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Microsoft

Microsoft Office is Now Available for the iPad

Posted by Rob Tiffany on
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 https://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

Surface

CTO Replaces his Laptop and iPad with a Surface Pro

Posted by Rob Tiffany on
CTO Replaces his Laptop and iPad with a Surface Pro

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 https://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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Database

SQLite for Windows and Windows Phone: Installation

Posted by Rob Tiffany on
SQLite for Windows and Windows Phone: Installation

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 https://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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Windows 8

Keeping Windows 8 Tablets in Sync with SQL Server 2012

Posted by Rob Tiffany on
Keeping Windows 8 Tablets in Sync with SQL Server 2012

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 https://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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Windows 8

Pivoting from Rugged Windows Mobile Handhelds to Windows Tablets

Posted by Rob Tiffany on
Pivoting from Rugged Windows Mobile Handhelds to Windows Tablets

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 https://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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