Microsoft Student Account Sign Up Tutorial

We’ve been running a ton events on campuses all around the Western US lately.  One of the things we try to do at these events is help students sign up for the variety of Microsoft accounts available to them.  In an effort to streamline this process, I have recorded a video that walks through the sign up process for each of the following accounts:

If you are a student, and would like to sign up for FREE to any of the above, this video is for you.  Also, If are having trouble getting verified in Dreamspark, and need help, let me know!


Building Windows 8 Apps using HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript

When it comes to Windows 8 apps, I have to admit, I’ve been more of a C#/XAML kind of guy.  However, lately, I’ve been looking into a number of the HTML5 based game tools (like Scirra’s Construct 2) and figured that I ought to learn a little more about building Windows 8 apps using HTML5 and JavaScript. 

I’ve been building web apps on various platforms going back to the first web server for windows written by Bob Denny (Any other VB CGI devs out there?), so HTML is second nature to me.  JavaScript?  Well, not so much, but I’ve done my fair share.  What I found out when I started digging into HTML5/JS dev for Windows 8 though was that I liked it a lot more than I expected to.  If fact, it’s pretty darn cool. 

You can take your existing HTML5/CSS3/JS skills to create first class apps in Windows 8. Not BROWSER based apps.  Windows 8 apps. You can package them up, and sell them in the Windows Store, and make real money with them.  Cool! 

I’ve had the privilege over the past month to present what I have learned about Windows 8 HTML5/JS apps to the San Diego HTML5, and the San Diego JS meetups.  If you happened to miss either of those, or just want to see why I am excited about it in general you can:

Get the free “Programming Windows 8 Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript” eBook by Kraig Brockschmidt

Grab a copy of my slides and demos

Watch a YouTube video of my presentation

Windows 8 Game Development Tools

I presented a session  at the Microsoft Store in Fashion Valley last night (12/05/2012) on creating games for Windows 8.  In that session I covered a TON of resources to help game developers.  In this blog post I link to a number of tools and resources that can help you kickstart your Windows 8 Game Development!

For folks that love to get their hands dirty in code:

If you are a C++ coder and need ultimate performance out of your game, you can develop your game using C++ and Direct X.  If this is your first game though, C++/DirectX will likely be overwhelming.

If you like the power of DirectX, but don’t want to dust off your C++ dev skills, you might be interested in SharpDX.

I had looked into XNA a fair amount on Windows Phone 7, but it turns out that while XNA is still supported on Windows Phone 8, it isn’t supported in WinRT.  But fear not, there is an excellent open source implementation of XNA that WILL run not only windows Windows RT, but also Windows Phone 8, as well as iSO, Android, Mac OS X & Linux!  Want to know more, check out MonoGame from Xamarin!

Another approach could be to use HTML/JS/CSS and the ever powerful HTML5 Canvas to create your own games.  Dan Wahlin has some great blog posts and Pluralsight content about HTML5 canvas.

Want to make a game, not write a bunch of code?

There are a number of excellent game generation tools in the market already, and there are more on the way!  Here are the ones I have checked into so far:

YoYo Games has “GameMaker: Studio” family of tools.  The free version allows you to create both Mac and Windows DESKTOP apps (not Win RT) apps.  However, for just $49.99 you can create games that can be published into the Windows 8 store.

GameSalad is another popular came creation tool called “GameSalad Creator”.  In order to publish to the Windows 8 store, you need to purchase the Pro version for $299/year, but the free version can get you into the tool so you know you can be successful building a game before you pay for the Pro version.

Scirra’s Construct2 allows you to create Windows 8 store apps with the FREE version!  If you want to publish apps for iOS and Android then you’ll need to upgrade to their Personal or Business editions.

Unity3D is a more advanced game creation tool focused on 3D game creation, and may be something you look at after becoming familiar with one of the 2D game creation tools mentioned above.

Tools for graphics and sound?

I like to create my game art using vector graphics first, and then I export those vector images as bitmaps.  To create the vector images I use InkScape.  If I need to edit the bitmap images that are exported, I usually clean them up using Gimp.

For sounds, you need to create them somehow, I have used MusicLab from ClubCreate to make game loops before. OpenLabs has a new tool called StageLight that sells for just $9.99 (a demo version is available), or you might consider buying pre-made sounds from sites like .

Once you have sounds you like, you can edit them (or create your own) using Audacity.  Audacity is a great sound editor that has all the functionality a budding game developer would need!

I can’t draw or play music!

Don’t worry, there are a number of places that you can get assets (graphics, sounds, etc) for your games.  My teammate Jeremy Foster has collection of them listed on his blog, but there are two that relate directly to games: is a great place to get art for your games.  Even if it isn’t the art you end up using in the long run, it may help you get rolling! is a great place for various sound samples, again this may not be the sounds you use at publish time, but they will serve a purpose.

With both and, make sure to pay attention to how the assets you choose are licensed if you plan on publishing your game to the Windows Store.

What are you waiting for?  Get Started!

December San Diego JS Meetup Trip Report

I finally got a chance to go to the San Diego JS meetup last night.  I have been wanting to go for months but I finally made it!  This was also my first chance to visit 3rdSpace.   Loved both.  Todd Bashor of The Starter’s Academy gave a great demo of using casper.js as a way of automating phantom.js sessions for testing and more.  It was very interesting. 

Of course, I also got a chance to chat with local JavaScript developers about their impressions of Microsoft both good and bad, as well as their interest in developing on the Microsoft stack.  Here is some of the feedback I received and my hopefully not too defensive sounding response.

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Windows 8 Installation Options Slide Deck

At the “Making Money with HTML5, CSS and JavaScript” event today, I gave a lunchtime session on the various installation options that are available with Windows 8.  If you would like a copy of my slides, you can grab them here:

Windows 8 Installation Options Screen Shot


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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”.


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!

Windows 8 Dev Camp Slides and Samples

I had a great time presenting at the Windows 8 Dev Camp today in Irvine.  You can grab my slides and samples if you want them, and get started yourself!


We covered tons of great topics today including:

  • Windows 8 Design
  • Windows 8 XAML/C# Project Templates
  • MessageDialog
  • Splash Screens
  • Controls
  • Navigation
  • Windows Azure Overview
  • Windows Azure Web Sites
  • Windows Azure Blob Storage
  • HttpClient in WinRT Apps
  • Shared Access Signatures and more

Grab the samples and slides and get started now by building an app in 30 Days!

Metro Style Apps Control Initialization in XAML/C# & HTML5/JS


Version: This article is being written on 06/21/2012 using Windows 8 Release Preview as a reference. 

In Windows 8 Metro Style apps you have a number of choices for your markup and programming languages  You can choose the XAML markup language with C#, VB.NET or even C++.  You now also have the choice of using HTML5 as your markup language along with JavaScript as the programming language. Both XAML and HTML5 provide a way for you to define object instances in a declarative way. 

When creating Metro Style apps with XAML, we declare instances of objects defined in the family of Windows.UI.Xaml.Controls namespaces, as well as some others.  These namespaces are provided as part of the WIndows API for Metro Style apps, They are included with the Windows SDK which is automatically referenced by the Visual Studio project templates.

When creating HTML5/JS Metro Style apps, you can use the HTML5 markup to define either standard HTML5 elements (div,span,input,button, etc).  These standard HTML5 elements are the EXACT same elements you would use in a browser based application. With HTML5/JS Metro Style apps can also declare control instances from the WinJS.UI namespaces provided by the Windows API for Metro Style apps (AppBar, Flyout, ViewBox, etc), . the project templates provided with Visual Studio automatically reference the “WinJS” library.  This library is provided with the Windows 8 SDK (C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v8.0\ExtensionSDKs\Microsoft.WinJS.1.0.RC\1.0\).  The WinJS library is made up of a number of individual JavaScript files, but one in particular (ui.js) includes control definitions for the JavaScript WinJS.UI namespace.  These controls provided features similar to those provided in the Windows.UI.Xaml.Controls namespace used by XAML developers.


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“Windows 8 for Software Developers” Event

This evening I’ll be at the Microsoft Store at Fashion Valley Mall here in San Diego for the San Diego Software Industries Council “Windows 8 for Software Developers” event. 

The event is free, but registration is required.  Register Here


I’ll be giving a quick presentation on Windows 8 development at the event.  You can grab a copy of my slides here

Converting “Cut the Rope” to an HTML5/JS game

In my HTML5/JS game journey today, I ran across a great article on how the Microsoft IE, Pixel Lab, and ZeptoLab teams ported the “Cut the Rope” application from an iOS app over to an HTML5/JS app.


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