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[Updated] How to create a pure icon button for your UWP app

[Updated: the first version of this blog post was using a UserControl. Thanks to a discussion on Twitter, I realized that wrapping it into a UserControl is overblown (yes, sometimes I tend to write more code than necessary). This is the updated version using only a Style for the button.]

When writing apps, you often come along a point where you want to style controls differently than the original style. Today, I‘ll show you a pure icon button that does not show the surrounding shape and borders. Instead, it highlights the icon of the button when hovering over it, while it changes the color to the user’s accent color when it gets pressed. Here is a little animation of what I am talking about:cromeless button demo

It all begins with the default style of the Button control, which you can see here. We are going to modify this Style until it matches the above animation. The first thing we change is the BackgroundBrush – set it to ‘Transparent’ to get rid of the grey shape that the button control comes with when hovering over it or pressing it:

<Setter Property="Background" Value="Transparent"/>

As we want an icon button, we need to choose a common source for the icons as well. I am using a Path Shape as the icon source, as it allows modifications to be done in XAML. So the next step is to add a Path shape to the Style:

                            <Path x:Name="PathIcon"
                                  Data="{TemplateBinding Content}"
                                  Stretch="Uniform"
                                  Fill="{TemplateBinding Foreground}"
                                  Stroke="Transparent"
                                  StrokeThickness="1"
                                  Margin="4"
                                  RenderTransformOrigin="0.5,0.5">
                                <Path.RenderTransform>
                                    <TransformGroup>
                                        <TransformGroup.Children>
                                            <RotateTransform Angle="0" />
                                            <ScaleTransform ScaleX="1" ScaleY="1" />
                                        </TransformGroup.Children>
                                    </TransformGroup>
                                </Path.RenderTransform>
                            </Path>

In this case, as we just want to use the icon within our button, we can safely remove the ‘ContentPresenter’ part in the Style. We have made quite some progress already, but that all does not make the control behaving like in the animation yet.

Now it is the time to modify the CommonStates of the Button’s style. Our Button uses only an icon, so we need to add the color states for the Path’s ‘Fill (=Foreground)’ to the states. Here are the modifications:

‘PointerOver’ state:

                                            <ObjectAnimationUsingKeyFrames Storyboard.TargetProperty="Fill" Storyboard.TargetName="PathIcon">
                                                <DiscreteObjectKeyFrame KeyTime="0" Value="{ThemeResource SystemControlHighlightBaseHighBrush}"/>
                                            </ObjectAnimationUsingKeyFrames>

‘Pressed’ state:

                                            <ObjectAnimationUsingKeyFrames Storyboard.TargetProperty="Fill" Storyboard.TargetName="PathIcon">
                                                <DiscreteObjectKeyFrame KeyTime="0" Value="{ThemeResource SystemControlForegroundAccentBrush}"/>
                                            </ObjectAnimationUsingKeyFrames>

‘Disabled’ state:

                                            <ObjectAnimationUsingKeyFrames Storyboard.TargetProperty="Fill" Storyboard.TargetName="PathIcon">
                                                <DiscreteObjectKeyFrame KeyTime="0" Value="{ThemeResource SystemControlDisabledBaseMediumLowBrush}"/>
                                            </ObjectAnimationUsingKeyFrames>

To get the icon’s outline highlighting, we are going to use the Path’s ‘Stroke (=Border)’ property. Add these modifications to the Style in XAML:

‘PointerOver’ state:

                                            <ObjectAnimationUsingKeyFrames Storyboard.TargetProperty="Stroke" Storyboard.TargetName="PathIcon">
                                                <DiscreteObjectKeyFrame KeyTime="0" Value="{ThemeResource SystemControlHighlightAccentBrush}"/>
                                            </ObjectAnimationUsingKeyFrames>

‘Pressed’ state:

                                            <ObjectAnimationUsingKeyFrames Storyboard.TargetProperty="Stroke" Storyboard.TargetName="PathIcon">
                                                <DiscreteObjectKeyFrame KeyTime="0" Value="Transparent"/>
                                            </ObjectAnimationUsingKeyFrames>

‘Disabled’ state:

                                            <ObjectAnimationUsingKeyFrames Storyboard.TargetProperty="Stroke" Storyboard.TargetName="PathIcon">
                                                <DiscreteObjectKeyFrame KeyTime="0" Value="Transparent"/>
                                            </ObjectAnimationUsingKeyFrames>

All that is left is to use the Style on any desired button:

    <Button x:Name="BaseButton" Style="{StaticResource TransparentButtonStyle}"></Button>

If you now use this one in an application, you will get the same result as in the initial animation.

For easier use, here is the complete code:

        <Style x:Key="TransparentPathIconButtonStyle" TargetType="Button">
            <Setter Property="Background" Value="Transparent"/>
            <Setter Property="Foreground" Value="{ThemeResource SystemControlForegroundBaseHighBrush}"/>
            <Setter Property="BorderBrush" Value="{ThemeResource SystemControlForegroundTransparentBrush}"/>
            <Setter Property="BorderThickness" Value="{ThemeResource ButtonBorderThemeThickness}"/>
            <Setter Property="Padding" Value="8,4,8,4"/>
            <Setter Property="HorizontalAlignment" Value="Stretch"/>
            <Setter Property="VerticalAlignment" Value="Stretch"/>
            <Setter Property="FontFamily" Value="{ThemeResource ContentControlThemeFontFamily}"/>
            <Setter Property="FontWeight" Value="Normal"/>
            <Setter Property="FontSize" Value="{ThemeResource ControlContentThemeFontSize}"/>
            <Setter Property="UseSystemFocusVisuals" Value="True"/>

            <Setter Property="Template">
                <Setter.Value>
                    <ControlTemplate TargetType="Button">
                        <Grid x:Name="RootGrid" Background="{TemplateBinding Background}">
                            <VisualStateManager.VisualStateGroups>
                                <VisualStateGroup x:Name="CommonStates">
                                    <VisualState x:Name="Normal">
                                        <Storyboard>
                                            <PointerUpThemeAnimation Storyboard.TargetName="RootGrid"/>
                                        </Storyboard>
                                    </VisualState>
                                    <VisualState x:Name="PointerOver">
                                        <Storyboard>
                                            <ObjectAnimationUsingKeyFrames Storyboard.TargetProperty="Stroke" Storyboard.TargetName="PathIcon">
                                                <DiscreteObjectKeyFrame KeyTime="0" Value="{ThemeResource SystemControlHighlightAccentBrush}"/>
                                            </ObjectAnimationUsingKeyFrames>
                                            <ObjectAnimationUsingKeyFrames Storyboard.TargetProperty="Fill" Storyboard.TargetName="PathIcon">
                                                <DiscreteObjectKeyFrame KeyTime="0" Value="{ThemeResource SystemControlHighlightBaseHighBrush}"/>
                                            </ObjectAnimationUsingKeyFrames>
                                            <PointerUpThemeAnimation Storyboard.TargetName="RootGrid"/>
                                        </Storyboard>
                                    </VisualState>
                                    <VisualState x:Name="Pressed">
                                        <Storyboard>
                                            <ObjectAnimationUsingKeyFrames Storyboard.TargetProperty="Fill" Storyboard.TargetName="PathIcon">
                                                <DiscreteObjectKeyFrame KeyTime="0" Value="{ThemeResource SystemControlForegroundAccentBrush}"/>
                                            </ObjectAnimationUsingKeyFrames>
                                            <ObjectAnimationUsingKeyFrames Storyboard.TargetProperty="Stroke" Storyboard.TargetName="PathIcon">
                                                <DiscreteObjectKeyFrame KeyTime="0" Value="Transparent"/>
                                            </ObjectAnimationUsingKeyFrames>
                                            <PointerDownThemeAnimation Storyboard.TargetName="RootGrid"/>
                                        </Storyboard>
                                    </VisualState>
                                    <VisualState x:Name="Disabled">
                                        <Storyboard>
                                            <ObjectAnimationUsingKeyFrames Storyboard.TargetProperty="Fill" Storyboard.TargetName="PathIcon">
                                                <DiscreteObjectKeyFrame KeyTime="0" Value="{ThemeResource SystemControlDisabledBaseMediumLowBrush}"/>
                                            </ObjectAnimationUsingKeyFrames>
                                            <ObjectAnimationUsingKeyFrames Storyboard.TargetProperty="Stroke" Storyboard.TargetName="PathIcon">
                                                <DiscreteObjectKeyFrame KeyTime="0" Value="Transparent"/>
                                            </ObjectAnimationUsingKeyFrames>
                                        </Storyboard>
                                    </VisualState>
                                </VisualStateGroup>
                            </VisualStateManager.VisualStateGroups>

                            <Path x:Name="PathIcon"
                                  Data="{TemplateBinding Content}"
                                  Stretch="Uniform"
                                  Fill="{TemplateBinding Foreground}"
                                  Stroke="Transparent"
                                  StrokeThickness="1"
                                  Margin="4"
                                  RenderTransformOrigin="0.5,0.5">
                                <Path.RenderTransform>
                                    <TransformGroup>
                                        <TransformGroup.Children>
                                            <RotateTransform Angle="0" />
                                            <ScaleTransform ScaleX="1" ScaleY="1" />
                                        </TransformGroup.Children>
                                    </TransformGroup>
                                </Path.RenderTransform>
                            </Path>
                        </Grid>
                    </ControlTemplate>
                </Setter.Value>
            </Setter>
        </Style>

As always, I hope this post is helpful for some of you. If you have questions/ideas for improvements or just want to talk about the control, feel free to leave a comment below.

Happy Coding, everyone!

Posted by msicc in Dev Stories, UWP, 3 comments

How to easily check the pressed keyboard button with a converted event using MVVM (Windows Universal)

In case you missed it, I lately am deeply diving into MVVM. Earlier today, I wanted to implement the well loved feature that a search is performed by pressing the Enter button. Of course, this would be very easy to achieve in code behind using the KeyUpEvent (or the KeyDownEvent, if you prefer).

However, in MVVM, especially in a Universal app, this is a bit trickier. We need to route the event manually to our matching command. There are surely more ways to achieve it, but I decided to use the Behaviors SDK to achieve my goal. The first step is of course downloading the matching extension (if you haven’t done so before). To do so, click on TOOLS/Extensions and Updates in Visual Studio and install the Behaviors SDK from the list:image

The next step we need to do is to add a new Converter (I added it to the common folder, you may change this to your preferred place). As we are hooking up the KeyUpEventArgs, I called it KeyUpEventArgsConverter. After you created the class, implement the IValueConverter interface. You should now have a Convert and a ConvertBack method. We are just adding two lines of code to the Convert method:

            var args = (KeyRoutedEventArgs)value;
            return args;

That’s it for the Converter. Save the class and build the project. For the next step, we need to go to our View where the Converter should do its work. Before we can use it, we need to give our Converter a key to be identified by the Binding engine. You can do this app wide in App.xaml, or in your page:

<common:KeyUpEventArgsConverter x:Key="KeyUpEventArgsConverter"/>

Also, we need to add two more references to our View (besides the Common folder that holds our converter, that is):

    xmlns:i="using:Microsoft.Xaml.Interactivity" 
    xmlns:core="using:Microsoft.Xaml.Interactions.Core"

The next step is to implement the Behavior to our input control (a TextBox in my case):

<TextBox  Header="enter search terms" PlaceholderText="search terms" Text="{Binding KnowledgeBaseSearchTerms, Mode=TwoWay, UpdateSourceTrigger=PropertyChanged}" >
    <i:Interaction.Behaviors>
         <core:EventTriggerBehavior EventName="KeyUp">
             <core:InvokeCommandAction
                   Command="{Binding SearchTermKeyEventArgsCommand}"
                   InputConverter="{StaticResource KeyUpEventArgsConverter}">
             </core:InvokeCommandAction>
          </core:EventTriggerBehavior>
     </i:Interaction.Behaviors>
</TextBox>

With the EventTriggerBehavior, we are able to hook into the desired event of a control. We then only need to bind to a Command in our ViewModel and tell the Behaviors SDK that it should route the “KeyUp” event using our Converter.

Let’s have a final look at the command that handles the event:

        public RelayCommand<KeyRoutedEventArgs> SearchTermKeyEventArgsCommand
        {
            get
            {
                return _searchTermKeyEventArgsCommand
                    ?? (_searchTermKeyEventArgsCommand = new RelayCommand<KeyRoutedEventArgs>(
                    p =>
                    {
                        if (p.Key == Windows.System.VirtualKey.Enter)
                        {
                            //your code here
                        }
                    }));
            }
        }

As you can see, we are using a Command that is able to take a Generic (in my case it comes from the MVVM Light Toolkit, but there are several other version floating around). Because of this, we are finally getting the KeyRoutedEventArgs into our ViewModel and are able to use its data and properties.

The VirtualKey Enumeration holds a reference to a lot of (if not all) keys and works for both hardware and virtual keyboards. This makes this code safe to use in an Universal app.

As I am quite new to MVVM, I am not entirely sure if this way is the “best” way, but it works as expected with little efforts. I hope this will be useful for some of you.

Useful links that helped me on my way to find this solution:

http://blog.galasoft.ch/posts/2014/01/using-the-eventargsconverter-in-mvvm-light-and-why-is-there-no-eventtocommand-in-the-windows-8-1-version/

https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/xaml/hh868246.aspx

Happy coding, everyone!

Posted by msicc in Dev Stories, windev, 0 comments

Simple helper method to detect the last page of API data (C#)

When you are working with APIs from web services, you probably ran already into the same problem that I did recently: how to detect if we are on the last page of possible API results.

Some APIs (like WordPress) use tokens to be sent as parameter  with your request, and if the token is null or empty you know that you have reached the last page. However, not all APIs are working that way (for example UserVoice).

As I am rewriting Voices Admin to be a Universal app, I came up with a simple but effective helper method that allows me to easily detect if I am on the last page. Here is what I did:

	public static bool IsLastPage(int total, int countperpage, int current)
        {
            bool value = false;

            if (current < Convert.ToInt32(Math.Ceiling(Convert.ToDouble(total)/countperpage)))
            {
                value = false;
            }

            if (current == Convert.ToInt32(Math.Ceiling(Convert.ToDouble(total)/countperpage)))
                value = true;

            return value;
        }

As you can see, I need the number of total records that can be fetched (which is returned by the API) and the property for the number per page (which is one of the optional parameters of the API). On top, I need the current page number to calculate where I am (which is also an optional parameter of the API and returned by the API result).

Now I simply need to divide the total records by the result count per page to get how many pages are used. Using the Math.Ceiling() method, I always get the correct number of pages back. What does the Math.Ceiling() method do? It just jumps up to the next absolute number, also known as “rounding toward positive infinity”.

Example: if you have 51 total records and a per page count of 10, the division will return 5.1 (which means there is only one result on the 6th page). However, we need an absolute number. Rounding the result would return 5 pages, which is wrong in this case. The Math.Ceiling() method however returns the correct value of 6.

Setting the method up as a static Boolean makes it easy to change the CanExecute property of a button for example, which will be automatically disabled if we just have loaded the last page (page 6 in my case).

As always, I hope this is helpful for some of you.

Happy coding, everyone!

Posted by msicc in Dev Stories, windev, 2 comments

Goodbye Telefónica (Germany), Hello ShareCommService (Switzerland)

Yes, you read that right. Today was my last work day at Telefónica, where I worked since June 2007. During that time, I learned a lot about how good customer service should be, and even more about mobile networks and mobile devices (phones, tablets and more). During that time, I also started my dev story in my spare time – all because there was not a single fishing knots application available for Windows Phone (read more here).

This lead to get recognized also within Telefónica as a developer, and so I was asked to concept and develop the application Friends & You (nope, you can’t download it as it is an internal app).  I learned a lot about how corporate apps aren’t that easy to concept and build during that time, as well as as how restrictive corporate rules can be. After all, I had a few challenges to complete. Thanks to Friends & You, I was also able to dive into the world of Xamarin, where I learned a lot about the application structures of Android and iOS (which will be helpful for eventually porting some of my Windows Phone apps to those two).

I want to say thanks to my colleagues, you´re awesome! Keep up the great work you´re doing in Customer Service.

Back in September then, I opened up my Twitter app and the first tweet I read was this one:

image

I opened the attached document and read the job description. As an self-thought developer, I first was about to close it and put it aside as “read and done”.

Due to the head count freeze at Telefónica after acquiring e-Plus from KPN, there are no chances to become a real full time developer within Telefónica for the next time. But that is what I want to do. After reopening the document and reading it again, I decided to get in contact with Roman Mueller (who I knew from Twitter already).

We talked about the job itself and the circumstances behind the announcement. After a few talks and a visit in Switzerland, the decision was made. I am starting the next chapter of my developer story in January, moving to Switzerland, where I will add deeper SQL knowledge, WPF and a lot more to my development knowledge.

At this point, I want to thank ShareCommService and especially Roman for all the help I received already to make this all happen and get started.

It is going to be an exciting journey for me (and my family), and we are ready to go.

Happy coding everyone!

Posted by msicc in Dev Stories, Editorials, 1 comment

How to generate a round image button for your Windows Phone 8.1 app (to use everywhere)

Recently, I experimented a bit because I wanted a round button that contains an image that can be used everywhere where I can add a standard button (and not just in the AppBar). I managed to get a simple style out of these experiments (sample at the end of this post).

First, you should check if you have already installed Syncfusion’s free Metro Studio (we will need it later). It is a powerful helper if you need icons, so if you do not have it, go straight ahead and download it here: http://www.syncfusion.com/downloads/metrostudio

Still here/back? Great! Ok, let’s start. In our project, generate a new button:

<Button Width="72" Height="72"></Button>

If you want your round button to have a smaller size, feel free to adjust the 72 pixels mine has to your preferred value.

The next step is to generate a new Style. Right click on the Button, and select ‘Edit Template’, followed by ‘Edit a Copy’.

Screenshot (407)

 

Set the name of your style in the next window, and save define it as an app-wide Style or on your page:

Screenshot (408)

This should open your App.xaml file and display the button as well as the newly generated style.

We are starting with our custom style modifications right at the top:

image

Set both Doubles to 0 and the Thickness to 0,0.

Next, scroll down to find the Border Element of the Button Template (closing ‘VisualStateManager.VisualStateGroups’ helps a lot).

Click on the Border element and add/adjust the ‘CornerRadius’ property. At a size of 72, the minimum value is 38 for the radius. This should be fine for most cases, but it may be higher/smaller if you are using another size. Don’t worry if your button looks like this at them moment:

image

We are going to fix it right now by setting the Height and Width properties of our Border element:

Height="{Binding Path=Height, RelativeSource={RelativeSource Mode=TemplatedParent}}"
Width="{Binding Path=Width, RelativeSource={RelativeSource Mode=TemplatedParent}}"

This binds the Width and Height properties of our Button to the Style. Now we just need to define the Height and the Width of our Button to make it actually look really round. Setting both to 72 will result in a nice round button.

Like you can imagine, displaying text does not make a lot of sense in this case. Round Buttons should contain an image. You could add one through adding a background, but this will result in a strange looking button when it gets pressed. Also, it does not reflect changes like a color change. To solve this, we are going to add code that is able to draw a shape for us. This is achieved with the Path Class  in XAML. The Path class draws lines into a FrameworkElement like a Canvas or a Border.

To enable our Style to work with Path Data, we need to add some code before the ‘Template’ property Setter in our Style:

<Setter Property="ContentTemplate">
    <Setter.Value>
        <DataTemplate>
            <Path Stretch="Uniform"
                  RenderTransformOrigin="0.5,0.5"
                  Margin="2,6,2,2"
                  Fill="{Binding Path=Foreground, RelativeSource={RelativeSource Mode=TemplatedParent}}"
                  Data="{Binding Path=Content, RelativeSource={RelativeSource Mode=TemplatedParent}}"></Path>
        </DataTemplate>
    </Setter.Value>
</Setter>

What does this code do? The ContentTemplate allows us to add rich content to our UIElement, the Button. To make it resuable, we are setting it up in our custom button style. The RenderTransforOrigin property value of 0.5,0.5 centers our Path drawn shape within the border. However, I found out that some shapes do not look good with that alone. That’s why I adjusted the Margin property together with it. This should fit most icon shapes, but you might adjust this for your own needs.

The most important aspects are the Fill property as well as the Data property. Binding the Fill Brush to the Foreground Brush property is necessary to reflect changes like theme changes as well as changes in the VisualState. Only this way it behaves like a native Button. Binding the Data property allows us to enter the Path string into the Content property of a button that uses our Style without any conversion. This makes it very simple to generate a button with our desired icon.

And this is where Syncfusion’s MetroStudio comes in handy. It allows you not only to generate icons as png, but also as shape in XAML. To get the relevant Data, open MetroStudio, search for your icon. Below the icon, there is an Edit Button. Tap it to open the icon settings page. On that settings page, you set up your button. Play around a little bit to get used to it (it’s pretty easy).

Once you have your desired icon on the screen, click on the </>XAML Button. Copy the highlighted part of the XAML code:

image

Back in Visual Studio, add this copied code to the Content property of our Button:

Content="F1M181.003,-1898.78L207.077,-1902.33 207.089,-1877.18 181.027,-1877.03 181.003,-1898.78z M207.065,-1874.28L207.085,-1849.1 181.023,-1852.69 181.022,-1874.45 207.065,-1874.28z M210.226,-1902.79L244.798,-1907.84 244.798,-1877.5 210.226,-1877.22 210.226,-1902.79z M244.807,-1874.04L244.798,-1843.84 210.226,-1848.72 210.177,-1874.1 244.807,-1874.04z" 
Height="72" 
Width="72"
Style="{StaticResource RoundButtonStyle}" 
VerticalAlignment="Center" 
HorizontalAlignment="Center"/>

Which will result in this nice looking round button with a Windows logo on it:

image

If you run the sample project, you can see that the Button behaves like a native Button with text. Download the sample project here.

I am pretty sure this can be improved. I will continue to play around with this, and if I have found enough optimizations, I will write another post about them. Until then, this should help you to get started with your own round button – and the best thing: you can use it like any standard button wherever you want in your Windows (Phone) 8.1 app!

Happy coding, everyone!

Posted by msicc in Dev Stories, windev, 1 comment

How to shorten an url with Bitly asynchronously on Windows Phone

bitly_logo

It was only yesterday when I decided to shorten shared links in UniShare. The reason is not Twitter as suggested by some of my users, but other networks like LinkedIn, that have text length limits as well.

After digging into the Bitly API, I created a little helper that returns the a shorten Bitly-url. In case this is not possible for whatever reason, it returns the long url that was tried to be shortened.

Before we can start to write some code, we need to get our generic access token for the Bitly API. Log in to your Bitly account, and click on ‘Settings’, and choose the ‘Advanced’ tab. If you already verified your mail address, you are nearly done. Enter your password and click on the ‘Generate Token’ Button:

Screenshot (388)

This is one of the constants we need soon. In your project, generate a new class called BitlyHelper. Declare the following constant strings:

private const string bitlyGenericAccessToken = "your_generic_access_token";
private const string base_url = "https://api-ssl.bitly.com/v3/shorten?access_token={0}&longUrl={1}&format=txt";

The base_url string contains the url we are calling, setting our generic access token as well as the long url we want to share. As we are only interested in getting the shortened url, we need to add the ‘format=txt’ part at the end.

The next step is to create an async Task that returns the HttpResponseMessage:

        /// <summary>
        /// Task that starts the async request for the HttpResponseMessage
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="longUrl">the url to shorten</param>
        /// <returns>the HttpResponseMessage that contains the shortened url</returns>
        private async Task<HttpResponseMessage> getShortUrl(string longUrl)
        {
            //do not forget to UrlEncode the longUrl!
            string request_url = string.Format(base_url, bitlyGenericAccessToken, System.Web.HttpUtility.UrlEncode(longUrl));

            HttpClient client = new HttpClient();
            client.DefaultRequestHeaders.IfModifiedSince = DateTime.Now;

            //get the response from the Bitly API
            return await client.GetAsync(new Uri(request_url));
        }

The only important thing we think of here is to UrlEncode our long url, using the System.Web.HttpUtility.UrlEncode() method. If we would not do that, we would get an error on some links from the Bitly API. The rest is pretty straight forward to any other HttpClient usage.

To get our BitlyHelper to be helpful, we are creating another Task that detects the HttpStatusCode of our HttpResponseMessage and returns the shortened url:

        /// <summary>
        /// gets the shortened url out of the HttpResponseMessage
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="longUrl">the url to shorten</param>
        /// <returns>the shortened url as string</returns>
        public async Task<string> GetShortenedUrl(string longUrl)
        {
            string short_url = string.Empty;

            //using try/catch to avoid Exceptions
            try
            {
                var response = await getShortUrl(longUrl);

                if (response.StatusCode == HttpStatusCode.Ok)
                {
                    short_url = await response.Content.ReadAsStringAsync();
                }
                //on error StatusCodes, just return the longUrl
                else
                {
                    short_url = longUrl;
                }
            }
            catch
            {
                short_url = longUrl;
            }

            return short_url;            
        }

In case the HttpStatusCode is not OK (200), we are simply returning the long url. To avoid any Exceptions, we are doing the same in case there is one. This way, we are keeping it as simple as possible while keeping our desired functionality.

The usage is very simple:

BitlyHelper bitly = new BitlyHelper();
var shorturl = await bitly.GetShortenedUrl("http://yourlongurl.com");

If you want more advanced features, you can perform the whole oAuth dance with your users and get some more features into your app (read more in the API docs). If you just need to shorten the url, this BitlyHelper is all you need.

As always, I hope this is helpful for some of you.

Happy coding!

Posted by msicc in Dev Stories, windev, 0 comments

Helper class to handle In-App-Products (IAP) licenses on Windows Phone (SL)

Like a lot of other apps, also UniShare got hit by an outage in the licensing system of the Windows Phone Store recently.

There was a workaround to get the licenses back from the store, but even with that, users have left negative votes (even after I posted the workaround and also wpcentral wrote about it a few days later).

The problem with those negative reviews: they tend to remain, even after responding to them (if possible) or having conversation with the users via mail. I totally understand users that are annoyed by such facts – I got hit by it as well with other apps I am using regularly. So I was thinking about a better solution as the recommended way by Microsoft, which says you should check it on every app start.

Rob Irving posted about his solution at the same day wpcentral wrote about it, which is one possible solution. His motive was the same as my solution – improving the user experience with the IAP’s.

However, I am preferring to check the licenses against the Store from time to time to make sure that the licenses are still correct.

Here is my solution (for durable IAP):

First, let’s we need to declare an object for the ListingInformation, which will hold the information that the store returns for our IAP:

ListingInformation IAPListing;

Then, we  need to create these two classes:

        public class IAP
        {
            public string Key { get; set; }

            public string Name { get; set; }

            public string Price { get; set; }

            public ProductType Type { get; set; }

            public string Description { get; set; }

            public string Image { get; set; }

            public bool IsLicenseActive { get; set; }
        }

        public class IAPToSave
        {
            public List<IAP> IAPListToSave { get; set; }

            public DateTime date { get; set; }
        }

The class IAP is the class/model that holds a single IAP item information. The second class is needed for saving the fetched IAP information (we’ll see later how I did it).

Now we have prepared these, we can finally go to the store and fetch the IAP list. I created an async Task that returns a List<IAP> for it:

        public async Task<List<IAP>> GetAllIAP()
        {
            var list = new List<IAP>();

            IAPListing = await CurrentApp.LoadListingInformationAsync();

            foreach (var product in IAPListing.ProductListings)
            {
                list.Add(new IAP()
                {
                    Key = product.Key,
                    Name = product.Value.Name,
                    Description = product.Value.Description,
                    Price = product.Value.FormattedPrice,
                    Type = product.Value.ProductType,
                    Image = product.Value.ImageUri.ToString(),
                    IsLicenseActive = isPackageUnlocked(product.Key)
                });
            }
            return list;
        }

To immediately check if our user has already purchased the item, we are getting a Boolean for it. While we are getting the data from the store, we are using this to fill our IAP class with the desired value (see IsLicenseActive property in the IAP item above).

        public bool isPackageUnlocked(string productKey)
        {
            var licenseInformation = CurrentApp.LicenseInformation;

            if (licenseInformation.ProductLicenses[productKey].IsActive)
            {
                return true;
            }
            else
            {
                return false;
            }
        }

Now we have already all data that we need to display all IAP in our app. The usage is fairly simple:

var iapHelper = new IAPHelper();
var iapList = await iapHelper.GetAllIAP();

You can now bind the iapList to a ListBox (or your proper control/view). Next thing we are creating is our helper that performs the purchase action and returns a result string to display in a message to the user in our IAPHelper class:

        public async Task<string> unlockPackage(string productKey, string productName)
        {
            var licenseInformation = CurrentApp.LicenseInformation;

            string response = string.Empty;

            if (!licenseInformation.ProductLicenses[productKey].IsActive)
            {
                try
                {
                    //opening the store to display the purchase page
                    await CurrentApp.RequestProductPurchaseAsync(productKey);

                    //getting the result after returning into app
                    var isUnlocked = isPackageUnlocked(productKey);

                    if (isUnlocked == true)
                    {
                        response = string.Format("You succesfully unlocked {0}.", productName);  
                    }
                    else
                    {
                        response = string.Format("There was an error while trying to unlock {0}. Please try again.", productName);
                    }
                }
                catch (Exception)
                {
                    response = string.Format("There was an error while trying to unlock {0}. Please try again.", productName);
                }
            }
            else
            {
                response = string.Format( "You already unlocked {0}", productName);
            }

            return response;
        }

You may of course vary the messages that are displayed to the user to your favor.

The usage of this Task is also pretty straight forward:

var iapHelper = new IAPHelper();
string message = await iapHelper.unlockPackage(((IAPHelper.IAP)IAPListBox.SelectedItem).Key, ((IAPHelper.IAP)IAPListBox.SelectedItem).Name);

After that, we need to refresh the LicenseInformation by using GetAllIAP() again to refresh the iapList and of course our ListBox.

My goal was to save the LicenseInformation of my IAP for a limited time so the user is protected for future outages (or situations where no network connection is available). That’s why we need to add another Task to our IAPHelper class:

        public async Task<string> SerializedCurrentIAPList(List<IAP> iaplist, DateTime lastchecked)
        {
            string json = string.Empty;

            IAPToSave listToSave = new IAPToSave() { IAPListToSave = iaplist, date = lastchecked };

            if (iaplist.Count != 0)
            {
                json = await Task.Factory.StartNew(() => JsonConvert.SerializeObject(listToSave));
            }
            return json;
        }

As you can see, now is the point where we need the second class I mentioned in the beginning. It has one property for the List<IAP> and a DateTime property that we are saving. I am serializing the whole class to a JSON string. This way, we are able to save it as a string in our application’s storage.

The usage of this Task is as simple as the former ones:

var savedIAPList = await iapHelper.SerializedCurrentIAPList(iapList, DateTime.Now);

The last thing we need to create is an object that helps us indicating if a refresh of the list is needed or not. Like I said, I want to do this action time based, so here is my way to get this value:

        public bool isReloadNeeded(DateTime lastchecked, TimeSpan desiredtimespan)
        {
            bool reloadNeeded = false;

            var now = DateTime.Now;

            TimeSpan ts_lastchecked = now - lastchecked;

            if (ts_lastchecked > desiredtimespan)
            {
                reloadNeeded = true;
            }

            return reloadNeeded;
        }

This method just checks if the desired TimeSpan has passed already and returns the matching Boolean value. The usage of this is likewise pretty simple:

var savedlist = await Task.Factory.StartNew(() => JsonConvert.DeserializeObject<IAPHelper.IAPToSave>(App.SettingsStore.savedIAPList));

if (iapHelper.isReloadNeeded(savedlist.date, new TimeSpan(96, 0, 0)))
{
   //reload the list and perform your actions
}
else
{
   //use savedlist.IAPListToSave and perform your actions 
}

This way, we are able to make sure that all IAPs are available for a minimum of time and protect our users against store outages.

For your convenience, you can download the whole class right here. Just replace NAMESPACE with yours and you are good to go.

Note: I know that this approach does not follow the recommended way of Microsoft. It is up to us to deal with bad reviews if something on the store part is not working. This is my approach to avoid negative reviews because of store outages (at least for a limited time). However, like always, I hope this post is helpful for some of you.

Happy coding!

Posted by msicc in Dev Stories, windev, 0 comments

Prevent accidentally exit of your Windows Phone SL app (with Telerik RadMessageBox or Toolkit CustomMessageBox)

preventExit

After finally being able to use my dev center account again after three long weeks, I am back into UniShare development. One of the most requested fixes was to not exit the app when users are not at the compose pivot.

Of course I am listening and I found a solution that should fit nearly all possible scenarios. Here is what I did:

        //handle back key press to prevent accidentally exit of the app
        protected async override void OnBackKeyPress(CancelEventArgs e)
        {
            //get the base handler
            base.OnBackKeyPress(e);

            //go back to the first pivot on all other pivots
            if (MainPivot.SelectedIndex != 0)
            {
                MainPivot.SelectedIndex = 0;
                e.Cancel = true;
            }
            //handle app exit
            else if (MainPivot.SelectedIndex == 0)
            {
                //cancel the back button press
                e.Cancel = true;

                //check if bool isExitQuestionCheckBoxChecked is false and the message needs to be displayed
                if (isExitQuestionCheckBoxChecked == false)
                {
                    //show the message box
                    MessageBoxClosedEventArgs args = await RadMessageBox.ShowAsync("Do you really want to exit the app?", MessageBoxButtons.YesNo, null, "don't ask me again, just exit next time", false, true);
                    if (args.ClickedButton == null)
                    {
                        //save check box value (use IsolatedStorage on earlier versions of Windows Phone)
                        App.SettingsStore.isExitQuestionCheckBoxChecked = isExitQuestionCheckBoxChecked;
                        //go back to the app
                        return;
                        
                    }
                    if (args.ButtonIndex == 0)
                    {
                        //set the check box value
                        isExitQuestionCheckBoxChecked = args.IsCheckBoxChecked;
                        //save check box value (use IsolatedStorage on earlier versions of Windows Phone)
                        App.SettingsStore.isExitQuestionCheckBoxChecked = isExitQuestionCheckBoxChecked;
                        //exit the app
                        Application.Current.Terminate();
                        
                    }
                    if (args.ButtonIndex == 1)
                    {
                        //set the check box value
                        isExitQuestionCheckBoxChecked = args.IsCheckBoxChecked;
                        //save check box value (use IsolatedStorage on earlier versions of Windows Phone)
                        App.SettingsStore.isExitQuestionCheckBoxChecked = isExitQuestionCheckBoxChecked;
                        //go back to the app
                        return;
                    }
                }
                //check if bool isExitQuestionCheckBoxChecked is false and the app should be exited
                else if (isExitQuestionCheckBoxChecked == true)
                {
                    Application.Current.Terminate();
                }
            }
        }

 

Let me explain. The first thing I am checking is if the current PivotItem is the one I want to display the message. If not, I am moving the Pivot to it.

The next step is to show the MessageBox and handle the buttons and the CheckBox. If no button is pressed, the codes saves the value false and goes back to the app.

If the Yes-button is pressed, the code saved the value of the CheckBox and exits. Same happens for the No-button.

If the user presses the back button the next time, the isExitQuestionCheckBoxChecked boolean gets checked – if the user does not want the message and checked it, the app exits as expected.

The above snippet uses the RadMessageBox.

When we use Toolkit’s CustomMessageBox, we need a slightly different approach. First, we do not override the OnBackKeyPress event – instead, we declare a new BackKeyPress event in the page’s constructor:

public MainPage()
{
    InitializeComponent();     
    BackKeyPress += MainPage_BackKeyPress;
}

 

Then, add this code to the newly generated event handler:

        //handle back key press to prevent accidentally exit of the app
        void MainPage_BackKeyPress(object sender, System.ComponentModel.CancelEventArgs e)
        {
            //go back to the first pivot on all other pivots
            if (MainPivot.SelectedIndex != 0)
            {
                MainPivot.SelectedIndex = 0;
                e.Cancel = true;
            }
            //handle app exit
            else if (MainPivot.SelectedIndex == 0)
            {   
                ////check if bool isExitQuestionCheckBoxChecked is false and the message needs to be displayed
                if (isExitQuestionCheckBoxChecked == false)
                {
                //generate a CheckBox as Content
                CheckBox chkbox = new CheckBox()
                {
                    Content = "don't ask me again, just exit next time",
                    Margin = new Thickness(0, 14, 0, -2)
                };

                //generate msg and handle the result
                CustomMessageBox msg = new CustomMessageBox()
                {
                    Title = "Attention",
                    Message = "Do you really want to exit the app?",
                    Content = chkbox,
                    LeftButtonContent = "yes",
                    RightButtonContent = "no"
                    
                };

                msg.Dismissed += (s1, e1) =>
                    {
                        switch (e1.Result)
                        {
                            case CustomMessageBoxResult.LeftButton:
                                //save check box value
                                isExitQuestionCheckBoxChecked = (bool)chkbox.IsChecked;

                                //save the check box value
                                if (IsolatedStorageSettings.ApplicationSettings.Contains("isExitQuestionCheckBoxChecked"))
                                {
                                    IsolatedStorageSettings.ApplicationSettings.Remove("isExitQuestionCheckBoxChecked");
                                }
                                IsolatedStorageSettings.ApplicationSettings.Add("isExitQuestionCheckBoxChecked", isExitQuestionCheckBoxChecked);

                                IsolatedStorageSettings.ApplicationSettings.Save();

                                //exit the app
                                Application.Current.Terminate();
                                break;
                            case CustomMessageBoxResult.RightButton:
                                //save check box value
                                isExitQuestionCheckBoxChecked = (bool)chkbox.IsChecked;

                                //save the check box value
                                if (IsolatedStorageSettings.ApplicationSettings.Contains("isExitQuestionCheckBoxChecked"))
                                {
                                    IsolatedStorageSettings.ApplicationSettings.Remove("isExitQuestionCheckBoxChecked");
                                }
                                IsolatedStorageSettings.ApplicationSettings.Add("isExitQuestionCheckBoxChecked", isExitQuestionCheckBoxChecked);

                                IsolatedStorageSettings.ApplicationSettings.Save();

                                //go back to the app
                                break;
                            case CustomMessageBoxResult.None:
                                break;
                            default:
                                break;
                        }
                    };
                    //show message
                    msg.Show();

                    //cancel all BackKey events
                    e.Cancel = true;

                }
                //check if bool isExitQuestionCheckBoxChecked is false and the app should be exited
                else if (isExitQuestionCheckBoxChecked == true)
                {
                    Application.Current.Terminate();
                }
            }
        }

 

This code is taken from a Windows Phone 8 project and does the same as the first snippet by using the Windows Phone Toolkit.

As always, I hope this is helpful for some of you.

Happy coding, everyone!

Posted by msicc in Dev Stories, windev, 0 comments

How to create an Extended Splashscreen for Universal Apps

Recently, I started to create a real world app to demonstrate the usage of my WordPressUniversal library. While I was working on it, I also decided to extend the Splahscreen which is mandatory for universal apps.There are several reasons to extend the splash screen, the most obvious is to hide initial data loading.

The only sample I found had a separate solution for the Windows and the Windows Phone application, and I decided to put them together to use the advantages of the Shared project that comes with every universal app.

The first step is to add your Splashscreen images to both projects. To do so, open their Package.appxmanifest files and go to the ‘Visual Assets’ tab. Add your images:

Screenshot (371)

Now add a UserControl to your shared project and rename the control type to “Grid” in the XAML file. After that, let us design the UI that is shown to the user when he starts our app:

<Grid.RowDefinitions>
    <RowDefinition/>
    <RowDefinition Height="180"/>
</Grid.RowDefinitions>

<!--Windows needs a Canvas-->
<Canvas x:Name="Win_Splash_Img" 
        Grid.Row="0" 
        Grid.RowSpan="2" 
        Visibility="Collapsed">
    <Image x:Name="extendedSplashImage_Win" 
           Source="Assets/SplashScreen.png"/>
</Canvas>

<!--Windows Phone needs a Viewbox-->
<Viewbox 
    x:Name="WP_Splash_Img"
    Grid.Row="0" Grid.RowSpan="2" 
    Visibility="Collapsed">
    <Image x:Name="extendedSplashImage_WP" 
           Source="Assets/SplashWindowsPhone.png"/>
</Viewbox>

<!--this StackPanel holds our ProgressRing that is telling the user we are doing some work-->
<StackPanel 
    Grid.Row="1" 
    HorizontalAlignment="Center">
    <ProgressRing x:Name="progressRing" 
                  IsActive="True" Margin="0,0,0,12" 
                  Foreground="White" 
                  Background="Black">            
    </ProgressRing>
    <TextBlock x:Name="progressText" 
               Style="{StaticResource TitleTextBlockStyle}" 
               TextAlignment="Center" 
               HorizontalAlignment="Center">
 </TextBlock>
</StackPanel>

This XAML code is the base for our extended Splashscreen. It defines a row height of 180 to place the StackPanel that holds the ProgressRing at the bottom of our control. The main difference here is that Windows Apps use a Canvas while Windows Phone uses Viewbox to hold our Splashscreen Image. We need to set the Visibility on both to collapsed as our code decides which one will be displayed on Launch.

In our code page, we have a bit more work to do. Let’s go through it step by step:

Make sure you have added the following Namespaces:

using Windows.ApplicationModel.Activation;
using Windows.UI.Core;
using ExtendedSplash.Common;

Note: if you do not have a Common folder in your Shared Project, you can add it manually and copy the classes from the demo project attached to this project. Don’t forget to change the Namespaces of the classes to your project name after you added them.

The next step is to declare some objects that we need for the extended Splashscreen:

internal Rect splashImageRect; 
internal bool dismissed = false; 
internal Frame rootFrame;
private SplashScreen splash;

The Rect is used to place the Splashscreen Image in it and will be sized by our code which we will add later. The dismissed bool is used to determine when the system Splashscreen gets dismissed. The rootFrame is used for the navigation to our first application page, while the splash is used to read the needed values for placing our image into the Rect.

After we have declared those objects, we need to overload the main class of our control:

public ExtendedSplash(SplashScreen splashcreen, bool loadstate)

The splashcreen tells us the coordinates and the height of the splash image. You can use the loadstate bool to determine data that needs to be restored by the SuspensionManager, if needed.

As users are snapping our apps or rotating the device, we need to handle this. To do so, we need to add the following line to our constructor:

Window.Current.SizeChanged += new WindowSizeChangedEventHandler(ExtendedSplash_OnResize);

Add this code to handle the resizing:

if (splash != null)
{
    splashImageRect = splash.ImageLocation;
    PositionImage();
}

If the user causes the WindowSizeChanged event to fire, the splash will be loaded again and submits new coordinates to our splash object. To properly handle the positioning, we are using the PositionImage() method:

        void PositionImage()
        {
#if WINDOWS_PHONE_APP
            extendedSplashImage_WP.SetValue(Viewbox.HeightProperty, splashImageRect.Height);
            extendedSplashImage_WP.SetValue(Viewbox.WidthProperty, splashImageRect.Width);
#else
            extendedSplashImage_Win.SetValue(Canvas.LeftProperty, splashImageRect.X);
            extendedSplashImage_Win.SetValue(Canvas.TopProperty, splashImageRect.Y);
            extendedSplashImage_Win.Height = splashImageRect.Height;
            extendedSplashImage_Win.Width = splashImageRect.Width;
#endif
        }

As you can see, we use the preprocessor directive WINDOWS_PHONE_APP to declare the height and width of the Viewbox. If it is not running on Windows Phone, we are setting the canvas coordinates and size via this method. This is not the only point where we need this method, as you will see later in this post.

Let’s go back to our constructor and add this line to load the system’s Splashscreen values into our object:

splash = splashcreen;

Now that we have these values, we are finally able to receive the coordinates and declare which Splashscreen will be used:

            if (splash != null)
            {
                //handle the dismissing of the system's splash 
                splash.Dismissed += new TypedEventHandler<SplashScreen, Object>(DismissedEventHandler);

                //get the system's splashscreen values
                splashImageRect = splash.ImageLocation;

                //decide which control is used to display the splashscreen image and size the progressRing
#if WINDOWS_PHONE_APP
                Win_Splash_Img.Visibility = Visibility.Collapsed;
                WP_Splash_Img.Visibility = Visibility.Visible;
                progressRing.Height = 50;
                progressRing.Width = 50;

#else
                Win_Splash_Img.Visibility = Visibility.Visible;
                WP_Splash_Img.Visibility = Visibility.Collapsed;
                progressRing.Height = 70;
                progressRing.Width = 70;
#endif
                //position and size the image properly
                PositionImage();

            }

 

Let me explain what I have done here. First we need to check if our splash object has a value. Then, we need to handle the Dismissing of the system’s Splashscreen with this TypedEventHandler:

private void DismissedEventHandler(SplashScreen sender, object args)
{
    dismissed = true;
}

After that, I am declaring when to show Windows Phone’s Viewbox and Windows’ Canvas as well as setting the size of the ProgressRing. The last step is to position and size the image again with our PositionImage() method. This will cause the app to switch to our extended Splashscreen.

Now we have to declare a new Frame instance and begin to load our data:

// this frame acts as navigation context
rootFrame = new Frame();
//start loading your data:
LoadData();

For this demo, I used a delay to keep the ProgressRing spinning:

async void LoadData()
{
    progressText.Text = "sleeping, please wait until I wake up...";
    //using a delay to keep the progress ring spinning for this demo
    await Task.Delay(TimeSpan.FromSeconds(5));
    //Navigate to the first application page after all work is done
    rootFrame.Navigate(typeof(MainPage));
    Window.Current.Content = rootFrame;
}

That’s all of the code we need inside our ExtendSplash control. If you now build the project, it will compile, but nothing will happen. other than going directly to the MainPage.

We need to add some additional code to our App.xaml.cs in the OnLaunched event:

//only show the splash if the app wasn't running before
if (e.PreviousExecutionState != ApplicationExecutionState.Running)
{
    //check the loadstate if necessary
    bool loadState = (e.PreviousExecutionState == ApplicationExecutionState.Terminated);
    //create a new instance of our ExtendedSplash
    ExtendedSplash extendedSplash = new ExtendedSplash(e.SplashScreen, loadState);
    //declare our extendedSplash as root content
    rootFrame.Content = extendedSplash;
}

If you hit the debug button, you should have similar results to these:

Screenshot (374)

Screenshot (375)

For your convenience, I created a small demo project. Download it here.

As always, I hope this blog post is helpful for some of you. If you have questions or feedback, feel free to leave a comment below.

Posted by msicc in Dev Stories, windev, 8 comments

How to load a list of a user’s twitter friends/followers in your Windows Phone app

TwitterFriendsList_WP_Blog During the last days, I was adding a new function to UniShare that suggests users the Twitter handles while typing in some text. The base of this new function is a list of the user’s twitter friends. In this post, I am going to show you how to generate this list and save it for further use. First thing I need to talk about: you can only load a maximum of 3000 friends at once due to the rate limit on Twitter’s part. At the end of the post, I’ll give you also an idea how to continue this after the first 3000 users were loaded. For the most scenarios, 3000 should be enough to cover the major part of your users. To be able to load all friends we first create a Task that fetches 200 entries of our user’s friends list. To be able to perform paging through all entries, Twitter uses so called cursors, which are 64-bit signed integers (long). You can read more about that here on Twitter’s API documentation. Let’s have a look on this Task:

        private async Task<string> TwitterFriendsListString(long twitterCursor)
        {
            ShowProgressIndicator("generating mention suggestion base...");

            //needed for generating the Signature
            string twitterRequestUrl = "https://api.twitter.com/1.1/friends/list.json";

            //used for sending the request to the API
            //for usage of the url parameters, go to https://dev.twitter.com/docs/api/1.1/get/friends/list
            string twitterUrl = string.Format("https://api.twitter.com/1.1/friends/list.json?cursor={0}&screen_name={1}&count=200&skip_status=true&include_user_entities=false", twitterCursor, App.SettingsStore.twitterName);

            string timeStamp = GetTimeStamp();
            string nonce = GetNonce();

            string response = string.Empty;

            //we need to include all url parameters in the signature
            //IMPORTANT: Twitter's API demands them to be sorted alphabetically, otherwise the Signature will not be accepted
            string sigBaseStringParams = "count=200";
            sigBaseStringParams += "&" + "cursor=" + twitterCursor;
            sigBaseStringParams += "&" + "include_user_entities=false";
            igBaseStringParams += "&" + "oauth_consumer_key=" + twitterConsumerKey;
            sigBaseStringParams += "&" + "oauth_nonce=" + nonce;
            sigBaseStringParams += "&" + "oauth_signature_method=HMAC-SHA1";
            sigBaseStringParams += "&" + "oauth_timestamp=" + timeStamp;
            sigBaseStringParams += "&" + "oauth_token=" + App.SettingsStore.twitteroAuthToken;
            sigBaseStringParams += "&" + "oauth_version=1.0";
            sigBaseStringParams += "&" + "screen_name=" + App.SettingsStore.twitterName;
            sigBaseStringParams += "&" + "skip_status=true";
            string sigBaseString = "GET&";
            sigBaseString += Uri.EscapeDataString(twitterRequestUrl) + "&" + Uri.EscapeDataString(sigBaseStringParams);

            string signature = GetSignature(sigBaseString, twitterConsumerSecret, App.SettingsStore.twitteroAuthTokenSecret);

            string authorizationHeaderParams =
                "oauth_consumer_key=\"" + twitterConsumerKey +
                "\", oauth_nonce=\"" + nonce +
                "\", oauth_signature=\"" + Uri.EscapeDataString(signature) +
                "\", oauth_signature_method=\"HMAC-SHA1\", oauth_timestamp=\"" + timeStamp +
                "\", oauth_token=\"" + Uri.EscapeDataString(App.SettingsStore.twitteroAuthToken) +
                "\", oauth_version=\"1.0\"";

            HttpClient httpClient = new HttpClient();

            httpClient.DefaultRequestHeaders.Authorization = new HttpCredentialsHeaderValue("OAuth", authorizationHeaderParams);
            var httpResponseMessage = await httpClient.GetAsync(new Uri(twitterUrl));

            response = await httpResponseMessage.Content.ReadAsStringAsync();

            return response;
        }

As you can see, we need to create our signature based on the url parameters we are requesting. Twitter demands them to be sorted alphabetically. If you would not sort them this way, the Signature is wrong and your request gets denied by Twitter. We are overloading this Task with the above mentioned cursor to get the next page of our user’s friends list. If you need the GetNonce() and GetSignature() methods, take a look at this post, I am using them for all requests to Twitter. Now that we have this Task ready to make our requests, lets load the complete list. First, declare these objects in your page/model:

        public List<TwitterMentionSuggestionBase> twitterMentionSuggestionsList;
        public long nextfriendlistCursor = -1;
        public string friendsResponseString = string.Empty;
        public string friendsJsonFileName = "twitterFriends.json";

Then we need to create a loop to go through all pages Twitter allows us until we are reaching the rate limit of 15 requests per 15 minutes. I using a do while loop, as this is the most convenient way for this request:

            //to avoid double entries, make sure the list is we are using is empty
            if (twitterMentionSuggestionsList.Count != 0)
            {
                twitterMentionSuggestionsList.Clear();
            }
            //starting the do while loop
            do
            {
                //fetching the Json response
                //to get the first page of the list from Twitter, the cursor needs to be -1
                friendsResponseString = await TwitterFriendsListString(nextfriendlistCursor);

                //using Json.net to deserialize the string
                var friendslist = JsonConvert.DeserializeObject<TwitterFriendsClass.TwitterFriends>(friendsResponseString);
                //setting the cursor for the next request
                nextfriendlistCursor = friendslist.next_cursor;

                //adding 200 users to our list
                foreach (var user in friendslist.users)
                {
                    //using the screen name ToLower() to make the further usage easier
                    TwitterMentionSuggestionsList.Add(new TwitterMentionSuggestionBase() { name = "@" + user.screen_name.ToLower() });
                }

                //once the last page is reached, the cursor will be 0
                if (nextfriendlistCursor == 0)
                {
                    //break will continue the code after the do while loop
                    break;
                }
            }
            //the while condition needs to return true if you would set up a Boolean for it!
            while (nextfriendlistCursor != 0);

As long as the cursor is not 0, the loop will load the json string with 200 entries. The class you’ll need for deserializing can be easily generated. Just set a breakpoint after the call of our Task, copy the whole response string and go to http://json2csharp.com to get your class. The TwitterMentionSuggestionBase class only contains a string property for the name and can be extended for you needs:

    public class TwitterMentionSuggestionBase
    {
        public string name { get; set; }
    }

Of course we need to save the list for further use. The code I use is pretty much the same you’ll find when you search for “saving json string to file” with your favorite search engine and works with Windows Phone 8 and 8.1:

            //saving the file to Isolated Storage
            var JsonListOfFriends = JsonConvert.SerializeObject(twitterMentionSuggestionsList);
            try
            {
                //getting the localFolder our app has access to
                StorageFolder localFolder = ApplicationData.Current.LocalFolder;
                //create/overwrite a file
                StorageFile friendsJsonFile = await localFolder.CreateFileAsync(friendsJsonFileName, CreationCollisionOption.ReplaceExisting);
                //write the json string to the file
                using (IRandomAccessStream writeFileStream = await FriendsJsonFile.OpenAsync(FileAccessMode.ReadWrite))
                {
                    using (DataWriter streamWriter = new DataWriter(writeFileStream))
                    {
                        streamWriter.WriteString(JsonListOfFriends);
                        await streamWriter.StoreAsync();
                    }
                }
            }
            catch
            {

            }

This way, we can easily generate a friends list for our users, based on their Twitter friends. Some points that might be helpful:

  • users with more than 3000 friends will receive an error after reaching this point on our task. Catch this error, but continue to save the already loaded list. Save the latest cursor for the next page and prompt the user to continue loading after 15 minutes to continue loading.
  • if you want to have a list with more details about a user’s friends, extend the TwitterMentionSuggestionBase class with the matching properties.
  • this code can also be used to determine the followers of a user, you just need to change the url parameters as well as the signature parameters according to the matching Twitter endpoint

As always, I hope this is helpful for some of you. Until the next post, happy coding!

Posted by msicc in Dev Stories, windev, 3 comments