New Development Box

I have previously blogged about making a foray into mobile an cross platform development. But when I left  Workspace I had to return my laptop so I have been looking around and researching laptops. I still want to do Lync development along with presenting on various topics at local user groups. So my needs are varied and somewhat complicated.

I need to develop using UCMA 3.0, UCMA 4.0 for my main occupation but I also want to develop cross platform apps using HTML5, JavaScript and CSS3. I’m using Telerik’s AppBuilder for the JavaScript work along with Xamarin to do C# cross platform applications for Android and iPhone. Xamarin requires access to Xcode to do iPhone  app compiles so that means there must be a Mac of some kind on my local network. I also wanted to install Android Studio to do native Android development. So many requirements and there seemed there was no way to avoid getting an Apple.

So with that in mind I read everything that I could find on the web about using Macs for Windows development. What I found is that there are a lot of big name Windows guys using Macbook Pros for development. I read blog posts by Andrew Connell, Sahil Malik and and what seemed like 100 other developers. I read threads on popular developer forums and watched countless Youtube videos on the subject. After all this I decided to jump on the Mac band wagon again. One common thread I found among devleopers that have switched to Macs from Windows is that lots of them made unsuccessful forays into the Mac world and gave up then came back later and succeeded.

So with all that in mind last Monday (05/19) I ordered a fully decked out 15” MAcbook Pro with Retina display. It comes with 16 gigs of memory in the base line unit.  I upgraded to the 2.6GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7, with Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz. I also upgraded to the 1TB PCIe-based Flash Storage.  This configuration can’t be picked up at an Apple store and it is a special order item that was assembled to my specs in China and then shipped to my door arriving at my front door at 12:24 PM on Friday. 4 days to order, build and  ship via FedEX. Pretty good service in my book.

I’ll blog more about my experience using a Macbook for development at a later day. But for now I’ll just say I chose Parallels as my VM manager and I have installed separate Win7 VMs for all of my Widows development. I am running the Win7 VMs full screen on my existing 27” monitor which I attached to the MacBook Pro via a Thunderbolt to VGA adaptor. The speed of the VMs and Visual Studio compiles have been as fast as anything I have experienced running Windows natively. I need to purchase a Windows 8.1 license and then I create a VM for that but I’ve spent enough money l=on this setup so I am holding off on Winn8 for a while. I also still have to setup my Lync development VMs in the next few days before I begin my next contract.

This is my second attempt and so far (3 days) I have been very happy with the move…

Buy any of #Packt’s 2000 eBooks for only $10!! Offer valid for 24hrs only on May 6th

Yes, that’s right: $10.

In-order to mark the International Day Against DRM, Packt Publishing is offering all its DRM-free content at $10 for 24 hours only on May 6th – that’s all 2000+ eBooks and Videos at www.packtpub.com.

I am a big fan of Packt Publishing and have probably 15 of their books in my library. But that will change tomorrow as I plan to add several new ones that I have been wanting to read.

Enjoy.

IBM Worklight Mobile Application Development Essentials

First let me say that the authors seem to really know their stuff. I enjoyed the book but it didn’t go deep enough for my tasted. As another reviewer pointed out you could get a lot of the info from the documents or manuals. But you would have spent a lot of time digging for it. I for one don’t like most documentation I find on software companies’ websites. I would rather someone else do the digging and just give me in one document the info I need and that is what this book does for me. My main goal in reading the book was to determine how the Worklight interface worked and how the framework is used to develop mobile apps and the book was a good read in that respect. While I wish it went deeper into the code, I wish that of most developer focused books so that is not really a knock on the book. I’ll end up going deeper on my own by writing code and using the debugger to figure out the parts that I need.
There were places where you could tell that English was a second language for these guys but their writing style was still informative and it didn’t detract from the book.

If interested in the book you can get it from Packt Publishing

Mobile Dev Diary: part 1

In the past I have mentioned that I want to do more mobile and cross platform  development. I really believe that cross platform is the wave of the future. We are seeing the PC, tablet and phone markets merge in a big way. Sometimes that merging involves the user interface such as we see with Windows 8.1, the Surface, and Windows phones running a interface that looks and feels similar to the user across all of the devices. We also see corporations and end users that want to run the same software o their mobile devices as they run on the corporate or home desktop. Microsoft announced their universal apps at their Build Developers Conference last week along with a supporting Visual Studio 2013 RC update

As I move deeper into mobile and cross platform development I thought I would keep a diary of my progress and blog about some of the tools I try out. Some I end up discarding for numerous reasons and some become permanent additions to my developer’s toolbox.

The greatest issue facing developers looking to create apps for IOS, Android and Windows platforms is how to avoid multiple code bases (and multiple expensive development platforms etc.) yet still get the performance and access to the hardware such as the GPS or camera etc. There is some code that can be common between the platforms but your UI and your hardware interactions will differ for each platform and require you to maintain separate code for each platform.

But enough of the issues. If you are reading tis then you probably know  hurdles that a cross platform developer must overcome.

I have spent lots of time investigating PhoneGapSencha Touch, and Xamarin but for several reasons I have left those out of my toolbox, though PhoneGap still plays a support role and Xamarin may yet be added.

I hadn’t messed with HTML, JavaScript and CSS for 10 years or so yet I am convinced that it is the best approach for developing apps for multiple platforms. You can architect your website to work well in a mobile browser (think Bootstrap) by using a mobile first design approach. But that approach wont give you’re the hardware access or performance that you may need.

Another approach is to create a hybrid or a native app that runs on the phone or tablet using a framework like the ones I mentioned above. This is the approach I decided to take and downloading lots of 30-day trials, looking at video n Youtube and PluralSight I settled on the Telerk Platform. I’ll go more into which of their products I am using and why in Part 2 of this series. My goal is post an update  about once a week describing my progress as I become proficient with the tools.

Buy One Packt Publishing Book , Get One Free

I received this in an email late Friday:

I just wanted to inform you about an exciting campaign launched by Packt Publishing to coincide with the release of our 2000th title. During this offer Packt is giving its readers a chance to dive into their comprehensive catalog and Buy One, Get One Free across their entire range of eBooks.
The campaign began on 18th-Mar-2014 and will continue up until 26th-Mar-2014.

I have several Packt books in my library and will be adding more. I suggest you take advantage and of this offer bu following this link : "http://bit.ly/1j26nPN"

Enjoy!

Web Essentials “Gotcha”

I recently upgraded to Visual Studio 2013 (Ultimate) for my development needs. After doing so I installed Web Essentials to go along with all the new features and helpers that come with VS 2013.

While working on an MVC app I noticed that my form had a spelling error so I thought – Hmmmm this would be a great time to try out the Web Essentials Design Mode and see how the in-browser editing works. Big mistake!

browserview

In the .cshtml file behind my form I had used the ASP.Net MVC .html helper functions like this:

WE_before

After making the change in the browser Design mode and saving the change I noticed that my .cshtml file now had this in it:

WE_after

I fully understand what happened. The helper functions worked exactly like they were designed to work. They  produced the <SELECT>  html that you see above which is all the browser had and all that Web Essentials had for editing. So that is what was saved back to the underlying .cshtml. Its not really Web Essentials fault but it was not the behavior I had expected and it is not how I want my code to look.

I just wanted to make others aware that they need to be careful when using the Design Mode of Web Essentials – make sure you understand how it works and what the consequences will be.

 

Hire the GotSpeech Guy

My current assignment will end in Mid February and I am looking for another assignment. I prefer employment but contract work is an option.

I’ve worked remotely for 7 years now and it is my preferred method of working. I am primarily looking for Lync development or provisioning assignments but I am open to other options such as PowerShell and mobile development work.

If you are interested my contact information is on my About page.