HACKTIVE Hackathon Review & My 3rd Place PhatActive Submission

I spent last weekend (09/21/2013-09/22/2013) at Active.com’s HACKTIVE hackathon. I had an awesome time, met ton’s of great people, and actually placed 3rd in the “developer” category with my “PhatActive” submission. WooHoo!  A big thank you to Active.com, Mashery, Yahoo, Aetna, CoMerge and all the other sponsors for putting on a great event!  As an evangelist, I am involved with a lot of hackathons, etc.  It was so much fun to go as a participant!  And these guys put on an awesome event!

The People and the Place

There was a great turn out for the event.   There were a total of 15 apps presented (three in each of the “categories”, see below).  However, MOST teams had at least two people on them, and some had as many as five.  The room was pretty packed when it came time to present.

The event was held at CoMerge in San Diego.  This is a fantastic facility.  Thank you so much to Robert for the space!

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Cheston Coantoi, owner of Driveframe LLC, and a seasoned hackathon particiapte was their to help teams focus on the challenge and build compelling presentations.  There were also a number of folks from Active.com as well as Neil Mansilla from Mashery, Jesse Givens from Aetna, Tom Clancy from TAO Venture Capital Partners, and Rik Suhonen from Yahoo.  Lots of support. 

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Determining the Node.js version in Azure Mobile Services

Overview

Windows Azure Mobile Services is effectively a node.js application, and as such is extensible using node.js. Currently this extensibility comes in the form of table scripts, scheduler scripts and custom apis.

As you begin to write these scripts for your azure mobile services, it is helpful to have access not only to the documentation for the Windows Azure Mobile Services Script Reference, but to Node.js itself. Node.js however evolves rapidly as do most other modern frameworks. That means that the documentation you find on the Node.js site may be for a different version of node than is actually running in your Mobile Service.

So that brings up two questions:

  1. How do you Identify the version of Node that is running in your Azure Mobile Service?
  2. How you get docs for that version of the Node API?

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Creating Custom Tables for Windows Azure Mobile Services…

If you have used Windows Azure Mobile Services (WAMS) in the past , you have probably created tables using the management portal. If you haven’t used WAMS, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!???

If you are more of a “behind-the-scenes” kind of developer though, you may prefer to make your SQL tables using good old SSMS and some scripts. In short 5+ minute video below, I walk you through the steps and gotchas around creating tables directly in SQL Azure, but consuming them via Windows Azure Mobile Services. 

As for the gotchas, there are two that come to mind:

  1. Your tables must have a primary key column called “id”.
  2. Your table names should be “singular” (think “Category” not “Categories”) to allow for more appropriate class names on the client side.  You wouldn’t want to create a class called “Categories” when it really represents a single category. 

If you want a copy of the SQL script I use in the video blow, you can get it here: http://aka.ms/wcts

Windows Azure Mobile Services Demo at Windows 8 Dev Camp LA

I love the Dev Camps we have been running lately because it gives me a great opportunity to show off all the great things we are doing around Windows 8 and Windows Azure.  Case in point, at the Windows 8 Dev Camp in LA today (09/14/2012) I will be presenting on “Windows Azure Mobile Services”.

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Windows Azure Mobile Services” makes it super simple to create a cloud back-end for your Windows 8 WinRT apps.  It provides you a way to manage data, authentication, and push notifications.  Along with that you can scale your services as your app grows in popularity!  Very cool. 

Feel free to grab my demos and slides from today, and if you haven’t gotten a chance to go through the “Windows Azure Mobile Hands-On-Labs”, give them a try!