Xamarin Forms Windows Colours

When you work with custom renderers on Xamarin Forms (and it’s very difficult not to!) you often have to convert from Xamarin Forms types to their native platform equivalent. In the iOS and Android implementations Xamarin include some extension methods to easily convert Color to the native equivalent. Being the Cinderella of the Xamarin Forms platforms Windows platforms have missed out on this so I’ve filled the gap with this handy extension method:-

https://gist.github.com/peterfoot/be89d5b3c5ac4cc16ae1

This works for Windows Phone 8.1, Windows Store and UWP targets (sorry I haven’t created the Silverlight equivalent)

WebAuthenticationBroker Hints

Anyone who has tried to use the WebAuthenticationBroker beyond the simplest of scenarios has probably run into problems and sometimes all you want is a good descriptive error message. Getting things setup just right often takes a certain amount of trial and error so I’m documenting a few things here which are the results of a certain amount of trial and a considerable amount of error. This is as much a reminder for myself the next time I try and do this as it is (hopefully) some useful extra information for you.

Single Sign-in

If you can get the stars to align correctly, your OAuth endpoint can perform single sign-in on a corporate network. If you read the documentation you’ll see you have to specify the flag WebAuthenticationOptions.UseCorporateNetwork when you call AuthenticateAsync. This can be confusing because this flag isn’t needed when debugging when your app is given Intranet access automatically. To set this flag you also need to specify Enterprise Authentication, Private Networks and Shared User Certificates capabilities in your application manifest. Once you’ve added these you can’t submit the app through the public Windows Store.

A caveat to this is that you can only do single sign-in if your “web” application is setup with a redirect Uri which is the app package identity and you use the overload of AuthenticateAsync which doesn’t take a redirect Uri. This is the Uri returned from a call to Windows.Security.Authentication.Web.WebAuthenticationBroker.GetCurrentApplicationCallbackUri() at runtime. This identity will change between a side-loaded developer signed package and one which has been distributed through the Windows Store or a private company portal.

Error Codes

A lot of errors within the WebAuthenticationBroker process will result in a return status of WebAuthenticationStatus.UserCancel. However this is not always because the user has explicitly cancelled the process. The ResponseErrorDetail property returns an error code to give the reason and here are some possible values:-

0x800c0019 – An SSL failure. A common cause of this is that the clock is not set correctly on your phone/PC and it can often occur when your device battery went flat and it reset itself to some default date in 2014 and you’ve forgotten to correct it.

0x800c0005 – Network connection error. This is probably because you have no mobile signal and no WiFi.

This isn’t an exhaustive list but knowing the common error codes allows you to write a descriptive message for the user to hopefully resolve the problem themselves.

Ordering the Surface Pro 4 Docking Station Adapter

If you have a Surface Pro 3 Docking Station and want to use it with Surface Pro 4 you’ll probably have heard that you need an adaptor – a thin sheet of plastic which it seems is as elusive as hens teeth. You’ve possibly read the instructions here http://winsupersite.com/hardware/microsoft-finally-works-out-its-surface-pro-4-surface-pro-3-docking-station-spacer and here is the rest of the process:-

Once you’ve selected “Replace an accessory” you’ll need to pick your device. Assuming you’ve already registered you just have to click on your Surface Pro 4 here. Then you’ll see choices for categories “Pens and Loops”, “Docking Station”, “Other”. You’ll need to select Docking Station and you may get a popup asking you to enter a product number. Of course you don’t have a product number for a product you don’t have so don’t panic. When you select that you don’t have a product number ignore the warnings that your product will be considered out of warranty. What should happen on the next screen is that only one product is available which is the adapter at an extravagant £0.00. You’ll also have to pay postage – for the UK this is £4 (+VAT). There is a drop down box for shipping type but this has only a single choice “No Action Required”, enter your shipping details and proceed to pay.

adapter-cart
I guess £4 is the “price of inaction” :-)

Windows Embedded Compact 2013 & Visual Studio 2013

The latest update to Windows Embedded Compact 2013 was a bit of a surprise as besides the usual cumulative bug fixes and tweaks it adds development support with Visual Studio 2015. Since the days of Windows Mobile 6 and even CE 7 it has been common to use an old version of Visual Studio to get things done but here the tools have jumped to the latest Visual Studio version.

Besides the usual Console and Windows Forms project types we’ve tested XAML In The Hand too and you can build managed code XAML based applications. You can debug over Ethernet, edit your XAML with intellisense, use NuGet packages etc all as you would with “big” Windows development.

xaml2015

One of the new features added in Compact 2013 was Behaviors and while you can use them already in XAML In The Hand projects from your XAML we’re investigating whether it might be useful to add code support for these too depending on demand.

The Compact 2013 installation is in two parts – Application Builder is the plugin for Visual Studio:-

http://www.microsoft.com/en-in/download/details.aspx?id=38819

The latest Compact 2013 Platform update is here:-

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=42027

More details on XAML In The Hand can be found here:-

http://inthehand.com/components/xamlruntime/

 

InTheHand.UI v9.0

I’ve updated InTheHand on NuGet and added the accompanying library containing UI functionality (InTheHand.UI). The main shared piece of functionality here is the MessageDialog (ala Windows.UI.Popups) and this works across all the Windows platforms (Including Windows Phone Silverlight) and iOS and Android. The appearance of the dialog is as the native experience with one exception…

MessageDialog.UWP.Native

We noticed on Windows 10 that the appearance of MessageDialog changed for our 8.1 app, rather than being a band across the width of the screen it was now a true floating window in its own right but this had one negative aspect – the title text appeared twice on the dialog. Users reported this as confusing and there is currently no workaround directly. In UWP apps there is now a ContentDialog control which is used for popping up content with up to two action buttons (you may recall this from Windows Phone 8.1) and so our implementation wraps this API on Windows 10 Desktop while exposing a single MessageDialog API. To avoid breaking the API we currently fall back to the system MessageDialog if you use three Commands. You can see a taste of the various flavours below:-

MessageDialog.Montage

The other functionality within InTheHand.UI is currently specific to Windows flavours and I’ll be discussing it in a future post.

Build Charming Apps v9.0 Preview

With the impending release of Windows 10 I set about updating the Charming Apps libraries to support UWP targets and it soon became painfully clear that things had got too complicated. There was a separate dll for each small area of functionality and various dependencies and 17 NuGet packages to manage (each with multiple platforms).

Version 9 is a reboot of the project and currently consists of just two packages – InTheHand.dll and InTheHand.UI.dll. The first of these is now live on NuGet in preview form and replaces a number of old libraries and adds new stuff! During the MVP Summit I was able to spend the Hackathon rebuilding my development environment and refactoring the entire solution.

https://www.nuget.org/packages/InTheHand/

The API follows the UWP model where possible, making it familiar to Windows developers while extending both backwards to prior Windows versions and also sideways to Xamarin platforms. Also new in Version 9 is a PCL build which allows you to call the shared functionality from a PCL with the functionality itself provided by the platform specific dll in the consuming application. This is useful in scenarios such as Xamarin Forms projects.

For example InTheHand.ApplicationModel.Package provides a mechanism to query the current application package for name/version etc. This is the sort of information you might need for a custom About page or to pass to analytics etc. The InTheHand.ApplicationModel.DataTransfer namespace contains Clipboard and Sharing functionality which now supports Android and iOS too invoking the native experiences in each. The remainder of the InTheHand.ApplicationModel namespaces allow you to kick off a number of tasks such as SMS, Email etc. Other namespaces exist for querying display properties and battery state.

All the code is on GitHub and a very rudimentary version of documentation is in the project Wiki. Most of the documentation in CodePlex still applies too and will be migrated in due course.

https://github.com/inthehand/Charming

Coming in the InTheHand.UI package are InTheHand.UI.Popups (MessageDialog) and InTheHand.UI.ApplicationSettings (currently Windows platforms only) both of which have some neat Windows 10 specific tweaks.