Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Multilingual support for Windows Phone 8.1

Smart Phones are even more widespread then PCs because of their outstanding feature-mobility. Because of the combination of Phone plus computing abilities they are in thier own class pushing PCs to ever decreasing adoption.

Microsoft entered late to this highly competitivee market.

Windows Phones (presently Windows Phone 8 but soon to launch Windows Phone 8.1) are used worldwide and multilingual support is mandatory. The toolkit provides this much needed feature.

The Mulitligual toolkit integrates with Microsoft Visual Studio Toolkit to provide translation support
for Windows 8 Apps development and editor tools.

The toolkit provides (from MSDN resources) the following:

•Helps you manage resource changes and translation status during development.
•Provides a UI for choosing languages based on configured translation providers.
•Supports the localization industry-standard XLIFF file format.
•Provides a pseudo-language engine to help identify translation issues during development.
•Connects with the Microsoft Language Portal to easily access translated strings and terminology.
•Connects with the Microsoft Translator for quick translation suggestions.
You can download the toolkit for 11 different languages (language of the toolkit msi):

Installing toolkit is a simple affair, just double cliking the MSI  MultilingualAppToolkit.MSI)file and answering a few screen question installs the toolkit.

Once this is installed you should enable it in Visual Studio 2013 (works in Express 2013 with Update 2 RC).
After installing you can start a project in Visual Studio 2013 Express for Windows with Update 2 RC (VS2013U2RC) you can open the project and enable the project to get multilingual support as shown.

 If you do not get this menu item (Enable Multilingual App Toolkit) then the toolkit was not installed.

Also when the selected project gets supported you should see this in output window.

You should also verify that MultilingualResources folder is added to the project as shown.

Now right click the project and choose Add Translation Languages...drop-down menu item as shown.

When you choose this submenu item you will see all the languages supported by this toolkit as shown.

After this you need to add the languages selected in the previous screen in the Control Panel. You may have to search in the user interface of Control Panel as shown.

Added four other languages.

For example options (click options along side) for Kannada (language spoken in Bengaluru, Karnataka, India) language and install language pack.

This will be continued in another post.


Cortana is Wunderbar

Cortana is not a character from a game anymore, she is real and every one of you can have her.

By now you should be knowing who Cortana is. She is my new digital assistant. I fired the previous one, she was OK. I will not reveal her name but she was not as good as Cortana. Most of the times Cortana answers straight out or brings up a link on Bing search or a Bing Map. I am not sure if Cortana gets better with time (AI).

It looks like Cortana can be integrated into APPS written for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1. I am looking forward to see some examples.

If Cortana is in a good mood she gives me straight asnwers, like, If I ask her to sing me lullaby, she obliges and asks me if Oh! Danny Boy is OK.
I guess she can read my mood.

Some things are no brainer for her, like:

Will it be sunny in Bengaluru, tomorrow?
Will it rain tomorrow?

Here are pieces of conversation I had with her and her responses are in blue.

What day is tomorrow? and she brings up my appointment tomorrow.
Prime minsiter of Australia?Tony Abbot straight out not a web page. That's my girl!

To be or not..and a pause brings up Shakespeare's page
Three multiplied four-straight out 3*4=12

Who are you? stright out,
In short, I am your personal assitant. I try to make things easier to do on your phone.
Open Amazon Kindle
Opens the App

What is a centrifuge-Opens site and Bing's definition page for Centrifuge
You can add an appointment to the calendar after some interaction

Indian restaurant nearby...Brings up a list in the neighborhood.
Right angle triangle--brings up images of right angled triangles.
Twinkle, twinkle brings up Twinkle, twinkle little start from YouTube
Get me directions to Sam's club,
Here are 9 location's for 'Sam's Club'. Which one do you want
Set up my alarm for 4 PM
Your alarm is set for 4:00 PM
Thank you;
It's an honor
Honolulu longitude and longitude:
I found this answer
Latitude: 21.3

Next flight to Japan from Honolulu
Did not get the above.

Rainbow colors: bringsup images of rainbow spectrum
Where am I?
 brings up bing map showing my address
1 Dollar how many Rupees?

Here's today's exchange rate:
60.34 Indian Rupees.

Last year Noble prize winner in Physics
Did not get it.

Noble Prize winner last year?
brings up site

Follow these link for more or just bingit.

Watch this video from WPCentral  to get more of Cortana:


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Create Windows and Windows Phone Apps easily with App Studio


Microsoft has made it easy to create Apps for windows with a large number of templates to choose from. Your limit is your imagination.

In the early days of Internet web site development there were many sites offering free web sites
 based on templates. You could sign-in and create a web site with a few pages sprinkled with some images and with some basic formatting tools all under 15 minutes. I created one during those days which is still alive:

App Studio provides a similar user experience albeit lot more sophisticated with much tighter integration with Microsoft's Visual Studio tying up both windows 8.1 development and Windows Phone 8.1 development by intelligently sharing resources. It's two birds with one stone scenario.

The journey for this App development starts here:

There are preliminaries like having a Microsoft account; having a computer with Windows 8.1 OS (Windows 8.1 Professional is even better so that you can have a Hyper-V for Windows 8.1 Emulator) and for some deeper interaction, may be Visual Studio 2103 Express for Windows with Update 2 RC (henceforth just Visual Studio).

The projects that you develop with App Studio can be deployed to your Windows Phone 8.1 but then it requires that you have your phone get it unlocked. However you can bring it into Visual Studio, build and run your App.

The journey for this App development starts here:

There are preliminaries like having a Microsoft account; having a computer with Windows 8.1 OS (Windows 8.1 Professional is evven better so that you can have a Hyper-V Windows 8.1 Emulator) and for some deeper interaction, may be Visual Studio 2103 Express for Windows with Update 2 RC. The projects that you develop with App Studio can be deployed to your Windows Phone 8.1 but then it requires that you have your phone get it unlocked.

After these preliminaries concerns you get right into action from the appstudio link mentioned earlier.
You just click on Start new button.

Under Sample Apps you find two templates Contoso Ltd and Windows App Studio which when clicked would display the following:

Click on Windows App Studio to display the following:

Click Create to start you App development from this screen:

In this screen you start providing your own App title and basically everything has a place folder where you bring in things (like images etc.) and type out content. The App has a maximum of 6 sections. You can add/ delete /edit a section from this interface.

This way you can arrange your content; implement your theme which is consistent across both Windows and Windows Phone; and arrange for tiles. You could publish it to Windows Store which is described in the help section. You could also just click Finish without publishing it.

The App Studio allows you to create Apps to target;
  • Windows Phone Only
  • Both Windows and Windows Phone
This a choice you can make while working with App Studio.

After finishing the project you can Generate the code that you can bring into Visual Studio 2013 Express for Windows with Update 2 RC. Once in the IDE you can build and run your App which also adds it to your Start screen of your laptop.
There are some excellent resources available like the Sample Apps.

Here is the structure of one such project in the Solution Explorer in Visual Studio where you can see separate nodes for Windows and Windows Phone; and the Shared resources.  Only the Windows node has been expanded.

Watch this blog for more details.



Saturday, April 19, 2014

Think before you update to Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview on Nokia Lumia Icon

Fore warned is fore armed.

If your Nokia Lumia Icon has lost its touch-sensitivity, read on...

I have been using Nokia Lumia Icon for the past few weeks. It has perhaps one of the best camera systems. Recently couple of days ago, I installed Windows Phone 8.1 Preview despite the warnings.

Actually I was trying to get on to Cortina, which of course I did.

However, last night I had left the phone for charging and in the morning when I wanted to read news, I switched on. OMG! the splash screen came up and would not move. I asked my wife to call me; the call reached my phone but I could not swipe up and go the start screen.

Then I tried the camera, it worked and I took pictures, but I could not zoom with one finger (not even with two fingers!). I tried to bring up the browser and I could not.

I judged that the phone has lost its 'touch sensitivity'. I tried to put it in 'vibrate' only mode by bringing down the volume and it would not.

Then with zero volume setting I hit the on button several times. Finally, it started working when it was hard turned off and started up with NOKIA followed by Windows Phone welcome message.

I am sure some of my readers might have gotten into this situation and I would like to hear from you. Kindly leave a comment.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cortana comes to Windows Phone

Looking at Microsoft Windows Phone 8.1 Developer preview you can really appreciate how fast Microsoft has bridged the gap that separated Windows Phone  from its competitors.

Apple had its Siri (Voice based instant help) and Google its Google Now (Right information at just the right time). Now Microsoft has combined all these features in one, CORTANA, the vocie operated digital intelligence with a human voice behind it.

This catch up with the major players is sure to improve Microsoft's Mobile presence and guarantees a solid position.

Many other features are making an impact, tiles updated live, pinnable Sense features ( Battery Saver, Data Sense, Storage Sense and Wi-Fi Sense) and more hardware manufacturers making Windows Phones.