune, fun, or philanthropy. We'll certainly see many facets of this new user experience throughout the course of this book. Our primary focus, however, will be on the reimagined developer experience. I don't say this lightly. When I first began giving presentations within Microsoft about building WinRT apps, as they are called (and also referred to as Windows Store apps in consumer contexts), I liked to show a slide of what the world was like in the year 1985. It was the time of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Cold War tensions. It was the time of VCRs and the discovery of AIDS. It was when Back to the Future was first released, Michael Jackson topped the charts with Thriller, and Steve Jobs was kicked out of Apple. And it was when software developers got their first taste of the original Windows API and the programming model for desktop applications. The longevity of that programming model has been impressive. It's been in place for over a quarter-century now and has grown to become the heart of the largest business ecosystem on the planet. The API itself, known today as Win32, has also grown to become the largest on the planet! What started out on the order of about 300 callable methods has expanded three orders of magnitude, well beyond the point that any one individual could even hope to understand a fraction of it. I'd certainly given up such futile efforts myself. So when I bumped into my old friend Kyle Marsh in the fall of 2009 just after Windows 7 had been released and heard from him that Microsoft was planning to reinvigorate native app development for Windows 8, my ears were keen to listen. In the months that followed I learned that Microsoft was introducing a completely new API called the Windows Runtime (or WinRT). This wasn't meant to replace Win32, mind you; desktop applications would still be supported. No, this was a programming model built from the ground up for a new breed of touch-centric, immersive apps that could compete with those emerging on various mobile platforms. It would be designed from the app developer's 11 point of view, rather than the system's, so that key features would take only a few lines of code to implement rather than hundreds or thousands. It would also enable direct native app development in multiple programming languages, which meant that new operating system capabilities would surface to those developers without having to wait for an update to some intermediate framework. This was very exciting news to me because the last time that Microsoft did anything significant to the Windows programming model was in the early 1990s with a technology called the Component Object Model (COM), which is exactly what allowed the Win32 API to explode as it did. Ironically, it was my role at that time to introduce COM to the developer community, which I did through two editions of Inside OLE (Microsoft Press) and seemingly endless travel to speak at conferences and visit partner companies. History, indeed, does tend to repeat itself, for here I am again! In December 2010, I was part of small team who set out to write the very first WinRT apps using what parts of the new WinRT API had become available. Notepad was the text editor of choice, we built and ran apps on the command line by using abstruse Powershell scripts that required us to manually type out ungodly hash strings, we had no documentation other than functional specifications, and we basically had no debugger to speak of other than the tried and true document.writeln. Indeed, we generally worked out as much HTML, CSS, and JavaScript as we could inside a browser with F12 debugging tools, only adding WinRT-specific code at the end because browsers couldn't resolve those APIs. You can imagine how we celebrated when we got anything to work at all! Fortunately, it wasn't long before tools like Visual Studio Express and Blend for Visual Studio became available. By the spring of 2011, when I was giving many training sessions to people inside Microsoft on building WinRT apps, the process was becoming far more enjoyable and far, far more productive. Indeed, while it took us some weeks in late 2010 to get even Hello World to show up on the screen, by the fall of 2011 we were working with partner companies who pulled together complete Store-ready apps in roughly the same amount of time. As we've seen—thankfully fulfilling our expectations—it's possible to build a great WinRT app in a matter of weeks. I'm hoping that this present volume, along with the extensive resources on http://dev.windows.com, will help you to accomplish exactly that and to reimagine your own designs. Who This Book Is For This book is about writing WinRT apps using HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript. Our primary focus will be on applying these web technologies within the Windows 8 platform, where there are unique considerations, and not on exploring the details of those web technologies themselves. For the most part, then, I'm assuming that you're already at least somewhat conversant with these standards. We will cover some of the more salient areas like the CSS grid, which is central to app layout, but otherwise I trust that you're capable of finding appropriate references for everything else. I'm also assuming that your interest in Windows 8 has at least two basic motivations. One, you 12 probably want to come up to speed as quickly as you can, perhaps to carve out a foothold in the Windows Store sooner rather than later. Toward that end, I've front-loaded the early chapters with the most important aspects of app development along with "Quickstart" sections to give you immediate experience with the tools, the API, and core platform features. On the other hand, you probably also want to make the best app you can, one that performs really well and that takes advantage of the full extent of the platform. Toward this end, I've also endeavored to make this book comprehensive, helping you at least be aware of what's possible and where optimizations can be made. Many insights have come from working directly with real-world developers on their real-world apps. As part of the Windows Ecosystem team, myself and my teammates have been on the front lines bringing those first apps to the Windows Store. This has involved writing bits of code for those apps and investigating bugs, along with conducting design, code, and performance reviews with members of the core Windows engineering teams. As such, one of my goals with this book is to make that deep understanding available to many more developers, including you! What You'll Need To work through this book, you should download and install the latest developer build of Windows 8 along with the Windows SDK and tools. These, along with a number of other resources, are listed on http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/apps/br229516. I also recommend you visit http://code.msdn.microsoft.com/windowsapps/Windows-8-Modern-Style-App-Samples and download the entire set of JavaScript samples; we'll be using many of them throughout this book. A Formatting Note Throughout this book, identifiers that appear in code, such as variable names, property names, and API functions and namespaces, are formatted with a color and a fixed-point font. Here’s an example: Windows.Storage.ApplicationData.current. At times these fully qualified names—those that that include the entire namespace—can become quite long, they are sometimes hyphenated across line breaks, as in Windows.Security.Cryptography.CryptographicBuffer.convertStringToBinary. Generally speaking, I’ve tried to hyphenate after a dot or between combined words but not within a word (and, as you can see earlier in this paragraph, this doesn’t always work out). In any case, these hyphens are never part of the identifier except when used in CSS where hyphens are allowed. Acknowledgements In many ways, this isn't my book—that is, it's not an account of my own experiences and opinions about WinRT apps on Windows 8. I'm serving more as a storyteller, where the story itself has been written by the thousands of people in the Windows team whose passion and dedication have been a 13 constant source of inspiration. Writing a book like this wouldn't be possible without all the work that's gone into customer research, writing specs, implementing, testing, and documenting all the details, managing daily builds and public releases, and writing perhaps the best set of samples I've ever seen for a platform. We'll be drawing on many of those samples, in fact, and even the words in some sections come directly from conversations I've had with the people who designed and developed a particular feature. I'm grateful for their time, and I’m delighted to give them a voice through which they can share their passion for excellence with you. A number of individuals deserve special mention for their long-standing support of this project. First to Chris Sells, with whom I co-authored the earliest versions of this book; to Mahesh Prakriya, Ian LeGrow, Anantha Kancherla, Keith Boyd and their respective teams, with whom I've worked closely; and to Keith Rowe, Dennis Flanagan, and Ulf Schoo, under whom I've had the pleasure of serving. Thanks also to Devon Musgrave at Microsoft Press, and to all those who have reviewed chapters and provided answers to my endless streams of questions: Chris Tavares, Jesse McGatha, Josh Williams, Feras Moussa, Jake Sabulsky, Henry Tappen, David Tepper, Mathias Jourdain, Ben Betz, Ben Srour, Adam Barrus, Ryan Demopoulos, Sam Spencer, Damian Kedzierski, Bill Ticehurst, Tarek Anya, Scott Graham, Scott Dickens, Jerome Holman, Kenichiro Tanaka, Sean Hume, Patrick Dengler, David Washington, Scott Hoogerwerf, Harry Pierson, Jason Olson, Justin Cooperman, Rohit Pagariya, Nathan Kuchta, Kevin Woley, Markus Mielke, Paul Gusmorino, Marc Wautier, Charing Wong, Chantal Leonard, Vincent Celie, Edgar Ruiz Silva, Mike Mastrangelo, Derek Gephard, Tyler Beam, Adam Stritzel, Rian Chung, Shijun Sun, Dale Rogerson, Megan Bates, Raymond Chen, Perumaal Shanmugam, Michael Crider, Axel Andrejs, Jake Sabulsky, as well as those I've forgotten and those still to come as the last set of chapters are added to the fnial edition. My direct teammates, Kyle Marsh, Todd Landstad, Shai Hinitz, Lora Heiny, and Joseph Ngari have also been invaluable in sharing what they've learned in working with real-world partners. Finally, special hugs to my wife Kristi and our young son Liam, who have lovingly been there the whole time and who don't mind my traipsing through the house to my office either late at night or early in the morning. Errata & Book Support We’ve made every effort to ensure the accuracy of this preview ebook and its companion content. When the final version of this book is available (in fall 2012), any errors that are reported after the book’s publication will be listed on our Microsoft Press site at oreilly.com. At that point, you can search for the book at http://microsoftpress.oreilly.com and then click the “View/Submit Errata” link. If you find an error that is not already listed, you can report it to us through the same page. If you need additional support, email Microsoft Press Book Support at mspinput@microsoft.com. Please note that product support for Microsoft software is not offered through the addresses above. Support for developers, however, can be found on the Windows Developer Center’s support section. 14 We Want to Hear from You At Microsoft Press, your satisfaction is our top priority, and your feedback our most valuable asset. Please tell us what you think of this book at http://www.microsoft.com/learning/booksurvey The survey is short, and we read every one of your comments and ideas. Thanks in advance for your input! Stay in Touch Let’s keep the conversation going! We’re on Twitter: http://twitter.com/MicrosoftPress 15 Chapter 1 The Life Story of a WinRT App: Platform Characteristics of Windows 8 Paper or plastic? Fish or cut bait? To be or not to be? Standards-based or native? These are the questions of our time…. Well, OK, maybe most of these aren’t the grist for university-level philosophy courses, but certainly the last one has been increasingly important for app developers. Standards-based apps are great because they run on multiple platforms; your knowledge and experience with standards like HTML5 and CSS3 are likewise portable. Unfortunately, because standards generally take a long time to produce, they always lag behind the capabilities of the platforms themselves. After all, competing platform vendors will, by definition, always be trying to differentiate! For example, while HTML5 now has a standard for geolocation/GPS sensors and has started on working drafts for other forms of sensor input (like accelerometers, compasses, near-field proximity, and so on), native platforms already make these available. And by the time HTML’s standards are in place and widely supported, the native platforms will certainly have added another set of new capabilities. As a result, developers wanting to build apps around cutting-edge features—to differentiate from their own competitors!—must adopt the programming language and presentation technology imposed by each native platform or take a dependency on a third-party framework that tries to bridge the differences. Bottom line: it’s a hard choice. Fortunately, Windows 8 provides what I personally think is a brilliant solution for apps. Early on, the Windows team set out to solve the problem of making native capabilities—the system API, in other words—directly available to any number of programming languages, including JavaScript. This is what’s known as the Windows Runtime API, or just WinRT for short. WinRT APIs are implemented according to a certain low-level structure and then “projected” into different languages in a way that looks and feels natural to developers familiar with those languages. This includes how objects are created, configured, and managed; how events, errors, and exceptions are handled; how asynchronous operations work (to keep the user experience fast and fluid); and even the casing of names on methods, properties, and events. The Windows team also made it possible to write native apps that employ a variety of presentation technologies, including DirectX, XAML, and, in the case of apps written in JavaScript, HTML5 and CSS3. 16 This means that Windows gives you—a developer already versed in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript standards—the ability to use what you know to write fully native Windows 8 apps using the WinRT API. Those apps will, of course, be specific to the Windows 8 platform, but the fact that you don’t have to learn a completely new programming paradigm is worthy of taking a week off to celebrate—especially because you won’t have to spend that week (or more) learning a complete new programming paradigm! Throughout this book we’ll explore how to leverage what you know of standards-based web technologies to build great Windows 8 apps. In the next chapter we’ll focus on the basics of a working app and the tools used to build it. Then we’ll look at fundamentals like the fuller anatomy of an app, controls, collections, layout, commanding, state management, and input, followed by chapters on media, animations, contracts through which apps work together, networking, devices, WinRT components, and the Windows Store (a topic that includes localization and accessibility). There is much to learn. For starters, let’s talk about the environment in which apps run and the characteristics of the platform on which they are built—especially the terminology that we’ll depend on in the rest of the book (highlighted in italics). We’ll do this by following an app’s journey from the point when it first leaves your hands, through its various experiences with your customers, to where it comes back home for rest, renewal, and rebirth. For in many ways your app is like a child: you nurture it through all its formative stages, doing everything you can to prepare it for life in the great wide world. So it helps to understand the nature of that world! Terminology note What we refer to as WinRT apps are those that are acquired from the Windows Store and for which all the platform characteristics in this chapter (and book) apply. In consumer contexts these are also known as Windows Store apps, but since we’re primarily interesting in how they’re written—using the WinRT API—we’ll refer to them as WinRT apps. These are distinctly different from traditional desktop applications that are acquired through regular retain channels and installed through their own installer programs. Unless noted, then, an “app” in this book refers to a WinRT app. Leaving Home: Onboarding to the Store For WinRT apps, there’s really one port of entry into the world: customers always acquire, install, and update apps through the Windows Store. Developers and enterprise users can side-load apps, but for the vast majority of the people you care about, they go to the Windows Store and the Store alone. This obviously means that an app—the culmination of your development work—has to get into the Store in the first place. This happens when you take your pride and joy, package it up, and upload it to the Store by using the Store/Upload App Package command in Visual Studio.1 The package itself is an 1 To do this you’ll need to create a developer account with the Store by using the Store/Open Developer Account command in Visual Studio Express. Visual Studio Express and Expression Blend, which we’ll be using as well, are free tools that you can obtain 17 appx file (.appx)—see Figure 1-1—that contains your app’s code, resources, libraries, and a manifest. The manifest describes the app (names, logos, etc.), the capabilities it wants to access (such as areas of the file system or specific devices like cameras), and everything else that’s needed to make the app work (such as file associations, declaration of background tasks, and so on). Trust me, we’ll become great friends with the manifest! FIGURE 1-1 An appx package is simply a zip file that contains the app’s files and assets, the app manifest, a signature, and a sort of table-of-contents called the blockmap. When uploading an app, the initial signature is provided by Visual Studio; the Windows Store will re-sign the app once it’s certified. The blockmap, for its part, describes how the app’s files are broken up into 64K blocks. In addition to providing certain security functions (like detecting whether a package has been tampered with) and performance optimization, the blockmap is used to determine exactly what parts of an app have been updated between versions so the Windows Store only needs to download those specific blocks rather than the whole app anew. The upload process will walk you through setting your app’s name, choosing selling details (including price tier, in-app purchases, and trial periods), providing a description and graphics, and also providing notes to manual testers. After that, your app essentially goes through a series of job interviews, if you will: background checks (malware scans and GeoTrust certification) and manual testing by a human being who will read the notes you provide (so be courteous and kind!). Along the way you can check your app’s progress through the Windows Store Dashboard.2 from http://dev.windows.com. This also works in Visual Studio Ultimate, the fuller, paid version of this flagship development environment. 2 All of the automated tests except the malware scans are incorporated into the Windows App Certification Kit, affectionately known as the WACK. This is part of the Windows SDK that is itself included with the Visual Studio Express/Expression Blend 18 The overarching goal with these job interviews (or maybe it’s more like getting through airport security!) is to help users feel confident and secure in trying new apps, a level of confidence that isn’t generally found with apps acquired from the open web. As all apps in the Store are certified, signed, and subject to ratings and reviews, customers can trust all apps from the Store as they would trust those recommended by a reliable friend. Truly, this is wonderful news for most developers, especially those just getting started—it gives you the same access to the worldwide Windows market that has been previously enjoyed only by those companies with an established brand or reputation. It’s worth noting that because you set up pricing, trial versions, and in-app purchases during the on-boarding process, you’ll have already thought about your app’s relationship to the Store quite a bit! After all, the Store is where you’ll be doing business with your app, whether you’re in business for fame, fortune, fun, or philanthropy. As a developer, indeed, this relationship spans the entire lifecycle of an app—from planning and development to distribution, support, and servicing. This is, in fact, why I’ve started this life story of an app with the Windows Store, because you really want to understand that whole lifecycle from the very beginning of planning and design. If, for example, you’re looking to turn a profit from a paid app or in-app purchases, perhaps also offering a time-limited or feature-limited trial, you’ll want to engineer your app accordingly. If you want to have a free, ad-supported app, or if you want to use a third-party commerce solution for in-app purchases (bypassing revenue sharing with the Store), these choices also affect your design from the get-go. And even if you’re just going to give the app away to promote a cause or to just share your joy, understanding the relationship between the Store and your app is still important. (For all these reasons, you might want to skip ahead read the first parts of Chapter 17, "Apps for Everyone," before you start writing your app in earnest.) Anyway, if your app hits any bumps along the road to certification, you’ll get a report back with all the details, such as any violations of the Certification requirements for Windows apps (part of the Windows Store agreements section). Otherwise, congratulations—your app is ready for customers! Sidebar: The Store API and Product Simulator The Windows.ApplicationModel.Store.CurrentProduct class in WinRT provides the ability for apps to retrieve their product information from the store (including in-app purchases), check license status, and prompt the user to make purchases (such as upgrading a trial or making an in-app purchase). Of course, this begs a question: how can an app test such features before it’s even in the Store? The answer is that during development, you use these APIs through the Windows.ApplicationModel.Store.CurrentProductSimulator class instead. This is entirely identical to CurrentProduct except that it works against local data in an XML file rather than live Store data in the cloud. This allows you to simulate the various conditions that your app might download. If you can successfully run the WACK during your development process, you shouldn’t have any problem passing the first stage of onboarding. 19 encounter so that you can exercise all your code paths appropriately. Just before packaging your app and sending it to the Store, you just change CurrentProductSimulator to CurrentProduct and you’re good to go. (If you forget, the simulator will simply fail on a non-developer machine, like those used by the Store testers.) Discovery, Acquisition, and Installation Now that your app is out in the world, its next job is to make itself known and attractive to potential customers. Simply said, while consumers can find your app in the Windows Store through browsing or search, you’ll still need to market your product as always. That’s one reality of the platform that certainly hasn’t changed. That aside, even when your app is found in the Store it still needs to present itself well to its suitors. Each app in the Store has a product description page where people see your app description, screen shots, ratings and reviews, and the capabilities your app has declared in its manifest, as shown in Figure 1-2. That last bit means you want to be judicious in declaring your capabilities. A music player app, for instance, will obviously declare its intent to access the user’s music library but usually doesn’t need to declare access to the pictures library unless it explains itself. Similarly, a communications app would generally ask for access to the camera and microphone, but a news reader app probably wouldn’t. On the other hand, an ebook reader might declare access to the microphone if it had a feature to attach audio notes to specific bookmarks. 20 FIGURE 1-2 A typical app page in the Windows Store, where the manifest in the app package determines what appears in the app permissions. Here, for example, PuzzleTouch’s manifest declares the Pictures Library, Webcam, and Internet (Client) capabilities. The point here is that what you declare needs to make sense to the user, and if there are any doubts you should clearly indicate the features related to those declarations in your app’s description. (Note how Puzzle Touch does that for the camera.) Otherwise the user might really wonder just what your news reader app is going to do with the microphone and might opt for another app that seems less intrusive.3 The user will also see your app pricing, of course, and whether you offer a trial period. Whatever the case, if they choose to install the app (getting it for free, paying for it, or accepting a trial), your app now becomes fully incarnate on a real user’s device. The appx package is downloaded to the device and installed automatically along with any dependencies, such as the Windows Library for JavaScript (see the sidebar on the next page.) As shown in Figure 1-3, the Windows deployment manager creates a folder for the app, extracts the package contents to that location, creates appdata folders (local, roaming, and temp, which the app can freely access, along with settings files for key-value pairs and some other system-managed folders), and does any necessary fiddling with the registry to install the app’s tile on the Start screen, create file associations, install libraries, and do all those other things that are again described in the manifest. There are no user prompts during this process—especially not those annoying dialogs about reading the licensing agreement! 3 The user always has the ability to disallow access to sensitive resources at run time for those apps that have declared the intent, as we’ll see later. However, as those capabilities surface directly in the Windows Store, you want to be careful to not declare those that you don’t really need. 21 FIGURE 1-3 The installation process for WinRT apps acquired from the Windows Store; the exact sequence is unimportant. In fact, licensing terms are integrated into the Store; acquisition of an app implies acceptance of those terms. (However, it is perfectly allowable for apps to show their own license acceptance page on startup, as well as require an initial login to a service if applicable.) But here’s an interesting point: do you remember the real purpose of all those lengthy, annoyingly all-caps licensing agreements that we all pretend to read? Almost all of them basically say that you can install the software on only one machine. Well, that changes with WinRT apps: instead of being licensed to a machine, they are licensed to the user, giving that user the right to install the app on up to five different devices. In this way WinRT apps are a much more personal thing than desktop apps have traditionally been. They are less general-purpose tools that multiple users share and more like music tracks or other media that really personalize the overall Windows experience. So it makes sense that users can replicate their customized experiences across multiple devices, something that Windows supports through automatic roaming of app data and settings between those devices. (More on that later.) In any case, the end result of all this is that the app and its necessary structures are wholly ready to awaken on a device, as soon as the user taps a tile on the Start page or launches it through features like Search and Share. And because the system knows about everything that happened during installation, it can also completely reverse the process for a 100% clean uninstall—completely blowing away the appdata folders, for example, and cleaning up anything and everything that was put in the registry. This keeps the rest of the system entirely clean over time, even though the user may be installing and uninstalling hundreds or thousands of apps. We like to describe this like the difference between having guests in your house and guests in a hotel. In your house, guests might eat your food, rearrange the furniture, break a vase or two, feed the pets leftovers, stash odds and ends in the backs of drawers, and otherwise leave any number of irreversible changes in their wake (and you know desktop apps that do this, I’m sure!). In a hotel, on the other hand, guests have access only to a very small part of the whole structure, and even if they trash their room, the hotel can clean it out and reset everything as if the guest was never there. Sidebar: What Is the Windows Library for JavaScript? The HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code in a WinRT app is only parsed, compiled, and rendered at run time. (See the “Playing in Your Own Room: The App Container” section below.) As a result, a number of system-level features for WinRT apps written in JavaScript, like controls, resource management, and default styling, are supplied through the Windows Library for JavaScript, or WinJS, rather than through the Windows Runtime API. This way, JavaScript developers see a natural integration of those features into the environment they already understand, rather than being forced to use different kinds of constructs. WinJS, for example, provides an HTML implementation of a number of controls such that they appear as part of the DOM and can be styled like any other intrinsic HTML controls. This is much more natural for developers to work with than having to create an instance of some WinRT class, 22 bind it to an HTML element, and style it through code or some other markup scheme rather than CSS. Similarly, WinJS provides an animations library built on CSS, rather than forcing developers to learn some other structure to accomplish the same end. In both cases, WinJS provides a core implementation of the Windows 8 user experience so that apps don’t have to figure out how to re-create that experience themselves. Generally speaking, WinJS is a toolkit that contains a number of independent capabilities that can be used together or separately. So WinJS also provides helpers for common JavaScript coding patterns, simplifying the definition of namespaces and object classes, handling of asynchronous operations (that are all over WinRT) through promises, and providing structural models for apps, data binding, and page navigation. At the same time, it doesn’t attempt to wrap WinRT unless there is a compelling scenario where WinJS can provide real value. After all, the mechanism through which WinRT is projected into JavaScript already translates WinRT structures into those familiar to JavaScript developers. All in all, WinJS is essential for and shared between every WinRT app written in JavaScript, and it's automatically downloaded and updated as needed when dependent apps are installed. We’ll see many of its features throughout this book. Sidebar: Third-Party Libraries WinJS is an example of a special shared library package that is automatically downloaded from the Windows Store for dependent apps. Microsoft maintains a few of these in the Store so that the package need be downloaded only once and then shared between apps. Shared third-party libraries are not currently supported. However, apps can freely use third-party libraries by bringing them into their own app package, provided of course that the libraries use only the APIs available to WinRT apps. For example, apps written in JavaScript can certainly use jQuery, Modernizer, Dojo, prototype.js, Box2D, and others, with the caveat that some functionality, especially UI and script injection, might not be supported. Apps can also use third-party binaries—known as WinRT components—that are again included in the app package. Also see the "Hybrid Apps" sidebar later in this chapter. Playing in Your Own Room: The App Container Now just as the needs of each day may be different when we wake up from our night’s rest, WinRT apps can wake up—be activated—for any number of reasons. The user can, of course, tap or click the app’s tile on the Start page. An app can also be launched in response to charms like Search and Share, through file or protocol associations, and a number of other mechanisms. We’ll explore these variants as we progress through this book. But whatever the case, there’s a little more to this part of the story 23 for apps written in JavaScript. In the app’s hidden package folder are the same kind of source files that you see on the web: .html files, .css files, .js files, and so forth. These are not directly executable like .exe files for apps written in C#, Visual Basic, or C++, so something has to take those source files and produce a running app with them. When your app is activated, then, what actually gets launched is that something: a special app host process called wwahost.exe4, as shown in Figure 1-4. FIGURE 1-4 The app host is an executable (wwahost.exe) that loads, renders, and executes HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, in much the same way that a browser runs a web application. The app host is more or less Internet Explorer 10 without the browser chrome—more in that your app runs on top of the same HTML/CSS/JavaScript engines as Internet Explorer, less in that a number of things behave differently in the two environments. For example:  A number of methods in the DOM API are either modified or not available, depending on their design and system impact. For example, functions that display modal UI and block the UI thread are not available, like window.alert, window.open, and window.prompt. (Try Windows.UI.Popups.MessageDialog instead for some of these needs.)  The engines support additional methods, properties, and even CSS media queries that are specific to being a app as opposed to a website. For example, special media queries apply to 4 “wwa” is an old acronym for WinRT apps written in JavaScript; some things just stick…. 24 the different Windows 8 view states; see the next section. Elements like audio, video, and canvas also have additional methods and properties. (At the same time, objects like MSApp and methods like requestAnimationFrame that are available in Internet Explorer are also available to WinRT apps.)  The default page of a WinRT app written in JavaScript runs in what’s called the local context wherein JavaScript code has access to WinRT, can make cross-domain XmlHttpRequests, and can access remote media (videos, images, etc.). However, you cannot load remote script (from http[s]:// sources, for example),5 and script is automatically filtered out of anything that might affect the DOM and open the app to injection attacks (e.g., document.write and innerHTML properties).  Other pages in the app, as well as individual iframe elements within a local context page, can run in the web context wherein you get web-like behavior (such as remote script) but don’t get WinRT access nor cross-domain XHR (though you can use parts of WinJS that don’t rely on WinRT). Web context iframes are generally used to host web controls on a locally packaged page (like a map), as we’ll see in Chapter 2, "Quickstart," or to load pages that are directly hosted on the web, while not allowing web pages to drive the app. For full details, see HTML and DOM API changes list and HTML, CSS, and JavaScript features and differences on the Windows Developer Center, http://dev.windows.com. As with the app manifest, you should become good friends with the Developer Center. Now all WinRT apps, whether hosted or not, run inside an environment called the app container. This is an insulation layer, if you will, that blocks local interprocess communication and either blocks or brokers access to system resources. The key characteristics of the app container are described next and then illustrated in Figure 1-5:  All WinRT apps (other than those that are built into Windows) run within a dedicated environment that cannot interfere with or be interfered with other apps, nor can apps interfere with the system.  WinRT apps, by default, get unrestricted read/write access only to their specific appdata folders on the hard drive (local, roaming, and temp). Access to everything else in the file system (including removable storage) has to go through a broker. This gatekeeper, if you will, provides access only if the app has declared the necessary capabilities in its manifest and/or the user has specifically allowed it. (We’ll see the specific list of capabilities shortly.)  WinRT apps cannot directly launch other apps by name or file path; they can programmatically launch other apps through file or URI scheme associations. As these are ultimately under the user’s control, there’s no guarantee that such an operation will start a specific app. However, we do encourage app developers to use app-specific URI schemes that will effectively identify your 5 Note that it is allowable in the local context to eval JavaScript code obtained from remote sources through other means, such as XHR. The restriction on directly loaded remote script is to specifically prevent cross-site scripting attacks. 25 specific app as a target. Technically speaking, another app could come along and register the same URI scheme (thereby giving the user a choice), but this is unlikely with a URI scheme that’s closely related to the app’s identity.  Access to sensitive devices (like the camera, microphone, and GPS) is similarly controlled—the WinRT APIs that work with those devices will simply fail if the broker blocks those calls. And access to critical system resources, such as the registry, simply isn’t allowed at all.  WinRT apps are isolated from one another to protect from various forms of attack. This also means that some legitimate uses (like a snipping tool to copy a region of the screen to the clipboard) cannot be written as a WinRT app (so they must be a desktop application).  Direct interprocess communication between WinRT apps, between WinRT apps and desktop applications, and between WinRT apps and local services, is blocked. Apps can still communicate through the cloud (web services, sockets, etc.), and many common tasks that require cooperation between apps—such as Search and Share—are handled through contracts in which those apps don’t need to know any details about each other. FIGURE 1-5 Process isolation for WinRT apps. The upshot of all this is that the platform is intentionally designed to provide a particular user experience through WinRT apps. This means that certain types of apps just won’t work as WinRT apps, such as file system utilities, antivirus, many kinds of development tools, registry cleaners, and anything else that can’t be written with the WinRT APIs (or the available subset of Win32 and .NET APIs; see the next sidebar). In short, if there isn’t an available API for the functionality in question, that functionality 26 isn’t supported in the app container. Such apps must presently be written as desktop applications. Sidebar: Hybrid Apps WinRT apps written in JavaScript can only access WinRT APIs directly; apps or libraries written in C#, Visual Basic, and C++ also have access to a small subset of Win32 and .NET APIs. (See Win32 and COM for WinRT apps.) Unfair? Not entirely, because you can write a WinRT component in those other languages that can the surface functionality built with those other APIs to the JavaScript environment (through the same projection mechanism that WinRT itself uses). Because these components are also compiled into binary dynamic-link libraries (DLLs), they will also typically run faster than the equivalent code written in JavaScript and also offer some degree of intellectual property protection (e.g., hiding algorithms). Such hybrid apps, as they’re called, thus use HTML/CSS for their presentation layer and some app logic, and they place the most performance critical or sensitive code in compiled DLLs. The dynamic nature of JavaScript, in fact, makes it a great language for gluing together multiple components. We’ll see more in Chapter 16, "WinRT Components." Different Views of Life: View States and Resolution Scaling So, the user has tapped on an app tile, the app host has been loaded into memory, and it’s ready to get everything up and running. What does the user see? The first thing that becomes immediately visible is the app’s splash screen, which is described in its manifest with an image and background color. This system-supplied screen guarantees that at least something shows up for the app when it’s activated, even if the app completely gags on its first line of code or never gets there at all. In fact, the app has 15 seconds to get its act together and display its main window, or Windows automatically gives it the boot (terminates it, that is) if the user switches away. This avoids having apps that hang during startup and just sit there like a zombie, where often the user can only kill it off by using that most consumer-friendly tool, Task Manager. (Yes, I’m being sarcastic—even though the Windows 8 Task Manager is in fact much more user-friendly.) Of course, some apps will need more time to load, in which case you create an extended splash screen. This just means making the initial view of your main window look the same as the splash screen so that you can then overlay progress indicators or other helpful messages like “Go get a snack, friend, ‘cause yer gonna be here a while!” Better yet, why not entertain your users so that they have fun with your app even during such a process? Now, when a normally launched app comes up, it has full command of the entire screen—well, not entirely. Windows reserves a one pixel space along every edge of the display through which it detects edge gestures, but the user doesn’t see that detail. Your app still gets to draw in those areas, mind you, but it will not be able to detect pointer events therein. A small sacrifice for full-screen glory! 27 The purpose of those edge gestures—swipes from the edge of the screen toward the center—is to keep both system chrome and app commands (like menus and other commanding UI) out of the way until needed—an aspect of the design principle we call “content before chrome.” This helps keep the user fully immersed in the app experience. To be more specific, the left and right edge gestures are reserved for the system, whereas the top and bottom are for the app. Swiping up from the top or bottom edges, as you’ve probably seen, brings up the app bar on the bottom of the screen where an app places most of its commands, and possibly also a navigation bar on the top. When running full-screen, the user’s device can be oriented in either portrait or landscape, and apps can process various events to handle those changes. An app can also specify a preferred startup orientation in the manifest and can also lock the orientation when appropriate. For example, a movie player will generally want to lock into landscape mode such that rotating the device doesn’t change the display. We’ll see all these layout details in Chapter 6, "Layout." What’s also true is that your app might not always be running full-screen. In landscape mode, there are actually three distinct view states that you need to be ready for with every page in the app: full-screen, snapped, and filled. (See Figure 1-6.) These view states allow the user to split the screen into two regions, one that’s 320 pixels wide along either the left or right side of the screen—the snap region—and a second that occupies the rest—the fill region. In response to user actions, then, your app might be placed in either region and must suck in its gut, so to speak, and adjust its layout appropriately. Most of the time, running in “fill” is almost the same as running in full-screen, except that the display area has slightly different dimensions and a different aspect ratio. Many apps will simply adjust their layout for those dimensions; in some cases, like movies, they’ll just add a letterbox or sidepillar region to preserve the aspect ratio of the content. Both approaches are just fine. FIGURE 1-6 The four view states for WinRT apps; all pages within the app need to be prepared to show properly in all four view states, a process that generally just involves visibility of elements and layout that can often be handled entirely within CSS media queries. 28 When snapped, on the other hand, apps will often change the view of their content or its level of detail. Horizontally oriented lists, for instance, are typically switched to a vertical orientation, with fewer details. But don’t be nonchalant about this: you really want to consciously design snap views for every page in your app and to design them well. After all, users like to look at things that are useful and beautiful, and the more an app does this with its snap views, the more likely it is that users will keep that app visible even while they’re working in another. Another key point for snapping—and all the view states including portrait—is that they aren’t mode changes. The system is just saying something like, “Please stand over here in this doorway, or please lean sideways.” So the app should never change what it’s doing (like switching from a game board to a high score list) when it’s snapped; it should just present itself appropriately for that position. For snap view in particular, if an app can’t really continue to run effectively in snap, it should present a message to that effect with an option to un-snap back to full screen. (There’s an API for that.) Beyond the view states, an app should also expect to show itself in many sizes. It will be run on many different displays, anywhere from 1024x768 (the minimum hardware requirement for Windows 8, which also happens to be filled view size on 1366x768), all the way up to resolutions like 2560x1440. The guidance here is that apps with fixed content (like a game board) will generally scale in size across different resolutions, whereas apps with variable content (like a news reader) will generally show more content. For more details, refer to Designing flexible layouts and Designing UX for apps. It might also be true that you’re running on a high-resolution device that also has a very small screen (high pixel density), like 10” screens with a 2560x1440 resolution. Fortunately, Windows does automatic scaling such that the app still sees a 1366x768 display through CSS, JavaScript, and the WinRT API. In other words, you almost don’t have to care. The only concern is bitmap (raster) graphics, which need to accommodate those scales, as we’ll also see in Chapter 6. As a final note, when an app is activated in response to a contract like Search or Share, its initial view might not be the full window at all but rather its specific landing page for that contract that overlays the current foreground app. We’ll see these details in Chapter 12, "Contracts." Sidebar: Single-Page vs. Multipage Navigation When you write a web application with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, you typically end up with a number of different HTML pages and navigate between them by using tags or by setting document.location. This is all well and good and works in a WinRT app, but it has several drawbacks. One is that navigation between pages means reloading script, parsing a new HTML document, and parsing and applying CSS again. Besides obvious performance implication, this makes it difficult to share variables and other data between pages, as you need to either save that data in persistent storage or stringify the data and pass it on the URI. Furthermore, switching between pages is visually abrupt: the user sees a blank screen while the new page is being loaded. This makes it difficult to provide a smooth, animated transition 29 between pages as generally seen within the Windows 8 personality—it’s the antithesis of “fast and fluid” and guaranteed to make designers cringe. To avoid these concerns, WinRT apps written in JavaScript are typically structured as a single HTML page (basically a container div) into which different bits of HTML content, called page controls in WinJS, are loaded into the DOM at runtime (similar to AJAX). This has the benefit of preserving the script context and allows for transition animations through CSS and/or the WinJS animations library. We’ll see the basics of page loading and navigation in Chapter 3, "App Anatomy and Page Navigation." Those Capabilities Again: Getting to Data and Devices At run time, now, even inside the app container, the app has plenty of room to play and to delight your customers. It can utilize many different controls, as we’ll see in Chapters 4 and 5, styling them however it likes from the prosaic to the outrageous and laying them out on a page according to your designer’s fancies (Chapter 6). It can work with commanding UI like the app bar (Chapter 7) and receive and process pointer events, which unify touch, mouse, and stylus as shown in Chapter 9. (With these input methods being unified, you can design for touch and get the others for free; input from the physical and on-screen keyboards are likewise unified.). Apps can also work with sensors (Chapter 9), rich media (Chapter 10), animations (Chapter 11), contracts (Chapter 12), tiles and notifications (Chapter 13), network communication (Chapter 14), and various devices and printing (Chapter 15). And they can adapt themselves to different regional markets, provide accessibility, and work with various monetization options like advertising, trial versions, and in-app purchases (Chapter 17). Many of these features and their associated APIs have no implications where user privacy is concerned, so apps have open access to them. These include controls, touch/mouse/stylus input, keyboard input, and sensors (like the accelerometer, inclinometer, and light sensor). The appdata folders (local, roaming, and temp) that were created for the app at installation are also openly accessible. Other features, however, are again under more strict control. As a person who works remotely from home, for example, I really don’t want my webcam turning on unless I specifically tell it to—I may be calling into a meeting before I’ve had a chance to wash up! Such devices and other protected system features, then, are again controlled by a broker layer that will deny access if (a) the capability is not declared in the manifest, or (b) the user specifically disallows that access at run time. Those capabilities are listed in the following table: Capability Description Prompts for user consent at run time Internet (Client) Outbound access to the Internet and public networks (which No 30 includes making requests to servers and receiving information in response).6 Internet (Client & Server) (superset of Internet Client; only one needs to be declared) Outbound and inbound access to the Internet and public networks (inbound access to critical ports is always blocked). No Private Networks (Client & Server) Outbound and inbound access to home or work intranets (inbound access to critical ports is always blocked). No Document Library Read/write access to the user’s Documents area on the file system for specifically declared file types. Requires a corporate account in the Windows Store. No Music Library Pictures Library Video Library Read/write access to the user’s Music/Pictures/Videos area on the file system (all files). No Removable Storage Read/write access to files on removable storage devices for specifically declared file types. No Microphone Access to microphone audio feeds (includes microphones on cameras). Yes Webcam Access to camera audio/video/image feeds. Yes Location (GPS) Access to the user’s location. Yes Proximity The ability to connect to other devices through near-field communication (NFC). No Enterprise Authentication Access to intranet resources that require domain credentials; not typically needed for most apps. Requires a corporate account in the Windows Store. No Shared User Certificates Access to software and hardware (smart card) certificates. Requires a corporate account in the Windows Store. Yes, in that the user must take action to select a certificate, insert a smart card, etc. Note It is also possible for an app to declare access to ad-hoc devices by adding the appropriate hardware class ID to the manifest. See Chapter 15, “Devices and Printing.” When user consent is involved, calling an API to access the resource in question will prompt for user consent, as shown in Figure 1-7 (from the app we’ll create in Chapter 2). If the user accepts, the API call will proceed; if the user declines, the API call will return an error. Apps must accordingly be prepared for such APIs to fail, and they must then behave accordingly. FIGURE 1-7 A typical user consent dialog that’s automatically shown when an app first attempts to use a brokered capability. This will happen only once within an app, but the user can control their choice through the Settings charm for that app. 6 Note that network capabilities are not necessary to receive push notifications for “live tiles,” because those are received by the system and not the app. 31 When you first start writing apps, really keep the manifest and these capabilities in mind—if you forget one, you’ll see APIs failing even though all your code is written perfectly (or was copied from a working sample). In the early days of building the first WinRT apps at Microsoft, we routinely forgot to declare the Internet Client capability, so even things like getting to remote media with an img element or making a simple call to a web service would fail. The support for alerting you if you’ve forgotten a capability is much better now, but if you hit some mysterious problem with code that you’re sure should work, especially in the wee hours of the night, check the manifest! We’ll encounter many other sections of the manifest besides capabilities in this book. For example, the documents library and removable storage capabilities both require you to declare the specific file types for your app (otherwise access will generally be denied). The manifest also contains content URIs: specific rules that govern which URIs are known and trusted by your app and can thus act on the app’s behalf. The manifest is also where you declare things like your preferred orientation, background tasks (like playing audio or handling real-time communication), contract behaviors (such as which page in your app should be brought up in response to being invoked via a contract), custom protocols, and the appearance of tiles and notifications. Like I said earlier, you and your app become real bosom buddies with the manifest. The last note to make about capabilities is that while programmatic access to the file system is controlled by certain capabilities, the user can always point your app to other nonsystem areas of the file system—and any type of file—from within the file picker UI. (See Figure 1-8.) This explicit user action, in other words, is taken as consent for your app to access that particular file or folder (depending on what you’re asking for). Once you’re app is given this access, you can use certain APIs to record that permission so that you can get to those files and folders the next time your app is launched. In summary, the design of the manifest and the brokering layer is to ensure that the user is always in control where anything sensitive is concerned, and as your declared capabilities are listed on your app’s description page in the Windows Store, the user should never be surprised by your app’s behavior. 32 FIGURE 1-8 Using the file picker UI to access other parts of the file system from within a WinRT app, such as folders on a drive root (but not protected system folders). This is done by tapping the down arrow next to “Files.” Taking a Break, Getting Some Rest: Process Lifecycle Management Whew! We’ve covered a lot of ground already in this first chapter—our apps have been busy, busy, busy, and we haven’t even started writing any code yet! In fact, apps can become really busy when they implement certain sides of contracts. If an app declares itself as a Search, Share, Contact, or File Picker source in its manifest (among other things), Windows will activate the app in response to the appropriate user actions. For example, if the user invokes the Share charm and picks your app as a Share target, Windows will activate the app with an indication of that purpose. In response, the app displays its specific share UI or view—not the whole app—and when that task is complete, Windows will shut your app down again (or send it to the background if it was already running) without the need for additional user input. This automatic shutdown or sending the app to the background are examples of automatic lifecycle management for WinRT apps that helps conserve power and optimize battery life. One reality of life in traditional multitasking operating systems is that users typically leave a bunch of apps running, all of which consume power. This made sense with desktop apps because many of them can be at least partially visible at once. But for WinRT apps, the system is boldly taking on the job itself and using the full-screen nature of those apps to its advantage. Apps typically need to be busy and active only when the user can see them (in whatever view state). 33 So when most apps are no longer visible, there is really little need to keep their engines running on idle. It’s better to just turn them off, give them some rest, and let the visible apps utilize the system’s resources. So when an app goes to the background, Windows will automatically suspend it after about 5 seconds (according to the wall clock). The app is notified of this event so that it can save whatever state it needs to (which I’ll describe more in the next section). At this point the app is still in memory, with all its in-memory structures intact, but it will simply not be scheduled for any CPU time. (See Figure 1-9.) This is very helpful for battery life because most desktop apps idle like a gasoline-powered car, still consuming a little CPU in case there’s a need, for instance, to repaint a portion of a window. Because a WinRT app in the background is completely obscured, it doesn’t need to do such small bits of work and can be effectively frozen. If the user then switches back to the app (in whatever view state, through whatever gesture), it will be scheduled for CPU time again and resume where it left off (adjusting its layout for the view state, of course). The app is also notified of this event in case it needs to re-sync with online services, update its layout, refresh a view of a file system library, or take a new sensor reading because any amount of time might have passed since it was suspended. Typically, though, an app will not need to reload any of its own state because it was in memory the whole time. FIGURE 1-9 Process lifetime states for WinRT apps. There are a couple of exceptions to this. First, Windows provides a background transfer API—see Chapter 14, “Networking”—to offload downloads and uploads from app code, which means apps don’t have to be running for such transfers to happen. Apps can also ask the system to periodically update live tiles on the Start page with data obtained from a service, or they can employ push notifications (through the Windows Notification Service, WNS) so that they need not even be running for this purpose—see Chapter 13, “Tiles, Notifications, the Lock Screen, and Background Tasks.” Second, certain kinds of apps that do useful things when they’re not visible, such as audio players, communications apps, or those that need to take action when specific system events occur (like a network change, user login, etc.). With audio, as we’ll see in Chapter 10, “Media,” an app specifies background audio in its manifest (where else!) and sets certain properties on the appropriate audio elements. With system 34 events, as we’ll also see in Chapter 13, an app declares background tasks in its manifest that are tied to specific functions in their code. In both cases, then, Windows will not suspend the app when it’s in the background, or it will wake the app from the suspended state when an appropriate trigger occurs. Over time, of course, the user might have many WinRT apps in memory, and most of them will be suspended and consume very little power. Eventually there will come a time when the foreground app—especially one that’s just been launched—needs more memory than is available. In this case, Windows will automatically terminate one or more apps, dumping them from memory. (See Figure 1-9 again.) But here’s the rub: unless a user explicitly closes an app—by using Alt+F4 or a top-to-bottom swipe; Windows Store policy specifically disallows apps with their own close commands or gestures—he or she still rightly thinks that the app is running. So if the user activates it again (as from its tile), the user will expect to return to the same place he or she left off. For example, a game should be in the same place it was before (though automatically paused), a reader should be on the same page, and a video should be paused at the same time. Otherwise, imagine the kinds of ratings and reviews your app will be getting in the Windows Store! So you might say, “Well, I should just save my app’s state when I get terminated, right?” Actually, no: your app will not be notified when it’s terminated. Why? For one, it’s already suspended at that time, so no code will run. In addition, if apps need to be terminated in a low memory condition, the last thing you want is for apps to wake up and try to save state which might require even more memory! It’s imperative, as hinted before, that apps save their state when being suspended and ideally even at other checkpoints during normal execution. So let’s see how all that works. Remembering Yourself: App State and Roaming To step back for a moment, one of the key differences between traditional desktop applications and WinRT apps is that the latter are inherently stateful. That is, once they’ve run the first time, they remember their state across invocations (unless explicitly closed by the user or unless they provide an affordance to reset the state explicitly). Some desktop applications work like this, but most suffer from a kind of identity crisis when they’re launched. Like Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, they often start up asking themselves, “Who am I?”7 with no sense of where they’ve been or what they were doing before. Clearly this isn’t a good idea with WinRT apps whose lifetime is being managed automatically. From the user’s point of view, apps are always running even if they’re not. It’s therefore critical that apps save their state when being suspended, in case they get terminated, and that they reload that state if they’re 7 For those readers who have not watched this movie all the way through the credits, there’s a short vignette at the very end. During the movie, Lockhart—a prolific, narcissistic, and generally untruthful autobiographer—loses his memory from a backfiring spell. So in the vignette he’s shown in a straitjacket on the cover of his newest book, Who am I? 35 launched again after being terminated. (An app receives a flag on startup to indicate its previous execution state, which determines what it should do with saved state. Details are in Chapter 3.) There’s another dimension to statefulness too. Remember from earlier in this chapter that a user can install the same WinRT app on up to five different devices? Well, that means that an app, depending on its design of course, can also be stateful between those devices. That is, if a user pauses a video or a game on one device or has made annotations to a book or magazine on one device, the user will naturally want to be able to go to another device and pick up at exactly the same place. Fortunately, Windows 8 makes this easy—really easy, in fact—by automatically roaming app settings and state, along with Windows settings, between devices on which the user is logged in with the same Microsoft account, as shown in Figure 1-10. FIGURE 1-10 Automatic roaming of app roaming data (folder contents and settings) between devices. They key here is understanding how and where an app saves its state. (We already know when.) If you recall, there’s one place on the file system where an app has unrestricted access: its appdata folder. Within that folder, Windows automatically creates subfolders named LocalState, RoamingState, and TempState when the app is installed (I typically refer to them without the “State” appended.) The app can programmatically get to any of these folders at any time and can create in them all the files and subfolders to fulfill its heart’s desire. There are also APIs for managing individual Local and Roaming settings (key-value pairs), along with groups of settings called composites that are always written to, read from, and roamed as a unit. (These are useful when implementing the app’s Settings features for the Settings charm, as covered in Chapter 8, “State, Settings, Files, and Documents.”) 36 Now, although the app can write as much as it wants to the app data areas (up to the capacity of the file system), Windows will automatically roam the data in your roaming sections only if you stay below an allowed quota (~100K, but there’s an API for that). If you exceed the limit, the data will still be there but none of it will be roamed. Also be aware that cloud storage has different limits on the length of filenames and file paths as well as the complexity of the folder structure. So keep your roaming state small and simple; if the app needs to roam larger amounts of data, use a secondary web service like SkyDrive. (See Chapter 8.) So the app really needs to decide what kind of state is local to a device and what should be roamed. Generally speaking, any kind of settings, data, or cached resources that are device-specific should always be local (and Temp is also local), whereas settings and data that represent the user’s interaction with the app are potential roaming candidates. For example, an email app that maintains a local cache of messages would keep those local but would roam account settings (sans passwords) so that the user has to configure the app on only one device. (It would probably also maintain a per-device setting for how it downloads or updates emails so that the user can minimize network/radio traffic on a mobile device.) A media player, similarly, would keep local caches that are dependent on the specific device’s display characteristics, and it would roam playlists, playback positions, favorites, and other such settings (should the user want that behavior, of course). When state is roamed, know that there’s a simple “last writer wins” policy where collisions are concerned. So, if you run the same app on two devices at the same time, don’t expect there to be any fancy merging or swapping of state. After all kinds of tests and analysis, Microsoft’s engineers finally decided that simplicity was best! Along these same lines, I'm told that if a user installs an app, roams some settings, uninstalls the app, then within some "reasonable time" reinstalls the app, the user will find that those settings are still in place. This makes sense, because it would be too draconian to blow away roaming state in the cloud the moment a certain user just happened to uninstall an app on all their devices. There's no guarantee of this behavior, mind you, but Windows will apparently retain roaming state for an app for some time at least. Sidebar: Local vs. Temp Data For local caching purposes, an app can use either local or temp storage. The difference is that local data will always be under the explicit control of the app. Temp data, on the other hand, can be deleted if the user runs the Disk Cleanup utility. Local data is thus best used to support an app’s functionality, and temp data is used to support run-time optimization at the expense of disk space. For WinRT apps written in HTML and JavaScript, you can also use existing caching mechanisms like HTML5 local storage, IndexedDB, app cache, and so forth. All of these will be stored within the app’s LocalState folder. 37 Sidebar: The Opportunity of Per-User Licensing and Data Roaming Details aside, I personally find the cross-device roaming aspect of the platform very exciting, because it enables the developer to think about apps as something beyond a single-device or single-situation experience. As I mentioned earlier, a user’s collection of apps is highly personal and it personalizes the device; apps themselves are licensed to the user and not the device. In that way, we as developers can think about each app as something that projects itself appropriately onto whatever device and into whatever context it finds itself. On some devices it can be oriented for intensive data entry or production work, while on others it can be oriented for consumption or sharing. The end result is an overall app experience that is simply more present in the user’s life and appropriate to each context. An example scenario is illustrated in Figure 1-11, where an app can have different personalities or flavors depending on user context and how different devices might be used in that context. It might seem rather pedestrian to think about an app for meal planning, recipe management, and shopping lists, but that’s something that happens in a large number of households worldwide. Plus it’s something that my wife would like to see me implement if I wrote more code than text! This, to me, is the real manifestation of the next era of personal computing, an era in which personal computing expands well beyond, yet still includes, a single device experience. Devices are merely viewports for your apps and data, each viewport having a distinct role in the larger story of how your move through and interact with the world at large. 38 Coming Back Home: Updates and New Opportunities If you’re one of those developers that can write a perfect app the first time, I have to ask why you’re actually reading this book! Fact of the matter is that no matter how hard we try to test our apps before they go out into the world, our efforts pale in comparison to the kinds of abuse that customers will heap on them. To be more succinct: expect problems. An app might crash under circumstances we never predicted, or there just might be usability problems because people are finding creative ways to use the app outside of its intended purpose. Fortunately, the Windows Store dashboard—go to http://dev.windows.com and click the Dashboard tab at the top—makes it easy for you get the kind of feedback that has traditionally been very difficult to obtain. For one, the Store maintains ratings and reviews for every app, which will be a source of valuable insight into how well your app fulfills its purpose in life and a source of ideas for your next release. And you might as well accept it now: you’re going to get praise (if you’ve done a decent job), and you’re going to get criticism, even a good dose of nastiness (even if you’ve done a decent job!). Don’t take it personally—see every critique as an opportunity to improve, and be grateful that people took the time to give feedback. As a wise man once said upon hearing of the death of his most vocal critic, “I’ve just lost my best friend!” The Store will also provide you with crash analytics so that you can specifically identify problem areas in your app that evaded your own testing. This is incredibly valuable—if you’re not already clapping your hands in delight!—because if you’ve ever wanted this kind of data before, you’ve had to implement the entire mechanism yourself. No longer. This is one of the valuable services you get in exchange for your annual registration with the Store. (Of course, you can still implement your own too.) With this data in hand and all the other ideas you either had to postpone from your first release or dreamt up in the meantime, you’re all set to have your app come home for some new love before its next incarnation. Updates are onboarded to the Windows Store just like the app’s first version. You create and upload an app package (with the same package name as before but a new version number), and then you update your description, graphics, pricing, and other information. After that your updated package goes through the same certification and signing process as before, and when all that’s complete your new app will be available in the Store. Those customers who already have your app will also be notified that there’s an update, which they can choose to install or not. (And remember that with the blockmap business described earlier, only those parts of the app that have actually changed will be downloaded for an update. This means that issuing small fixes won’t force users to repeat potentially large downloads each time, bringing the update model closer to that of web applications.) When a user installs an update that has the same package name as an existing app, note that all the settings and appdata for the prior version remain intact. Your updated app should be prepared, then, to migrate a previous version of its state if and when it encounters such. 39 This brings up an interesting question: what happens with roaming data when a user has different versions of the same app installed on multiple devices? The answer is twofold: first, roaming data has its own version number independent of the app, and second, Windows will transparently maintain multiple versions of the roaming state so long as there are apps installed on the user’s devices that reference those state versions. Once all the devices have updated apps and have converted their state, Windows will delete old versions. Another interesting question with updates is whether you can get a list of the customers who have acquired your app from the Store. The answer is no, because of privacy considerations. However, there is nothing wrong with including a registration feature in your app through which users can opt in to receive additional information from you, such as more detailed update notifications. Your Settings panel is a great place to include this. The last thing to say about the Store is that in addition to analytics about your own app—which also includes data like sales figures, of course—it also provides you with marketwide analytics. These help you explore new opportunities to pursue—maybe taking an idea you had for a feature in one app and breaking that out into a new app in a different category. Here you can see what’s selling well (and what’s not) or where a particular category of app is underpopulated or generally has less than average reviews. For more details, again see the Dashboard at http://dev.windows.com. And, Oh Yes, Then There’s Design In this first chapter we’ve covered the nature of the world in which WinRT apps live and operate. In this book, too, we’ll be focusing on the details of how to build such apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. But what we haven’t talked about, and what we’ll only be treating minimally, is how you decide what your app does—its purpose in the world!—and how it clothes itself for that purpose. This is really the question of good design for WinRT apps—all the work that goes into apps before we even start writing code. I said that we’ll be treating this minimally because I simply do not consider myself a designer. I encourage you to be honest about this yourself: if you don’t have a good designer working with you, get one. Sure, you can probably work out an OK design on your own, but the demands of a consumer-oriented market combined with a newer design language like that employed in Windows 8—where the emphasis is on simplicity and tailored experiences—underscores the need for professional help. It’ll make the difference between a functional app and a great app, between a tool and a piece of art, between apps that consumers accept and those they love. With design, I do encourage developers to peruse the material on Designing UX for apps for a better understanding of design principles. But let’s be honest: as a developer, do you really want to ponder what “fast and fluid” means? Do you want to spend your time in graphic design and artwork (which is essential for a great app)? Do you want to haggle over the exact pixel alignment of your layout in all four view states? If not, find someone who does, because the combination of their design 40 sensibilities and your highly productive hacking will produce much better results than either of you working alone. As one of my co-workers puts it, a marriage of “freaks” and “geeks” often produces the most creative, attractive, and inspiring results. Let me add that design is neither a one-time nor a static process. Developers and designers will need to work together throughout the development experience, as design needs will arise in response to how well the implementation really works. For example, the real-world performance of an app might require the use of progress indicators when loading certain pages or might be better solved with a redesign of page navigation. It may also turn out, as we found with one of our early app partners, that the kinds of graphics called for in the design simply weren’t available from the app’s back-end service. The design was lovely, in other words, but couldn’t actually be implemented, so a design change was necessary. So make sure that your ongoing relationship with your designers is a healthy and happy one. And on that note, let’s get into your part of the story: the coding! 41 Chapter 2 Quickstart This is a book about developing apps. So, to quote Paul Bettany’s portrayal of Geoffrey Chaucer in A Knight’s Tale, “without further gilding the lily, and with no more ado,” let’s create some! A Really Quick Quickstart: The Blank App Template We must begin, of course, by paying due homage to the quintessential “Hello World” app, which we can achieve without actually writing any code at all. We simply need to create a new app from a template in Visual Studio: 1. Run Visual Studio Express. If this is your first time, you’ll be prompted to obtain a developer license. Do this, because you can’t go any further without it! 2. Click New Project… in the Visual Studio window. 3. In the dialog that appears (Figure 2-1), make sure you select JavaScript under Templates on the left side, and then select Blank Application in the middle. Give it a name (HelloWorld will do), a folder, and click OK. FIGURE 2-1 Visual Studio’s New Project dialog using the light UI theme. (See the Tools > Options menu command, and then change the theme in the Environment/General section). 42 4. After Visual Studio churns for a bit to create the project, click the Start Debugging button (or press F5, or select the same command from the Debug menu). Assuming your installation is good, you should see something like Figure 2-2 on your screen. FIGURE 2-2 The only vaguely interesting portion of the Hello World app’s display. The message is at least a better invitation to write more code than the standard first-app greeting! By default, Visual Studio starts the debugger in local machine mode, which runs the app full screen on your present system. This has the unfortunate result of hiding the debugger unless you’re on a multimonitor system, in which case you can run Visual Studio on one monitor and your WinRT app on the other. Very handy. See http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/hh441483.aspx for more on this. Visual Studio also offers two other debugging modes available from the drop-down list on the toolbar (Figure 2-3) or the Debug/[Appname] Properties menu command (Figure 2-4): FIGURE 2-3 Visual Studio’s debugging options on the toolbar. 43 FIGURE 2-4 Visual Studio’s debugging options in the app properties dialog. The Remote Machine option allows you to run the app on a separate device, which is absolutely essential for working with devices that can’t run desktop apps at all. We won’t cover this topic in this book, but it’s straightforward; see Running WinRT apps on a remote machine for details. Also, when you don’t have a project loaded in Visual Studio, the Debug menu offers the Attach To Process command, which allows you to debug an already-running app. For this I defer once more to the documentation: How to start a debugging session (JavaScript). The Simulator is also very interesting, really the most interesting option in my mind and a place I imagine you’ll be spending plenty of time. It duplicates your environment inside a new login session and allows you to control device orientation, set various screen resolutions (and scaling factors), simulate touch events, and control the data returned by geolocation APIs. Figure 2-5 shows Hello World in the simulator with the additional controls labeled. We’ll see more of the simulator as we go along, though you may also want to peruse the Running WinRT apps in the simulator topic. 44 FIGURE 2-5 Hello World running in the simulator, with labels on the right for the simulator controls. Truly, the “Blank App” template lives up to its name! Sidebar: How Does Visual Studio Run an App? Under the covers, Visual Studio is actually deploying the app similar to what would happen if you acquired it from the Store. The app will show up on the Start page, where you can also uninstall it (a helpful step if you want to reset the appdata folders and other state). There’s really no magic involved: deployment can actually be done through the command line. To see the details, use the Store/Create App Package in Visual Studio, select No for a Store upload, and you’ll see a dialog in which you can save your package wherever you want. In that folder you’ll then find an appx package, a security certificate, and a batch file called Add-AppxDevPackage. That batch file contains PowerShell scripts that will deploy the app along with its dependencies. These same files are also what you can share with other developers to side-load your app without having to give them your source project. Blank App Project Structure While an app created with the Blank template doesn’t have much in the visual department, it provides much more where project structure is concerned. Here’s what you’ll find coming from the template, which is found in Visual Studio’s Solution Explorer (as shown in Figure 2-6): In the project root folder:  default.html The starting page for the app. 45  package.appmanifest The manifest. Opening this file will show Visual Studio’s manifest editor (shown later in this chapter). I encourage you to browse around in this UI for a few minutes to familiarize yourself with what’s all here. For example, you’ll see references to the images noted below, a checkmark on the Internet Client capability checked, default.html selected as the start page, and all the places where you control different aspects of your app. We’ll be seeing these throughout this book; for a complete reference, see the App packages and deployment and Manifest designer topics. And if you want to explore the manifest XML directly, right-click this file and select View Code.  _TemporaryKey.pfx A temporary signature created on first run. The css folder contains a core default.css file where you’ll see media query structures for the four view states that all apps should honor. We’ll see this in action in the next section, and I’ll discuss all the details in Chapter 6, “Layout.” The images folder contains four reference images, and unless you want to look like a real doofus developer, you’ll always want to customize these before your app is complete (along with providing scaled versions as we’ll see in Chapter 3, “App Anatomy and Page Navigation”):  logo.png A default 150x150 (100% scale) image for the Start page.  smalllogo.png A 30x30 image for the zoomed-out Start page.  splashscreen.png A 620x300 image that will be shown while the app is loading.  storelogo.png A 50x50 image that will be shown for the app in the Windows Store. This needs to be part of an app package but is not used within Windows at run time. The js folder contains a simple default.js. The References folder points to CSS and JS files for the WinJS library. You can open any of these to see how WinJS itself is implemented. (Note: if you want to search within these files, you must open and search only within the specific file. These are not included in solution-wide or project-wide searches.) 46 FIGURE 2-6 A Blank app project fully expanded in Solution Explorer. As you would expect, there’s not much app-specific code for this type of project. For example, the HTML has only a single paragraph element in the body, the one you can replace with “Hello World” if you’re really not feeling complete without doing so. What’s more important at present are the references to the WinJS components: a core stylesheet (ui-dark.css or ui-light.css), base.js, and ui.js: Hello World

Content goes here

You will generally always have these references (perhaps using ui-light.css instead) in every HTML file of your project. The //’s in the WinJS paths refer to shared libraries rather than files in you app package, whereas a single / refers to the root of your package. Beyond that, everything else is standard HTML5, so feel free to play around with adding some additional HTML of your own and see the effect. 47 Where the JavaScript is concerned, default.js just contains the basic WinJS activation code centered on the WinJS.Application.onactivated event along with a stub for an event called WinJS.Application.oncheckpoint: (function () { "use strict"; var app = WinJS.Application; var activation = Windows.ApplicationModel.Activation; WinJS.strictProcessing(); app.onactivated = function (args) { if (args.detail.kind === activation.ActivationKind.launch) { if (args.detail.previousExecutionState !== activation.ApplicationExecutionState.terminated) { // TODO: This application has been newly launched. Initialize // your application here. } else { // TODO: This application has been reactivated from suspension. // Restore application state here. } args.setPromise(WinJS.UI.processAll()); } }; app.oncheckpoint = function (args) { }; app.start(); })(); We’ll come back to checkpoint in Chapter 3 and WinJS.strictProcessing in Chapter 4, “Controls, Control Styling, and Data Binding.” For now, remember from Chapter 1, “The Life Story of a WinRT App,” that an app can be activated in many ways. These are indicated in the args.detail.kind property, whose values come from the Windows.ApplicationModel.Activation.ActivationKind enumeration. When an app is launched directly from its tile on the Start screen (or in the debugger as we’ve been doing), the kind is just launch. As we’ll see later on, other values tell us when an app is activated to service requests like the search or share contracts, file-type associations, file pickers, protocols, and more. For the launch kind, another bit of information from the Windows.ApplicationMode.Activation.ApplicationExecutionState enumeration tells the app how it was last running. Again, we’ll see more on this in Chapter 3, so the comments in the default code above should satisfy your curiosity for the time being. Now, what is that args.setPromise(WinJS.UI.processAll())for? As we’ll see many times, WinJS.UI.processAll instantiates any WinJS controls that are declared in HTML—any element (commonly a div or span) that contains a data-win-control attribute whose value is the name of a 48 constructor function. Of course, the Blank app template doesn’t include any such controls, but because just about every app based on this template will, it makes sense to include it by default.8 As for args.setPromise, that’s employing something called a deferral that we’ll fittingly defer to Chapter 3. That little app.start(); at the bottom is also a very important piece, even for as short as it is. It makes sure that various events that were queued during startup get processed. We’ll again see the details in Chapter 3. Finally, you may be asking, “What on earth is all that ceremonial (function () { … })(); business about?” It’s just a conventional way in JavaScript (called the module pattern) to keep the global namespace from becoming polluted, thereby propitiating the performance gods. The syntax defines an anonymous function that’s immediately executed, which creates a function scope for everything inside it. So variables like app along with all the function names are accessible throughout the module but don’t appear in the global namespace.9 You can still introduce variables into the global namespace, of course, and to keep it all organized, WinJS offers a means to define your own namespaces and classes (see WinJS.Namespace.define and WinJS.Class.define), again helping to minimize additions to the global namespace. Now that we’ve seen the basic structure of an app, let’s build something more functional and get a taste of the WinRT APIs and a few other platform features. Sidebar: Writing Code in Debug Mode Because of the dynamic nature of JavaScript, it’s impressive that the Visual Studio team figured out how to make the IntelliSense feature work quite well in the Visual Studio editor. (If you’re unfamiliar with IntelliSense, it’s the productivity service that provides auto-completion for code as well as popping up API reference material directly inline; learn more at JavaScript IntelliSense). That said, a helpful trick to make IntelliSense work even better is to write code while Visual Studio is in debug mode. That is, set a breakpoint at an appropriate place in your code, and then run the app in the debugger. When you hit that breakpoint, you can then start writing and editing code, and because the script context is fully loaded, IntelliSense will be working against instantiated variables and not just what it can derive from the source code by itself. You can also use Visual Studio’s Immediate pane to execute code directly to see the results. 8 There is a similar function WinJS.Binding.processAll that processes data-win-bind attributes (Chapter 4), and WinJS.Resources.processAll that does resource lookup on data-win-res attributes (Chapter 17). 9 See Chapter 2 of Nicolas Zakas’s High Performance JavaScript (O’Reilly, 2010) for the performance implications scoping. 49 QuickStart #1: Here My Am! and an Introduction to Blend for Visual Studio When my son was three years old, he never—despite the fact that he was born to two engineers parents and two engineer grandfathers—peeked around corners or appeared in a room saying “Hello world!” No, his particular phrase was “Here my am!” Using that particular variation of announcing oneself to the universe, this next app can capture an image from a camera, locate your position on a map, and share that information through the Windows 8 Share charm. Does this sound complicated? Fortunately, the WinRT APIs actually make it quite straightforward! Sidebar: How Long Did It Take to Write This App? This app took me about three hours to write. “Oh sure,” you’re thinking, “you’ve already written a bunch of apps, so it was easy for you!” Well, yes and no. For one thing, I also wrote this part of the chapter at the same time, and endeavored to make some reusable code. But more importantly, it took a short amount of time because I learned how to use my tools—especially Blend—and I knew where I could find code that already did most of what I wanted, namely all the Windows SDK samples that you can download from http://code.msdn.microsoft.com/windowsapps/. As we’ll be drawing from many of these most excellent samples in this book, I encourage you to go download the whole set—go to the URL above, and the first download below the featured ones will take you to a page where you can get a .zip file with all the JavaScript samples. Once you unzip these, get into the habit of searching that folder for any API or feature you’re interested in. For example, the code I use below to implement camera capture and sourcing data via share came directly from a couple of samples. (By the way, if you open a sample that seems to support only the Remote Machine debugging option, the build target is probably set to ARM—change it to x86 or x64 for local debugging.) I also strongly encourage you to spend a day, even a half-day, getting familiar with Visual Studio and Blend for Visual Studio and just perusing through the samples so that you know what’s there. Trust me: such small investments will pay huge productivity dividends even in the short term! Design Wireframes Before we start on the code, let’s first look at design wireframes for this app. Oooh…design? Yes! Perhaps for the first time in the history of Windows, there’s a real design philosophy to apply to apps. In the past, with desktop apps, it’s been more of an “anything goes” scene. There were some UI guidelines, sure, but developers could generally get away with making up whatever user experience that made sense to them, like burying essential checkbox options four levels deep in a series of modal 50 dialog boxes. Yes, this kind of stuff does make sense to certain kinds of developers; whether it makes sense to anyone else is highly questionable! If you’ve ever pretended or contemplated pretending to be a designer, now is the time to surrender that hat to someone with real training or set development aside for a year or two and invest in that training yourself. Simply said, design matters for WinRT apps, and it will make the difference between apps that merely exist in the Windows Store and are largely ignored and apps that succeed. And having a design in hand will just make it easier to implement because you won’t have to make those decisions when you’re writing code! (If you still intend on filling designer shoes and communing with apps like Adobe Illustrator, be sure to visit http://design.windows.com for the philosophy and details of WinRT app design, plus design resources.) When I had the idea for this app, I drew up a simple wireframe, let a few designers laugh at me behind my back, and landed on layouts for the full screen, portrait, snap, and fill view states as shown in Figure 2-7 and Figure 2-8. FIGURE 2-7 Full-screen landscape and filled (landscape) wireframe. These states typically use the same wireframe (the same margins), with the proportional parts of the grid simply becoming smaller with the reduced width. 51 FIGURE 2-8 Snapped wireframe (left; landscape only) and full-screen portrait wireframe (right). Sidebar: Design for All Four View States! Just as I thought about all four view states together for Here My Am!, I encourage you to do the same for one simple reason: your app will be put into every view state whether you design for it or not. Users, not the app, control the view states, so if you neglect to design for any given state, your app will probably look hideous in that state. You can, as we’ll see in Chapter 6, lock the landscape/portrait orientation for your app if you want, but that’s meant to enhance an app’s experience rather than being an excuse for indolence. So in the end, unless you have a very specific reason not to, every page in your app needs to anticipate all four view states. This might sound like a burden, but view states don’t affect function: they are simply different views of the same information. Remember that changing the view state never changes the mode of the app. Handling the view states, therefore, is primarily a matter of which elements are visible and how those elements are laid out on the page. It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that. One of the important aspects of WinRT app design is following what’s called the layout silhouette: the size of the header fonts, their placement, the specific margins, and all that (as marked in the previous figures). It might seem restrictive, but the purpose of this recommendation is to encourage a high degree of consistency between apps so that users’ eyes literally develop muscle memory for common elements of the UI. Some of this can be found in Understanding the Windows 8 silhouette and is otherwise incorporated into the templates along with many other design aspects. It’s one reason why Microsoft generally recommends starting new apps with a template and going from there. What I show in the wireframes above reflects the layouts provided by one of the more complex templates. 52 Enough said! Let’s just assume that we have a great design to work from and our designers are off sipping cappuccino, satisfied with a job well done. Our job is how to then execute on that great design. Create the Markup For the purposes of markup, layout, and styling, one of the most powerful tools you can add to your arsenal is Blend for Visual Studio. As you may know, Blend has been available (at a high price) to designers and developers working with XAML (the presentation framework that is used by WinRT apps written in C#, Visual Basic, and C++). Now Blend is free and also supports HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. I emphasize that latter point because it doesn’t just load markup and styles: it loads and executes your code, right in the “Artboard” (the design surface), because that code so often affects the DOM, styling, and so forth. Then there’s Interactive Mode…but I’m getting ahead of myself! Blend and Visual Studio are very much two sides of a coin: they share the same project file formats and have commands to easily switch between them, depending on whether you’re focusing on design or development. To demonstrate that, let’s actually start building Here My Am! in Blend. As we did before with Visual Studio, launch Blend, select New Project…, and select the Blank App template. This will create the same project structure as below. (Note: Video 2-1 shows all these steps together.) Following the practice of writing pure markup in HTML—with no styling and no code, and even leaving off a few classes we’ll need for styling—let’s drop the following markup into the body element of default.html (replacing the one line of

Content goes here

):

Here My Am!

Photo

Tap to capture image from camera

Location

Here we see the five elements in the wireframe: a main header, two subheaders, a space for a photo (defaulting to an image with “tap here” instructions), and an iframe that specifically houses a page in 53 which we’ll instantiate a Bing maps web control.10 You’ll see that some elements have style classes assigned to them. Those that start with win- come from the WinJS stylesheet.11 You can browse these in Blend by using the Style Rules tab, shown in Figure 2-9. Other styles like titlearea, pagetitle, and group-title are meant for you to define in your own stylesheet, thereby overriding the WinJS styles for particular elements. FIGURE 2-9 In Blend, the Style Rules tab lets you look into the WinJS stylesheet and see what each particular style contains. Take special notice of the search bar under the tabs. This is here so you don’t waste your time visually scanning for a particular style—just start typing in the box, and let the computer do the work! The page we’ll load into the iframe, map.html, is part of our app package that we’ll add in a moment, but note how we reference it. The ms-appx-web:/// protocol indicates that the iframe and everything inside it will run in the web context (introduced in Chapter 1), thereby allowing us to load the remote script for the Bing maps control. The triple slash, for its part—or more accurately the third slash—is shorthand for “the current app package” (a value that you can obtain from document.location.host), so we don’t need to create an absolute URI. To indicate that a page should be loaded in the local context, the protocol is just ms-appx://. It’s important to remember that no script (including variables and functions) is shared between these contexts; communication between the two goes through the HTML5 postMessage function, as we’ll see later. 10 If you’re following the steps in Blend yourself, the taphere.png image should be added to the project in the images folder. Right-click that folder, select Add Existing Item, and then navigate to the complete sample’s images folder and select taphere.png. That will copy it into your current project. 11 The two standard stylesheets are ui-dark.css and ui-light.css. Dark styles are recommended for apps that deal with media, where a dark background helps bring out the graphical elements. We’ll use this stylesheet because we’re doing photo capture. The light stylesheet is recommended for apps that work more with textual content. 54 I’ve also included various aria-* attributes on these elements (as the templates do) that support accessibility. We’ll look at accessibility in detail in Chapter 17, “Apps for Everyone,” but it’s an important enough consideration that we should be conscious of it from the start: a majority of Windows users use accessibility features in some way. And although some aspects of accessibility are easy to add later on, adding aria-* attributes in markup is best done early. Styling in Blend At this point, and assuming you were paying enough attention to read the footnotes, Blend’s real-time display of the app shows an obvious need for styling, just like raw markup should. See Figure 2-10. FIGURE 2-10 The app in Blend without styling, showing a view that is much like the Visual Studio simulator. If the taphere.png image doesn’t show after adding it, use the View/Refresh menu command. The tabs along the upper left in Blend give you access to your Project files; Assets like all the controls you can add to your UI; and a browser for all the Style Rules defined in the environment. On the lower left side, the Live DOM area lets you browse your element hierarchy and the Device tabs lets you set orientation, screen resolution, and view state;. Clicking an element in the Live DOM here will highlight it in the designer, just like clicking an element in the designer will highlight it in the Live DOM section. Over on the right side you see what will become a very good friend: the section for HTML Attributes and CSS Properties. In the latter case, the list at the top shows all the sources for styles that are being 55 applied to the currently selected element and where exactly those styles are coming from (often a headache with CSS). What’s selected in that box, mind you, will determine where changes in the properties pane below will be written, so be very conscious of your selection! Now to get our gauche, unstylish page to look like the wireframe, we need to go through the elements and create the necessary selectors and styles. First, I recommend creating a 1x1 grid in the body element as this makes Blend’s display in the artboard work better at present. So add display: -ms-grid; -ms-grid-rows: 1fr; -ms-grid-columns: 1fr; to default.css for that element. CSS grids also make this app’s layout fairly simple: we’ll just use a couple of nested grids to place the main sections and the subsections within them, following the general pattern of styling that works best in Blend:  Right-click the element you want to style in the Live DOM, and select Create Style Rule From Element Id or Create Style Rule From Element Class. Note If both of these items are disabled, go to the HTML Attributes pane (upper right) and add an id, class, or both. Otherwise you’ll be hand-editing the stylesheets later on to move styles around, so you might as well save yourself the trouble. This will create a new style rule in the app’s stylesheet (e.g., default.css). In the CSS properties pane on the right, then, find the rule that was created and add the necessary style properties in the pane below.  Repeat with every other element. If you look in the default.css file, you’ll notice that the body element is styled with a 1x1 grid—leave this in place, because it makes sure the rest of your styling adapts to the screen size. So for the mainContent div, we create a rule from the Id and set it up with display: -ms-grid; -ms-grid-columns: 1fr; and -ms-grid-rows: 128px 1fr 60px;. (See Figure 2-11.) This creates the basic vertical areas for the wireframes. In general, you won’t want to put left or right margins directly in this grid because the lower section will often have horizontally scrolling content that should bleed off the left and right edges. In our case we could use one grid, but instead we’ll add those margins in a nested grid within the header and section elements. 56 FIGURE 2-11 Setting the grid properties for the mainContent div. Notice how the View Set Properties Only checkbox (upper right) makes it easy to see what styles are set for the current rule. Also notice in the main “Artboard” how the grid rows and columns are indicated, including sliders (circled) to manipulate rows and columns directly in the artboard. Showing this and the rest of the styling—going down into each level of the markup and creating appropriate styles in the appropriate media queries for the view states—is best done in video. Video 2-1, which is available as part of this book’s downloadable companion content, shows this whole process starting with the creation of the project, styling the different view states, and switching to Visual Studio (right-click the project name in Blend and select Edit In Visual Studio) to run the app in the simulator as a verification. It also demonstrates the approximate amount of time it takes to style an app like this once you’re familiar with the tools. The result of all this in the simulator looks just like the wireframes—see Figures 2-12 through 2-14—and all the styling is entirely contained within the appropriate media queries of default.css. Most importantly, the way Blend shows us the results in real time is an enormous time-saver over fiddling with the CSS and running the app all over again, a painful process that I’m sure you’re familiar with! (And the time savings are even greater with Interactive Mode; see Video 4-1 in the companion content.) 57 FIGURE 2-12 Full-screen landscape view. FIGURE 2-13 Filled view (landscape only). 58 FIGURE 2-14 Snapped view (landscape only) and full-screen portrait view. Adding the Code Let’s complete the implementation now in Visual Studio. Again, right-click the project name in Blend’s Project tab and select Edit In Visual Studio if you haven’t already. Note that if your project is already loaded into Visual Studio, when you switch to it, it will (by default) prompt you to reload changed files. Say yes.12 At this point, we have the layout and styles for all the necessary view states, and our code doesn’t need to care about any of it except to make some minor refinements, as we’ll see in a moment. What this means is that, for the most part, we can just write our app’s code against the markup and 12 On the flip side, note that Blend doesn’t automatically save files going in and out of Interactive Mode. If you make a change to the same file open in Visual Studio, switch to Blend, and reload the file, you can lose changes. 59 not against the markup plus styling, which is, of course, a best practice with HTML/CSS in general. Here are the features that we’ll now implement:  A Bing maps control in the Location section showing the user’s current location. In this case we’ll want to adjust the zoom level of the map in snapped view to account for the smaller display area. We’ll just show this map automatically, so there’s no control to start this process.  Use the WinRT APIs for camera capture to get a photograph in response to a tap on the Photo img element.  Provide the photograph and the location data to the Share charm when the user invokes it. Figure 2-15 shows what the app will look like when we’re done. FIGURE 2-15 The Here My Am! app in its completed state (though I zoomed out the map so you can’t quite tell exactly where I live!). Creating a Map with the Current Location For the map, we’re using a Bing maps web control instantiated through the map.html page that’s loaded into an iframe of the main page. This page loads the Bing Maps control script from a remote source and thus runs in the web context. Note that we could also employ the Bing Maps for WinRT apps extension that provides script we can load into the local context. For the time being, I want to use the remote script approach because it gives us an opportunity to work with web content and the web context in general, something that I’m sure you’ll want to understand for your own apps. We’ll switch 60 to the local control in Chapter 8, “State, Settings, Files, and Documents.” That said, let’s put map.html in an html folder. Right-click the project and select Add/New Folder (entering html to name it). Then right-click that folder, select Add/New Item…, and then select HTML Page. Once the new page appears, replace its contents with the following:13 Map
Note that the JavaScript code here could be moved into a separate file and referenced with a relative path, no problem. I’ve chosen to leave it all together for simplicity. 62 At the top of the page you’ll see a remote script reference to the Bing Maps control. We can reference remote script here because the page is loaded in the web context within the iframe (ms-appx-web:// in default.html). You can then see that the init function is called on DOMContentLoaded and creates the map control. Then we have a couple of other methods, pinLocation and setZoom, which can be called from the main app as needed. Of course, because this page is loaded in an iframe in the web context, we cannot simply call those functions directly from our app code. We instead use the HTML5 postMessage function, which raises a message event within the iframe. This is an important point: the local and web contexts are kept separate so that arbitrary web content cannot drive an app or access WinRT APIs. The two contexts enforce a boundary between an app and the web tha can only be crossed with postMessage. In the code above, you can see that we pick up such messages and pass them to the processMessage function, a little generic function that turns a JSON string into a local function call, complete with arguments. To see how this works, let’s look at how we call pinLocation from within default.js. To make this call, we need some coordinates, which we can get from the WinRT Geolocation APIs. We’ll do this within the onactivated handler, so the user’s location is just set on startup (and saved in the lastPosition variable sharing later on): //Drop this after the line: WinJS.strictProcessing(); var lastPosition = null; //Place this after args.setPromise(WinJS.UI.processAll()); var gl = new Windows.Devices.Geolocation.Geolocator(); gl.getGeopositionAsync().done(function (position) { //Save for share lastPosition = { latitude: position.coordinate.latitude, longitude: position.coordinate.longitude }; callFrameScript(document.frames["map"], "pinLocation", [position.coordinate.latitude, position.coordinate.longitude]); }); where callFrameScript is just a little helper function to turn the target element, function name, and arguments into an appropriate postMessage call: //Place this before app.start(); function callFrameScript(frame, targetFunction, args) { var message = { functionName: targetFunction, args: args }; frame.postMessage(JSON.stringify(message), "ms-appx-web://" + document.location.host); } A few key points about this code. First, to obtain coordinates, you can use the WinRT geolocation API or the HTML5 geolocation API. The two are almost equivalent, with slight differences described in Appendix B, “Comparing Overlapping WinRT and HTML5 APIs.” The API exists in WinRT because other 63 supported languages (like C# and C++) don’t have access to the HTML5 geolocation APIs, and because we’re primarily focused on the WinRT APIs in this book, we’ll just use functions in the Windows.Devices.Geolocation namespace. Next, in the second parameter to postMessage you see a combination of ms-appx[-web]:// with document.location.host. This essentially means “the current app from the local [or web] context,” which is the appropriate origin of the message. Notice that we use the same value to check the origin when receiving a message: the code in map.html verifies it’s coming from the app’s local context, whereas the code in default.js verifies that it’s coming from the app’s web context. Always make sure to check the origin appropriately. Finally, the call to getGeopositionAsync has an interesting construct, wherein we make the call and chain this function called done onto it, whose argument is another function. This is a very common pattern we’ll see while working with WinRT APIs, as any API that might take longer than 50ms to complete runs asynchronously. This conscious decision was made so that the API surface area led to fast and fluid apps by default. In JavaScript, such APIs return what’s called a promise object, which represents results to be delivered at some time in the future. Every promise object has a done method whose first argument is the function to be called upon completion. It can also take two optional functions to wire up progress and error handlers as well. We’ll see more about promises as we progress through this book, such as the then function that’s just like done but allows further chaining (which we’ll see in Chapter 3). The argument passed to the completed handler (a function pass as the first argument to done) contains the results of the async call, which in our example above is a Windows.Geolocation.Geoposition object containing the last reading. (When reading the docs for an async function, you’ll see that the return type is listed like IAsyncOperation. The name within the <> indicates the actual data type of the results, so you’ll normally follow the link to that topic for the details.) The coordinates from this reading are what we then pass to the pinLocation function within the iframe, which in turn creates a pushpin on the map at those coordinates and then centers the map view at that same location.14 One final note about async APIs. Within the WinRT API, all async functions have “Async” in their names. Because this isn’t common practice within JavaScript toolkits or the DOM API, async functions within WinJS don’t use that suffix. In other words, WinRT is designed to be language-neutral, but WinJS is designed to follow typical JavaScript conventions. Oh Wait, the Manifest! Now you may have tried the code above and found that you get an “Access is denied” exception when you try to call getGeopositionAsync. Why is this? Well, the exception tells us: we neglected to set the 14 The pushpin itself is draggable, but to no effect at present. See the section “Extra Credit: Receiving Messages from the iframe” later in this chapter for how we can pick up location changes from the map. 64 Geolocation capability in the manifest. Without that capability set, calls like this that depend on that capability will throw an exception. We were running in the debugger, so that exception was kindly shown to us. If you run the app outside of the debugger—try it from the tile that should be on your Start page—you’ll see that it just terminates without showing anything but the splash screen. This is the default behavior for an unhandled exception. To prevent that behavior, add an error-handling function as the second parameter to the async promise’s done method: gl.getGeopositionAsync().then(function (position) { //... }, function(error) { console.log("Unable to get location."); }); The console.log function writes a string to the JavaScript Console window in Visual Studio, which is obviously a good idea. Now run the app outside the debugger and you’ll see that it comes up, because the exception is now considered “handled.” In the debugger, set a breakpoint on the console.log line inside and you’ll hit that breakpoint after the exception appears (and you press Continue). If the exception dialog gets annoying, you can control which exceptions pop up like this in the Debug > Exceptions dialog box (shown in Figure 2-16) within JavaScript Runtime Exceptions. If you uncheck User-unhandled, you won’t get a dialog when the exception occurs. (That dialog also has a checkbox for this as well.) FIGURE 2-16 JavaScript run-time exceptions in the Debug/Exceptions dialog of Visual Studio. Back to the capability: to get the proper behavior for this app, open package.appxmanifest in your project, select the Capabilities tab, and check Location, as shown in Figure 2-17. 65 FIGURE 2-17 Setting the Location capability in Visual Studio’s manifest editor. (Note that Blend supports editing the manifest only as XML.) Now, even when we declare the capability, geolocation is still subject to user consent, as mentioned in Chapter 1. When you first run the app with the capability set, then, you should see a popup like Figure 2-18. If the user blocks access here, the error handler will again be invoked as the API will throw an Access denied exception. FIGURE 2-18 A typical consent popup, reflecting the user’s color scheme, that appears when an app first tries to call a brokered API (geolocation in this case). If the user blocks access, the API will fail, but the user can later change consent in the Settings/Permissions panel. Sidebar: How Do I Reset User Consent for Testing? While debugging, you might notice that this popup appears only once, even across subsequent debugging sessions. To clear this state, invoke the Settings charm in the running app and select Permissions, and you’ll see toggle switches for all the relevant capabilities. If for some reason you can’t run the app at all, go to the Start screen and uninstall the app from its tile. You’ll then see the popup when you next run the app. Note that there isn’t a notification when the user changes these Permission settings. The app can detect a change only by attempting to use the API again. We’ll revisit this subject in Chapter 8. Capturing a Photo from the Camera In a slightly twisted way, I hope the idea of adding camera capture within a so-called “quickstart” 66 chapter has raised serious doubts in your mind about this author’s sanity. Isn’t that going to take a whole lot of code? Well, it used to, but it doesn’t on Windows 8. All the complexities of camera capture have been nicely encapsulated within the Windows.Media.Capture API to such an extent that we can add this feature with only a few lines of code. It’s a good example of how a little dynamic code like JavaScript combined with well-designed WinRT components—both those in the system and those you can write yourself—make a very powerful combination! To implement this feature, we first need to remember that like geolocation, the camera is a privacy-sensitive device and must also be declared in the manifest, as shown in Figure 2-19. FIGURE 2-19 The camera capability in Visual Studio’s manifest editor. On first use of the camera at run time, you’ll see a consent dialog, as with geolocation, like the one shown in Figure 2-20. FIGURE 2-20 Popup for obtaining the user’s consent to use the camera. You can control these through the Settings/Permissions panel at any time. Next we need to wire up the img element to pick up a tap gesture. For this we simply need to add an event listener for click, which works for all forms of input (touch, mouse, and stylus), as we’ll see in Chapter 9, “Input and Sensors”: var image = document.getElementById("photo"); image.addEventListener("click", capturePhoto.bind(image)); 67 Here we’re providing capturePhoto as the event handler, and using the function object’s bind method to make sure the this object inside capturePhoto is bound directly to the img element. The result is that the event handler can be used for any number of elements because it doesn’t make any references to the DOM itself: //Place this under var lastPosition = null; var lastCapture = null; //Place this after callFrameScript function capturePhoto() { //Due to the .bind() call in addEventListener, "this" will be the image element, //but we need a copy for the async completed handler below. var that = this; var captureUI = new Windows.Media.Capture.CameraCaptureUI(); //Indicate that we want to capture a PNG that's no bigger than our target element -- //the UI will automatically show a crop box of this size captureUI.photoSettings.format = Windows.Media.Capture.CameraCaptureUIPhotoFormat.png; captureUI.photoSettings.croppedSizeInPixels = { width: this.clientWidth, height: this.clientHeight }; captureUI.captureFileAsync(Windows.Media.Capture.CameraCaptureUIMode.photo) .done(function (capturedFile) { //Be sure to check validity of the item returned; could be null if the user canceled. if (capturedFile) { lastCapture = capturedFile; //Save for Share that.src = URL.createObjectURL(capturedFile, {oneTimeOnly: true}); } }, function (error) { console.log("Unable to invoke capture UI."); }); } We do need to make a local copy of this within the click handler, though, because once we get inside the async completed function (see the function inside captureFileAsync.done) we’re in a new function scope and the this object will have changed. The convention for such a copy of this is to call it that. Got that? To invoke the camera UI, we only need create an instance of Windows.Media.Capture.CameraCaptureUI with new (a typical step to instantiate dynamic WinRT objects), configure it with the desired format and size (among may other possibilities as discussed in Chapter 10, “Media”), and then call captureFileAsync. This will check the manifest capability and prompt the user for consent, if necessary. This is an async call, so we hook a .done on the end with a completed handler, which in this case will receive a Windows.Storage.StorageFile object. Through this object you can get to all the raw image data you want, but for our purpose we simply want to display it in the img element. Fortunately, that’s super-easy as well! You can hand a StorageFile object to the 68 URL.createObjectURL method and get back an URI that can be directly assigned to the img.src attribute. Voila! The captured photo appears!15 Note that captureFileAsync will call the completed handler if the UI was successfully invoked but the user hit the back button and didn’t actually capture anything. This is why the extra check is there for the validity of capturedFile. An error handler on the promise will, for its part, pick up failures to invoke the UI in the first place, but note that a denial of consent will show a message in the capture UI directly (see Figure 2-21), so it’s unnecessary to have an error handler for that purpose with this particular API. In most cases, however, you’ll want to have an error handler in place for async calls. FIGURE 2-21 The camera capture UI’s message when consent is denied (left); you can change permissions through the Settings Charm > Permissions pane (right). Sharing the Fun! Taking a goofy picture of oneself is fun, of course, but sharing the joy with the rest of the world is even better. Up to this point, however, sharing information through different social media apps has meant using the specific APIs of each service. Workable, but not scalable. Windows 8 has instead introduced the notion of the share contract, which is used to implement the Share charm with as many apps as participate in the contract. Whenever you’re in an app and invoke Share, Windows sends whatever data that source app makes available (if any) to whatever other target app the user selects (from a list of those whose manifests identify them as targets). The contract is an 15 The {oneTimeOnly: true} parameter indicates that the URI is not reusable and should be revoked via URL.revokeObjectURL when it’s no longer used, as when we replace the img src with a new picture. Without this, we would leak memory with each new picture. If you’ve used URL.createObjectURL in the past, you’ll see that the second parameter is now a property bag, which aligns with the most recent W3C spec. 69 abstraction that sits between the two, so the source and target apps never need to know anything about each other. This makes the whole experience all the richer as the user installs more share-capable apps, and it doesn’t limit sharing to only well-known social media scenarios. What’s also beautiful in the overall experience is that the user never leaves the original app to do sharing—the share target app shows up in its own view as an overlay that only partially obscures the source app. This way, the user immediately returns to that source app when the sharing is completed, rather than having to switch back to that app manually. So instead of adding code to our app to share the photo and location to a particular target, like Facebook, we only need to package the data appropriately when Windows asks for it. That asking comes through the datarequested event sent to the Windows.ApplicationModel.- DataTransfer.DataTransferManager object. First we just need to set up an appropriate listener—place this code is in the onactivated event in default.js after setting up the click listener on the img element: var dataTransferManager = Windows.ApplicationModel.DataTransfer.DataTransferManager.getForCurrentView(); dataTransferManager.addEventListener("datarequested", provideData); The idea of a current view is something that we’ll see pop up now and then. It reflects that an app can be launched for different reasons—such as servicing a contract—and thus presents different underlying pages or views to the user at those times. These views (unrelated to the snap/fill/etc. view states) can be active simultaneously. To thus make sure that your code is sensitive to these scenarios, certain APIs return objects appropriate for the current view of the app as we see here. For this event, the handler receives a Windows.ApplicationModel.DataTransfer.DataRequest object in the event args (e.request), which in turn holds a DataPackage object (e.request.data). To make data available for sharing, you populate this data package with the various formats you have available. (We’ve saved these in lastPosition and lastCapture.) In our case, we make sure we have position and a photo, then fill in text and image properties: //Drop this in after capturePhoto function provideData(e) { var request = e.request; var data = request.data; if (!lastPosition || !lastCapture) { //Nothing to share, so exit return; } data.properties.title = "Here My Am!"; data.properties.description = "At (" + lastPosition.latitude + ", " + lastPosition.longitude + ")"; //When sharing an image, include a thumbnail 70 var streamReference = Windows.Storage.Streams.RandomAccessStreamReference.createFromFile(lastCapture); data.properties.thumbnail = streamReference; //It's recommended to always use both setBitmap and setStorageItems for sharing a single image //since the target app may only support one or the other. //Put the image file in an array and pass it to setStorageItems data.setStorageItems([lastCapture]); //The setBitmap method requires a RandomAccessStream. data.setBitmap(streamReference); } The latter part of this code is pretty standard stuff for sharing a file-based image (which we have in lastCapture). I got most of this code, in fact, directly from the SDK’s Share content source app sample, which we’ll look at more closely in Chapter 12, “Contracts.” With this last addition of code, and a suitable sharing target installed (such as the SDK’s Share content target app sample, as shown in Figure 2-22), we now have a very functional app—in all of 35 lines of HTML, 125 lines of CSS, and less than 100 lines of JavaScript! FIGURE 2-22 Sharing (monkey-see, monkey-do!) to the Share target sample in the Windows SDK. Share targets appear as a partial overlay on top of the current app, so the user never leaves the app context. Extra Credit: Receiving Messages from the iframe There’s one more piece I’ve put into Here My Am! to complete the basic interaction between app and iframe content: the ability to post messages from the iframe back to the main app. In our case, we 71 want to know when the location of the pushpin has changed so that we can update lastPosition. First, here’s a simple utility function I added to map.html to encapsulate the appropriate postMessage calls to the app from the iframe: function function notifyParent(event, args) { //Add event name to the arguments object and stringify as the message args["event"] = event; window.parent.postMessage(JSON.stringify(args), "ms-appx://" + document.location.host); } This function basically takes an event name, adds it to whatever object is given containing parameters, and then stringifies the whole bit and posts it back to the parent. When a pushpin is dragged, Bing maps raises a dragend event, which we’ll wire up and handle in the setLocation function just after the pushpin is created (also in map.html): var pushpin = new Microsoft.Maps.Pushpin(location, { draggable: true }); Microsoft.Maps.Events.addHandler(pushpin, "dragend", function (e) { var location = e.entity.getLocation(); notifyParent("locationChanged", { latitude: location.latitude, longitude: location.longitude }); }); Back in default.js (the app), we add a listener for incoming messages inside app.onactivated: window.addEventListener("message", processFrameEvent); where the processFrameEvent handler looks at the event in the message and acts accordingly: function processFrameEvent (message) { //Verify data and origin (in this case the web context page) if (!message.data || message.origin !== "ms-appx-web://" + document.location.host) { return; } if (!message.data) { return; } var eventObj = JSON.parse(message.data); switch (eventObj.event) { case "locationChanged": lastPosition = { latitude: eventObj.latitude, longitude: eventObj.longitude }; break; default: break; } }; Clearly, this is more code than we’d need to handle a single message or event from an iframe, but I 72 wanted to give you something that could be applied more generically in your own apps. The Other Templates In this chapter we’ve worked only with the Blank App template so that we could understand the basics of writing a WinRT app without any other distractions. In Chapter 3, we’ll look more deeply at the anatomy of apps through a few of the other templates, yet we won’t cover them all. We’ll close this chapter, then, with a short introduction to these very handy tools. Fixed Layout Template “A project for a Windows Store app that scales using a fixed aspect ratio layout.” (Blend/Visual Studio description) What we’ve seen so far are examples of apps that adapt themselves to changes in display area by adjusting the layout. In Here My Am!, for instance, we used CSS grids with self-adjusting areas (those 1fr’s in rows and columns). This works great for apps with content that is suitably resizable as well as apps that can show additional content when there’s more room, such as more news headlines or items from a search. Other kinds of apps are not so flexible, such as games where the aspect ratio of the playing area needs to stay constant. (It would not be fair if players on larger screens got to see more of the game!) So, when the display area changes—either from view states or a change in display resolution—they do better to scale themselves up or down rather than adjust their layout. The Fixed Layout template provides the basic structure for such an app, just like the Blank template provides for a flexible app. The key piece is the WinJS.UI.ViewBox control, which automatically takes care of scaling its contents while maintaining the aspect ratio:

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In default.css, you can see that the body element is styled as a CSS flexbox centered on the screen and the fixedLayout element is set to 1024x768 (the minimum size for the fullscreen-landscape and filled view states). Within the child div of the ViewBox, then, you can safely assume that you’ll always be working with these fixed dimensions. The ViewBox will scale everything up and provide letterboxing as necessary. Note that such apps might not be able to support an interactive snapped state; a game, for example, will not be playable when scaled down. In this case an app can simply pause the game and try 73 to unsnap itself when the user taps it again. We’ll revisit this in Chapter 6. Navigation Template “A project for a Windows Store app that has predefined controls for navigation.” (Blend/Visual Studio description) The Navigation template builds on the Blank template by adding support for page navigation. As discussed in Chapter 1, WinRT apps written in HTML/JavaScript are best implemented by having a single HTML page container into which other pages are dynamically loaded. This allows for smooth transitions (as well as animations) between those pages and preserves the script context. This template, and the others that remain, employ a Page Navigator control that facilitates loading (and unloading) pages in this way. You need only create a relatively simple structure to describe each page and its behavior. We’ll see this in Chapter 3. In this model, default.html is little more than a simple container, with everything else in the app coming through subsidiary pages. The Navigation template creates only one subsidiary page, yet it establishes the framework for how to work with multiple pages. Grid Template “A three-page project for a Windows Store app that navigates among grouped items arranged in a grid. Dedicated pages display group and item details.” (Blend/Visual Studio description) Building on the Navigation template, the Grid template provides the basis for apps that will navigate collections of data across multiple pages. The home page shows grouped items within the collection, from which you can then navigate into the details of an item or into the details of a group and its items (from which you can then go into item details as well). In addition to the navigation, the Grid template also shows how to manage collections of data through the WinJS.Binding.List class, a topic we’ll explore much further in Chapter 5, “Collections and Collection Controls.” It also provides the structure for an app bar and shows how to simplify the app’s behavior in snap view. The name of the template, by the way, derives from the particular “grid” layout used to display the collection, not from the CSS grid. Split Template “A two-page project for a Windows Store app that navigates among grouped items. The first page allows group selection while the second displays an item list alongside details for the selected item.” (Blend/Visual Studio description) This last template also builds on the Navigation template and works over a collection of data. Its home page displays a list of groups, rather than grouped items as with the Grid template. Tapping a 74 group then navigates to a group detail page that is split into two sides (hence the template name). The left side contains a vertically panning list of items; the right side shows details for the currently selected item. Like the Grid template, the Split template provides an app bar structure and handles both snap and portrait views intelligently. That is, because vertically oriented views don’t lend well to splitting the display (contrary to the description above!), the template shows how to switch to a page navigation model within those view states to accomplish the same ends. What We’ve Just Learned  How to create a new WinRT app from the Blank app template.  How to run an app inside the local debugger and within the simulator.  The features of the simulator.  The basic project structure for WinRT apps, including WinJS references.  The core activation structure for an app.  The role and utility of design wireframes in app development, including the importance of designing for all view states.  How to quickly and efficiently add styling to an app’s markup in Blend for Visual Studio.  How to safely use web content (such as Bing maps) within an iframe and communicate between that page and the app.  How to use the WinRT APIs, especially async methods involving promises but also geolocation and camera capture.  The importance of manifest capabilities in being able to use certain WinRT APIs.  How to share data through the Share contract.  The kinds of apps supported through the other app templates: Fixed Layout, Navigation, Grid, and Split. 75 Chapter 3 App Anatomy and Page Navigation During the early stages of writing this book, I was also working closely with a contractor to build a house for my family. While I wasn’t on site every day managing the whole effort, I was certainly involved in most decision-making throughout the home’s many phases, and I occasionally participated in the construction itself. In the Sierra Nevada foothills of California, where I live, the frame of a house is built with the plentiful local wood, and all the plumbing and wiring has to be in the walls before installing insulation and wallboard (aka sheetrock). It amazed me how long it took to complete that infrastructure. The builders spent a lot of time adding little blocks of wood here and there to make it much easier for them to do the finish work later on (like hanging cabinets), and lots of time getting the wiring and plumbing put together properly. All of this becomes completely invisible to the eye once the wallboard is on and the finish work is in place. But then, imagine what the house would be like without such careful attention to structural details. Imagine having some light switches that just didn’t work or controlled the wrong fixtures. Imagine if the plumbing leaked. Imagine if cabinets and trim started falling off the walls after a week or two of living in the house. Even if the house managed to pass final inspection, such flaws would make it almost unlivable, no matter how beautiful it might appear at first sight. It would be like a few of the designs of the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright: very interesting architecturally and aesthetically pleasing, yet thoroughly uncomfortable to actually live in. Apps are very much the same story—I’ve marveled, in fact, just how many similarities exist between the two endeavors! That is, an app might be visually beautiful, even stunning, but once you really start using it day to day, a lack of attention on the fundamentals will become painfully apparent. This chapter, then, is about those fundamentals: the core foundational structure of an app upon which you can build something that can look beautiful and really work well. We’ll first complete our understanding of the hosted environment and then look at activation (how apps get running) and lifecycle transitions. We’ll then look at page navigation within an app, and we’ll see a few other important considerations along the way, such as working with multiple async operations. Let me offer you advance warning that this is an admittedly longer and more intricate chapter than many that follow, since it specifically deals with the software equivalents of framing, plumbing, and wiring. With our house, I can completely attest that installing the lovely light fixtures my wife picked out seemed, in the moment, much more satisfying than the framing I’d done months earlier. But now, actually living in the house, I have a deep appreciation for all the nonglamorous work that went into it. It’s a place I want to be, a place in which my family and I are delighted, in fact, to spend the majority of our lives. And is that not how you want your customers to feel about your apps? Absolutely! Knowing the delight that a well-architected app can bring to your customers, let’s dive in and find our own 76 delight in exploring the intricacies! Local and Web Contexts within the App Host As described in Chapter 1, “The Life Story of a WinRT app,” apps written with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are not directly executable apps like their compiled counterparts written in C#, Visual Basic, or C++. In our app packages, there are no .EXEs, just .html, .css, and .js files (plus resources, of course) that are, plain and simple, nothing but text. So something has to turn all this text that defines an app into something that’s actually running in memory. That something is again the app host, wwahost.exe, which creates what we call the hosted environment for WinRT apps. We’ve already covered most of the characteristics of the hosted environment in Chapter 1 and Chapter 2, “Quickstart”:  The app host (and the apps in it) use brokered access to sensitive resources.  Though the app host provides an environment very similar to that of Internet Explorer 10, there are a number of changes to the DOM API, documented on HTML and DOM API changes list and HTML, CSS, and JavaScript features and differences.  HTML content in the app package can be loaded into the local or web context, depending on the ms-appx:/// and ms-appx-web:/// scheme used to reference that content (the third / again means “in the app package”). Remote content (referred to with http[s]://) always runs in the web context.  The local context has access to the WinRT API, among other things, whereas the web context is allowed to load and execute remote script but cannot access WinRT.  ActiveX plug-ins are generally not allowed in either context.  The HTML5 postMessage function can be used to communicate between an iframe and its containing parent across contexts. This can be useful to execute remote script within the web context and pass the results to the local context; script acquired in the web context should not be itself passed to the local context and executed there. (Windows Store policy actually disallows this, and apps submitted to the Store will be analyzed for such practices.)  Further specifics can be found on Features and restrictions by context, including which parts of WinJS don’t rely on WinRT and can thus be used in the web context. (WinJS, by the way, cannot be used on web pages outside of an app.) Now what we’re really after in this chapter is not so much these characteristics themselves but their impact on the structure of an app. First and foremost is that an app’s home page (the one you point to 77 in the manifest in the Start page field of the Application UI tab16) always runs in the local context, and any page to which you navigate directly (
or document.location) must also be in the local context. (You can try otherwise, but the app host will display an interesting “not supported” message right inside your app!) Those pages, however, can contain iframe elements in either context, depending on which scheme you use. A local context page can contain an iframe in either local or web context, provided that the src attribute refers to content in the app package (and by the way, programmatic read-only access to your package contents is obtained via Windows.ApplicationMode.Package.Current.InstalledLocation). Referring to any other location (http[s]:// or other protocols) will always place the iframe in the web context. Also, if you use an tag with target pointing to an iframe, the scheme in href determines the context. A web context page, for its part, can contain an iframe only in the web context; for example, the last two iframe elements above are allowed, whereas the first two are not. You can also use ms-appx-web:/// within the web context to refer to other content within the app package, such as images. Although not commonly done within WinRT apps for reasons we’ll see later in this chapter, similar rules apply with page-to-page navigation using or document.location. Since the whole scene here can begin to resemble overcooked spaghetti, the exact behavior for these variations and for iframes is described in the following table: Target Result in Local Context Page Result in Web Context Page Then set the Location capability in the manifest (something I forgot on my first experiment with this!), and run the app. You’ll see the Bing page you expect.17 However, attempting to use geolocation from within that page—clicking the locator control to the left of “World,” for instance—will give you the kind of error shown in Figure 3-1. Figure 3-1 Use of brokered capabilities like geolocation from within a web context will generate an error. Such capabilities are blocked because web content loaded into an iframe can easily provide the 17 If the color scheme looks odd, it’s because the iframe is picking up styles from the default ui-dark.css of WinJS. Try changing that stylesheet to ui-light.css for something that looks more typical. 79 means to navigate to other arbitrary pages. From the Bing maps page used above, for example, a user can go to the Bing home page, do a search, and end up on any number of untrusted and potentially malicious pages. Whatever the case, those pages might request access to sensitive resources, and if they just generated the same user consent prompts as an app, users could be tricked into granting such access. Fortunately, if you ask nicely, Windows will let you enable those capabilities for web pages that the app knows about. All it takes is an affidavit signed by you and sixteen witnesses, and…OK, I’m only joking! You simply need to add what are called application content URI rules to your manifest. Each rule says that content from some URI is known and trusted by your app and can thus act on the app’s behalf. (You can also exclude URIs, which is typically done to exclude specific pages that would otherwise be included within another rule.) Such rules are created in the Content Uri tab of Visual Studio’s manifest editor, as shown in Figure 3-2. Each rule needs to be the exact URI that might be making a request, http://www.bing.com/maps/. Once we add that rule (as in the completed ContentUri example for this chapter), Bing maps is allowed to use geolocation. When it does so, a message dialog will appear (Figure 3-3), just as if the app had made the request. (Note: when run inside the debugger, the ContentUri example will show a Permission Denied exception on startup. This is expected and you can press Continue within Visual Studio; it doesn’t affect the app running outside the debugger.) Figure 3-2 Adding a content URI to the app manifest; the contents of the text box is saved when the manifest is saved. Add New URI creates another set of controls in which to enter additional rules. Figure 3-3 With an content URI rule in place, web content in an iframe acts like part of the app. This shows exactly why content URI rules are necessary to protect the user from pages unknown to the app that could otherwise trick the user into granting access to sensitive resources. Sidebar: A Few iframe Tips and Cautions As we’re talking about iframe elements here, there are a couple extra tips you might find helpful 80 when using them. First, to prevent selection, style the iframe with –ms-user-select: none or set its style.msUserSelect property to "none" in JavaScript. Second, some web pages contain frame-breaking code that prevents the page from being loaded into an iframe, in which case the page will be opened in the default browser and not the app. Third, just as plug-ins aren’t supported in WinRT apps, they’ll also fail to load for web pages loaded into an iframe. In short, pulling web content that you don’t own into an app is a risky business! Furthermore, iframe support is not intended to let you just build an app by pulling in remote web pages. The Windows Store Certification Requirements, in fact, specifically disallow apps that are just websites—the primary app experience must take place within the app and not within web sites hosted in iframe elements. (See section 2.4 in those requirements.) A few key reasons for this are that websites typically aren’t set up well for touch interaction (which violates requirement 3.5) and often won’t work well in snapped view (violating requirement 3.6). In short, overuse of web content will likely mean that the app won’t be accepted by the Store. Referencing Content from App Data: ms-appdata As we’ve seen, the ms-appx[-web]:/// schema allow an app to navigate iframe elements to pages that exist inside the app package, or on the web. This begs a question: can an app point to content on the local file system that exists outside its package, such as a dynamically created file in an appdata folder? Can, perchance, an app use the file:// protocol to navigate and/or access that content? Well, as much as I’d love to tell you that this just works, the answer is somewhat mixed. First off, the file:// protocol is wholly blocked by design for various security reasons, even for your appdata folders to which you otherwise have full access. (Custom protocols are also unsupported in iframe src URIs.) Fortunately there is a substitute, ms-appdata://, that fulfills part of the need. Within the local context of an app, ms-appdata is a shortcut to the appdata folder wherein exist local, roaming, and temp folders. So, if you created a picture called image65.png in your appdata local folder, you can refer to it by using ms-appdata:///local/image65.png (and similar forms with roaming and temp) wherever a URI can be used, including within a CSS style like background. Unfortunately, the caveat—there always seems to be one with the app container!—is that ms-appdata can be used only for resources, namely with the src attribute of img, video, and audio elements. It cannot be used to load HTML pages, CSS stylesheets, or JavaScript, nor can it be used for navigation purposes (iframe, hyperlinks, etc.). Can you do any kind of dynamic page generation, then? Well, yes: you need to load file contents and process them manually. You can get to your appdata folders through the Windows.Storage.- ApplicationData API and go from there. To load and render a full HTML page requires that you patch up all external references and play some magic with script, but it can be done if you really want. A similar question is whether you can generate and execute script on the fly. The answer is again qualified. Yes, you can take a JavaScript string and pass it to the eval or execScript functions. The inevitable caveat here is that automatic filtering is applied to that code that prevents injection of script 81 (and other risky markup) into the DOM via properties like innerHTML and outerHTML, and methods like document.write and DOMParser.parseFromString. Yet there are certainly situations where you, the developer, really know what you’re doing and enjoy juggling flaming swords and running chainsaws and thus want to get around such restrictions, especially when using third-party libraries. (See the sidebar below.) Acknowledging that, Microsoft provides a mechanism to consciously circumvent all this: MSApp.execUnsafeLocalFunction. For all the details regarding this, refer to Developing secure apps, which covers this along with a few other obscure topics (like the sandbox attribute for iframes) that I’m not including here. And curiously enough, WinJS actually makes it easier for you to juggle flaming swords and running chainsaws! WinJS.Utilities.setInnerHTMLUnsafe, setOuterHTMLUnsafe, and insertAdjacentHTMLUnsafe are wrappers for calling DOM methods that would otherwise strip out risky content. All that said (don’t you love being aware of the details?), let’s look at an example of using ms-appdata, which will probably be much more common in your app-building efforts. Sidebar: Third-Party Libraries and the Hosted Environment In general, WinRT apps can employ libraries like jQuery, Prototype, Dojo, and so forth, as noted in Chapter 1. However, there are some limitations and caveats. First, because local context pages in an app cannot load script from remote sources, apps typically need to include such libraries in their packages unless only being used from the web context. (WinJS, mind you, doesn’t need bundling because it’s provided by the Windows Store—such “framework packages” are not enabled for third parties in Windows 8.) Second, DOM API changes and app container restrictions might affect the library. For example, library functions using window.alert won’t work. One library also cannot load another library from a remote source in the local context. Most importantly, anything in the library that assumes a higher level of trust than the app container provides, such as assuming open file system access, will have issues. The most common issue comes up when libraries inject elements or script into the DOM (as through innerHTML), a widespread practice for web applications that is not generally allowed within the app container. For example, trying to create a jQuery datepicker widget ($("myCalendar").datepicker()) will hurl out this kind of error. You can get around this on the app level by wrapping the code above with MSApp.execUnsafeLocalFunction, but that doesn’t solve injections coming from deeper inside the library. In the jQuery example given here, the control can be created but clicking a date in that control generates another error. In short, you’re free to use third-party libraries so long as you’re aware that they were generally written with assumptions that don’t always apply within the app container. Over time, of course, fully Windows 8–compatible versions of such libraries will emerge. 82 Here My Am! with ms-appdata OK! Having endured seven pages of esoterica, let’s play with some real code and return to the Here My Am! app we wrote in Chapter 2. Here My Am! used the convenient URL.createObjectURL method to display a picture taken through the camera capture UI in an img element: captureUI.captureFileAsync(Windows.Media.Capture.CameraCaptureUIMode.photo) .done(function (capturedFile) { if (capturedFile) { that.src = URL.createObjectURL(capturedFile); } }); This is all well and good, if we just take it on faith that the picture is stored somewhere—we don’t really care so long as we get a URI. Truth is, pictures (and video) from the camera capture API are just stored in a temp file; if you set a breakpoint in the debugger and look at capturedFile, you’ll see that it has an ugly file path like C:\Users\kraigb\AppData\Local\Packages\ ProgrammingWin8-JS-CH3- HereMyAm3a_5xchamk3agtd6\TempState\picture001.png. Egads. Not the friendliest of locations, and definitely not one that we’d want a typical consumer to ever see! With an app like this, let’s copy that temp file to a more manageable location, which could, for example, allow the user to select from previously captured pictures. We’ll make a copy in the app’s local appdata folder and use ms-appdata to set the img src to that location. Let’s start with the call to captureUI.captureFileAsync as before: //For use across chained promises var capturedFile = null; captureUI.captureFileAsync(Windows.Media.Capture.CameraCaptureUIMode.photo) .then(function (capturedFileTemp) { //Be sure to check validity of the item returned; could be null if the user canceled. if (!capturedFileTemp) { throw ("no file captured"); } Notice that instead of calling done to get the results of the promise, we’re using then instead. This is because we need to chain a number of async operations together and then allows errors to propagate through the chain, as we’ll see in the next section. In any case, once we get a result in capturedFileTemp (which is in a gnarly-looking folder), we then open or create a “HereMyAm” folder within our local appdata. This happens via Windows.Storage.ApplicationData.current.- localFolder, which gives us a Windows.Storage.StorageFolder object that provides a createFolderAsync method: //As a demonstration of ms-appdata usage, copy the StorageFile to a folder called HereMyAm //in the appdata/local folder, and use ms-appdata to point to that. var local = Windows.Storage.ApplicationData.current.localFolder; capturedFile = capturedFileTemp; return local.createFolderAsync("HereMyAm", Windows.Storage.CreationCollisionOption.openIfExists); }) .then(function (myFolder) { //Again, check validity of the result operations 83 if (!myFolder) { throw ("could not create local appdata folder"); } Assuming the folder is created successfully, myFolder will contain another StorageFile object. We then use this as a target parameter for the temp file’s copyAsync method, which also takes a new filename as its second parameter. For that name we’ll just use the original name with the date/time appended (replacing colons with hypens to make a valid filename): //Append file creation time (should avoid collisions, but need to convert colons) var newName = capturedFile.displayName + " - " + capturedFile.dateCreated.toString().replace(/:/g, "-") + capturedFile.fileType; return capturedFile.copyAsync(myFolder, newName); }) .done(function (newFile) { if (!newFile) { throw ("could not copy file"); } Because this was the last async operating in the chain, we use the promise’s done method for reasons we’ll again see in a moment. In any case, if the copy succeeded, newFile contains a StorageFile object for the copy, and we can point to that using an ms-appdata URI: lastCapture = newFile; //Save for Share that.src = "ms-appdata:///local/HereMyAm/" + newFile.name; }, function (error) { console.log(error.message); }); The completed code is in the HereMyAm3a example. Of course, we could still use URL.createObjectURL with newFile as before (making sure to provide the { oneTimeOnly=true } parameter to avoid memory leaks). While that would defeat the purpose of this exercise, it works perfectly (and the memory overhead is essentially the same since the picture has to be loaded either way). In fact, we’d need to use it if we copy images to the user’s pictures library instead. To do this, just replace Windows.Storage.ApplicationData.current.localFolder with Windows.Storage.KnownFolders.picturesLibrary and declare the Pictures library capability in the manifest. Both APIs give us a StorageFolder, so the rest of the code is the same except that we’d use URL.createObjectURL because we can neither use ms-appdata:// nor file:// to refer to the pictures library. The HereMyAm3a example contains this code in comments. Sequential Async Operations: Chaining Promises In the previous code example, you might have noticed how we throw exceptions whenever we don’t get a good result back from any given async operation. Furthermore, we have only a single error handler at the end, and there’s this odd construct of returning the result (a promise) from each subsequent async operation instead of just processing the promise then and there. Though it may look odd at first, this is actually the most common pattern for dealing with sequential async operations because it works better than the more obvious approach of nesting. 84 Nesting means to call the next async API within the completed handler of the previous one, with each promise fulfilled with done. Here’s how the async calls in previous code would be placed with this approach (extraneous code removed for simplicity): captureUI.captureFileAsync(Windows.Media.Capture.CameraCaptureUIMode.photo) .done(function (capturedFileTemp) { //... local.createFolderAsync("HereMyAm", ...) .done(function (myFolder) { //... capturedFile.copyAsync(myFolder, newName) .done(function (newFile) { }) }) }); The one advantage to this approach is that each completed handler will have access to all the variables declared before it. Yet the disadvantages begin to pile up. For one, there is usually enough intervening code between the async calls that the overall structure becomes visually messy. More significantly, error handling becomes significantly more difficult. When promises are nested, error handling must be done at each level; if you throw an exception at the innermost level, for instance, it won’t be picked up by any of the outer error handlers. Each promise thus needs its own error handler, making real spaghetti of the basic code structure: captureUI.captureFileAsync(Windows.Media.Capture.CameraCaptureUIMode.photo) .done(function (capturedFileTemp) { //... local.createFolderAsync("HereMyAm", ...) .done(function (myFolder) { //... capturedFile.copyAsync(myFolder, newName) .done(function (newFile) { }, function (error) { }) }, function (error) { }); }, function (error) { }); I don’t know about you, but I really get lost in all the }’s and )’s (unless I try hard to remember my LISP class in college), and it’s hard to see which error function applies to which async call. Chaining promises solves all of this with the small tradeoff of needing to declare a few extra temp variables outside the chain. With chaining, you return the promise out of each completed handler (rather than calling the next async function and tagging on a .done). This allows you to indent all the async calls at the same level, and it also has the effect of propagating errors down the chain. When an error happens within a promise, you see, what comes back is still a promise object, and if you call its then method (but not done—see the next section), it will again return another promise object with an 85 error. As a result, any error along the chain will quickly propagate through to the first available error handler, thereby allowing you to have only a single error handler at the end: captureUI.captureFileAsync(Windows.Media.Capture.CameraCaptureUIMode.photo) .then(function (capturedFileTemp) { //... return local.createFolderAsync("HereMyAm", ...); }) .then(function (myFolder) { //... return capturedFile.copyAsync(myFolder, newName); }) .done(function (newFile) { }, function (error) { }) To my eyes (and my aging brain), this is a much cleaner code structure—and it’s therefore easier to debug and maintain. If you like, you can even end the chain with a done(null, errorHandler) call, replacing the previous done with then: captureUI.captureFileAsync(Windows.Media.Capture.CameraCaptureUIMode.photo) //... .then(function (newFile) { }) .done(null, function (error) { }) }) Finally, a word about debugging chained promises (or nested ones, for that matter). Each step involves an async operation, so you can’t just step through as you would with synchronous code (otherwise you’ll end up deep inside WinJS). Instead, set a breakpoint on the first line within each completed handler and on the first line of the error function at the end. As each breakpoint is hit, you can step through that completed handler. When you reach the next async call, click the Continue button in Visual Studio so that the async operation can run, after which you’ll hit the breakpoint in the next completed handler or you’ll hit the breakpoint in the error handler. Error Handling Within Promises: then vs. done Although it’s common to handle errors at the end of a chain of promises, as demonstrated in the code above, you can still provide an error handler at any point in the chain—then and done both take the same arguments. If an exception occurs at that level, it will surface in the innermost error handler. This brings us to the difference between then and done. First, then returns another promise, thereby allowing chaining, whereas done returns undefined (so it’s always at the end of the chain). Second, if an exception occurs within one async operation’s then method and there’s no error handler at that level, the error gets stored in the promise returned by then. In contrast, if done sees an exception and there’s no error handler, it throws that exception to the app’s event loop. This will bypass any local (synchronous) try/catch block, though you can pick them up in either in the WinJS.Application.- 86 onerror or window.onerror events. (The latter will get the error if the former doesn’t handle it.) If you don’t, the app will be instantly terminated and an error report sent to the Windows Store dashboard. We actually recommend that you provide a WinJS.Application.onerror handler for this reason. In practical terms, this means that if you end a chain of promises with a then and not done, all exceptions in that chain will get swallowed and you’ll never know there was a problem! This can place an app in an indeterminate state and cause much larger problems later on. So, unless you’re going to pass the last promise in a chain to another piece of code that will itself call done, always use done at the end of a chain even for a single async operation. There is much more you can do with promises, by the way, like combining them, canceling them, and so forth. We’ll come back to all this at the end of this chapter. Debug Output, Error Reports, and the Event Viewer Speaking of exceptions and error handling, it’s sometimes heartbreaking to developers that window.prompt and window.alert are not available to WinRT apps as quickie debugging aids. Fortunately, you have two other good options for that purpose. One is Windows.UI.Popups.- MessageDialog, which is actually what you use for real user prompts in general. The other is to use console.log, as shown earlier, which will send text to Visual Studio’s output pane. These messages can also be logged as Windows events, as we’ll see in a moment.18 Another DOM API function to which you might be accustomed is window.close. You can still use this as a development tool, but Windows interprets this call in released apps as a crash and generates an error report in response. This report will appear in the Store dashboard for your app, with a message telling you to not use it! (After all, WinRT apps should not provide their own close affordances.) There might be situations, however, when a released app needs to close itself in response to unrecoverable conditions. Although you can use window.close for this, it’s better to use MSApp.terminateApp because it allows you to also include information as to the exact nature of the error that shows up in the Store dashboard, making it easier to diagnose the problem. In addition to the Store dashboard, you should make fast friends with the Windows Event Viewer.19 This is where error reports, console logging, and unhandled exceptions (which again terminate the app without warning) can be recorded. To enable this, you need to do a couple steps. First navigate to Application and Services Log and expand Microsoft/Windows/AppHost, left-click select (this is important), right-click Admin, and then select View -> Show Analytic and Debug Logs for full output, as shown in Figure 3-4. This will enable 18 For readers who are seriously into logging, beyond the kind you do with chainsaws, check out the WinJS.Utilities functions startLog, stopLog, and formatLog, which provide additional functionality on top of console.log. I’ll leave you to commune with the documentation for these but wanted to bring them to your awareness. 19 If you can’t find Event Viewer, press the Windows key to go to the Start page, and then invoke the Settings charm. Select Tiles, and turn on Show Administrative Tools. You’ll then see a tile for Event Viewer on your Start page. 87 tracing for errors and exceptions. Then right-click AppTracing (also under AppHost) and select Enable Log. This will trace your calls to console.log as well as other diagnostic information coming from the app host. Figure 3-4 App host events, such as unhandled exceptions and load errors, can be found in Event Viewer. We already introduced the Visual Studio’s Exceptions dialog in Chapter 2; refer back to Figure 2-16. For each type of JavaScript exception, this dialog supplies two checkboxes labeled Thrown and User-unhandled. Checking Thrown will display a dialog box in the debugger (Figure 3-5) whenever an exception is thrown, regardless of whether it’s handled and before reaching any of your error handlers. If you have error handlers, you can safely click the Continue button in the dialog, and you’ll eventually see the exception surface in those error handlers. (Otherwise the app will terminate.) If you click Break instead, you can find the exception details in the debugger’s Locals pane, as shown in Figure 3-6. Figure 3-5 Visual Studio’s exception dialog. As the dialog indicates, it’s safe to press Continue if you have an error handler in the app; otherwise the app will terminate. Note that the checkbox in this dialog is a shortcut to toggle the Thrown checkbox for this exception type in the Exceptions dialog. 88 Figure 3-6 Information in Visual Studio’s Locals pane when you Break on an exception. The User-unhandled option (enabled for all exceptions by default) will display a similar dialog whenever an exception is thrown to the event loop, indicating that it wasn’t handled by an app-provided error function (“user” code from the system’s perspective). You typically turn on Thrown only for those exceptions you care about; turning them all on can make it very difficult to step through your app! Still, you can try it as a test, and then leave checks only for those exceptions you expect to catch. Do leave User-unhandled checked for everything else; in fact, unless you have a specific reason not to, make sure that User-unhandled is checked next to JavaScript Runtime Exceptions because this will include those exceptions not otherwise listed. This way you can catch (and fix) any exceptions that might abruptly terminate the app, which is something your customers should never experience. App Activation First, let me congratulate you for coming this far into a very detailed chapter! As a reward, let’s talk about something much more tangible and engaging: the actual activation of an app and its startup sequence, something that can happen a variety of ways, such as via the Start screen tile, contracts, and file type and protocol associations. In all these activation cases, you’ll be writing plenty of code to initialize your data structures, reload previously saved state, and do everything to establish a great experience for your users. Branding Your App 101: The Splash Screen and Other Visuals With activation, we actually need to take a step back even before the app host gets loaded, back to the moment a user taps your tile on the Start screen or when your app is launched through a contract or other association. The very first thing that happens, before any app-specific code is loaded or run, is that Windows displays a splash screen composed of the image and background color you provide in your manifest. The splash screen—which shows for at least 0.75 seconds so that it’s not just a flash—gives users something interesting to look at briefly while the app gets started (much better than an hourglass). It also occupies the whole view where the app is being launched (which might be the filled view state or the overlay area from the share or search charm), so it’s a much more directly engaging experience for 89 your users. During this time, an instance of the app host gets launched to load, parse, and render your HTML/CSS, and load, parse, and execute your JavaScript, firing events along the way as we’ll see in the next section. When the app is ready with its first page, the system removes the splash screen. The splash screen, along with your app tile, is clearly one of the most important ways to uniquely brand your app, so make sure that you and your graphic artist(s) give full attention to these. There are additional graphics and settings in the manifest that also affect your branding and overall presence in the system, as shown in the table below. Be especially aware that the Visual Studio and Blend templates provide some default and thoroughly unattractive placeholder graphics. Thus, take a solemn vow right now that you truly, truly, cross-your-heart will not upload an app to the Windows Store with those defaults still in place! (For additional guidance, see Guidelines and checklist for splash screens.) You can see that the table lists multiple sizes for various images specified in the manifest to accommodate varying pixel densities: 100%, 140%, and 180% scale factors, and even a few at 80% (don’t neglect the latter: they are typically used for most desktop monitors). So while you can just provide a single 100% scale image for each of these, it’s almost guaranteed that scaled-up versions of that graphic are going to look bad. So why not make your app look its best? Take the time to create each individual graphic consciously. Manifest Tab Section Item Use Image Sizes 100% 140% 180% Packaging n/a Logo Tile/logo image used for the app on its Product Description Page in the Windows Store. 50x50 70x70 90x90 Application UI n/a Display Name Appears in “all apps” view on the Start screen, search results, the Settings charm, and in the Store. n/a n/a n/a Tile Logo Single-wide tile image 150x150 (+ 80% scale at 120x120) 210x210 270x270 Wide logo (Option al) Double-wide tile image. If provided, this is shown as the default, but user can use the single-wide tile if desired. 310x150 (+80% scale at 248x120) 434x210 558x270 Small logo Tile used in zoomed-out and “all apps” views of the Start screen, and in the Search and Share panes if the app supports those contracts. Also used on the app tile if you elect to show a logo instead of the app name in the lower left cover of the tile. 30x30 (+80% scale at 24x24) 42x42 54x54 Show name Specifies whether to show the app name on your app tile (both, neither, or the single- or double-wide specifically). Set this to “no logo” if your tile images includes your app name. n/a n/a n/a 90 Short name Optional: if provided, is used for the name on the tile in place of the Display Name, as Display Name may be too long for a single-wide tile n/a n/a n/a Fore- ground text Color of name text shown on the tile if applicable (see Show name). Options are Light and Dark. There must be a 1.5 contrast ration between this and the background color n/a n/a n/a Back- ground color Color that will be shown for transparent areas of any tile images, buttons in app dialogs, notification backgrounds, and a few other places. Also provides the splash screen background color unless that is set separately. n/a n/a n/a Notifi- cations Badge logo Shown next to a badge notification to identify the app on the lock screen (uncommon, as this requires additional capabilities to be declared). 24x24 33x33 43x43 Splash screen Splash screen When the app is launched, this image is shown in the center of the screen against the Background color. The image can utilize transparency if designed. 620x300 868x420 1116x540 Back- ground color Color that will fill the majority of the splash screen; if not set, the App UI Background color is used. n/a n/a n/a In the table, note that 80% scale tile graphics are used in specific cases like low DPI modes and should be provided with other scaled images. Note also that there are additional graphics besides the Packaging Logo (first item in the table) that you’ll need when uploading an app to the Windows Store. See the App images topic in the docs under “Promotional images” for full details. When saving these files, append .scale-80, .scale-100, .scale-140, and .scale-180 to the filenames, before the file extension, as in splashscreen.scale-140.png. This allows you, both in the manifest and elsewhere in the app, to refer to an image with just the base name, such as splashscreen.png, and Windows will automatically load the appropriate scaled variant. Otherwise it looks for one without the suffix. No code needed! This is demonstrated in the HereMyAm3b example, where I’ve added all the various branded graphics (with some additional text in each graphic to show the scale). To test these different graphics, use the set resolution/scaling button in the simulator—refer back to Figure 2-5—to choose different pixel densities on a 10.6” screen (1366 x 768 =100%, 1920 x 1080 = 140%, and 2560 x 1440 = 180%). You’ll also see the 80% scale used on the other display choices, including the 23” and 27” settings. In all cases, the setting affects which images are used on the Start screen and the splash screen, but note that you might need to exit and restart the simulator to see the new scaling take effect. One thing you might also notice is that full-color photographic images, as I’m using in HereMyAm3b here, don’t scale down very well to the smallest sizes (Store logo and small logo). This is one reason why such logos are typically simpler with WinRT app design, so hopefully your designers do 91 a better job than I have! Activation Event Sequence As the app host is built on the same parsing and rendering engines as Internet Explorer, the general sequence of activation events is more or less what a web application sees in a browser. Actually, it’s more rather than less! When you launch an app from its tile, here’s the process as Windows sees it: 1. Windows displays a splash screen using information from the app manifest. 2. Windows launches the app host, identifying the app to launch. 3. The app host retrieves the app’s Start Page setting (see the Application UI tab in the manifest editor), which identifies the HTML page to load. 4. The app host loads that page along with referenced stylesheets and script (deferring script loading if indicated in the markup). Here it’s important that all files are properly encoded for best startup performance. (See the sidebar below.) 5. document.DOMContentLoaded fires. You can use this to do further initialization specifically related to the DOM, if desired (not common). 6. Windows.UI.WebUI.WebUIApplication.onactivated fires. This is typically where you’ll do all your startup work, instantiate WinJS and custom controls, initialize state, and so on. 7. The splash screen is hidden once the activated event handler returns (unless the app has requested a deferral as discussed later in the “Activation Deferrals” section). 8. body.onload fires. This is typically not used in WinRT apps, though it might be utilized by imported code or third party libraries. What’s also very different is that an app can again be activated for many different purposes, such as contracts and associations, even while it’s already running. As we’ll see in later chapters, the specific page that gets loaded (step 3) can vary by contract, and if a particular page is already running, it will receive only the Windows.UI.WebUI.WebUIApplication.onactivated event and not the others. For the time being, though, let’s concentrate on how we work with this core launch process, and because you’ll generally do your initialization work within the activated event, let’s examine that structure more closely. Sidebar: File Encoding for Best Startup Performance To optimize bytecode generation when parsing HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, the Windows Store requires that all .html, .css, and .js files are saved with Unicode UTF-8 encoding. This is the default for all files created in Visual Studio or Blend. If you’re importing assets from other sources, check this encoding: in Visual Studio’s File Save As dialog (Blend doesn’t have this at present), select Save with Encoding and set that to Unicode (UTF-8 with signature) – Codepage 65001. The 92 Windows App Certification Kit will issue warnings if it encounters files without this encoding. Along these same lines, minification of JavaScript isn’t particularly important for WinRT apps. Because an app package is downloaded from the Windows Store as a unit and often contains other assets that are much larger than your code files, minification won’t make much difference there. Once the package is installed, bytecode generation means that the package’s JavaScript has already been processed and optimized, so minification won’t have any additional performance impact. Activation Code Paths As we saw in Chapter 2, new projects created in Visual Studio or Blend give you the following code (with a few more comments) in default.js: (function () { "use strict"; var app = WinJS.Application; var activation = Windows.ApplicationModel.Activation; app.onactivated = function (args) { if (args.detail.kind === activation.ActivationKind.launch) { if (args.detail.previousExecutionState !== activation.ApplicationExecutionState.terminated) { // TODO: This application has been newly launched. Initialize // your application here. } else { // TODO: This application has been reactivated from suspension. // Restore application state here. } args.setPromise(WinJS.UI.processAll()); } }; app.oncheckpoint = function (args) { }; app.start(); })(); Let’s go through this piece by piece to review what we already learned and complete our understanding of this essential code structure: 93  (function () { … })(); is again the JavaScript module pattern.  "use strict" instructs the JavaScript interpreter to apply Strict Mode, a feature of ECMAScript 5. This checks for sloppy programming practices (like using implicitly declared variables), so it’s a good idea to leave it in place.  var app = WinJS.Application; and var activation = Windows.Application- Mode.Activation; both create substantially shortened aliases for commonly used fully qualified namespaces. This is a common practice to simplify multiple references to the same part of WinJS or WinRT.  app.onactivated = function (args) {…} assigns a handler for the WinJS.UI.onactivated event, which is a wrapper for Windows.UI.WebUI.WebUIApplication.onactivated. In this handler:  args.detail.kind identifies the type of activation.  args.detail.previousExecutionState identifies the state of the app prior to this activation, which determines whether to reload state.  WinJS.UI.processAll instantiates WinJS controls—that is, elements that contain a data-win-control attribute, as we’ll cover in Chapter 4.  args.setPromise instructs Windows to wait until WinJS.UI.processAll is complete before removing the splash screen. (See “Activation Deferrals” later in this chapter.)  app.oncheckpoint gets an empty handler in the template; we’ll cover this in the “App Lifecycle Transition Events” section later in this chapter.  app.start() (WinJS.Application.start()) initiates processing of events that WinJS queues during startup. Notice how we’re not directly handling any of the events that Windows is firing, like DOMContentLoaded or Windows.UI.WebUI.WebUIApplication.onactivated. Are we just ignoring those events? Not at all: one of the convenient services that WinJS offers, through WinJS.UI.Application, is a simplified structure for activation and other app lifetime events. Entirely optional, but very helpful. With start, for example, a couple of things are happening. First, the WinJS.Application object listens for a variety of events that come from different sources (the DOM, WinRT, etc.) and coalesces them into a single object with which you register your own handlers. Second, when WinJS.Application receives activation events, it doesn’t just pass them on to the app’s handlers, because your handlers might not, in fact, have been set up yet. So it queues those events until the app says it’s really ready by calling start. At that point WinJS goes through the queue and fires those events. That’s really all there is to it. As the template code shows, apps typically do most of their initialization work within the activated 94 event, but there are a number of potential code paths depending on the values in args.details (an IActivatedEventArgs object). If you look at the documentation for WinJS.Application.onactivated, you’ll see that the exact contents of args.details depends on specific kind of activation. All activations, however, share three common properties: args.details Property Type (in Windows.Application- Model.Activation) Description Kind ActivationKind The reason for the activation. The possibilities are launch (most common); search, shareTarget, file, protocol, fileOpenPicker, fileSavePicker, contactPicker, and cachedFileUpdater (for servicing contracts); and device, printTaskSettings, and cameraSettings (generally used with device apps). For each supported activation kind, the app will have an appropriate initialization path. previousExecutionState ApplicationExecutionState The state of the app prior to this activation. Values are notRunning, running, suspended, terminated, and closedByUser. Handling the terminated case is most common because that’s the one where you want to restore previously saved state (see “App Lifecycle Transition Events”). splashScreen SplashScreen Contains an ondismissed property to assign a handler that to perform other actions when the system splash screen is dismissed. This also contains an imageLocation property (Windows.Foundation.Rect) with coordinates where the splash screen image was displayed, as noted in “Extended Splash Screens.” Additional properties provide relevant data for the activation. For example, launch provides the tileId and arguments, which are needed with secondary tiles. (See Chapter 13, “Tiles, Notifications, the Lock Screen, and Background Tasks”). The search kind (the next most commonly used) provides queryText and language, protocol provides a uri, and so on. We’ll see how to use many of these in the proper context, and sometimes they apply to altogether different pages than default.html. What’s contained in the templates (and what we’ve already used for an app like Here My Am!) is primarily to handle normal startup from the app tile (or within Visual Studio’s debugger). WinJS.Application Events WinJS.Application isn’t concerned only with activation—its purpose is to centralize events from several different sources and turn them into events of its own. Again, this enables the app to listen to events from a single source (either assigning handlers via addEventListener() or on properties; both are supported). Here’s the full rundown on those events and when they’re fired (if queued, the event is fired within WinJS.Application.start):  activated Queued in the local context for Windows.UI.WebUI.WebUIApplication.- onactivated. In the web context, where WinRT is not applicable, this is instead queued for DOMContentLoaded (where the launch kind will be launch and 95 previousExecutionState is set to notRunning).  loaded Queued for DOMContentLoaded in all contexts;20 in the web context, will be queued prior to activated.  ready Queued after loaded and activated. This is the last one in the activation sequence.  error Fired if there’s an exception in dispatching another event. (If the error is not handled here, it’s passed onto window.onerror.)  checkpoint This tells the app when to save the state it needs to restart from a previous state of terminated. It’s fired in response to both the document’s beforeunload event, as well as Windows.UI.WebUI.WebUIApplication.onsuspending.  unload Also fired for beforeunload after the checkpoint event is fired.  settings Fired in response to Windows.UI.ApplicationSettings.SettingsPane.- oncommandsrequested. (See Chapter 8, “State, Settings, Files, and Documents.”) With most of these events (except error and settings), the args you receive contains a method called setPromise. If you need to perform an async operation within an event handler (like an XmlHttpRequest), you can obtain the promise for that work and hand it off to setPromise instead of calling its then or done yourself. WinJS will then not process the next event in the queue until that promise is fulfilled. Now to be honest, there’s no actual difference between this and just calling done on the promise yourself within the loaded, ready, and unload events. It does make a difference with activated and checkpoint (specifically the suspending case) because Windows will otherwise assume that you’ve done everything you need as soon as you return from the handler; more on this in the “Activation Deferrals” section. So, in general, if you have async work within these events handlers, it’s a good habit to use setPromise. Because WinJS.UI.processAll is itself an async operation, the templates wrap it with setPromise so that the splash screen isn’t removed until WinJS controls have been fully instantiated. Anyway, I think you’ll generally find WinJS.Application to be a useful tool in your apps, and it also provides a few more features as documented on the WinJS.Application page. For example, it provides local, temp, roaming, and sessionState properties, which are helpful for managing state, as we’ll see later on in this chapter and in Chapter 8. The other bits are the queueEvent and stop methods. The queueEvent method drops an event into the queue that will get dispatched (after any existing queue is clear) to whatever listeners you’ve set up on the WinJS.Application object. Events are simply identified with a string, so you can queue an event with any name you like, and call WinJS.Application.addEventListener with that same name 20 There is also the WinJS.Utilities.ready API through which you can specifically set a callback that’s called for DOMContentLoaded. This is used within WinJS, in fact, to guarantee that any call to WinJS.UI.processAll is processed after DOMContentLoaded. 96 anywhere else in the app. This can be useful for centralizing custom events that you might invoke both during startup and at other points during execution without creating a separate global function for that purpose. It’s also a powerful means through which separately defined, independent components can raise events that get aggregated into a single handler. As for stop, this is provided to help with unit testing so that you can simulate different activation sequences without having to relaunch the app and somehow simulate the right conditions when it restarts. When you call stop, WinJS removes its listeners, clears any existing event queue, and clears the sessionState object, but the app continues to run. You can then call queueEvent to populate the queue with whatever events you like and then call start again to process that queue. This process can be repeated as many times as needed. Extended Splash Screens Now, though the default splash screen helps keep the user engaged, they won’t stay engaged if that same splash screen stays up for a really long time. In fact, “a really long time” for the typical consumer amounts to all of 15 seconds, at which point they’ll pretty much start to assume that the app has hung and return to the Start screen to launch some other app that won’t waste their afternoon. In truth, so long as the user keeps your app in the foreground and doesn’t switch away, Windows will give you all the time you need. But if the user switches to the Start screen or another app, you’re subject to a 15-second timeout. If you’re not in the foreground, Windows will wait only 15 seconds for an app to get through app.start and the activated event, at which point your home page should be rendered. Otherwise, boom! Windows automatically terminates your app. The first consideration, of course, is to optimize your startup process to be as quick as possible. Still, sometimes an app really needs more than 15 seconds to get going, especially on its first run, so it should let the user know that something is happening. For example, an app package might include a bunch of compressed data when downloaded from the Store, which it needs to expand onto the local file system on first run so that subsequent launches are much faster. Many games do this with graphics and other resources (optimizing the local storage for device characteristics); other apps might to populate a local IndexedDB from data in a JSON file or download and cache a bunch of data from an online service. It’s also possible that the user is trying to launch your app shortly after rebooting the system, in which case there might be lots of disk activity going on. If you load data from disk in your activation path, your process could take much longer than usual.Such apps thus implement an extended splash screen, which is just a fancy term for some clever fakery. Simply said, if the app determines that it needs more time, it hides its real home page behind another div that looks exactly like the system-provided splash screen but that is under the app’s control so that it can display progress indicators or other custom UI while initialization continues. In general, Microsoft recommends that the extended splash screen initially matches the system splash screen to avoid visual jumps. (See Guidelines and checklist for splash screens.) At this point many 97 apps simply add a progress indicator with some kind of a “Please go grab a drink, do some jumping jacks, or enjoy a few minutes of meditation while we load everything” message. Matching the system splash screen, however, doesn’t mean that the extended splash screen has to stay that way. A number of apps start with a replica of the system splash screen and then animate the graphic to one side to make room for other elements. Other apps fade out the initial graphic and start a video. Making a smooth transition is the purpose of the args.detail.splashScreen object included with the activated event. This object—see Windows.ApplicationModel.Activation.- SplashScreen—contains an imageLocation property, which is a Windows.Foundation.Rect containing the placement and size of the splash screen image. Because your app can be run on a variety of different display sizes, this tells you where to place the same image on your own page, where to start an animation, and/or where to place things like messages and progress indicators relative to that image. The splashScreen object also provides an ondismissed event so that you can perform specific actions when the system-provided splash screen is dismissed and your first page comes up. Typically, this is useful to trigger the start of on-page animations, starting video playback, and so on. We won’t have a need to implement an extended splash screen in this chapter’s examples, but you can refer to the Splash Screen sample in the SDK. One more detail that’s worth mentioning is that because an extended splash screen is just a page in your app, it can be placed into the various view states such as snap view. So, as with every other page in your app, make sure your extended splash screen handles those states! Activation Deferrals As mentioned earlier, once you return from the activated event, Windows assumes that you’ve done everything you need on startup. By default, then, Windows will remove its splash screen and make your home page visible. But what if you need to complete one or more async operations before that home page is really ready, such as completing WinJS.UI.processAll? This, again, is what the args.setPromise method inside the activated event is for. If you give your async operation’s promise to setPromise, Windows will wait until that promise is fulfilled before taking down the splash screen. The templates use this to keep the system splash screen up until WinJS.UI.processAll is complete. As setPromise just waits for a single promise to complete, how do you handle multiple async operations? You can do this a couple of ways. First, if you need to control the sequencing of those operations, you can chain them together as we already know how to do—just be sure that the end of the chain is a promise that becomes the argument to setPromise—don’t call its done method (use then if needed)! If the sequence isn’t important but you need all of them to complete, you can combine those promises by using WinJS.Promise.join , passing the result to setPromise. If you need only one of the operations to complete, you can use WinJS.Promise.any instead—join and any are discussed in the last section of this chapter. 98 The other means is to register more than one handler with WinJS.Application.onactivated; each handler will get its own event args and its own setPromise function, and WinJS will combine those returned promises together with WinJS.Promise.join. Now the setPromise method coming from WinJS is actually implemented using a more generic deferral mechanism from WinRT. The args given to Windows.UI.WebUI.WebUIApplication.- onactivated (the WinRT event) contains a little method called getDeferral (technically Windows.UI.WebUI.ActivatedOperation.getDeferral). This function returns a deferral object that then contains a complete method, and Windows will leave the system splash screen up until you call that method (although this doesn’t change the fact that users are impatient and your app is still subject to the 15-second limit!). The code looks like this: //In the activated handler var activatedDeferral = Windows.UI.WebUI.ActivatedOperation.getDeferral(); //After initialization is complete activatedDeferral.complete(); Of course, setPromise ultimately does exactly this, and if you add a handler for the WinRT event directly, you can use the deferral yourself. App Lifecycle Transition Events and Session State To an app—and the app’s publisher—a perfect world might be one in which consumers ran that app and stayed in that app forever (making many in-app purchases, no doubt!). Well, the hard reality is that this just isn’t reality. No matter how much you’d love it to be otherwise, yours is not the only app that the user will ever run. After all, what would be the point of features like sharing or snapping if you couldn’t have multiple apps running together? For better or for worse, users will be switching between apps, changing view states, and possibly closing your app. But what you can do is give energy to the “better” side of the equation by making sure your app behaves well under all these circumstances. The first consideration is focus, which applies to controls in your app as well as to the app itself. Here you can simply use the standard HTML blur and focus events. For example, an active game or one with a timer would typically pause itself on blur and perhaps restart again on focus. A similar but different condition is visibility. An app can be visible but not have the focus, as when it’s snapped. In such cases an app would continue things like animations or updating a feed, but it would stop such activities when visibility is lost (that is, when the app is actually in the background). For this, use the visibilitychange event in the DOM API, and then examine the visibilityState property of the window or document object, as well as the document.hidden property. (The event works for visibility of all other elements as well.) A change in visibility is also a good time to save user data like documents or game progress. For view state changes, an app can pick these up in several ways. As shown in the Here My Am! example, an app typically uses media queries (in declarative CSS or in code through media query 99 listeners) to reconfigure layout and visibility of elements, which is really all that view states should affect. (Again, view state changes never change the mode of the app, just layout and object visibility.) At any time, an app can also retrieve the current view state through Windows.UI.ViewManagement.- ApplicationView.value. This returns one of the Windows.UI.ViewManagement.Application- ViewState values: snapped, filled, fullScreenLandscape, and fullScreenPortrait; details in Chapter 6, “Layout.” When your app is closed (the user swipes top to bottom or presses Alt+F4), it’s important to note that the app is first moved off-screen (hidden), suspended, and then terminated, so the typical DOM events like unload aren’t much use. A user might also kill your app in Task Manager, but this won’t generate any events in your code either. Remember also that apps should not close themselves, as discussed before, but they can use MSApp.terminateApp to close due to unrecoverable conditions. Suspend, Resume, and Terminate Beyond focus, visibility, and view states, three other critical moments in an app’s lifetime exist:  Suspending When an app is not visible (in any view state), it will be suspended after five seconds (according to the wall clock) to conserve battery power. This means it remains wholly in memory but won’t be scheduled for CPU time and thus won’t have network or disk activity (except when using specifically allowed background tasks). When this happens, the app receives the Windows.UI.WebUI.WebUIApplication.onsuspending event, which is also exposed through WinJS.Application.oncheckpoint. Apps must return from this event within the five-second period, or Windows will assume the app is hung and terminate it (period!). During this time, apps save transient session state and should also release any exclusive resources acquired as well, like file handles or device access. (See How to suspend an app.)  Resuming If the user switches back to a suspended app, it receives the Windows.UI.- WebUI.WebUIApplication.onresuming event. (This is not surfaced through WinJS.Application because it’s not commonly used and WinJS has no value to add.) We’ll talk more about this in the “Data from Services and WinJS.xhr” section coming up soon, because the need for this event often arises when using services. In addition, if you’re tracking a user’s location using the Geolocator, you won’t receive updates unless you’re using a background task (see Chapter 9, “Input and Sensors”), so you’ll want to refresh your location reading. There are also times when you might want to refresh your layout (as we’ll see in Chapter 6), because it is possible for your app to resume directly into a different view state than when it was suspended. The same goes for refreshing the state of clipboard commands (as we’ll see in Chapter 12, “Contracts”).  Terminating When suspended, an app might be terminated if there’s a need for more memory. There is no event for this, because by definition the app is already suspended and no code can run. 100 It’s very helpful to know that you can simulate these conditions in the Visual Studio debugger by using the toolbar drop-down shown in Figure 3-7. These commands will trigger the necessary events as well as set up the previousExecutionState value for the next launch of the app. (Be very grateful for these controls—there was a time when we didn’t have them, and it was painful to debug these conditions!) Figure 3-7 The Visual Studio toolbar drop-down to simulate suspend, resume, and terminate. We’ve briefly listed those previous states before, but let’s see how those relate to the events that get fired and the previousExecutionState value that shows up when the app is next launched. This can get a little tricky, so the transitions are illustrated in Figure 3-8 and the table below describes how the previousExecutionState values are determined. Value of previousExecutionState Scenarios notrunning First run after install from Store. First run after reboot or log off. App is launched within 10 seconds of being closed by user (about the time it takes to hide, suspend, and cleanly terminate the app; if the user relaunches quickly, Windows has to immediately terminate it without finishing the suspend operation). App was terminated in Task Manager while running or closes itself with MSApp.terminateApp. running App is currently running and then invoked in a way other than its app tile, such as Search, Share, secondary tiles, toast notifications, and all other contracts. When an app is running and the user taps the app tile, Windows just switches to the already-running app and without triggering activation events (though focus and visibilitychange will both be raised). suspended App is suspended and is invoked in a way other than the app tile (as above for running). In addition to focus/visibility events, the app will also receive the resuming event. terminated App was previously suspended and then terminated by Windows due to resource pressure. Note that this does not apply to MSApp.terminateApp because an app would have to be running to call that function. closedByUser App was closed by an uninterrupted close gesture (swipe down or Alt+F4). An “interrupted” close is when the user switches back to the app within 10 seconds, in which case the previous state will be notrunning instead. 101 Figure 3-8 Process lifecycle events and previousExecutionState values. The big question for the app, of course, is not so much what determines the value of previousExecutionState as what it should actually do with this value during activation. Fortunately, that story is a bit simpler and one that we’ve already seen in the template code:  If the activation kind is launch and the previous state is notrunning or closedByUser, the app should start up with its default UI and apply any persistent settings (such as those in its Settings panel). With closedByUser, there might be scenarios where the app should perform additional actions (such as updating cached data) after the user explicitly closed the app and left it closed for a while.  If the activation kind is launch and the previous state is terminated, the app should start up in the same state as when it was last suspended.  For launch and other activation kinds that include additional arguments or parameters (as with secondary tiles, toast notifications, and contracts), it should initialize itself to serve that purpose by using the additional parameters. The app might already be running, so it won’t necessarily initialize its default state again. The second requirement above is exactly why the templates provide a code structure for this case along with a checkpoint handler. We’ll see the full details of saving and reloading state in Chapter 8. The basic idea is that an app should, when being suspended, save whatever transient session state it would need to rehydrate itself after being terminated like form data, scroll positions, the navigation stack, and other variables. This is because although Windows might have suspended the app and dumped it from memory, it’s still running in the mind of the user. Thus, when users activate the app 102 again for normal use (activation kind is launch, rather than through a contract), they expect that app to be right where it was before. When an app gets suspended, it must save whatever state is necessary to make this possible, and it must restore that state when activated under these conditions. (For more on app design where this is concerned, see Guidelines for app suspend and resume.)Be clear that if the user directly closes the app with Alt+F4 or the swipe-down gesture, the suspending/checkpoint events will also be raised, so the app still saves state. In these cases, however, the app will be automatically terminated after being suspended, and it won’t be asked to reload that state when it’s restarted because previousExecutionState will be notRunning or closedByUser. The best practice is actually to save session state incrementally (as it changes) to minimize the work needed within the suspending event, because you have only five seconds to do it. Mind you, this session state does not include data that is persistent across sessions (like user files, high scores, and app settings) because an app would always reload or reapply such persistent data in each activation path. The only concern here is maintaining the illusion that the app was always running. You always save session state to your appdata folders or settings containers, which are provided by the Windows.Storage.ApplicationData API. Again, we’ll see all the details in Chapter 8. What I want to point out here are a few helpers that WinJS provides for all this. First is the WinJS.Application.checkpoint event, which provides a single convenient place to save both session state and any other persistent data you might have. Second is the WinJS.Application.sessionState object. On normal startup, this is just an empty object to which you can add whatever properties you like, including other objects. A typical strategy is to just use this in place of other variables, so there’s no need to copy variables into it separately. Within the checkpoint event, WinJS automatically serializes the contents of this object (using JSON.stringify) into a file within your local appdata folder. Then, when the app is activated with the previous state of terminated, WinJS automatically rehydrates the sessionState object so that everything you put there is once again available. If you’ve used this object for storing variables, you only need to avoid settings those values back to their defaults when reloading your state. Note that because the WinJS ensures that its own handler for checkpoint is always called after your app gets the event, you can be assured that WinJS will save whatever you write into sessionState at any time before your checkpoint handler returns. Third, if you don’t want to use the sessionState object, the WinJS.Application object makes it easy to write your own files without having to use async WinRT APIs. Specifically, it provides (as shown in the documentation) local, temp, and roaming objects that each have methods called readText, writeText, exists, and remove. These objects each work within their respective appdata folders and provide a simplified API for file I/O. A final aid ties into a deferral mechanism like the one for activation. The deferral is important because Windows will suspend your app as soon as you return from the suspending event, which could be less than five seconds. So, the event args for WinJS.Application.oncheckpoint provides a setPromise method that ties into the underlying WinRT deferral. As before, you pass a promise for an 103 async operation (or combined operations) to setPromise, which in turn calls the deferral’s complete method once the promise is fulfilled. On the WinRT level, the event args for suspending contains an instance of Windows.UI.WebUI.- WebUIApplication.SuspendingOperation. This provides a getDeferral method that returns a deferral object with a complete method as with activation. Well, hey! That sounds pretty good—is this perhaps a sneaky way to circumvent the restriction on running WinRT apps in the background? Will my app keep running indefinitely if I request a deferral by never calling complete? No such luck, amigo. Accept my apologies for giving you a fleeting moment of exhilaration! Deferral or not, five seconds is the most you’ll ever get. Still, you might want to take full advantage of that time, perhaps to first perform critical async operations (like flushing a cache) and then to attempt other noncritical operations (like a sync to a server) that might greatly improve the user experience. For such purposes, the suspendingOperation object also contains a deadline property, a Date value indicating the time in the future when Windows will forcibly suspend you regardless of any deferral. Once the first operation is complete, you can check if you have time to start start another, and so on. Basic Session State in Here My Am! To demonstrate some basic state handling, I’ve made a few changes to Here My Am! as given in the HereMyAm3c example. Here we have two pieces of information we care about: the variables lastCapture (a StorageFile with the image) and lastPosition (a set of coordinates). We want to make sure we save these when we get suspended so that we can properly apply those values when the app gets launched with the previous state of terminated. With lastPosition, we can just move this into the sessionState object by prepending app.sessionState. to the name—in the completed handler for getGeopositionAsync, for example: gl.getGeopositionAsync().done(function (position) { app.sessionState.lastPosition = { latitude: position.coordinate.latitude, longitude: position.coordinate.longitude }; updatePosition(); }, function (error) { console.log("Unable to get location."); }); } Because we’ll need to set the map location from here and from previously saved coordinates, I’ve moved that bit of code into a separate function that also makes sure a location exists in sessionState: function updatePosition() { if (!app.sessionState.lastPosition) { return; } 104 callFrameScript(document.frames["map"], "pinLocation", [app.sessionState.lastPosition.latitude, app.sessionState.lastPosition.longitude]); } Note also that app.sessionState is initialized to an empty object by default, { }, so lastPosition will be undefined until the geolocation call succeeds. This also works to our advantage when rehydrating the app. Here’s what the previousExecutionState conditions look like for this: if (args.detail.previousExecutionState !== activation.ApplicationExecutionState.terminated) { //Normal startup: initialize lastPosition through geolocation API } else { //WinJS reloads the sessionState object here. So try to pin the map with the saved location updatePosition(); } Because we stored lastPosition in sessionState, it will have been automatically saved in WinJS.Application.checkpoint when the app ran previously. When we restart from terminated, WinJS automatically reloads sessionState; if we’d saved a value there previously, it’ll be there again and updatePosition just works. You can test this by running the app with these changes and then using the Suspend and shutdown option on the Visual Studio toolbar. Set a breakpoint on the updatePosition call above, and then restart the app in the debugger. You’ll see that sessionState.lastPosition is initialized at that point. With the last captured picture, we don’t need to save the StorageFile, just the pathname: we copied the file into our local appdata (so it persists across sessions already) and can just use the ms-appdata:// URI scheme to refer to it. When we capture an image, we just save that URI into sessionState.imageURL (the property name is arbitrary) at the end of the promise chain inside capturePhoto: that.src = "ms-appdata:///local/HereMyAm/" + newFile.name; app.sessionState.imageURL = that.src; This value will also be reloaded when necessary during startup, so we can just initialize the img src accordingly: if (app.sessionState.imageURL) { document.getElementById("photo").src = app.sessionState.imageURL; } This will initialize the image display from sessionState, but we also need to initialize lastCapture so that the same image is available through the Share contract. For this we need to also save the full file path so we can re-obtain the StorageFile through Windows.Storage.StorageFile.- getFileFromPathAsync (which doesn’t work with ms-appdata:// URIs). So, in capturePhoto: app.sessionState.imagePath = newFile.path; And during startup: 105 if (app.sessionState.imagePath) { Windows.Storage.StorageFile.getFileFromPathAsync(app.sessionState.imagePath) .done(function (file) { lastCapture = file; if (app.sessionState.imageURL) { document.getElementById("photo").src = app.sessionState.imageURL; } }); I’ve placed the code to set the img src inside the completed handler here because we want the image to appear only if we can also access its StorageFile again for sharing. Otherwise the two features of the app would be out of sync. In all of this, note again that we don’t need to explicitly reload these variables within the terminated case because WinJS reloads sessionState automatically. If we managed our state more directly, such as storing some variables in roaming settings within the checkpoint event, we would reload and apply those values at this time. Data from Services and WinJS.xhr Though we’ve seen examples of using data from an app’s package (via URIs or Windows.- ApplicationModel.Package.current.installedLocation) as well as in appdata, it’s very likely that your app will incorporate data from a web service and possibly send data to services as well. For this, the most common method is to employ XmlHttpRequest. You can use this in its raw (async) form, if you like, or you can save yourself a whole lot of trouble by using the WinJS.xhr function, which conveniently wraps the whole business inside a promise. Making the call is quite easy, as demonstrated in the SimpleXhr example for this chapter. Here we use WinJS.xhr to retrieve the RSS feed from the Windows 8 developer blog: WinJS.xhr({ url: "http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsappdev/rss.aspx" }) .done(processPosts, processError, showProgress); That is, give WinJS.xhr a URI and it gives back a promise that delivers its results to your completed function (in this case processPosts) and will even call a progress function. With the former, the result contains a responseXML property, which is a DomParser object. With the latter, the event object contains the current XML in its response property, which we can easily use to display a download count: function showProgress(e) { var bytes = Math.floor(e.response.length / 1024); document.getElementById("status").innerText = "Downloaded " + bytes + " KB"; } The rest of the app just chews on the response text looking for item elements and extracting and displaying the title, pubDate, and link fields. With a little styling (see default.css), and utilizing the 106 WinJS typography style classes of win-type-x-large (for title), win-type-medium (for pubDate), and win-type-small (for link), we get a quick app that looks like Figure 3-9. You can look at the code to see the details.21 Figure 3-9 The output of the SimpleXhr app. If you try this app, it’s clear that it can use more work, but for a fuller demonstration of XHR and related matters, refer to the XHR, handling navigation errors, and URL schemes sample). You might also be interested in the tutorial called How to create a mashup in the docs. For the moment, what concerns is not so much the mechanics of talking to services but the implications of suspend and resume. In particular, an app cannot predict how long it will stay suspended before being resumed or before being terminated and restarted. In the first case, an app that gets resumed will have all its previous data still in memory. It very much needs to decide, then, whether that data has become stale since the app was suspended or whether sessions with other servers have exceeded their timeout periods. You can also think of it this way: after what period of time will users not remember nor care what was happening the last time they saw your app? If it’s a week or longer, it might be reasonable to resume or restart in a default state. Then again, if you pick up right back where they were, users gain increasing confidence that they can leave apps 21 It’s worth mentioning that WinRT has a specific API for dealing with RSS feeds in Windows.Web.Syndication. You can use this if you want a more structured means of dealing with such data sources. As it is, JavaScript has intrinsic APIs to work with XML, so it’s really your choice. In a case like this, the syndication API along with Windows.Web.AtomPub and Windows.Data.Xml are very much needed by Windows 8 apps written in other languages that don’t have the same built-in features as JavaScript. 107 running for a long time and not lose anything. Or you can compromise and give the user options to choose from. You’ll have to think through your scenario, of course, but if there’s any doubt, resume where the app left off. To check elapsed time, save a timestamp on suspend (from new Date().getTime()), get another timestamp in the resuming event, take the difference, and compare that against your desired refresh period. A Stock app, for example, might have a very short period. With the Windows 8 developer blog, on the other hand, new posts don’t show up more than once a day, so a one-hour period is sufficient to keep up-to-date and to catch new posts within a reasonable timeframe. This is implemented in SimpleXhr by first placing the WinJS.xhr call into a separate function called downloadPosts, which is called on startup. Then we register for the resuming event with WinRT: Windows.UI.WebUI.WebUIApplication.onresuming = function () { app.queueEvent({ type: "resuming" }); } Remember how I said we could use WinJS.Application.queueEvent to raise our own events to the app object? Here’s a great example. WinJS.Application doesn’t automatically wrap the resuming event because it has nothing to add to that process. But the code below accomplishes exactly the same thing, allowing us to register an event listener right alongside other events like checkpoint: app.oncheckpoint = function (args) { //Save in sessionState in case we want to use it with caching app.sessionState.suspendTime = new Date().getTime(); }; app.addEventListener("resuming", function (args) { //This is a typical shortcut to either get a variable value or a default var suspendTime = app.sessionState.suspendTime || 0; //Determine how much time has elapsed in seconds var elapsed = ((new Date().getTime()) - suspendTime) / 1000; //Refresh the feed if > 1 hour (or use a small number for testing) if (elapsed > 3600) { downloadPosts(); } }); To test this code, run it in Visual Studio’s debugger and set breakpoints within these events. Then click the suspend button in the toolbar (the pause icon shown in Figure 3-7), and you should enter the checkpoint handler. Wait a few seconds and click the resume button (play icon), and you should be in the resuming handler. You can then step through the code and see that the elapsed variable will have the number of seconds that have passed, and if you modify that value (or change 3600 to a smaller number), you can see it call downloadPosts again to perform a refresh. What about launching from the previously terminated state? Well, if you didn’t cache any data from before, you’ll need to refresh it again anyway. If you do cache some of it, your saved state (such as the 108 timestamp) helps you decide whether to use the cache or load data anew. It’s worth mentioning here that you can use HTML5 mechanisms like localStorage, indexedDB, and the app cache for caching purposes; data for these is stored within your local appdata automatically. And speaking of databases, you may be wondering what’s available for WinRT apps other than IndexedDB. One option is SQLite, as described in Using SQLite in a WinRT app (on the blog of Tim Heuer, one of the Windows 8 engineers). You can also use the OData Library for JavaScript that’s available from http://www.odata.org/libraries. It’s one of the easiest ways to communicate with an online SQL Server database (or any other with an OData service), because it just uses XmlHttpRequest under the covers. We’ll come back to this topic in Chapter 8. Handling Network Connectivity (in Brief) We’ll be covering network matters in Chapter 14, “Networking,” but there’s one important aspect that you should be aware of here. What does an app do with changes to network connectivity, such as disconnection, reconnection, and changes in bandwidth or cost (such as roaming into another provider area)? The Windows.Networking.Connectivity APIs supply the details. There are three main ways to respond to such events:  First, have a great offline story for when connectivity is lost: cache important data, queue work to be done later, and continue to provide as much functionality as you can without a connection. Clearly this is closely related to your overall state management strategy. For example, if network connectivity was lost while you were suspended, you might not be able to refresh your data at all, so be prepared for that circumstance!  Second, listen for network changes to know when connectivity is restored, and then process your queues, recache data, and so forth.  Third, listen for network changes to be cost-aware on metered networks. The Windows Store certification requirements, in fact, have a policy on protecting consumers from “bill shock” caused by excessive data usage on such networks. The last thing you want, to be sure, are negative reviews in the Store on issues like this. On a simpler note, be sure to test your apps with and without network connectivity to catch little oversights in your code. In Here My Am!, for example, my first versions of the script in map.html didn’t bother to check whether the remote script for Bing Maps had actually been downloaded. Now it checks whether the Microsoft namespace (for the Microsoft.Maps.Map constructor) is valid. In SimpleXhr too, I made sure to provide an error handler to the WinJS.xhr promise so that I could at least display a simple message. Tips and Tricks for WinJS.xhr Without opening the whole can of worms that is XmlHttpRequest, it’s useful here to look at just a 109 couple of additional points around WinJS.xhr. First, notice that the single argument to this function is an object that can contain a number of properties. The url property is the most common, of course, but you can also set the type (defaults to “GET”) and the responseType for other sorts of transactions, supply user and password credentials, set headers (such as "If-Modified-Since" with a date to control caching), and provide whatever other additional data is needed for the request (such as query parameters for XHR to a database). You can also supply a customRequestInitializer function that will be called with the XmlHttpRequest object just before it’s sent, allowing you to perform anything else you need at that moment. Second is setting a timeout on the request. You can use the customRequestInitializer for this purpose, setting the XmlHttpRequest.timeout property and possibly handling the ontimeout event. Alternately, as we’ll see in the “Completing the Promises Story” section at the end of this chapter, you can use the WinJS.Promise.timeout function, which allows you to set a timeout period after which the WinJS.xhr promise (and the async operation behind it) will be canceled. Canceling is accomplished by simply calling a promise’s cancel method. You might have need to wrap WinJS.xhr in another promise, something that we’ll also see at the end of this chapter. You could do this to encapsulate other intermediate processing with the XHR call while the rest of your code just uses the returned promise as usual. In conjunction with a timeout, this can also be used to implement a multiple retry mechanism. Next, if you need to coordinate multiple XHR calls together, you can use WinJS.Promise.join, which we’ll again see later on. We also saw how to process transferred bytes within the progress handler. You can use other data in the response and request as well. For example, the event args object contains a readyState property. For release apps, using XHR with localhost: URI’s (local loopback) is blocked by design. During development, however, when this is very useful, for instance, to debug a service without deploying it, you can enable this in Visual Studio by opening the project properties dialog (Project menu -> Properties…), selecting Debugging on the left side, and setting Allow Local Network Loopback to true. Finally, it’s helpful to know that for security reasons cookies are automatically stripped out of XHR responses coming into the local context. One workaround to this is to make XHR calls from a web context iframe (in which you can use WinJS.xhr) and then to extract the cookie information you need and pass it to the local context via postMessage. Alternately, you might be able to solve the problem on the service side, such as implementing an API there that will directly provide the information you’re trying to extract from the cookies in the first place. For all other details on this function, refer to the WinJS.xhr function documentation and its links to associated tutorials. 110 Page Controls and Navigation Now we come to an aspect of WinRT apps that very much separates them from typical web applications. In web applications, page-to-page navigation uses hyperlinks or setting document.location from JavaScript. This is all well and good; oftentimes there’s little or no state to pass between pages, and even when there is, there are well-established mechanisms for doing so, such as HTML5 sessionStorage and localStorage (which work just fine in WinRT apps). This type of navigation presents a few problems for WinRT apps, however. For one, navigating to a wholly new page means a wholly new script context—all the JavaScript variables from your previous page will be lost. Sure, you can pass state between those pages, but managing this across an entire app likely hurts performance and can quickly become your least favorite programming activity. It’s better and easier, in other words, for client apps to maintain a consistent in-memory state across pages. Also, the nature of the HTML/CSS rendering engine is such that a blank screen appears when switching pages with a hyperlink. Users of web applicationss are accustomed to waiting a bit for a browser to acquire a new page (I’ve found many things to do with 15-second intervals!), but this isn’t an appropriate user experience for a fast and fluid WinRT app. Furthermore, such a transition doesn’t allow animation of various elements on and off the screen, which can help provide a sense of continuity between pages if that fits with your design. So, although you can use direct links, WinRT apps typically implement “pages” by dynamically replacing sections of the DOM wholly within the context of a single page like default.html (which is akin to how AJAX-based apps work). By doing so, the script context is always preserved and individual elements or groups of elements can be transitioned however you like. In some cases, it even makes sense to simply show and hide pages so that you can switch back and forth quickly. Let’s look at the strategies and tools for accomplishing these goals. WinJS Tools for Pages and Page Navigation Windows itself, and the app host, provide no mechanism for dealing with pages—from the system’s perspective, this is merely an implementation detail for apps to worry about. Fortunately, the engineers who created WinJS and the templates in Visual Studio and Blend worried about this a lot! As a result, they’ve provided some marvelous tools for managing bits and pieces of HTML+CSS+JS in the context of a single container page:  WinJS.UI.Fragments contains a low-level “fragment-loading” API, the use of which is necessary only when you want close control over the process (such as which parts of the HTML fragment get which parent). We won’t cover it in this book; see the documentation and the Loading HTML Fragments Sample.  WinJS.UI.Pages is a higher-level API intended for general use and employed by the templates. Think of this as a generic wrapper around the fragment loader that lets you easily define a “page control”—simply an arbitrary unit of HTML, CSS, and JS—that you 111 can easily pull into the context of another page as you do other controls.22 They are, in fact, implemented like other controls in WinJS (as we’ll see in Chapter 4), so you can declare them in markup, instantiate them with WinJS.UI.process[All], use as many of them within a single host page as you like, and even nest them. These APIs provide only the means to load and unload individual pages—they pull HTML in from other files (along with referenced CSS and JS) and attach the contents to an element in the DOM. That’s it. To actually implement a page-to-page navigation structure, we need two additional pieces: something that manages a navigation stack and something that hooks navigation events to the page-loading mechanism of WinJS.UI.Pages. For the first piece, you can turn to WinJS.Navigation, which through about 150 lines of CS101-level code supplies a basic navigation stack. This is all it does. The stack itself is just a list of URIs on top of which WinJS.Navigation exposes state, location, history, canGoBack, and canGoForward properties. The stack is manipulated through the forward, back, and navigate methods, and the WinJS.Navigation object raises a few events—beforenavigate, navigating, and navigated—to anyone who wants to listen (through addEventListener).23 For the second piece, you can create your own linkage between WinJS.Navigation and WinJS.UI.Pages however you like. In fact, in the early stages of app development of Windows 8, even prior to the first public developer preview releases, people ended up writing just about the same boilerplate code over and over. In response, the team at Microsoft responsible for the templates magnanimously decided to supply a standard implementation that also adds some keyboard handling (for forward/back) and some convenience wrappers for layout matters. Hooray! This piece is called the PageControlNavigator. Because it’s just a piece of template-supplied code and not part of WinJS, it’s entirely under your control, so you can tweak, hack, or lobotomize it however you want.24 In any case, because it’s likely that you’ll often use the PageControlNavigator in your own apps, let’s look at how it all works in the context of the Navigation App template. The Navigation App Template, PageControl Structure, and PageControlNavigator Taking one step beyond the Blank App template, the Navigation App template demonstrates the basic use of page controls. (The more complex templates build navigation out further.) If you create a new project with this template in Visual Studio or Blend, here’s what you’ll get:  default.html Contains a single container div with a PageControlNavigator control 22 If you are at all familiar with user controls in XAML, this is the same idea. 23 The beforenavigate event can be used to cancel the navigation, if necessary. Either call args.preventDefault (args being the event object), return true, or call args.setPromise where the promise returns true. 24 The Quickstart: using single-page navigation topic also shows a clever way to hijack HTML hyperlinks and hook them into WinJS.Navigation.navigate. This can be a useful tool, especially if you’re importing code from a web app. 112 pointing to “pages/home/home.html”.  js/default.js Contains basic activation and state checkpoint code for the app.  css/default.css Contains global styles.  pages/home Contains a page control for the “home page” contents, composed of home.html, home.js, and home.css. Every page control typically has such markup, script, and style files.  js/navigator.js Contains the implementation of the PageControlNavigator class. To build upon this structure, add additional pages by using a page control template. I recommend first creating a new folder for the page under pages. Then right-click that folder, select Add -> New Item, and select Page Control. This will create suitably named .html, .js. and .css files in that folder. Now let’s look at the body of default.html (omitting the standard header and a commented-out AppBar control):
All we have here is a single container div named contenthost (it can be whatever you want), in which we declare the Application.PageControlNavigator control. With this we specify a single option to identify the first page control it should load (/pages/home/home.html). The PageControlNavigator will be instantiated within our activated handler’s call to WinJS.UI.processAll. Within home.html we have the basic markup for a page control. This is what the Navigation App template provides as a home page by default, and it’s pretty much what you get whenever you add a new PageControl from the item template:

Welcome to NavApp!

113

Content goes here.

The div with fragment and homepage CSS classes, along with the header, creates a page with a standard silhouette and a back button, which the PageControlNavigator automatically wires up for keyboard, mouse, and touch events. (Isn’t that considerate of it!) All you need to do is customize the text within the h1 element and the contents within section, or just replace the whole smash with the markup you want. (By the way, even though the WinJS files are referenced in each page control, they aren’t actually reloaded; they exist here to help you edit a page control in Blend by itself.) The definition of the actual page control is in home.js; by default, the templates just provide the bare minimum: (function () { "use strict"; WinJS.UI.Pages.define("/pages/home/home.html", { // This function is called whenever a user navigates to this page. It // populates the page elements with the app's data. ready: function (element, options) { // TODO: Initialize the page here. } }); })(); The most important part is WinJS.UI.Pages.define, which associates a relative URI (the page control identifier), with an object containing the page control’s methods. Note that the nature of define allows you to define different members of the page in multiple places; multiple calls to WinJS.UI.Pages.define with the same URI will simply add members to an existing definition (replacing those that already exist). For a page created with the Page Control item template, you get a couple more methods in the structure (some comments omitted): (function () { "use strict"; WinJS.UI.Pages.define("/page2.html", { ready: function (element, options) { }, updateLayout: function (element, viewState, lastViewState) { // TODO: Respond to changes in viewState. }, unload: function () { // TODO: Respond to navigations away from this page. } 114 }); })(); It’s good to note that once you’ve defined a page control in this way, you can instantiate it from JavaScript with new by first obtaining its constructor function from WinJS.UI.Pages.get() and then calling that constructor with the parent element and an object containing its options. Although a basic structure for the ready method is provided by the templates, WinJS.UI.Pages and the PageControlNavigator will make use of the following if they are available: PageControl Method When Called init Before elements from the page control have been copied into the DOM. processed After WinJS.UI.processAll is compete (that is, controls in the page have been instantiated, which is done automatically), but before page content itself has been added to the DOM. ready After the page have been added to the DOM. error If an error occurs in loading or rendering the page. unload Navigation has left the page. updateLayout In response to the window.onresize event, which signals changes between landscape, fill, snap, and portrait view states. Note that WinJS.UI.Pages calls the first four methods; unload and updateLayout, on the other hand, are used only by the PageControlNavigator. Of all of these, the ready method is the most common one to implement. It’s where you’ll do further initialization of control (e.g., populate lists), wire up other page-specific event handlers, and so on. The updateLayout method is important when you need to adapt your page layout to new conditions, such as changing the layout of a ListView control (as we’ll see in Chapter 5, “Collections and Collection Controls”). As for the PageControlNavigator itself, the code in navigator.js shows how it’s defined and how it wires up a few events in its constructor: (function () { "use strict"; // [some bits omitted] var nav = WinJS.Navigation; WinJS.Namespace.define("Application", { PageControlNavigator: WinJS.Class.define( // Define the constructor function for the PageControlNavigator. function PageControlNavigator (element, options) { this.element = element || document.createElement("div"); this.element.appendChild(this._createPageElement()); this.home = options.home; nav.onnavigated = this._navigated.bind(this); window.onresize = this._resized.bind(this); document.body.onkeyup = this._keyupHandler.bind(this); document.body.onkeypress = this._keypressHandler.bind(this); document.body.onmspointerup = this._mspointerupHandler.bind(this); }, { //... 115 First we see the definition of the Application namespace as a container for the PageControlNavigator class. Its constructor receives the element that contains it (the contenthost div in default.html) and the options declared with data-win-options in that element. This control creates another div for itself, appends that to its parent, adds a listener for the WinJS.Navigation.onnavigated event, and sets up its other listeners. Then it waits for someone to call WinJS.Navigation.navigate, which happens in the activated handler of default.js, to navigate to either the home page or the last page viewed if previous session state was reloaded. When that happens, the PageControlNavigator’s _navigated handler is invoked, which in turn calls WinJS.UI.Pages.render to do the loading, the contents of which are then appended as child elements: _navigated: function (args) { var that = this; var newElement = that._createPageElement(); var parentedComplete; var parented = new WinJS.Promise(function (c) { parentedComplete = c; }); args.detail.setPromise( WinJS.Promise.timeout().then(function () { if (that.pageElement.winControl && that.pageElement.winControl.unload) { that.pageElement.winControl.unload(); } return WinJS.UI.Pages.render(args.detail.location, newElement, args.detail.state, parented); }).then(function parentElement(control) { that.element.appendChild(newElement); that.element.removeChild(that.pageElement); that.navigated(); parentedComplete(); }) ); }, One final important point here is that in the page control’s JavaScript code, document will refer to that page control’s contents, not to the content host in default.html. And that, my friends, is how it works! As a concrete example of doing this in a real app, the code in the HereMyAm3d sample has been converted to use this model for its single home page. To make this conversion. I started with a new project using the Navigation App template to get the page navigation structures set up. Then I copied or imported the relevant code and resources from HereMyAm3c, primarily into the pages/home/home.html, home.js, and home.css. And remember how I said that you could open a page control directly in Blend (which is why pages have WinJS references)? As an exercise, open this project in Blend. You’ll first see that everything shows up in default.html, but you can also open home.html and edit just that page. You should note that WinJS calls WinJS.UI.processAll in the process of loading a page control, so we don’t need to concern ourselves with that detail. On the other hand, reloading state when previousExecutionState==terminated needs some attention. Because this is picked up in the 116 WinJS.Application.onactivated event before any page controls and the PageControlNavigator is even instantiated, we need to remember that condition so that the home page’s ready method can later initialize itself accordingly from app.sessionState values. For this we simply write another flag into app.sessionState called initFromState. We always set this flag on startup, so any value that might be persisted between sessions is irrelevant. Sidebar: WinJS.Namespace.define and WinJS.Class.define WinJS.Namespace.define provides a shortcut for the JavaScript namespace pattern. This helps to minimize pollution of the global namespace as each app-defined namespace is just a single object in the global namespace but can provide access to any number of other objects, functions, and so on. This is used extensively in WinJS and is recommended for apps as well, where you use a module—that is, (function() { ... })()—to define things and then you use a namespace to export selective bits that are referenced through the namespace. In short, use a namespace anytime you’re tempted to add any global objects or functions! The syntax: var ns = WinJS.Namespace.define(, ) where is a string (dots are OK) and is any object contained in { }’s. Also, WinJS.Namespace.- defineWithParent(, , ) defines one within the namespace. If you call WinJS.Namespace.define for the same multiple times, the are combined. Where collisions are concerned, the most recently added members win. For example: WinJS.Namespace.define("MyNamespace", { x: 10, y: 10 }); WinJS.Namespace.define("MyNamespace", { x: 20, z: 10 }); //MyNamespace == { x: 20, y: 10, z: 10} WinJS.Class.define is, for its part, a shortcut for the object pattern, defining a constructor so that objects can be instantiated with new. Syntax: var className = WinJS.Class.define(, , ) where is a function, is an object with the class’s properties and methods, and is an object with properties and methods that can be directly accessed via . (without using new). Variants: WinJS.Class.derive(, ...) creates a subclass (... is the same arg list as with define) using prototypal inheritance, and WinJS.Class.mix(, []) defines a class that combines the instance (and static) members of one or more other and initializes the object with . Finally, note that because class definitions just generate an object, WinJS.Class.define is typically used inside a module with the resulting object exported to the rest of the app through a namespace. Then you can use new . anywhere in the app. 117 Sidebar: Helping Out IntelliSense In WinRT apps you might encounter certain markup structures within code commands, often starting with a triple slash, ///. These are used by Visual Studio and Blend to provide rich IntelliSense within the code editors. You’ll see, for example, /// commands, which create a relationship between your current script file and other scripts, which helps to resolve externally defined functions and variables. This is explained on the JavaScript IntelliSense page in the documentation. For your own code, especially with namespaces and classes that you will use from other parts of your app, there are comment structures you can use to describe your interfaces to IntelliSense. For details, see Extending JavaScript IntelliSense. If you look around the WinJS JavaScript files themselves, you’ll see many examples. The Navigation Process and Navigation Styles Having seen how page controls, WinJS.UI.Pages, WinJS.Navigation, and the PageControlNavigator all relate, it’s straightforward to see how to navigate between multiple pages within the context of a single HTML page (e.g., default.html). With the PageControlNavigator instantiated and a page control defined via WinJS.UI.Pages, simply call WinJS.Navigation.navigate with the relative URI of that page control (its identifier). This loads that page and adds it to the DOM inside the element to which the PageControlNavigator is attached. This makes that page visible, thereby “navigating” to it so far as the user is concerned. You can also use the other methods of WinJS.Navigation to move forward and back in the nav stack, with its canGoBack and canGoForward properties allowing you to enable/disable navigation controls. Just remember that all the while, you’ll still be in the overall context of your host page where you created the PageControlNavigator control. As an example, create a new project using the Grid App template and look at these particular areas:  pages/groupedItems/groupedItems is the home or “hub” page. It contains a ListView control (see Chapter 5) with a bunch of default items.  Tapping a group header in the list navigates to section page (pages/groupDetail). This is done in groupedItems.html line 21, where the click event calls WinJS.Navigation.- navigate("/pages/groupDetail/groupDetail.html") with an options argument identifying the specific group to display. That argument comes into the ready function of groupDetail.js.  Tapping an item on the hub page goes to detail page (pages/itemDetail). The itemInvoked handler for the items—see groupedItems.js lines 27–37—calls WinJS.Navigation.- navigate("/pages/itemDetail/itemDetail.html") with an options argument identifying the specific item to display. As with groups, that argument comes into the ready function of itemDetail.js.  Tapping an item in the section page also goes to the details page through the same mechanism—see groupDetail.js lines 25–28.  The back buttons on all pages are wired into WinJS.Navigation.back by virtue of code in the 118 PageControlNavigator. For what it’s worth, the Split App template works similarly, where each list item on the items page (pages/items) is wired to navigate to pages/split when invoked. In any case, the Grid App template also serves as an example of what we call the Hub-Section-Detail navigation style. Here the app’s home page is the hub where the user can explore the full extent of the app. Tapping a group header navigates to a section, the second level of organization where only items from that group are displayed. Tapping an item (in the hub or in the section) navigates to a details page for that item. You can, of course, implement this navigation style however you like; the Grid App template uses page controls, WinJS.Navigation, and the PageControlNavigator. (Semantic zoom, as we’ll see in Chapter 5, is also supported as a navigation tool to switch between hubs and sections.) An alternate navigation choice is the Flat style, which simply has one level of hierarchy. Here, navigation happens to any given page at any time through a navigation bar (swiped in from the top edge). When using page controls and PageControlNavigator, navigation controls can just invoke WinJS.Naviation.navigate for this purpose. Note that in this style, there typically is no back button. These styles, along with many other UI aspects of navigation, can be found on Navigation design for WinRT apps. This is an essential topic for app designers. Sidebar: Initial Login and In-App Licensing Agreements (EULA) Pages Some apps might require either a login or acceptance of a license agreement to do anything, and thus it’s appropriate that such pages are the first that appear in an app. In these cases, if the user does not accept a license or doesn’t provide a login, the app should display a message describing the necessity of doing so, but it should always leave it to the user to close the app if desired. Do not close the app automatically. Typically, such pages appear only the first time the app is run. If the user provides a valid login, those credentials can be saved for later use via the Windows.Security.Credentials API. If the user accepts a EULA, that fact should be saved in appdata and reloaded anytime the app needs to check. These settings (login and acceptance of a license) should then always be accessible through the app’s Settings charm. Legal notices, by the way, as well as license agreements, should always be accessible through Settings as well. (Note: UX guidance on this should be forthcoming but was not available at the time of writing.) In both cases, you would typically point to such pages in default.html as the home page. In the init or processed methods of the page control, then, which are fired before the page is added to the DOM, check to see if it’s not actually necessary to show the page. If that’s the case, just call WinJS.Navigation.navigate to switch over to what will then be the first visible page. 119 Optimizing Page Switching: Show-and-Hide Even with page controls, there is still lots going on when navigating from page to page: one set of elements is removed from the DOM, and another is added in. Depending on the pages involved, this can be an expensive operation. For example, if you have a page that displays a list of hundreds or thousands of items, where tapping any item goes to a details page (as with the Grid App template), hitting the back button from a detail page will require reconstruction of the list. Showing progress indicators can help alleviate the user’s anxiety, and the recommendation is to show such indicators after two seconds and provide a means to cancel the operation after ten seconds. Even so, users are notoriously impatient and will likely want to quickly switch between the list and individual items. In this case, page controls might not be the best design. You could use a split (master-detail) view, of course, but that means splitting the screen real estate. An alternative, then, is to actually keep the list page fully loaded the whole time. Instead of navigating to the item details page in the way we’ve seen, simply render that details page (see WinJS.UI.Pages.render) into another div that occupies the whole screen and overlays the list, and then make that div visible. When you dismiss the details page, just hide the div and set innerHTML to "". This way you get the same effect as navigating between pages but the whole process is much quicker. You can also apply WinJS animations like enterContent and exitContent to make the transition more fluid. The PageControlNavigator is provided by the templates as part of your app, and you can modify it however you like to provide this kind of capability in a more structured manner. Completing the Promises Story Whew! We’ve taken a long ride in this chapter through many, many fine details of how apps are built and how they run (or don’t run!). One consistent theme you may have noticed is that of promises—they’ve come up in just about every section! Indeed, async abounds within both WinJS and WinRT, and thus so do promises. I wanted to close this chapter, then, by flushing out the story of promises, for they provide richer functionality than we’ve utilized so far. (If you want the fuller async story, read Keeping apps fast and fluid with asynchrony in the Windows Runtime on the Windows 8 developer blog.) In review, let’s step back for a moment to revisit what a promise really is. Simply said, it’s an object that returns a value, however complex, sometime in the future. The way you get that value is by calling the promise’s then or done method, whose first parameter is a completed function that will receive the promised value when it is ready—and that function might be called immediately if the result is already available! Furthermore, you can call then/done multiple times for the same promise, and you’ll just get the same results in each place. This won’t cause the system to get confused or anything. If there’s an error along the way, the second parameter to then/done is an error function that will be 120 called instead. (Otherwise exceptions are swallowed by then or thrown to the event loop by done.) A third parameter to then/done is a progress function, which is called periodically by those async operations that support it.25 We’ve already seen, for instance, how WinJS.xhr operations will periodically call the progress function for “ready state” changes and as the response gets downloaded. Now there’s no requirement that a promise has to wrap an async operation or async anything. You can, in fact, wrap any value in a promise by using the static method WinJS.Promise.wrap. Such a wrapper on an already existing value (the future is now!) will just turn right around and call the completed function with that value when you call the promise’s then or done methods. This allows you to use any value, really, where a promise is expected, or return things like errors from functions that otherwise return promises for async operations. (WinJS.Promise.wraperror exists for this specific purpose.) WinJS.Promise also provides a host of useful static methods (called directly through WinJS.Promise, rather than through a promise object):  is determines whether an arbitrary value is a promise, It makes sure it’s an object with a function named “then”; it does not test for “done”.  as works like wrap except that if you give it a promise, it just returns that promise. If you give a promise to wrap, it wraps it in another promise.  join aggregates promises into a single one that’s fulfilled when all the values given to it, including other promises, are fulfilled. This essentially groups promises with an AND operation (using then, so you’ll want to call the join’s done method to handle errors appropriately).  any is similar to join but groups with an OR (again using then).  cancel stops an async operation. If an error function is provided, it’s called with a value of Error("canceled").  theneach applies completed, error, and progress functions to a group of promises (using then), returning the results as another group of values inside a promise.  timeout has a dual nature. If you just give it a timeout value, it returns a promise wrapped around a call to setTimeout. If you also provide a promise as the second parameter, it will cancel that promise if it’s not fulfilled within the timeout period. This latter case is essentially a wrapper for the common pattern of adding a timeout to some other async operation that doesn’t have one already.  addEventListener/removeEventListener (and dispatchEvent) manage handlers for 25 If you want to impress your friends while reading the documentation, know that if an async function shows it returns a value of type IAsync[Action | Operation]WithProgress, then it will utilize a progress function given to a promise. If it only lists IAsync[Action | Operation], progress is not supported. 121 the error event that promises will fire on exceptions (but not for cancellation). Listening for this event does not affect use of error functions. It’s an addition, not a replacement.26 In addition to using functions like as and wrap, you can also create a promise from scratch by using new WinJS.Promise( [, ) where is a function that accepts completed, error, and progress callbacks and oncancel is an optional function that’s called in response to WinJS.Promise.cancel. If WinJS.Promise.as doesn’t suffice, creating a promise like this is useful to wrap other operations (not just values) within the promise structure so that it can be chained or joined with other promises. For example, if you have a library that talks to a web service through raw async XmlHttpRequest, you can wrap each API of that library with promises. You might also use a new promise to combine multiple async operations (or other promises!) from different sources into a single promise, where join or any don’t give you the control you need. Another example is encapsulating specific completed, error, and progress functions within a promise, such as to implement a multiple retry mechanism on top of singular XHR operations, to hook into a generic progress updater UI, or to add under-the-covers logging or analytics with service calls so that the rest of your code never needs to know about them. What We’ve Just Learned  How the local and web contexts affect the structure of an app, for pages, page navigation, and iframe elements.  How to use application content URI rules to extend resource access to web content in an iframe.  Using ms-appdata URI scheme to reference media content from local, roaming, and temp appdata folders.  How to execute a series of async operations with chained promises.  How exceptions are handled within chained promises and the differences between then and done.  Methods for getting debug output and error reports for an app, within the debugger and the Windows Event Viewer.  How apps are activated (brought into memory) and the events that occur along the way.  The structure of app activation code, including activation kinds, previous execution states, and the WinJS.UI.Application object.  Using extended splash screens when an app needs more time to load.  The important events that occur during an app’s lifetime, such as focus events, visibility changes, view state changes, and suspend/resume/terminate. 26 Async operations from WinRT that get wrapped in promises do not fire this error event, which is why you typically use an error handler instead. 122  The basics of saving and restoring state to restart after being terminated, and the WinJS utilities for implementing this.  Using data from services through WinJS.xhr and how this relates to the resuming event.  How to achieve page-to-page navigation within a single page context by using page controls, WinJS.Navigation, and the PageControlNavigator from the Visual Studio/Blend templates, such as the Navigation App template.  All the details of promises that are common used with (but not limited to) async operations. 123 Chapter 4 Controls, Control Styling, and Data Binding Controls are one of those things you just can’t seem to get away from, especially within technology-addicted cultures like those that surround many of us. Even low-tech devices like bicycles and various gardening tools have controls. But this isn’t a problem—it’s actually a necessity. Controls are the means through which human intent is translated into the realm of mechanics and electronics, and they are entirely made to invite interaction. As I write this, in fact, I’m sitting on an airplane and noticing all the controls that are in my view. The young boy in the row ahead of me seems to be doing the same, and that big “call attendant” button above him is just begging to be pressed! Controls are certainly essential to Windows 8 apps, and they will invite consumers to poke, prod, touch, click, and swipe them. (They will also invite the oft-soiled hands of many small toddlers as well; has anyone made a dishwasher-safe tablet PC yet?) Windows 8, of course, provides a rich set of controls for apps written in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. What’s most notable in this context is that from the earliest stages of design, Microsoft wanted to avoid forcing HTML/JavaScript developers to use controls that were incongruous with what those developers already know—namely, the use of HTML control elements like