I’ve Got a Cheat Sheet to Help Migrate Your Win32 Apps

New York

There’s a cheat sheet to rapidly and cheaply migrate Win32 desktop apps to touchable Windows laptops, convertibles and tablets.

If your Win32 migration path happens to take you to new, touchable PC hardware running more recent versions of Windows, I have a nice shortcut for you. One of the great hallmarks of Windows over the years is the notion of long-term, backwards compatibility so that customers can continue to use their apps through successive versions of the operating system. This is why your Visual Basic 6 app “just works” on Windows 10. This is good news and is why global business still runs on Windows. In our mobile-first world, you should be looking to make those Win32 apps less dependent on a mouse and keyboard by pivoting toward touch-first interaction. If you don’t have the time, money or resources to rewrite those apps for the new Windows Runtime, I have a book for you titled, “Keeping Windows 8 Tablets in Sync with SQL Server 2012.”

The strategy of this book allows you to keep using your existing codebase while making some easy changes to the UI. If you want to give your users an immersive experience, there are a number of screen elements you can modify or eliminate that will do the trick. It’s also important to dramatically increase the size of the fonts and every UI and navigation element so they’re touchable and readable from any angle. This is such a big topic that I wrote whole a book on the subject. Go check out this book on Amazon if this scenario applies to you.

Improve user productivity and reduce company expenses by migrating to modern Windows platforms through simple UI modifications to existing apps that leave business logic intact. How quickly is your company migrating it’s legacy apps from the 90s?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”Book Cover

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Convert Your Confusing Win32 Apps to Touch First Mobile Apps

Philadephia

Migrate confusing Win32 apps with tiny controls to touch first mobile apps with large fonts and UI elements while including gesture support and proper spacing.

The advent of a mouse connected to every computer gave users a pixel-precision pointing device. Coupled with ever-growing computer monitors and higher resolution screens, UI elements got smaller and smaller. This wasn’t a problem until mobile devices with their small screens became popular. The developers that crammed lots of small buttons and data grids on big PC screens brought those bad UI habits to mobile.

At first, these new mobile developers got away with it because personal digital assistants (PDAs) like the Palm, Handspring, Zaurus and Pocket PC used a stylus with plastic, resistive touch screens. Until the touchable iPhone was released in 2007, many smartphones used a stylus as a replacement for the mouse’s precision pointing. This facilitated tiny, touchable UI elements that were hard to see.

When developing today’s mobile apps (native + web), touchable UI elements like buttons must be finger-friendly and at least 44 x 44 pixels in size. To prevent the “fat-finger” problem, they must also be at least 20 pixels apart from each other. This will vary based on screen size and pixel density. Implementing responsive design principles is also a must. UI elements must scale smoothly to different smartphone and tablet screen sizes and support gestures like swiping. They must also reorient themselves when a device shifts between portrait and landscape and implement “hamburger” menus to conserve screen space.

Improve user productivity by creating touchable apps that are easy to use to get employees up and running while reducing training requirements and expenses. What is your organization doing to improve app productivity?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

Book Cover

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Reduce Business Risk by Deploying EMM Solutions with Conditional Access Capabilities

Chicago

EMM solutions that deliver conditional access to desired services like email, storage and cloud services motivate BYOD users to enroll.

Let’s face it, your BYOD employees aren’t too thrilled about installing an EMM app, agent or container on their device. It feels like an intrusion on one of your most personal possessions and breeds mistrust. That said, the BYOD world is all about gives and gets. Unless your company enforces a corporate-liable policy and buys every employee a smartphone, a compromise must be made to ensure the security of corporate data. This is where the use of the carrot comes into play.

While the BYOD trend was initially about allowing employees to use their mobile devices for work, the trend has shifted. Now you encourage your employees to use their devices because it makes them more productive anywhere, anytime. Whether your company is just allowing or actually encouraging employees to use their devices for work, you have to overcome the “hassle factor” and suspicions of company spying that deters them from EMM enrollment.

First, your Mobile COE must perform exhaustive due diligence to select the most unobtrusive EMM package available with the fewest steps to install that still meets your company’s needs. Next, this system must prohibit access to the systems, apps and data employees want most until they enroll. Some packages even limit access via MAM functionality. Anyway, if you want email, you have to enroll. If you want to access SharePoint, you have to enroll. You get the idea. Gives and gets.

Reduce risk to your business by restricting corporate system access to only those devices enrolled in an EMM solution. What is your company doing to prevent unmanaged devices from accessing sensitive data?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

Book Cover

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Reduce Business Risk by Enforcing Security Policies on Data with Digital Rights Management

Denver

To enforce data security policies directly, get an EMM solution with digital rights management to protect data where it flows & rests.

So far, our EMM journey to secure corporate data has dealt with the issue by broadly securing the entire device via MDM or more narrowly securing the apps that deliver the data using various MAM techniques. The application of security can get narrower still.

The use of digital rights management (DRM) allows IT departments to apply policies directly to documents keeping data secure no matter where it flows or resides. Sometimes DRM is clumped-in with the broader mobile content management (MCM) component of EMM. This security applied directly to data is an effective method of DLP using a combination of enterprise directory services, encryption, user identity along with server and client software to keep information in sensitive files from being viewed by the wrong people or systems.

Imagine the scenario where a confidential business document is uploaded to an Internet file sharing provider or emailed to a competitor. Traditional corporate security mechanisms like firewalls or file server access controls lists won’t save you in this situation. If DRM encryption and security policies were previously applied to this document, it would be unreadable by anyone who tried to open it. This is arguably the most difficult of the EMM security components so not many vendors will offer this.

Reduce risk to your organization by keeping sensitive data secure no matter where it travels or where it rests. What is your company doing to protect its critical data?

Learn how to digitally transform your company in my newest book, “Mobile Strategies for Business: 50 Actionable Insights to Digitally Transform your Business.”

Book Cover

Click to purchase a copy of my book today and start transforming your business!

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Enterprise Mobility for 2015 and Beyond

iPhone 6

This last year was full of spectacular moments as mobility continued to consume the world.

We now have almost three billion people online and most of that number is due to smartphones. Mobile apps eclipsed the web as the place people spend more of their time and an estimated 80% of adults will be using a smartphone by 2020. Since the best way to review the most important mobile events of 2014 is through a long, run-on sentence, take a breath and dive in:

Microsoft acquired Nokia, tablet growth slowed, VMware acquired AirWatch, mobile games outsold mobile apps, MobileIron went public, Apple shipped a phablet, Good acquired BoxTone, Gartner’s MDM Magic Quadrant became their EMM Magic Quadrant, Xiaomi ate everyone’s lunch in China, IBM and Apple got together to build business apps, Microsoft brought Office to the iPad, MEAP vanished while MBaaS appeared, Apple launched a Swift way to Pay, HTML5 became a recommendation, Android dominated market share, Apple dominated revenue and the Internet of Things won the hype award. Whew!

With the ‘Year in Review’ out of the way, let’s talk about the things that will make the most impact in the enterprise mobility space in 2015. Expect the ‘Bring Your Own App’ (BYOA) trend to hit a speed bump by corporate mobile centers of excellence that require enterprise mobile apps to meet security standards around authentication, data at rest and data in transit. Mobile developers need to up their game to break into the enterprise. Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) companies will continue their move from Mobile Device Management (MDM) to Mobile Application Management (MAM) to data protection and on to Identity and Access Management (IAM). The goalposts will always be moving in this space.

In the smartphone space, low-cost devices will continue to garner the most market share. Remember, once you leave the world of subsidized phone plans, economics takes over. The trick for enterprises looking to use them in corporate-liable scenarios is to ensure the mobile operating system meets security and manageability needs while performing well on low-end hardware.

With millions of Win32 apps currently running most global businesses, large investments will be made in moving these apps to modern, sandboxed, mobile operating systems. Unlike many of the large, monolithic desktop apps built for Windows over the last two decades, mobile apps focus on specific tasks. This means for every Win32 app, multiple mobile apps will be built. Additionally, they will take advantage of device sensors to provide employees with better contextual experiences.

With the back end systems of most enterprises unable to speak the language of mobile devices, let alone support their performance and scalability requirements, upgrading these on-premises systems or moving them to the cloud represents another large investment companies will be making. Some companies will wrap their existing systems in REST/JSON APIs; others will connect them to MBaaS offerings, while others purchase new vertically-integrated mobile packages.

Rapidly shrinking wireless and sensor-enabled chipsets with low power consumption have given rise to the Internet of Things (IoT) with IPv6 ensuring there are enough addresses to go around. When combined with things like streaming analytics, machine learning and cloud scale, this descendant of SCADA and M2M is going to help companies unlock insights that lead to cost savings and new revenue opportunities.

In the end, the promise of personal computing is being realized via small, portable, sensor-filled, picture-taking, supercomputing, payment processing, low-powered communication devices that connect the citizens of the world and that’s a good thing.

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Microsoft Office is Now Available for the iPad

Today we made the highly anticipated move to bring Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint to the Apple iPad.

All three products can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store and used to view existing documents.  Via an in-app purchase mechanism, iPad users can unlock the full functionality of the products by subscribing to Office 365 for $99 per year.

Word

Word for iPad

PowerPoint

PowerPoint for iPad

Take it for a spin.

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

CTO Replaces his Laptop and iPad with a Surface Pro

Kindle

This Chief Technology Officer wants to be productive with his tablet.

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

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SQLite for Windows and Windows Phone: Installation

SQLite

SQLite WinRT empowers Windows and Windows Phone developers to build mobile enterprise apps using Windows Runtime (WinRT) APIs to work with the world’s most popular mobile database.

SQLite advantages include cross-platform (OS + Processor) support, speed, ACID reliability, and support for indexes, views, foreign keys, and triggers.  Developers of SQLite apps on iPhones, iPads and Android devices will feel right at home programming against the SQLite WinRT APIs since they provide just a thin layer around familiar SQLite functions.

To get started with the installation, you need to get the SQLite Extension SDK downloaded and working with Visual Studio.  From within Visual Studio, go to the menu and select Tools | Extensions and Updates.  From the dialog that appears, expand the Online tree view node on the left and then type SQLite in the search box on the right and hit enter.  You’ll be shown a list of search results as shown in the figure below:

ExtensionAndUpdates

Click Download for both SQLite for Windows Runtime and SQLite for Windows Phone so you’ll be ready to develop across all platforms.  The VSIX Installer dialog will pop up during both downloads and you’ll need to click Install for each.  Click the Restart Now button at the bottom of the dialog so that the changes will take effect.  This gets the SQLite3.dll native library installed and Visual Studio will notify you whenever future updates are available.  Keep in mind that future versions will prevent your existing Visual Studio projects from opening due to file path changes because of new version numbers.  You simply need to update the reference in your project file each time you choose to work with newer versions of SQLite.

The next step in the installation process is to download the SQLite WinRT source code from http://sqlwinrt.codeplex.com/.  On the CodePlex site, click the Source Code tab, and then click the Download icon to download the zip file.  When you extract the zip file, you’ll see a Visual Studio solution with a project for Windows and another project for Windows Phone.

Windows Phone

Create a new Windows Phone App project in Visual Studio and target Windows Phone 8.0.  Once the empty project has opened, go to the Solution Explorer and right click on the Solution then select Add | Existing Project.  When the file dialog pops up, navigate to the SQLiteWinRTPhone folder within the extracted files you downloaded and select SQLiteWinRTPhone.vcxproj to add the project to your solution.  From the Phone solution, right click on References and select Add Reference.  In the Reference Manager dialog, expand the Solution node on the left to show Projects.  Check the checkbox for SQLiteWinRTPhone and click OK.  Save and rebuild the solution to ensure everything installed properly and then you’re ready to go.

Windows

Create a new Windows Store App project in Visual Studio.  Once the empty project has opened, go to the Solution Explorer and right click on the Solution then select Add | Existing Project.  When the file dialog pops up, navigate to the SQLiteWinRT folder within the extracted files you downloaded and select SQLiteWinRT.vcxproj to add the project to your solution.  From the Windows Store solution, right click on References and select Add Reference.  In the Reference Manager dialog, expand the Solution node on the left to show Projects.  Check the checkbox for SQLiteWinRT and click OK.  Save and rebuild the solution to ensure everything installed properly and you’re all set.

With the installation steps complete, you’re now ready to begin developing apps for Windows Phones, Tablets, Laptops, and Desktops.  In my next SQLite article I’ll get you started with basic Data Definition Language (DDL) tasks.

– Rob

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

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Keeping Windows 8 Tablets in Sync with SQL Server 2012

Windows 8 Book Front

I’m pleased to announce that my newest book, “Keeping Windows 8 Tablets in Sync with SQL Server 2012,” is now available for sale.

Spending a decade travelling the globe to help the world’s largest companies design and build mobile solutions had taught me a few things.  Large organizations are not interested in constantly running on the new technology hamster wheel.  They prefer to leverage existing investments, skills, and technologies rather than always chasing the next big thing.  Don’t believe me?  Take mobile and the cloud for example:

  • In 2003 I was building Pocket PC solutions for large companies that wirelessly connected apps on those devices to SAP.  I assumed mobile was going mainstream that year.  I was wrong.  I was early.  Mobile apps wouldn’t explode until the end of the decade with the iPhone 3G.
  • In 2004, my partner Darren Flatt and I launched the first cloud-based mobile device management (MDM) company to facilitate software distribution and policy enforcement on early smartphones and handhelds.  Early again.  MDM didn’t get big until the end of the decade.
  • At PDC in 2008, my company launched our cloud offering called Azure.  We skipped directly to the developer Nirvana called Platform as a Service (PaaS).  I spent a few years doing nothing but speaking and writing about Windows Phones communicating with Web Roles.  Turns outs companies wanted to take smaller steps to the cloud by uploading their existing servers as VMs.

Being early over and over again taught me how the real world of business operates outside of Redmond and Silicon Valley.  Businesses need to make money doing what they do best.  Where appropriate, they will use technology to help them improve their processes and give them a competitive advantage.  So let’s cut to the chase and talk about why I wrote my new book:

  • Tablets and Smartphones are taking over the world of business and outselling laptops and desktops.  This is a well-known fact and not speculation on my part.
  • There are 1.3 billion Windows laptops, tablets, and desktops being used all over the world.  Windows 7 is in first place with Windows XP in second.
  • Companies run their businesses on Microsoft Office combined with tens of millions of Win32 apps they created internally over the last 2 decades.  Intranet-based web apps also became a huge force starting in the late 90s.
  • Tools like Visual Basic, Access, PowerBuilder, Java, and Delphi made it easy to rapidly build those Win32 line of business apps in the 90s and helped ensure the success of Windows in the enterprise.
  • Many of those developers moved to VB and C# in the 2000s to build .NET Windows Forms (WinForms) apps that leveraged their existing Visual Basic skills from the 90s.
  • Some businesses built Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) infrastructures of Web Services based on SOAP and XML over the last decade in order to connect mobile devices to their servers.  Most business did not, and instead opted for out-of-the-box solutions that didn’t require them to write a lot of code so they could get to market faster.
  • While the “white collar” enterprise recently started building business apps for the iPhone and iPad, the “blue collar” enterprise has been building WinForms apps for rugged Windows Mobile devices using the .NET Compact Framework and a mobile database called SQL Server Compact for over a decade.
  • Most businesses run servers in their own data centers.  Many of them are using virtualization technologies like Hyper-V and VMware to help them create a private cloud.
  • Of the businesses that have dipped their collective toes in the public cloud for internal apps, most of them are following the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model where they upload their own servers in a VM.  Just look at the success of Amazon and the interest in Azure Infrastructure Services.

So the goal of my new book is to help businesses transition to the tablet era in a way that respects their existing investments, skills, technologies, enterprise security requirements, and appetite for risk.

Windows 8 Book Front

Since I’ve been involved in countless mobile projects where companies used the Microsoft data sync technologies already baked into SQL Server and SQL Server Compact, I decided to illustrate how to virtualize this sync infrastructure with Hyper-V.  With an eye towards existing trends that are widely embraced, this gives businesses the flexibility to use this proven technology in a private, public, or hybrid cloud.  Companies authenticate their employees against the same Active Directory they’ve used for over a decade.  I’m deadly serious about security and you’ll be glad to know the technology in this book handles it at every tier of your solution with Domain credentials plus encrypted data-at-rest and data-in-transit.  You also have the option of synchronizing mobile data with any edition of SQL Server 2005, 2008 or 2012 using Microsoft sync technologies that takes care of all data movement plumbing.  Your development team avoids writing thousands of lines of code to create web services, sync logic, change tracking, error handling, and retry logic.  With Microsoft lowering risk to your project by taking care of the server backend, security, and data sync technologies, your team can focus on building the best possible Windows 8 tablet app for the enterprise.

Speaking of tablet app development, it’s important to show you a path that doesn’t force you to learn all-new tools or programming languages, frameworks, or paradigms.  As a developer, you get to keep using Visual Studio along with the Desktop WinForms skills you’ve mastered over the last decade.  Better still, you can accomplish everything using the free version of Visual Studio 2012.  While you might be thinking Windows 8 tablet solutions must be created via Windows Store apps, this is not the case.  Instead, I show you how to apply Modern UI principles to Desktop WinForms apps that are full-screen and touch-first.  Concepts like content over chrome, use of typography, and UI elements with large hit targets are all covered in detail.  I also respect your investment in Windows 7 laptops and tablets by ensuring your touch apps are backwards compatible and keyboard + mouse/trackpad friendly.

Windows 8 Book Back

If you’re looking to build a new Windows 8 tablet app using what you have and what you know, this book is for you.  If you’re looking to port an existing Windows XP or Windows Mobile WinForm app to a Windows 8 tablet, this book empowers you with the skills to make your porting effort a successful one.

The takeaway is you don’t have to scrap your existing investments to participate in the tablet revolution.  I purposely made the book low-cost, hands-on, short, and to-the-point so you can rapidly build mobile solutions for Windows 8 tablets instead of wasting your time with theory.  Click here to take “Keeping Windows 8 Tablets in Sync with SQL Server 2012” for a spin so you can start building mobile apps for the world’s first and only enterprise-class tablet today.

Stay in Sync!

-Rob

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

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Pivoting from Rugged Windows Mobile Handhelds to Windows Tablets

Tablet App

I first noticed the phenomenon of companies with route drivers moving from ruggedized Windows Mobile handhelds to Windows tablets a few years ago.

The thinking was you could turn these folks who perform direct store delivery (DSD), pickup and delivery, and dispatched tasks into sellers and marketers. The tablet would run a bigger version of the handheld app, while also providing a vivid product catalog and perhaps even videos to show the customer at the point of activity. The Windows tablets back then were thick, heavy, and had marginal battery life that wouldn’t make it through a complete shift without charging it in the truck while driving. A lot of them followed Intel’s reference design for a healthcare-focused tablet with an integrated handle. Anyway, in spite of the shortcomings of yesterday’s Windows 7 tablets, it was a good idea. The Windows Forms apps that ran on the .NET Compact Framework were easily ported to the full .NET Framework on the tablet since the only change was the screen size. Those field employees found their app easier to use (and see) while becoming part-time upsellers.

Tablet App

Things are even better with today’s Windows 8 tablets. The world’s most popular operating system is faster, more secure, and uses less memory and fewer resources than it’s predecessors. Intel has followed suit with a system on chip (SoC) design called Clover Trail (Atom) that gives thin and light tablets better performance, x86 compatibility, and 10 hours of battery life. OEMs have combined Windows 8 and Intel’s new multicore Atom processor to create enterprise-class tablets that are thinner and lighter than the iPad. All of them support capacitive multitouch and some include a digitizer stylus. A huge opportunity has presented itself to move the .NET Compact Framework apps that most every company around the world depend on to run their business. Using Microsoft’s latest version of Visual Studio and .NET, those full screen Windows Mobile apps can be upsized to full screen Windows Forms apps designed for touch on Windows 8 tablets. Your existing UI, business logic, SQL Server Compact database, and data sync code will all make the move. Once you enlarge your font sizes as well as your touchable UI elements, you’ll be good to go for deployment. There is no faster, cheaper or lower risk way to move your existing apps to the tablet era. Contrast this with the millions you might spend porting those apps to other platforms using completely different development tools, programming languages, and technologies. Speaking of risk, there’s no guarantee that alternate tablet technologies will support your existing Bluetooth and USB peripherals like thermal printers, RS232 adapters, barcode scanners, and DEX interfaces just to name a few.

The focus of your business is to make money at whatever you’re good at. It’s not about perpetually running on the technology Hamster wheel. If you’re considering making a move from Windows Mobile or Windows Embedded Handheld devices to tablets, I’ve just laid out your fastest time to value. Oh, and don’t worry, your updated, full screen, touchable WinForms apps will work just fine with the keyboard and mouse/trackpad on your Windows 7 laptops and tablets. Sounds pretty pragmatic, doesn’t it?

If you’re ready to go deep on this sync technology to build enterprise apps that run on Windows tablets and laptops, click this link to purchase my book, “Keeping Windows 8 Tablets in Sync with SQL Server 2012.”

– Rob

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at http://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Sign Up for my Newsletter and get a FREE Chapter of “Mobile Strategies for Business!”

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