API

Handle AtomicPay’s webhook with Microsoft Azure (Part 2/3) – invoice verification with Azure KeyVault

Handle AtomicPay’s webhook with Microsoft Azure (Part 2/3) – invoice verification with Azure KeyVault

Series overview

  1. Handle the incoming notification with an Azure Function (first post)
  2. Verify the invoice state within the Azure Function, but store the API credentials in the most secure way (this post)
  3. Send a push notification via Azure Notificationhub to all devices that have linked a merchant’s account to it (third post [coming soon])

Storing credentials securely

When we consume web services, we need to authenticate our applications against them/their API. In the past, I always saw (and in fact, I also made) samples that do ignore the security of those credentials and provide them in code, leaving additional research (if you are new to that topic) and making the samples incomplete. As the goal of this post is to verify the state of a received invoice against the AtomicPay API, the first step is to provide a secure mechanism for storing our API credentials on Azure.

Get your AtomicPay API keys

If you haven’t signed up for an AtomicPay account, you should probably do it now. Once you have logged in, open the menu and select ‘API Integration‘:

AtomicPay menu select API Integration

On this page, you find your pre-generated API-Keys. Should your keys be compromised, you will be able to regenerate your keys here as well:

AtomicPay API Integration page

Introducing Azure KeyVault

According to the Azure KeyVault documentation, it is

a tool for securely storing and accessing secrets. A secret is anything that you want to tightly control access to, such as API keys, passwords, or certificates. A Vault is logical group of secrets.

As we are dealing with a public/private key credential combo, Azure KeyVault fits our goal to securely store the credentials perfectly. Since November last year, Azure Functions are able to use the KeyVault via their AppSettings. This is what the first half of this post is about.

Creating a new KeyVault

Login to the Azure Portal and go to the Marketplace. Search for ‘Key Vault‘ there and select it from the results:

Azure Marketplace search for Key Vault

You will be prompted with the creation menu. Give it a unique name and select your existing resource group (which will make sure we are in the correct location automatically). Once done, click on the create button:

Azure create new key vault menu

It will take a minute or two until the deployment is done. From the notification, you’ll get a direct link to the resource:

In the overview menu, select ‘Secrets’, where we will store our credentials:

Azure KeyVault menu - select Secrets

If you are wondering why we are using the ‘Secrets‘ option over ‘Keys‘ – the keys are already generated by AtomicPay, and the import function wants a backup file. I did not have a deeper look into this option as the ‘Secrets‘ option offers all I need.

The next step is to add a secret entry for AtomicPay’s account id, public and private key:

Azure KeyVault add secret

Once you have added the Application ID and your keys into ‘Secrets‘, click on ‘Overview‘. On the right-hand side, you’ll see an entry called ‘DNS Name’. Hover with the mouse to reveal the copy button and copy it:

Azure KeyVault Url Copy

Now go to your Azure Function and select ‘Application settings‘. Scroll a bit down and add a new setting. You can name it whatever you want, I just used ‘KeyVaultUri‘. Paste the url you have copied earlier into the value field. Do not forget to hit the ‘Save‘-button after that:

Azure Function - Application settings

Now we are just one step away of being able to use the KeyVault in our code. Go back to ‘Overview‘ on your Function and click on the ‘Platform features‘ tab. Select ‘Identity‘ there:

Azure Function select Identity

We need to enable the ‘System assigned‘ managed identity feature to allow the Function to interact with the Azure KeyVault from our code. This will add our Function to an Azure AD instance that handles the access rights for us:

Azure function enable System assigned identity

Now we have everything in place to use the KeyVault to retrieve the API credentials we need for invoice verification.

Retrieving credentials in our code

Before we start to rewrite our function code, we need to install two NuGet-Packages into our Function project. Right click on the project and select ‘Manage NuGet Packages…‘. Search for these to packages and install them:

Refactoring the initial code

Whenever possible, we should take the chance to refactor our code. I have done so on adding the authentication layer for this sample. First, we will be moving the code to get the payload off the webhook into its own method:

        private static async Task<WebhookInvoiceInfo> GetPaymentPayload(HttpRequestMessage requestMessage)
        {
            _traceWriter.Info("trying to get payload object from request...");
            WebhookInvoiceInfo result = null;
            _jsonSerializerSettings = new JsonSerializerSettings()
            {
                MetadataPropertyHandling = MetadataPropertyHandling.Ignore,
                DateParseHandling = DateParseHandling.None,
                Converters ={

                        new IsoDateTimeConverter { DateTimeStyles = DateTimeStyles.AssumeUniversal },
                        StringToLongConverter.Instance,
                        StringToDecimalConverter.Instance,
                        StringToInvoiceStatusConverter.Instance,
                        StringToInvoiceStatusExceptionConverter.Instance
                }
            };

            _jsonSerializer = JsonSerializer.Create(_jsonSerializerSettings);

            using (var stream = await requestMessage.Content.ReadAsStreamAsync())
            {
                using (var reader = new StreamReader(stream))
                {
                    using (var jsonReader = new JsonTextReader(reader))
                    {
                        result = _jsonSerializer.Deserialize<WebhookInvoiceInfo>(jsonReader);
                    }
                }
            }

            return result;
        }

Next, we need are going to write another method to retrieve the credentials from the Azure KeyVault and initialize the AtomicPay SDK properly:

        private static async Task<bool> InitAtomicPay()
        {
            bool isAuthenticated = false;

            //initialize Azure Service Token Provider and authenticate this function against the KeyVault
            var serviceTokenProvider = new AzureServiceTokenProvider();
            var keyVaultClient = new KeyVaultClient(new KeyVaultClient.AuthenticationCallback(serviceTokenProvider.KeyVaultTokenCallback));

            //getting the key vault url
            var vaultBaseUrl = ConfigurationManager.AppSettings["KeyVaultUri"];

            //retrieving the appId and secrets
            var accId = await keyVaultClient.GetSecretAsync(vaultBaseUrl, "atomicpay-accId");
            var accPBK = await keyVaultClient.GetSecretAsync(vaultBaseUrl, "atomicpay-accPBK");
            var accPVK = await keyVaultClient.GetSecretAsync(vaultBaseUrl, "atomicpay-accPVK");

            //initialize AtomicPay SDK and return the result
            await AtomicPay.Config.Current.Init(accId.Value, accPBK.Value, accPVK.Value);

            if (!AtomicPay.Config.Current.IsInitialized)
            {
                isAuthenticated = false;
                _traceWriter.Info("failed to authenticate with AtomicPay");
            }
            else
            {
                isAuthenticated = true;
                _traceWriter.Info("successfully authenticated with AtomicPay.");
            }

            return isAuthenticated;
        }

Now that we authenticated against the API, we are finally able to verify the state of the invoice sent by the webhook. Let’s put everything together:

        //renamed this function (not particullary necessary)
        [FunctionName("InvoiceVerifier")]
        public static async Task<HttpResponseMessage> Run([HttpTrigger(AuthorizationLevel.Function, "post", Route = null)]HttpRequestMessage req, TraceWriter log)
        {
            //enable other methods to write to log
            _traceWriter = log;
            _traceWriter.Info($"arrived at function trigger for 'InvoiceVerifier'...");

            //retrieving the payload
            var payload = await GetPaymentPayload(req);

            //if payload is null, there is something wrong
            if (payload != null)
            {
                //authenticate the Function against AtomicPay
                var isAuthenticated = await InitAtomicPay();
                if (isAuthenticated)
                {
                    AtomicPay.Entity.InvoiceInfoDetails invoiceInfoDetails = null;

                    _traceWriter.Info($"trying to verify invoice id {payload.InvoiceId} ...");

                    //verifying the invoice 
                    using (var atomicPayClient = new AtomicPay.AtomicPayClient())
                    {
                        var invoiceObj = await atomicPayClient.GetInvoiceByIdAsync(payload?.InvoiceId);

                        if (invoiceObj == null)
                            return req.CreateResponse(HttpStatusCode.BadRequest, $"there was an error getting invoice with id {payload?.InvoiceId}. Response was null");

                        if (invoiceObj.IsError)
                            return req.CreateResponse(HttpStatusCode.BadRequest, $"there was an error getting invoice with id {payload?.InvoiceId}. Message from AtomicPay: {invoiceObj.Value.Message}");
                        else
                            invoiceInfoDetails = invoiceObj.Value?.Result?.FirstOrDefault();
                    }

                    //this will be the point where we will trigger the push notification in the last part
                    switch (invoiceInfoDetails.Status)
                    {
                        case AtomicPay.Entity.InvoiceStatus.Paid:
                        case AtomicPay.Entity.InvoiceStatus.PaidAfterExpiry:
                        case AtomicPay.Entity.InvoiceStatus.Overpaid:
                        case AtomicPay.Entity.InvoiceStatus.Complete:
                            log.Info($"invoice with id {invoiceInfoDetails.InvoiceId} is paid");
                            break;
                        default:
                            log.Info($"invoice with id {invoiceInfoDetails.InvoiceId} is not yet paid");
                            break;
                    }
                }
                else
                {
                    req.CreateResponse(HttpStatusCode.Unauthorized, "failed to authenticate with AtomicPay");
                }
            }
            else
                req.CreateResponse(HttpStatusCode.BadRequest, "there was an error getting the payload from request body");

            return req.CreateResponse(HttpStatusCode.OK, $"verified received invoice with id: '{payload?.InvoiceId}'");
        }

Save the changes to your code. After that, right click on the project and hit ‘Publish’ to update the function on Azure. Once you have published the updated code, you should be able to test your Function once again with Postman and receive a result like this:

Postman response from updated function

Conclusion

As you can see, Microsoft Azure provides a convenient way to store credentials and use them in your Azure Functions. This approach makes the whole process a whole lot more secure. This post also showed the ease of implementation of the AtomicPay .NET SDK.

In the third and last post of this series, we will connect our function to an Azure Notificationhub for sending push notifications to all devices that have registered with a certain merchant account. As always, I hope also this post was helpful for some of you.

Until the next post, happy coding, everyone!

Title image credit

Posted by msicc in Azure, Crypto&Blockchain, Dev Stories, Xamarin, 0 comments
Handle AtomicPay’s webhook with Microsoft Azure (Part 1/3)

Handle AtomicPay’s webhook with Microsoft Azure (Part 1/3)

In case you missed the announcement of the SDK, here is a quick way to read it now:

What is a webhook?

Webhooks are gaining popularity, and a lot of services and websites provide them for easier interactions with other websites and service. Most commonly, webhooks are triggered by an event, and send a request to subscribers of the webhook. AtomicPay provides such a webhook for invoices and their payment state.

Why Azure?

There are several reasons, with Azure being my personal choice of cloud service being the main one. Besides that, Azure provides two additional features I am a fan of, namely Azure KeyVault for credential handling and Azure Notificationhub for pushing notifications to a broad range of platforms. This new series will be split into three parts:

  1. Handle the incoming notification with an Azure Function (this post)
  2. Verify the invoice state within the Azure Function, but store the API credentials in the most secure way (second post)
  3. Send a push notification via Azure Notificationhub to all devices that have linked a merchant’s account to it (third post)

Getting started

First, login to your Azure account (or create a new one). On the left menu, select ‘Create a resource’ and search for ‘Serverless Function App’:

Azure Portal create new resource

In the next step, you’ll assign a name for your Function, create a new resource group and assign or create a storage account:

Azure new Function App settings

Once deployment is finished, click the ‘Go to resource’ button in the portal notification:

Azure notification deployment succeeded

Next step is to add the code for our function. Click on the ‘+’ sign besides ‘Functions’:

add new function

Now you have to decide how you want to move on in development. I chose Visual Studio, because we need some Nuget packages later and I enjoy having Intellisense while writing code. Just follow the instructions on screen to get your project up and running.

select ide for writing function code

Make sure you are selecting the v1 (.NET Framework) version of the project. This is needed because we want to connect to a Notificationhub later (in the third post), and as of now, v2 does not support this (according to the docs).

VS new project dialog for Azure Function

With a click on ‘OK’, Visual Studio creates the new project for you.

Seeing some code… finally!

If you look at the just generated code in the generated Function class, you may immediately be reminded at something. You’re right, as Azure functions are based on ASP.NET, so there are some similarities. Let’s have a look at the parameters of the Run method (you can change the method name as the FunctionName attribute declares the method already as such).

The first parameter is the HttpTriggerAttribute, which defines the AuthorizationLevel, the allowed methods and an optional route. The only change that I made to the default attribute parameters is to remove the “get” method, because AtomicPay’s Webhook sends a POST request.

The second parameter is the HttpRequestMessage that contains the request sent from AtomicPay. If you have been working with APIs or other web requests already, this should be familiar. We will work with this part as the sample continues.

Last but not least, we have a logging provider that enables us to write to the Azure Function’s log (which can be really useful if you’re searching an error). We will also use this as the sample continues.

AtomicPay webhook payload

In order to be able to handle the payload from AtomicPay, it is helpful to have a payload sample. Luckily, AtomicPay provides a detailed documentation for the webhook (as it does for the API). The payload looks like this:

 {
"invoice_id":"DBVZzHMxjjfdRZYeignEZC",
"order_id":"1235425",
"fiat_price":"1.00",
"fiat_currency":"USD",
"payment_currency":"BTC",
"payment_rate":"4,192.00",
"payment_address":"bc1qmtyax97phenvvs3sdg5r45kdcphd",
"payment_total":"0.00023855",
"payment_paid":"0.00023855",
"payment_due":"0.00000000",
"payment_txid":"14edecbf114f2b2e73cf7470916122286506de5",
"payment_confirmation":"3",
"status":"confirmed",
"statusException":"null"
} 

Depending on the cryptocurrency of the invoice, your function will be triggered multiple times – every time the status updates. As you probably want to have different actions for different states, it makes sense to create a class based on the JSON for deserialization and to further work with:

    public class WebhookInvoiceInfo
    {
        [JsonProperty("invoice_id")]
        public string InvoiceId { get; set; }

        [JsonProperty("order_id")]
        public string OrderId { get; set; }

        [JsonProperty("fiat_price")]
        [JsonConverter(typeof(StringToDecimalConverter))]
        public decimal FiatPrice { get; set; }

        [JsonProperty("fiat_currency")]
        public string FiatCurrency { get; set; }

        [JsonProperty("payment_currency")]
        public string PaymentCurrency { get; set; }

        [JsonProperty("payment_rate")]
        public string PaymentRate { get; set; }

        [JsonProperty("payment_address")]
        public string PaymentAddress { get; set; }

        [JsonProperty("payment_total")]
        [JsonConverter(typeof(StringToDecimalConverter))]
        public decimal PaymentTotal { get; set; }

        [JsonProperty("payment_paid")]
        [JsonConverter(typeof(StringToDecimalConverter))]
        public decimal PaymentPaid { get; set; }

        [JsonProperty("payment_due")]
        [JsonConverter(typeof(StringToDecimalConverter))]
        public decimal PaymentDue { get; set; }

        [JsonProperty("payment_txid")]
        public string PaymentTxid { get; set; }

        [JsonProperty("payment_confirmation")]
        [JsonConverter(typeof(StringToLongConverter))]
        public long PaymentConfirmation { get; set; }

        [JsonProperty("status")]
        [JsonConverter(typeof(StringToInvoiceStatusConverter))]
        public InvoiceStatus Status { get; set; }

        [JsonProperty("statusException")]
        [JsonConverter(typeof(StringToInvoiceStatusExceptionConverter))]
        public InvoiceStatusException StatusException { get; set; }
    }

You may have noticed that I have converters attached to some properties above. They are needed to convert the values into their correct types, as the API generally sends just strings. The class and its converters are part of the AtomicPay .NET SDK (find it on Nuget or Github), which we will use also in the second part of this blog series. Add the library in your prefered way to the project.

Working with the webhook’s payload

For this first part of the series, we are just going to write log entries based on the status of the incoming webhook. Just add these lines to the Run method of your function:

        [FunctionName("Function1")]
        public static async Task<HttpResponseMessage> Run([HttpTrigger(AuthorizationLevel.Function, "post", Route = null)]HttpRequestMessage req, TraceWriter log)
        {
            log.Info($"arrived at function trigger for AtomicPay webhook.");
            log.Info("trying to get payload object from request...");
            WebhookInvoiceInfo result = null;
            _jsonSerializerSettings = new JsonSerializerSettings()
            {
                MetadataPropertyHandling = MetadataPropertyHandling.Ignore,
                DateParseHandling = DateParseHandling.None,
                Converters ={

                        new IsoDateTimeConverter { DateTimeStyles = DateTimeStyles.AssumeUniversal },
                        StringToLongConverter.Instance,
                        StringToDecimalConverter.Instance,
                        StringToInvoiceStatusConverter.Instance,
                        StringToInvoiceStatusExceptionConverter.Instance
                }
            };

            _jsonSerializer = JsonSerializer.Create(_jsonSerializerSettings);

            using (var stream = await req.Content.ReadAsStreamAsync())
            {
                using (var reader = new StreamReader(stream))
                {
                    using (var jsonReader = new JsonTextReader(reader))
                    {
                        result = _jsonSerializer.Deserialize<WebhookInvoiceInfo>(jsonReader);
                    }
                }
            }

            if (result != null)
                log.Info($"received payload for invoice id: {result.InvoiceId} with status {result.Status.ToString()}");
            else
                log.Info("there was an error getting the payload from the request body");

            return result == null ?
                req.CreateResponse(HttpStatusCode.BadRequest, "there was an error getting the payload from the request body") :
                req.CreateResponse(HttpStatusCode.OK, "OK");
        }

We are reading the response content from the HttpRequestMessage and deserialize it. If there is no payload or something went wrong, our result will be null. We are writing a log entry that indicates if we have received a payload and the status of the invoice within it. In the end, we are returning the appropriate response to the POST request.

Testing the function locally

Another big advantage of using Visual Studio to write the Azure Function is the ability to debug locally. If you haven’t done so, you’ll need to install the
Azure Functions Core (CLI) tools – Visual Studio will prompt you to do so. Once that is done, we are able to debug locally:

Visual Studio debugging Azure function

Now that our local service is running, let’s test the function with Postman (this is one of my test invoices):

Postman request to local API test

As we can see, everything went smooth and our Function is working like expected:

API log local test

Now that we have verified our Function is able to run, we are ready to publish it.

Publishing the Function to Azure

To initiate the process, right click on the project name and select ‘Publish’. As we have already defined our project in the Azure Portal, we are using the ‘Select Existing’ option in the next step:

Publish to Azure Step 1

I am not selecting the ‘run from package file’ option here. Click ‘Publish’ to continue. You will be prompted with a selection window once again (you may have to login to your account first). Select your created project:

Publish to Azure Step 2

Confirm you selection with ‘OK’. After doing some additional preparation steps, Visual Studio will allow you to click the ‘Publish’ button:

Publish to Azure Step 3

Once you have published your function, visit the Azure Portal once again. Select your published function. The portal will show you the function.json declaration file. In the upper part of the website, you will find options to ‘Save‘, ‘Run‘ and ‘ </> Get function URL ‘. Click on the last one to view your function’s url:

Azure portal get function url

I am pretty sure you noticed the code parameter in the url. This parameter is needed with every call to your Azure function as authorization parameter. To test your function on Azure, copy the url and paste it into Postman (replacing the localhost url we used for local testing). You should get the same result in Postman – optimally, an OK-response.

Conclusion

If you followed along and your function is up and running – congratulations! You just created a basic “serverless” (aka running on someone else’s server) function. In the next post in this series, we will initialize the AtomicPay SDK properly, after we added our API credentials to another feature running on Azure – the KeyVault. As always, I hope this post is helpful for some of you.

Until the next post, happy coding, everyone!

Title image credit

Posted by msicc in Azure, Crypto&Blockchain, Dev Stories, Xamarin, 1 comment
Introducing Coinpaprika and announcing C# API Client

Introducing Coinpaprika and announcing C# API Client

As I am diving deeper and deeper into the world of cryptocurrencies, I am exploring quite some interesting products. One of them is Coinpaprika, a market research site with some extensive information on every coin they have listed.

What is Coinpaprika?

In the world of cryptocurrencies, there are several things one needs to discover before investing. Starting with information on the project and its digital currencies, the persons behind a project as well as their current value and its price, there is a lot of data to walk through before investing. Several sites out there are providing aggregated information, and even provide APIs for us developers. However, most of them are

  •  extremely rate limited
  •  freemium with a complex pricing model
  •  slow

Why Coinpaprika?

A lot of services that provide aggregated data rely on data of the big players like CoinMarketCap. Coinpaprika, however, has a different strategy. They are pulling their data from a whopping number of 176 exchanges into their own databases, without any proxy. They have their own valuation system and a very fast refreshing rate (16 000 price updates per minute). If you have some time and want to compare how prices match up with their competition, Coinpaprika even implemented a metrics page for you. In my personal experience, their data is more reliable average to those values I see on those exchanges I deal with (Binance, Coinbase, BitPanda, Changelly, Shapeshift).

Coinpaprika API and Clients

Early last week, I discovered Coinpaprika on Steemit. They announced their API is now available to the general public along with clients for PHP, GO, Swift and NodeJS. Coinpaprika has also a WordPress plugin and an embeddable widget (on a coin’s detail page) that allows you to easily show price information on your website. After discovering their site, I got in contact with them to discuss a possible C# implementation for several reasons:

  •  very generous rate limits (25 920 00 requests per month, others are around 6 000 to 10 000), which enables very different implementation scenarios
  •  their API is fast like hell
  •  their independence from third parties besides exchanges
  •  their very catchy name (just being honest)

A few days later, I was able to discuss the publication of the C# API client implementation I wrote with them. I am happy to announce that you can now download the C# API Client from Nuget or fork it from my Github repository. They will also link to it from their official API repository soon. The readme-file on Github serves as documentation as well and shows how to easily integrate their data into your .NET apps. The library itself is written in .NET Standard 2.0. If there is the need to target lower versions, feel free to open a pull request on Github. The Github repo contains also a console tester application.

Conclusion

If you need reliable market data and information on the different projects behind all those cryptocurrencies, you should evaluate Coinpaprika. They aggregate their data without any third party involved and provide an easy to use and blazing fast API. I hope my contribution in form of the C# API client will be helpful for some of you out there.

If you like their product as much as I do, follow them:

  • Twitter: https://twitter.com/coinpaprika
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/coinpaprika/
  • Steemit: https://steemit.com/@coinpaprika
  • Medium: https://medium.com/coinpaprika
  • Telegram: https://t.me/Coinpaprika

Happy coding, everyone!

Disclaimer: I am contributing to this project with code written by me under the MIT License. Future contributions may contain their own (and different) disclaimer. I am not getting paid for my contributions to the project.

Please note that none of my crypto related posts is an investment or financial advice. As crypto currencies are volatile and risky,  you should only invest as much as you can afford to lose. Always do your own research!

Posted by msicc in Crypto&Blockchain, Dev Stories, Editorials, 1 comment

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

Detect and remove Emojis from Text on Windows Phone

noemoticonskeyboard

In my recent project, I work with a lot of text that get’s its value from user input. To enable the best possible experience for my users, I choose the InputScope Text on all TextBoxes, because it provides the word suggestions while writing.

The Text will be submitted to a webserver via a REST API. And now the problem starts. The emojis that are part of the Windows Phone OS are not supported by the API and the webserver.

Of course, I was immediately looking for a way to get around this. I thought this might be helpful for some of you, so I am sharing two little helper methods for detecting and removing the emojis .

After publishing the first version of this post, I got some feedback that made me investigating a bit more on this topic.  The emojis are so called unicode symbols, and thanks to the Unicode behind it, they are compatible with all platforms that have the matching Unicode list implemented.

Windows Phone has  a subset of all available Unicode characters in the OS keyboard, coming from different ranges in the Unicode characters charts. Like we have to do sometimes, we have to maintain our own list to make sure that all emojis are covered by our app in this case and update our code if needed.

If you want to learn more about unicode charts, they are officially available here: http://www.unicode.org/charts/

Update 2: I am using this methods in a real world app. Although the underlying Unicode can be used, often normal text will be read as emoji. That’s why I reverted back to my initial version with the emojis in it. I never had any problems with that.

Now let’s have a look at the code I am using. First is my detecting method, that returns a bool after checking the text (input):

             public static bool HasUnsoppertedCharacter(string text)
             {
            string pattern = @"[{allemojisshere}]";

            Regex RegexEmojisKeyboard = new Regex(pattern);

            bool booleanreturnvalue = false;

            if (RegexEmojisKeyboard.IsMatch(text))
            {
                booleanreturnvalue = true;
            }
            else if (!RegexEmojisKeyboard.IsMatch(text))
            {
                booleanreturnvalue = false;
            }
            return booleanreturnvalue;
            }

 

As you can see, I declared a character range with all emojis. If one or more emojis is found, the bool will always return true. This can be used to display a MessageBox for example while the user is typing.

The second method removes the emojis from any text that is passed as input string.

             public static string RemovedUnSoppertedCharacterString(string text)
             {
            string result = string.Empty;
            string cleanedResult = string.Empty;

            string pattern = @"[{allemojishere}]";

            MatchCollection matches = Regex.Matches(text, pattern);

            foreach (Match match in matches)
            {
                result = Regex.Replace(text, pattern, string.Empty);
                cleanedResult = Regex.Replace(result, "  ", " ");
            }
            return cleanedResult;
             }

Also here I am using the character range with all emojis . The method writes all occurrences of emojis into a MatchCollection for Regex. I iterate trough this collection to remove all of them. The Method also checks the string for double spaces in the text and makes it a single space, as this happens while removing the emojis .

User Experience hint:

use this method with care, as it could be seen as a data loss from your users. I am using the first method to display a MessageBox to the user that emojis are not supported and that they will be removed, which I am doing with the second method. This way, my users are informed and they don’t need to do anything to correct that.

You might have noticed that there is a placeholder “{allemojishere}” in the code above. WordPress or the code plugin I use aren’t supporting the Emoticons in code, that’s why I attached my helper class.

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

Happy coding!

Posted by msicc in Dev Stories, windev, 1 comment

The very weird way of checking if Bluetooth or Location is enabled

BT_GPS_WP_Blog

As I am in constant development of new features for my NFC Toolkit, I came to the point where I needed to detect if Bluetooth and Location is enabled or not.

I searched about an hour across the internet, searched all well known WPDev sites as well as the MSDN Windows Phone documentation.

The solution is a very weird one.

As I change the opacitiy of an Image depending on the stauts (on/off), I created the following async Task to check:

private async Task GetBluetoothState()
 {
 PeerFinder.AlternateIdentities["Bluetooth:Paired"] = "";

            try
 {
 var peers = await PeerFinder.FindAllPeersAsync();

                Dispatcher.BeginInvoke(() =>
 {
 BluetoothTileImage.Opacity = 1;
 });
 }
 catch (Exception ex)
 {
 if ((uint)ex.HResult == 0x8007048F)
 {
 Dispatcher.BeginInvoke(() =>
 {
 BluetoothTileImage.Opacity = 0.5;
 });
 }
 }
 }

As you can see above, we are searching for already paired devices with the Proximity API of Windows Phone. If we don’t have any of our already paired devices reachable, and we don’t throw an exception with the HResult of “0x8007048F”, Bluetooth is on. If the exception is raised, Bluetooth is off.

In a very similar way we need to check if the location setting is on:

private async Task GetLocationServicesState()
 {
 Geolocator geolocator = new Geolocator();

try
 {
 Geoposition geoposition = await geolocator.GetGeopositionAsync(
 maximumAge: TimeSpan.FromMinutes(5),
 timeout: TimeSpan.FromSeconds(10)
 );

Dispatcher.BeginInvoke(() =>
 {
 LocationStatusTileImage.Opacity = 1;
 });

}
 catch (Exception ex)
 {
 if ((uint)ex.HResult == 0x80004004)
 {
 Dispatcher.BeginInvoke(() =>
 {
 LocationStatusTileImage.Opacity = 0.5;
 });
 }
 else
 {
 //tbd.
 }

}
}

For the location services, the HResult is “0x80004004”. We are trying to get the actual GeoLocation, and if the exception is thrown, location setting is off.

On Twitter, I got for the later one also another suggestion to detect if the location settings is enabled or not, by Kunal Chowdhury (=>follow him!):

geoLocator.LocationStatus == PositionStatus.Disabled;

This would work technically, but PositionStatus has 6 enumarations. Also, as stated here in the Nokia Developer Wiki, this can be a battery intese call (depends on the implementation). I leave it to you which one you want to use.

Back to the header of this post. Catching an exception to determine the Status of wireless connections just seems wrong to me. I know this is a working “solution” and we can use that. But it could have been better implemented (for example like the networking API).

I hope this post is helpful for some of you.

Until then, happy coding!

Posted by msicc in Dev Stories, windev, 0 comments