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Programming

DevArt - Winner Announced

Google Code Blog - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 17:00
By Emma Turpin, DevArt Lead at Google Creative Lab and Paul Kinlan, Developer Advocate

Mapping a dream as it navigates through your brain using G+APIs. Exploring metamorphosis through storytelling in the form of a poetic adventure with Chrome Apps and Compute API. Travelling through a playful giant map that explores fantasy and reality on a huge scale using Map API. Creating music through the touch of your finger on a simple piece of wood using Android.

These are just a sample of the hundreds of projects we received after inviting the developer community to express themselves creatively as part of DevArt. We were looking for a unique idea which mixes art and code and pushes the boundaries, to be featured in the Barbican's Digital Revolution exhibition, opening this summer in London and from there touring the rest of the world.

And the winner is … a duo Cyril Diagne & Béatrice Lartigue from France. Cyril and Beatrice’s project, Les métamorphoses de Mr. Kalia, is an interactive poetic adventure around the theme of metamorphosis in the human body. It invites gallery visitors to personify Mr. Kalia as he goes through many surrealistic changes [video] [project page on DevArt site]. The piece conveys feelings related to change, evolution and adaptation. Mr. Kalia is brought to life through the use of a skeleton tracking technology, and uses Chrome apps and Google Compute Engine.


Cyril and Béatrice’s installation will sit alongside three of the world’s finest interactive artists who are also creating installations for DevArt: Karsten Schmidt, Zach Lieberman, and the duo Varvara Guljajeva and Mar Canet. The Digital Revolution Exhibition will be opening in London on 3 July with tickets available online here.

We were overwhelmed by all of the amazing ideas we saw, a testament to the creativity that’s possible with code. Watch this space - DevArt at the Digital Revolution exhibition at the Barbican opens in July!

Paul Kinlan is a Developer Advocate in the UK on the Chrome team specialising on mobile. He lives in Liverpool and loves trying to progress the city's tech community from places like DoES Liverpool hack-space.


Posted by Louis Gray, Googler
Categories: Programming

Cross Platform Mobile Development (iOS, Android, WP8)

Making the Complex Simple - John Sonmez - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 16:00

What is your strategy for cross platform mobile development? It is a hard question to answer, because there are so many choices out there. In thie video, I talk about what I think about cross platform mobile development, define your options and give you my recommendation. So, if you are thinking about developing for iOS, […]

The post Cross Platform Mobile Development (iOS, Android, WP8) appeared first on Simple Programmer.

Categories: Programming

Three Things

Coding Horror - Jeff Atwood - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 18:22

I've expressed my disillusionment with to-do lists before.

But let's try something simpler, a little experiment. What do you use to keep track of what you need to do? Hold it up, so I can see it. Humor me.

Seriously! No no no, hold it closer, near the screen here. Let me look at it. Let me get a good, long look at it.

Now imagine me slapping this thing out of your hand.

don't go there

I just want to make a point, not break your fancy whatchamacallit. So pretend I slapped it into a soft fluffy pillow on the ground, not the hard concrete of the sidewalk. Though I probably should have.

Whatever that thing is, it's a crutch. You don't need it. It's hurting you more than it is helping. Get rid of it.

Instead, ask yourself this:

What three things do you need to do today?

You should be able to instantly answer this simple question, each day, every day, for the rest of your life. Without any tools other than the brain you were born with.

If you don't have this skill, develop it. Practice, starting today. Right now.

What are you doing right now? Is it going to somehow result in one of those three things getting done today? Will this you get you to where you need to be by the end of the day?

I'm not asking you to admonish yourself or to make any changes to your routine. Just keep it simple, focus on the important things, and add a little layer of awareness.

So. Two items left. I'm doing pretty good today.

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Categories: Programming

A conversation about design

Google Code Blog - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 18:00
By Nadya Direkova, Staff Designer and Design Evangelist

When Google launched, it was a crisp white page with a simple search box. You might not have thought there was much in the way of design, but its appearance underscored two of our most important principles: simplicity and usefulness. Those principles haven't changed much in fifteen years, but our understanding of what makes great design has—throughout the industry. Today, there’s design in everything we touch. And as a developer, even if you don't happen to be a formal designer, you've undoubtedly faced design challenges as you've built your own products. Design has always been a rich conversation, and it's one that we’d like to have with you as you work on your projects and as we work on ours.

At Google I/O this year, we will have sessions and workshops focused on design, geared for designers and developers who are interested in design. We're looking forward to exchanging ideas with you both at the conference and online afterwards. Remember, registration is open until Friday and details on Google I/O Extended events are coming soon.

To start off the conversation, today we're kicking off a series called "Google Design Minutes" with three videos where we share some key learnings with you-from Glass, Maps and Search. We hope they'll help you navigate some of your own design challenges.


Search — The beauty of speed: Jon Wiley discusses the importance of designing for simplicity and speed.


Maps - Putting the user front and center: Sian Townsend looks at the importance of understanding how a user approaches your product, while Jonah Jones talks about adapting the approach to make the map the user interface.


Glass - Make it simple: Isabelle Olsson talks about the focus her team put into making Glass simple, and how this choice guided all the decisions they made.

We'll be continuing this conversation around design over the coming months—including more of these videos, as well as design-focused content on our developer site. And we'd love to hear from you! We've set up a Google Moderator page to hear your questions for our designers and researchers; in the coming weeks, we'll share our thoughts on the top questions. We look forward to seeing you at Google I/O, and hearing your own thoughts on what makes great design today!

Nadya Direkova is a Staff Designer at Google [X]. She runs design sprints across Google allowing interdisciplinary teams to design with skill and speed.

Posted by Louis Gray, Googler
Categories: Programming

Code School and the Google Maps SDK for iOS

Google Code Blog - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 16:55
Cross-posted from the Geo Developers Blog

By Mike Jeffrey, Google Maps API Team

Are you an iOS developer interested in adding a map to your application? The instructional experts at Code School set out to create a course introducing the Google Maps SDK for iOS to developers like you — and they delivered!

Exploring Google Maps for iOS is a free course covering everything from adding a simple map, to using geocoding and directions, to incorporating Street View in iOS. You'll end up with a working sample application and gain the knowledge you need to build your own amazing Google Maps-based apps. Learn from videos, sample code, and Xcode-based coding challenges.

Check out the introduction video below, and then head over to Code School to get started with their interactive course!

You can also read our official developer documentation and reference docs at https://developers.google.com/maps/documentation/ios/.

Posted by Louis Gray, Googler
Categories: Programming

Design, Develop, and Distribute at I/O 2014

Google Code Blog - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 21:15
By Billy Rutledge, Director of Developer Relations

Whether you're a developer who's interested in the latest developments in the Googleverse or someone who wants to build the next billion dollar app, Google I/O is the ticket for you. It’s your opportunity to speak directly with us about what’s going on and where apps are headed for 2014. At past I/Os, we skydived onto the Moscone Center--broadcasting live using Google Glass and Google+, launched hardware--like the original Nexus 7 and the first commercial Chromebooks, and showed you how you can use Google services to take your apps to the next level.

While we aren't ready to share what’s up our sleeves just yet, we can share with you that we’re focusing on three key themes this year: design, develop and distribute--helping you build and prove your app from start to finish. With those themes in mind and the registration window opening today (link), here’s what we’ve got planned for Google I/O 2014:

  • More time to talk code, wireframes, and business plans with real humans: If you're coming in person, the schedule will give you more time to interact in the Sandbox, where partners will be on hand to demo apps built on the best of Google and open source, and where you can interact with Googlers 1:1 and in small groups. Come armed with your app and get ready for direct feedback on your app design, code, and distribution plan.
  • Go deeper with content: A streamlined session schedule will be published in May featuring talks that will inspire ideas for your next app, while giving you the tools to build it. We'll also be providing self-paced Code Labs that you can dive into while at I/O.
  • A taste of San Francisco, with After Hours: All work and no play makes for a dull conference! After Hours will showcase some of what our vibrant city has to offer, including craft brews in our beer garden, our city's illustrious food trucks, and local indie bands, so you can tear it up on the lawn (yes, that's right: outside this year!)

We’re really looking forward to this year’s event and hope you are too. Don't forget that the registration window will remain open from 4pm PDT today (April 15) until April 18 at 2:00 PM PDT. Applicants will be selected at random after the window closes, and we’ll let you know your status on or around April 21.

We look forward to seeing you in June, whether you’re joining us at Moscone, at an I/O Extended event, or online at I/O Live.

Billy Rutledge, Director of Developer Relations

Posted by Louis Gray, Googler
Categories: Programming

Azure Updates: Web Sites, VMs, Mobile Services, Notification Hubs, Storage, VNets, Scheduler, AutoScale and More

ScottGu's Blog - Scott Guthrie - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 21:58

It has been a really busy last 10 days for the Azure team. This blog post quickly recaps a few of the significant enhancements we’ve made.  These include:

  • Web Sites: SSL included, Traffic Manager, Java Support, Basic Tier
  • Virtual Machines: Support for Chef and Puppet extensions, Basic Pricing tier for Compute Instances
  • Virtual Network: General Availability of DynamicRouting VPN Gateways and Point-to-Site VPN
  • Mobile Services: Preview of Visual Studio support for .NET, Azure Active Directory integration and Offline support;
  • Notification Hubs: Support for Kindle Fire devices and Visual Studio Server Explorer integration
  • Autoscale: General Availability release
  • Storage: General Availability release of Read Access Geo Redundant Storage
  • Active Directory Premium: General Availability release
  • Scheduler service: General Availability release
  • Automation: Preview release of new Azure Automation service

All of these improvements are now available to use immediately (note that some features are still in preview).  Below are more details about them:

Web Sites: SSL now included at no additional charge in Standard Tiers

With Azure Web Sites you can host up to 500 web-sites in a single standard tier hosting plan.  Azure web-sites run in VMs isolated to host only your web applications (giving you predictable performance and security isolation), and you can scale-up/down the number of VMs either manually or using our built-in AutoScale functionality.  The pricing for standard tier web-sites is based on the number of VMs you run – if you host all 500 web-sites in a single VM then all you pay for is for that single VM, if you scale up your web site plan to run across two VMs then you’d pay for two VMs, etc.

Prior to this month we charged an additional fee if you wanted to enable SSL for the sites.  Starting this month, we now include the ability to use 5 SNI based SSL certificates and 1 IP based SSL certificate with each standard tier web site hosting plan at no additional charge.  This helps make it even easier (and cheaper) to SSL enable your web-sites.

Web Sites: Traffic Manager Support

I’ve blogged in the past about the Traffic Manager service we have built-into Azure. 

The Azure Traffic Manager service allows you to control the distribution of user traffic to applications that you host within Azure. This enables you to run instances of your applications across different azure regions all over the world.  Traffic Manager works by applying an intelligent routing policy engine to the Domain Name Service (DNS) queries on your domain names, and maps the DNS routes to the appropriate instances of your applications (e.g. you can setup Traffic Manager to route customers in Europe to a European instance of your app, and customers in North America to a US instance of your app).

You can use Traffic Manager to improve application availability - by enabling automatic customer traffic fail-over scenarios in the event of issues with one of your application instances.  You can also use Traffic Manager to improve application performance - by automatically routing your customers to the closet application instance nearest them.

We are excited to now provide general availability support of Traffic Manager with Azure Web Sites.  This enables you to both improve the performance and availability of your web-sites.  You can learn more about how to take advantage of this new support here.

Web Sites: Java Support

This past week we added support for an additional server language with Azure Web Sites – Java.  It is now easy to deploy and run Java web applications written using a variety of frameworks and containers including:

  • Java 1.7.0_51 – this is the default supported Java runtime
  • Tomcat 7.0.50 – the default Java container
  • Jetty 9.1.0

You can manage which Java runtime you use, as well as which container hosts your applications using the Azure management portal or our management APIs.  This blog post provides more detail on the new support and options.

With this announcement, Azure Web Sites now provides first class support for building web applications and sites using .NET, PHP, Node.js, Python and Java.  This enables you to use a wide variety of language + frameworks to build your applications, and take advantage of all the great capabilities that Web Sites provide (Easy Deployment, Continuous Deployment, AutoScale, Staging Support, Traffic Manager, outside-in monitoring, Backup, etc).

Web Sites: Support for Wildcard DNS and SSL Certificates

Azure Web Sites now supports the ability to map wildcard DNS and SSL Certficates to web-sites.  This enables a variety of scenarios – including the ability to map wildcard vanity domains (e.g. *.myapp.com – for example: scottgu.myapp.com) to a single backend web site.  This can be particularly useful for SaaS based scenarios.

Scott Cate has an excellent video that walks through how to easily set this support up.

Web Sites: New Basic Tier Pricing Option

Earlier in this post I talked about how we are now including the ability to use 5 SNI and 1 IP based SSL certificate at no additional cost with each standard tier azure web site hosting plan.  We have also recently announced that we are also including the auto-scale, traffic management, backup, staging and web jobs features at no additional cost as part of each standard tier azure web site hosting plan as well.  We think the combination of these features provides an incredibly compelling way to securely host and run any web application.

New Basic Tier Pricing Option

Starting this month we are also introducing a new “basic tier” option for Azure web sites which enables you to run web applications without some of these additional features – and at 25% less cost.  We think the basic tier is great for smaller/less-sophisticated web applications, and enables you to be successful while paying even less. 

For additional details about the Basic tier pricing, visit the Azure Web sites pricing page.  You can select which tier your web-site hosting plan uses by clicking the Scale tab within the Web Site extension of the Azure management portal.

Virtual Machines: Create from Visual Studio

With the most recent Azure SDK 2.3 release, it is now possible to create Virtual Machines from directly inside Visual Studio’s Server Explorer.  Simply right-click on the Azure node within it, and choose the “Create Virtual Machine” menu option:

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This will bring up a “Create New Virtual Machine” wizard that enables you to walkthrough creating a Virtual Machine, picking an image to run in it, attaching it to a virtual network, and open up firewall ports all from within Visual Studio:

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Once created you can then manage the VM (shutdown, restart, start, remote desktop, enable debugging, attach debugger) all from within Visual Studio:

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This makes it incredibly easy to start taking advantage of Azure without having to leave the Visual Studio IDE.

Virtual Machines: Integrated Puppet and Chef support

In a previous blog post I talked about the new VM Agent we introduced as an optional extension to Virtual Machines hosted on Azure.  The VM Agent is a lightweight and unobtrusive process that you can optionally enable to run inside your Windows and Linux VMs. The VM Agent can then be used to install and manage extensions, which are software modules that extend the functionality of a VM and help make common management scenarios easier. 

At last week’s Build conference we announced built-in support for several new extensions – including extensions that enable easy support for Puppet and Chef.  Puppet and Chef allow developers and IT administrators to define and automate the desired state of infrastructure configuration, making it effortless to manage 1000s of VMs in Azure.

Enabling Puppet Support

We now have a built-in VM image within the Azure VM gallery that enables you to easily stand up a puppet-master server that you can use to store and manage your infrastructure using Puppet.  Creating a Puppet Master in Azure is now easy – simply select the “Puppet Enterprise” template within the VM gallery:

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You can then create new Azure virtual machines that connect to this Puppet Master.  Enabling this with VMs created using the Azure management portal is easy (we also make it easy to do with VMs created with the command-line).  To enable the Puppet extension within a VM you create using the Azure portal simply navigate to the last page of the Create VM from gallery experience and check the “Puppet Extension Agent” extension within it:

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Specify the URL of the Puppet master server to get started. Once you deploy the VM, the extension will configure the puppet agent to connect to this Puppet master server and pull down the initial configuration that should be used to configure the machine.

This new support makes it incredibly easy to get started with both Puppet and Chef and enable even richer configuration management of your IaaS infrastructure within Azure.

Virtual Machines: Basic Tier

Earlier in this blog post I discussed how we are introducing a new “Basic Tier” option for Azure Web Sites.  Starting this month we are also introducing a “Basic Tier” for Virtual Machines as well.

The Basic Tier option provides VM options with similar CPU + memory configuration options as our existing VMs (which are now called “Standard Tier” VMs) but do not include the built-in load balancing and AutoScale capabilities.  They also cost up to 27% less.  These instances are well-suited for production applications that do not require a built-in load balancer (you can optionally bring your own load balancer), batch processing scenarios, as well as for dev/test workloads.  Our new Basic tier VMs also have similar performance characteristics to AWS’s equivalent VM instances (which are less powerful than the Standard tier VMs we have today).

Comprehensive pricing information is now available on the Virtual Machines Pricing Details page.

Networking: General Availability of Azure Virtual Network Dynamic Routing VPN Gateways and Point-to-Site VPN

Last year, we previewed a feature called DynamicRouting Gateway and Point-to-Site VPN that supports Route-based VPNs and allows you to connect individual computers to a Virtual Network in Azure. Earlier this month we announced that the feature is now generally available. The DynamicRouting VPN Gateway in a Virtual Network will now carry the same 99.9% SLA as the StaticRouting VPN Gateway.

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Now that we’re in General Availability mode, DynamicRouting Gateway will automatically incur standard Gateway charges which will take effect starting May 1, 2014. 

For further details on the service, please visit the Virtual Network website.

Mobile Services: Visual Studio Support for Mobile Services .NET Backend

With Visual Studio 2013 Update 2, you can now create your backend Mobile Service logic using .NET and the ASP.NET Web API framework in Visual Studio, using Mobile Services templates and scaffolds. Mobile Services support for .NET on the backend offers the following benefits:

  1. You can use ASP.NET Web API and Visual Studio together with Mobile Services to add a backend to your mobile app in minutes
  2. You can publish any existing Web API to Mobile Services and benefit from authentication, push notifications and other capabilities that Mobile Services provides. You can also take advantage of any Web API features like OData controllers, or 3rd party Web API-based frameworks like Breeze.
  3. You can debug your Mobile Services .NET backend using Visual Studio running locally on your machine or remotely in Azure.
  4. With Mobile Services we run, manage and monitor your Web API for you. Azure will automatically notify you if we discover you have a problem with your app.
  5. With Mobile Services .NET support you can store your data securely using any data backend of your choice: SQL Azure, SQL on Virtual Machine, Azure Table storage, Mongo, et al.

It’s easy to get started with Mobile Services .NET support in Visual Studio. Simply use the File-New Project dialog and select the Windows Azure Mobile Service project template under the Cloud node.

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Choose Windows Azure Mobile Service in the New ASP .NET Project dialog.

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You will see a Mobile Services .NET project, notice this is a customized ASP .NET Web API project with additional Mobile Service NuGet packages and sample controllers automatically included:

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Running the Mobile Service Locally

You can now test your .Net Mobile Service project locally. Open the sample TodoItemController.cs in the project. The controller shows you how you can use the built-in TableController<T> .NET class we provide with Mobile Services. Set a breakpoint inside the GetAllTodoItems() method and hit F5 within Visual Studio to run the Mobile Service locally.

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Mobile Services includes a help page to view and test your APIs. On the help page, click on the try it out link and then click the GET tables/TodoItem link. Then click try this out and send on the GET tables/TodoItem page. As you might expect, you will hit the breakpoint you set earlier.

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Add APIs to your Mobile Service using Scaffolds

You can add additional functionality to your Mobile Service using Mobile Service or generic Web API controller scaffolds through the Add Scaffold dialog (right click on your project and choose Add -> New Scaffolded Item… command)

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Publish your Mobile Services project to Azure

Once you are done developing your Mobile Service locally, you can publish it to Azure. Simply right click on your project and choose the Publish command. Using the publish wizard, you can publish to a new or existing Azure Mobile Service:

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Remote debugging

Just like Cloud Services and Websites, you can now remote debug your Mobile Service to get more visibility into how your code is operating live in Azure. To enable remote debugging for a Mobile Service, publish your Mobile Service again and set the Configuration to Debug in the Publish wizard.

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Once your Mobile Service is published and running live in the cloud, simply set a breakpoint in local source code. Then use Visual Studio’s Server Explorer to select the Mobile Service instance deployed in the cloud, right click and choose the Attach Debugger command.

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Once the debugger attaches to the mobile service, you can use the debugging capabilities of Visual Studio to instantly and in-real time debug your app running in the cloud.

To learn more about Visual Studio Support for Mobile Services .NET backend follow tutorials at:

This new .NET backend supports makes it easy to create even better mobile applications than ever before.

Mobile Services: Offline Support

In addition to the above support, we are also introducing a preview of a new Mobile Services Offline capability with client SDK support for Windows Phone and Windows Store apps.

With this functionality, mobile applications can create and modify data even when they are offline/disconnected from a network. When the app is back online, it can synchronize local changes with the Mobile Services Table APIs. The feature also includes support for detecting conflicts when the same record is changed on both the client and the backend.

To use the new Mobile Services offline functionality, set up a local sync store. You can define your own sync store or use the provided SQLite-based implementation.  The Mobile Services SDK provides a new local table API for the sync store, with a symmetrical programming model to the existing Mobile Services Table API. You can use Optimistic Concurrency along with the offline feature to detect conflicting changes between the client and backend.

The preview of the Mobile Services Offline feature is available now as part of the Mobile Services SDK for Windows Store and Windows Phone apps. In the future, we will support all client platforms supported by Mobile Services, including iOS, Android, Xamarin, etc.

Mobile Services: Support for Azure Active Directory Sign On

We now support Azure Active Directory Single Sign On for Mobile Services.  Azure Active Directory authentication is available for both the .NET and Node.js backend options of Mobile Services.

To take advantage of the feature, first register your client app and your Mobile Service with your Azure Active Directory tenant using the Applications tab in the Azure Active Directory management portal.

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In your client project, you will need to add the Active Directory Authentication Library (ADAL), currently available for Windows Store, iOS, and Android clients.

From there on, the token retrieved from ADAL library can be used to authenticate and access Mobile Services.  The single sign-on features of ADAL also enables your mobile service to make calls to other resources (such as SharePoint and Office 365) on behalf of the user.  You can read more about the new ADAL functionality here.

These new updates make Mobile Services an even more attractive platform for building powerful employee facing apps.

Notification Hub: Kindle Support and Visual Studio Integration

I’ve previously blogged about Azure Notification Hubs, a high scale cross platform push notification service that allows you to instantly send personalized push notifications to segments of your audience or individuals containing millions of iOS, Android, Windows, Widows Phone devices with a single API call.

Today we’ve made two important updates to Azure Notification Hubs: adding support for Amazon Kindle Fire devices, and Visual Studio support for Notification Hubs.

Support for Amazon’s Kindle

With today’s addition you can now configure your Notification Hubs with Amazon Device Messaging (ADM) service credentials on the configuration page for your Notification Hub in the Azure Management portal, and start sending push notifications to your app on Amazon’s Kindle device, in addition to iOS, Android, or Windows.

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Testing Push Notifications with Visual Studio

Earlier I blogged about how we enabled debugging push notifications using the Azure Management Portal. With today’s Visual Studio update, you can now browse your notification hubs and send test push notifications directly from Visual Studio Server Explorer as well.

Simply select your notification hub in the Server Explorer of Visual Studio under the Notifications Hubs node.  Then right click, and choose the Send Test Notifications command:

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In the notification hub window, you can then send a message either to a particular tag or all registered devices (broadcast). You can select from a variety of templates - Windows Store, Windows Phone, Android, iOS, or even a cross platform message using the Custom Template. After you hit Send, you’ll receive the message result instantly to help you diagnose if your message was successfully sent or not.

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To learn more about Azure Notification Hubs, read tutorials here.

AutoScale: Announcing General Availability of Autoscale Service

Last summer we announced the preview release of our Autoscale service. I’m happy to announce that Autoscale is now generally available!  Better yet, there's no additional charge for using Autoscale.

We've added new features since we first released it as a preview version: support for both performance-and schedule-based autoscaling, along with an API and .NET SDK so you can programmatically scale using any performance counters that you define.

Autoscale supports all four Azure compute services: Cloud Services, Virtual Machines, Mobile Services and Web Sites. For Virtual Machines and Web Sites, Autoscale is included as a feature in the Standard pricing tiers, and for Mobile Services, it's included as a part of both Basic and Standard pricing tiers.

Storage: Announcing General Availability of Read Access Geo Redundant Storage (RA-GRS)

In December, we added the ability to allow customers to achieve higher read availability for their data. This feature called Read Access - Geo Redundant Storage (RA-GRS) allows you to read an eventually consistent copy of your geo-replicated data from the storage account’s secondary region in case of any unavailability to the storage account’s primary region.

Last week we announced that RA-GRS feature is now out of preview mode, and generally available. It is available to all Azure customers across all regions including the users in China.

RA-GRS SLA and Pricing

The benefit of using RA-GRS is that it provides a higher read availability (99.99+%) for a storage account over GRS (99.9+%). When using RA-GRS, the write availability continues to be 99.9+% (same as GRS today) and read availability for RA-GRS is 99.99+%, where the data is expected to be read from secondary if primary is unavailable. In terms of pricing, the capacity (GB) charge is slightly higher for RA-GRS than GRS, whereas the transaction and bandwidth charges are the same for GRS and RA-GRS. See the Windows Azure Storage pricing page here for more details about the SLA and pricing.

You can find more information on the storage blog here.

Active Directory: General Availability of Azure AD Premium

Earlier this month we announced the general availability of Azure Active Directory Premium, which provides additional identity and access management capabilities for enterprises. Building upon the capabilities of Azure AD, Azure AD Premium provides these capabilities with a guaranteed SLA and no limit on directory size. Additional capabilities include:

  • Group-based access assignment enables administrators to use groups in AD to assign access for end users to over 1200 cloud applications in the AD Application Gallery. End users can get single-sign on access to their applications from their Access Panel at https://myapps.microsoft.com or from our iOS application.
  • Self-service password reset that enables end users to reset forgotten passwords without calling your help desk.
  • Delegated group management that enables end users to create security groups and manage membership in security groups they own.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication that lets you easily deploy a Multi-Factor Authentication solution for your business without deploying new software or hardware.
  • Customized branding that lets you include your organization’s branding elements in the experiences that users see when signing in to AD or accessing their Access Panel.
  • Reporting, alerting, and analytics that increase your visibility into application usage in your organization, and potential security concerns with user accounts.

Azure AD Premium also includes usage rights for Forefront Identity Manager Server and Client Access Licenses.

To read more about AD Premium, including how to acquire it, read the Active Directory Team blog.

Active Directory: Public Preview of Azure Rights Management Service

Earlier this month we announced the public preview of the ability to manage your Azure Rights Management service within the Azure Management Portal. If your organization has Azure Rights Management either as a stand-alone service or as part of your Office 365 or EMS subscriptions you can now manage it by signing into the Azure Management Portal. Once in the Portal, select ACTIVE DIRECTORY in the left navigation bar, navigate to the RIGHTS MANAGEMENT tab, then click on the name of your directory.

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With this preview you can now create custom rights policy templates that let you define who can access sensitive documents, and what permissions (view, edit, save, print, and more) users can have on those documents.  To begin creating a rights policy template, in the Quick Start page, click on Create an additional rights policy template option and follow the instructions on the page to define a name and description for the template, add users and rights and define other restrictions.

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Once your template has been created and published, it will become available to users in your organization in their favorite applications.

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To learn more managing Azure Rights Management and the benefits it offers to organizations, see the Information Protection group’s blog

Scheduler: General Availability Release Scheduler Service

This month we’ve also delivered the General Availability release of the Azure Scheduler service.  Scheduler allows you to run jobs on simple or complex recurring schedules that can invoke HTTP/S endpoints or post messages to storage queues. Scheduler has built-in high availability and can reliably call services inside or outside of Azure.

During preview customers have used it for a wide set of scenarios including for invoking services in their backend for Hadoop workloads, triggering diagnostics cleanup, and periodically checking that partners have submitted content on time. ISVs have used it to empower their applications to add scheduling capabilities such as report generation and sending reminders.

In the Scheduler portal extension you can easily create and manage your scheduler jobs. Since the initial release, Scheduler has also added the ability to update HTTP jobs with custom headers and basic authentication. It has also exposed the ability to change the recurrence schedule which will allow you to also choose to limit the execution of a job or allow the job to run infinitely.

With the general availability, new Azure Scheduler cmdlets have been released with Azure PowerShell and the Scheduler .NET API has been included in WAML 1.0.

I highly encourage you to try out the Scheduler today. You might find the following links helpful:

It makes scheduling recurring tasks really easy.

Automation: Announcing Microsoft Azure Automation Preview

Last week we announced the preview of a new Microsoft Azure service: Automation.

Automation allows you to automate the creation, deployment, monitoring, and maintenance of resources in your Azure environment using a highly scalable and reliable workflow execution engine. The service can be used to orchestrate the time-consuming, error-prone, and frequently repeated tasks you’d otherwise accomplish manually across Microsoft Azure and third-party systems to decrease operational expense for your cloud operations.

To get started with Automation, you first need to sign-up for the preview on the Azure Preview page. Once you have been approved for the preview, you can sign in to the Management Portal and start using it. Automation is currently only available in the East-US data center, but we will add the ability to deploy to additional data centers in the future.

Authoring a Runbook

Once you have the Automation preview enabled on your subscription, you can easily get started automating by following a few simple steps:

Step 1: In the Microsoft Azure management portal, click New->App Services->Automation->Runbook->Quick Create to create a new runbook. Runbooks are collections of activities that provide an environment for automating everything from diagnostic logging to applying updates to all instances of a virtual machine or web role to renewing certificates to cleaning storage accounts. Enter a name and description for the runbook, and create a new Automation account which will store your Runbooks, Assets, and Jobs.

Next time you create a runbook you can either use the same Automation account as you just created or create a separate one to if you’d like to maintain separation between a few different collections of runbooks / assets.

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Step 2: Click on your runbook, then click Author->Draft. Type some PowerShell commands in the editor, then hit ‘Publish’ to make this runbook draft available for production execution.

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Starting a Runbook and Viewing the Job

1. To start the runbook you just published, go back to the ‘Runbooks’ tab, click on your newly-published runbook, and hit ‘Start.’ Enter any required parameters for the runbook, then click the checkmark button.

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2. Click on your runbook, then click on the ‘Jobs’ tab for this runbook. Here you can view all the instances of a runbook that have run, called jobs. You should see the job you just started.

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3. Click on the job you just started to view more details about its execution. Here you can see the job output, as well as any exceptions that may have occurred while the job was executing.

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Once you get familiar with the service, you’ll be able to create more sophisticated runbooks to automate your scenarios. I encourage you to try out Microsoft Azure Automation today.

For more information, click through the following links:

Summary

This most recent release of Azure includes a bunch of great features that enable you to build even better cloud solutions.  If you don’t already have a Azure account, you can sign-up for a free trial and start using all of the above features today.  Then visit the Azure Developer Center to learn more about how to build apps with it.

Hope this helps,

Scott

P.S. In addition to blogging, I am also now using Twitter for quick updates and to share links. Follow me at: twitter.com/scottgu

Categories: Architecture, Programming

Test Automation Framework Architecture

Making the Complex Simple - John Sonmez - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 16:00

Test automation framework architecture efforts are often complete failures. It’s true. I’ve worked with many companies who have given up on creating a good test automation framework architecture, because after investing a large amount of time and money and resources in doing it the wrong way, they have incorrectly assumed the entire effort is not […]

The post Test Automation Framework Architecture appeared first on Simple Programmer.

Categories: Programming

Why Have a Strategy?

To be able to change it.

Brilliant pithy advice from Professor Jason Davis’ class,Technology Strategy (MIT’s OpenCourseWare.)

Categories: Architecture, Programming

Neo4j 2.0.0: Query not prepared correctly / Type mismatch: expected Map

Mark Needham - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 18:40

I was playing around with Neo4j’s Cypher last weekend and found myself accidentally running some queries against an earlier version of the Neo4j 2.0 series (2.0.0).

My first query started with a map and I wanted to create a person from an identifier inside the map:

WITH {person: {id: 1}} AS params
MERGE (p:Person {id: params.person.id})
RETURN p

When I ran the query I got this error:

==> SyntaxException: Type mismatch: expected Map but was Boolean, Number, String or Collection<Any> (line 1, column 62)
==> "WITH {person: {id: 1}} AS params MERGE (p:Person {id: params.person.id}) RETURN p"

If we try the same query in 2.0.1 it works as we’d expect:

==> +---------------+
==> | p             |
==> +---------------+
==> | Node[1]{id:} |
==> +---------------+
==> 1 row
==> Nodes created: 1
==> Properties set: 1
==> Labels added: 1
==> 47 ms

My next query was the following which links topics of interest to a person:

WITH {topics: [{name: "Java"}, {name: "Neo4j"}]} AS params
MERGE (p:Person {id: 2})
FOREACH(t IN params.topics | 
  MERGE (topic:Topic {name: t.name})
  MERGE (p)-[:INTERESTED_IN]->(topic)
)
RETURN p

In 2.0.0 that query fails like so:

==> InternalException: Query not prepared correctly!

but if we try it in 2.0.1 we’ll see that it works as well:

==> +---------------+
==> | p             |
==> +---------------+
==> | Node[4]{id:2} |
==> +---------------+
==> 1 row
==> Nodes created: 1
==> Relationships created: 2
==> Properties set: 1
==> Labels added: 1
==> 53 ms

So if you’re seeing either of those errors then get yourself upgraded to 2.0.1 as well!

Categories: Programming

Social Intelligence and 95 Articles to Give You an Unfair Advantage

Social Intelligence is hot.

I added a new category at Sources of Insight to put the power of Social Intelligence at your fingertips:

Social Intelligence

(Note that you can get to Social Intelligence from the menu under “More Topics …”)

I wanted a simple category to capture and consolidate the wealth of insights around interpersonal communication, relationships, conflict, influence, negotiation, and more.   There are 95 articles in this category, and growing, and it includes everything from forging friendships to dealing with people you can’t stand, to building better relationships with your boss.

According to Wikipedia, “Social intelligence is the capacity to effectively negotiate complex social relationships and environments.”

There's a great book on Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman:

Social Intelligence, The New Science of Human Relationships

According to Goleman, “We are constantly engaged in a ‘neural ballet’ that connects our brain to the brains with those around us.”

Goleman says:

“Our reactions to others, and theirs to us, have a far-reaching biological impact, sending out cascades of hormones that regulate everything from our hearts to our immune systems, making good relationships act like vitamins—and bad relationships like poisons. We can ‘catch’ other people’s emotions the way we catch a cold, and the consequences of isolation or relentless social stress can be life-shortening. Goleman explains the surprising accuracy of first impressions, the basis of charisma and emotional power, the complexity of sexual attraction, and how we detect lies. He describes the ‘dark side’ of social intelligence, from narcissism to Machiavellianism and psychopathy. He also reveals our astonishing capacity for ‘mindsight,’ as well as the tragedy of those, like autistic children, whose mindsight is impaired.”

According to the Leadership Lab for Corporate Social Innovation, by Dr. Claus Otto Scharmer  (MIT OpenCourseware), there is a relational shift:

The Rise of the Network Society

And, of course, Social is taking off as a hot technology in the Enterprise arena.  It’s changing the game, and changing how people innovate, communicate, and collaborate in a comprehensive collaboration sort of way.

Here is a sampling of some of my Social Intelligence articles to get you started:

5 Conversations to Have with Your Boss
6 Styles Under Stress
10 Types of Difficult People
Antiheckler Technique
Ask, Mirror, Paraphrase and Prime
Cooperative Controversy Over Competitive Controversy
Coping with Power-Clutchers, Paranoids and Perfectionists
Dealing with People You Can't Stand
Expectation Management
How To Consistently Build a Winning Team
How To Deal With Criticism
How Do You Choose a Friend?
How To Repair a Broken Work Relationship
Mutual Purpose
Superordinate Goals
The Lens of Human Understanding
The Politically Competent Leader, The Political Analyst, and the Consensus Builder
Work on Me First

If you really want to dive in here, you can brows the full collection at:

Social Intelligence

Enjoy, and may the power of Social Intelligence be with you.

Categories: Architecture, Programming

Google Play services 4.3

Android Developers Blog - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 00:08
gps

Google Play services 4.3 has now been rolled out to the world, and it contains a number of features you can use to improve your apps. Specifically, this version adds some new members to the Google Play services family: Google Analytics API, Tag Manager, and the Address API. We’ve also made some great enhancements to the existing APIs; everything to make sure you stay on top of the app game out there.

Here are the highlights of the 4.3 release.


Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager

The Analytics API and Google Tag Manager has existed for Android for some time as standalone technologies, but with this release we are incorporating them as first class citizens in Google Play services. Those of you that are used to the API will find it very similar to previous versions, and if you have not used it before we strongly encourage you to take a look at it.

Google Analytics allows you to get detailed statistics on how you app is being used by your users, for example what functionality of your app is being used the most, or which activity triggers users to convert from an advertised version of an app to paid one. Google Tag Manager lets you change characteristics of your app on-the-fly, for example colors, without having to push an update from Google Play.


Google Play Games services Update

The furious speed of innovation in Android mobile gaming has not slowed down and neither have we when it comes to packing the Google Play Game services API with features.

With this release, we are introducing game gifts, which allows players to send virtual in-game requests to anyone in their Google+ circles or through player search. Using this feature, the player can send a 'wish' request to ask another player for an in-game item or benefit, or a 'gift' request to grant an item or benefit to another player.

This is a great way for a game to be more engaging by increasing cross player collaboration and social connections. We are therefore glad to add this functionality as an inherent part of the Games API, it is an much-wanted extension to the multi-player functionality included a couple of releases ago. For more information, see: Unlocking the power of Google for your games.


Drive API

The Google Drive for Android API was just recently added as a member of the Google Play services API family. This release adds a number of important features:

  • Pinning - You can now pin files that should be kept up to date locally, ensuring that it is available when the user is offline. This is great for users that need to use your app with limited or no connectivity
  • App Folders - An app often needs to create files which are not visible to the user, for example to store temporary files in a photo editor. This can now be done using App Folders, a feature is analogous to Application Data Folders in the Google Drive API
  • Change Notifications - You can now register a callback to receive notifications when a file or folder is changed. This mean you no longer need to query Drive continuously to check if the data has changed, just put a change notification on it

In addition to the above, we've also added the ability to access a number of new metadata fields.


Address API

This release will also includes a new Address API, which allows developers to request access to addresses for example to fill out a delivery address form. The kicker is the convenience for the user; a user interface component is presented where they select the desired address, and bang, the entire form is filled out. Developers have been relying on Location data which works very well, but this API shall cater for cases where the Location data is either not accurate or the user actually wants to use a different address than their current physical location. This should sound great to anyone who has done any online shopping during the last decade or so.

That’s it for this time. Now go to work and incorporate these new features to make your apps even better!
And stay tuned for future updates.

For the release video, please see:
DevBytes: Google Play Services 4.3

For details on the APIs, please see:
Google Analytics
Google Tag Manager
Google Play Games services Gifts
Google Drive Android API - Change Events
Google Drive Android API - Pinning
Google Drive Android API - App Folder
Address API







Join the discussion on
+Android Developers


















The latest release of Google Play services has begun rolling out to Android devices worldwide. It includes the full release of the Google Cast SDK, for developing and publishing Google Cast-ready apps.

Once the rollout is complete, you'll be able to download the Google Play services SDK using the SDK Manager and get started with the new APIs. Watch for more information coming soon.

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Categories: Programming

The Industry Life Cycle

I’m a fan of simple models that help you see things you might otherwise miss, or that help explain how things work, or that simply show you a good lens for looking at the world around you.

Here’s a simple Industry Life Cycle model that I found in Professor Jason Davis’ class, Technology Strategy (MIT’s OpenCourseWare.)

image

It’s a simple backdrop and that’s good.  It’s good because there is a lot of complexity in the transitions, and there are may big ideas that all build on top of this simple frame.

Sometimes the most important thing to do with a model is to use it as a map.

What stage is your industry in?

Categories: Architecture, Programming

Get Up And Code 049: Overcoming Your Fear of Failure

Making the Complex Simple - John Sonmez - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 15:00

Failure is not something to be feared. Instead, you should fully embrace it and recognize it as the only way to reach long term success. In this episode, I talk about failure and why you need to learn to overcome it. Full transcript below: show John:               Hey, everyone.  Welcome back to Get Up and CODE.  […]

The post Get Up And Code 049: Overcoming Your Fear of Failure appeared first on Simple Programmer.

Categories: Programming

An Architecture Aware VsVars.ps1

DevHawk - Harry Pierson - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 02:28

Like many in the Microsoft dev community, I’m a heavy user of Visual Studio and Powershell. And so, of course, I’ve been a heavy user Chris Tavares’ vsvars32.ps1 script. However, recently I needed the ability to specify my desired processor architecture when setting up a VS command line session. Unfortunately, Chris’s script wraps vsvars32.bat which only supports generating 32-bit apps. Luckily, VC++ includes a vcvarsall.bat script that let’s you specify processor architecture. So I updated my local copy of vsvars.ps1 to use vcvarsall.bat under the hood and added an -x64 switch to enable setting up a 64-bit command line environment. Vcvarsall.bat supports a variety of additional options, but 64-bit support is all I needed so that’s all I added. I didn’t change the name of the script because there’s WAY too much muscle memory associated with typing “vsvars” to bother changing that now.

If you want it, you can get my architecture aware version of vsvars.ps1 from my OneDrive here: http://1drv.ms/1kf8g9I.

Categories: Architecture, Programming

Brokered Component Wake On Callback Demo Video

DevHawk - Harry Pierson - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 23:43

As you might imagine, I had a pretty amazing time @ Build. The only thing that went wrong all week was when one of my demos in my session failed. It’s was pretty cool demo – the brokered WinRT component fires an event which wakes up a suspended WinRT app for a few seconds to process the event. However, I had shut off toast notifications on my machine, which messed up the demo. So here, for your enjoyment, is a short 3 minute video of the working demo.

Categories: Architecture, Programming

New user and sequence based segments in the Core Reporting API

Google Code Blog - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 18:40
Author PhotoBy Nick Mihailovksi, Product Manager, Google Analytics API Team

Cross-posted from the Google Analytics Blog

Segmentation is one of the most powerful analysis techniques in Google Analytics. It's core to understanding your users, and allows you to make better marketing decisions. Using segmentation, you can uncover new insights such as:
  • How loyalty impacts content consumption
  • How search terms vary by region
  • How conversion rates differ across demographics
Last year, we announced a new version of segments that included a number of new features.
Today, we've added this powerful functionality to the Google Analytics Core Reporting API. Here's an overview of the new capabilities we added:
User SegmentationPreviously, advanced segments were solely based on sessions. With the new functionality in the API, you can now define user-based segments to answer questions like "How many users had more than $1,000 in revenue across all transactions in the date range?"

Example: &segment=users::condition::ga:transactionRevenue>1000
Try it in the Query Explorer.

Sequence-based SegmentsSequence-based segments provide an easy way to segment users based on a series of interactions. With the API, you can now define segments to answer questions like "How many users started at page 1, then later, in a different session, made a transaction?"
Example: segment=users::sequence::ga:pagePath==/shop/search;->>perHit::ga:transactionRevenue>10

Try it in the Query Explorer.
New OperatorsTo simplify building segments, we added a bunch of new operators to simplify filtering on dimensions whose values are numbers, and limiting metric values within ranges. Additionally, we updated segment definitions in the Management API segments collection.
Partner SolutionsPadicode, one of our Google Analytics Technology Partners, used the new sequence-based segments API feature in their funnel analysis product they call PadiTrack.
PadiTrack allows Google Analytics customers to create ad-hoc funnels to identify user flow bottlenecks. By fixing these bottlenecks, customers can improve performance, and increase overall conversion rate.
The tool is easy to use and allows customers to define an ad-hoc sequence of steps. The tool uses the Google Analytics API to report how many users completed, or abandoned, each step.
paditrack-horizontal-funnel.jpg
Funnel Analysis Report in PadiTrack
According to Claudiu Murariu, founder of Padicode, "For us, the new API has opened the gates for advanced reporting outside the Google Analytics interface. The ability to be able to do a quick query and find out how many people added a product to the shopping cart and at a later time purchased the products, allows managers, analysts and marketers to easily understand completion and abandonment rates. Now, analysis is about people and not abstract terms such as visits."
The PadiTrack conversion funnel analysis tool is free to use. Learn more about PadiTrack on their website.
Resources
We're looking forward to seeing what people build using this powerful new functionality.
Nick is the Lead Product Manager for Core Google Analytics, including the Google Analytics APIs. Nick loves and eats data for lunch, and in his spare time he likes to travel around the world.

Posted by Louis Gray, Googler
Categories: Programming

Why You Need To Start Writing

Making the Complex Simple - John Sonmez - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 16:00

I used to hate writing. It always felt like such a strain to put my ideas on paper or in a document. Why not just say what I thought? In this video, I’ll tell you why I changed my mind about writing and why I think writing is one of the best things you can […]

The post Why You Need To Start Writing appeared first on Simple Programmer.

Categories: Programming

Build a map infographic with Google Maps & JavaScript

Google Code Blog - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 18:30
Cross-posted from the Geo Developers Blog

By Mark McDonald, Google GeoDevelopers Team

We recently announced the launch of the data layer in the Google Maps JavaScript API, including support for GeoJSON and declarative styling.  Today we’d like to share a technical overview explaining how you can create great looking data visualizations using Google Maps.

Here’s our end goal. Click through to interact with the live version.
Data provided by the Census Bureau Data API but is not endorsed or certified by the Census Bureau. The map loads data from two sources: the shape outlines (polygons) are loaded from a public Google Maps Engine table and we query the US Census API for the population data.  You can use the controls above the map to select a category of data to display (the "census variable"). The display is then updated to show a choropleth map shading the various US regions in proportion to the values recorded in the census.How it worksWhen the map loads, it first queries the Google Maps Engine API to retrieve the polygons defining the US state boundaries and render them using the loadGeoJson method. The controls on the map are used to select a data source and then execute a query against the US Census Data API for the specified variable.  
Note: At the time of writing, the data layer and functions described here require you to use the experimental (3.exp) version of the Maps API.Loading polygons from Maps EngineThe Maps Engine API's Table.Features list method returns resources in GeoJSON format so the API response can be loaded directly using loadGeoJson. For more information on how to use Maps Engine to read public data tables, check out the developer guide.
The only trick in the code below is setting the idPropertyName for the data that is loaded. When we load the census data we'll need a way to connect it with the Maps Engine data based on some common key. In this case we're using the 'STATE' property.
Importing data from the US Census APIThe US Census Bureau provides an API for querying data in a number of ways. This post will not describe the Census API, other than to say that the data is returned in JSON format. We use the state ID, provided in the 2nd column, to look up the existing state data (using the lookupId method of google.maps.Data) and update with the census data (using the setProperty method of google.maps.Data)
Styling the dataData can be styled through the use of a Data.StyleOptions object or through a function that returns a Data.StyleOptions object. Here we create a choropleth map by applying a gradient to each polygon in the dataset based on the value in the census data.In addition to the coloring, we've created an interactive element by adding events that respond to mouse activity. When you hover your mouse cursor (or finger) over a region with data, the border becomes heavier and the data card is updated with the selected value.
We’ve also used a custom basemap style in this example to provide some contrast to the colorful data. 
Check out Google Maps Engine if you need somewhere to store your geospatial data in the cloud, as we’ve done here. If you have any questions on using these features, check out the docs for the data layer and the Maps Engine API or head over to Stack Overflow and ask there. You can also check out this article’s permanent home, where the interactive version lives.

Posted by Louis Gray, Googler
Categories: Programming

Dart improves async and server-side performance

Google Code Blog - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 17:40
Cross-posted from the Chromium Blog

By Anders Johnsen, Google Chrome Team

Today's release of the Dart SDK version 1.3 includes a 2x performance improvement for asynchronous Dart code combined with server-side I/O operations. This puts Dart in the same league as popular server-side runtimes and allows you to build high-performance server-side Dart VM apps.

We measured request-per-second improvements using three simple HTTP benchmarks: Hello, File, and JSON. Hello, which improved by 130%, provides a measure for how many basic connections an HTTP server can handle, by simply measuring an HTTP server responding with a fixed string. The File benchmark, which simulates the server accessing and serving static content, improved by nearly 30%. Finally, as a proxy for performance of REST apps, the JSON benchmark nearly doubled in throughput. In addition to great performance, another benefit of using Dart on the server is that it allows you to use the same language and libraries on both the client and server, reducing mental context switches and improving code reuse.

The data for the chart above was collected on a Ubuntu 12.04.4 LTS machine with 8GB RAM and a Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-2400 CPU, running a single-isolate server on Dart VM version 1.1.3, 1.2.0 and 1.3.0-dev.7.5.
The source for the benchmarks is available.
We are excited about these initial results, and we anticipate continued improvements for server-side Dart VM apps. If you're interested in learning how to build a web server with Dart, check out the new Write HTTP Clients and Servers tutorial and explore the programmer's guide to command-line apps with Dart. We hope to see what you build in our Dartisans G+ community.

Anders Johnsen is a software engineer on the Chrome team, working in the Aarhus, Denmark office. He helps Dart run in the cloud.

Posted by Louis Gray, Googler
Categories: Programming