Submitted My Windows 8 App for their Contest

This afternoon I have finally completed my Metro style Windows 8 application.  I’m still entering data into the database, but the app itself is completed.  When the app is launched it pulls that data and displays it to the users.

Here are a few screen shots of my application:

My application is based on the House of Representatives.  It allows you to quickly discover your congress person and provides you with contact information including Twitter, Facebook and other links they’ve shared on their websites.

The contest started here:  https://buildwindowscontest.com/

If I win, I will be included in the first round of apps added to the new Microsoft App store… very exciting!

Wish me luck!

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Congressional District Polygons

Here I am again working on my House of Congress/Windows 8/Metro app contest when I’m wanting to show the individual districts each Congress person represents.  Using a Bing search I found myself back at the Census website.  This time looking at the congressional boundary files:  http://www.census.gov/geo/www/cob/cd110.html

I don’t know anything about the e00 or shp files, so I’ll be working with the available ascii files.

Each state’s zip file contains two dat files.  One dat contains the Long/Lat coordinates for various map-polygons which represent districts that are defined in the other dat file.  What I wanted was a way to tie together the dat files with the Districts table I’d already defined at the start of my development.

I need this information to be in the most covenant format for my application, therefore, I’ll be importing the information for each state into my SQL database.  I created a new table defined as follows:image

SNAGHTML6ef6126

Like many of my tables, I’ve setup an Id which auto increments and is the primary key for each row.  Next we have the linked DistrictID, the PolygonID identified within the dat file as well as the Latitude and Longitude values.

First thing was to download each individual ascii file, unblock (windows 7 “feature”), extract and rename each file… only took 20min.

Then using my import program, I follow the following sudo code to get into my database:

foreach DAT file
    read in dat and def files
    extract state name //will use this later to get district reference
    
    open database
    find state
   
    foreach dat file line
        parse Long/Lat and cur Polygon # if available
        if cur Polygon # found, then
            foreach def file line
                if cur polygon # then
                    district id = line
        if have district id and current polygon
            insert new coordinates into database

In the end we have a database called Boundaries that looks something like this:

image

If you have any questions or would like to see the source code for my importer mention it in the comments section below.

XML Deserialization

So, you have an XML document, your programming in Visual Studio 11 for your new Windows 8 Metro app, and you need to access the data within?  I’m here to help…

DE serializing your XML document is very simple.  First you’ll need to define a CLASS object the way your XML document is…

Here’s my example XML document:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>

<Congress>
  <Regions>
    <Region>
      <Title>Northeast</Title>

      <States>
        <State>
          <Title>Connecticut</Title>

          <Districts>
            <District>
              <Title>District 1</Title>
              <SubTitle>Larson, John B.</SubTitle>
            </District>
          </Districts>
        </State>
      </States>
    </Region>
  </Regions>
</Congress>

This is an example of an XML document I’m currently using in my contest application.  As you can see there can be multiple Regions, States or Districts.  Each organized in sub objects… I am showing you only one of each since it would get pretty long otherwise…

Now, we’ll need a few classes organized just like this XML document:

[XmlRoot("Congress")]
public class clsCongress
{
    [XmlArray("Regions")]
    [XmlArrayItem("Region", typeof(clsRegion))]
    public clsRegion[] Region { get; set; }
}

[XmlRoot("Regions")]
public class clsRegion
{
    [XmlElement("Title")]
    public string Title { get; set; }

    [XmlArray("States")]
    [XmlArrayItem("State", typeof(clsState))] 
    public clsState[] State { get; set; }
}

[XmlRoot("States")]
public class clsState
{
    [XmlElement("Title")]
    public string Title { get; set; }
        
    [XmlArray("Districts")]
    [XmlArrayItem("District", typeof(clsDistrict))]
    public clsDistrict[] District { get; set; }
}

[XmlRoot("Districts")]
public class clsDistrict
{        
    [XmlElement("Title")]
    public string Title { get; set; }
        
    [XmlElement("SubTitle")]
    public string SubTitle { get; set; }
}


As you can see form my class objects, you’ll need to specify the XmlRoot for each class as well as each XmlElement so everything maps correctly.  In my example, the elements match, but they don’t have to so long as they’re mapped with the XmlElement tag.

Now, I know you can find this code anywhere on the net… but what they don’t go into detail explaining is the array variables I have shown here. 

In my example, I have Congress which is made up of multiple Regions, which is made up of multiple States, and Districts.  In my example here, I demonstrate how to get multiple sub-objects pulled in easily and quickly.

Here is the code I use to load up the XML text, oh and I’m downloading this content using the new fancy async features from VS11 and Windows 8:

internal async Task PullRegionsAsync(Uri baseUri)
{
    string baseUrl = "https://danielheth.com/myexample.xml";

    //download the data xml
    //http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/system.net.http.httpclienthandler.maxrequestcontentbuffersize(v=VS.110).aspx
    //says there is a 65k limit on the size of what this function will download...
    var client = new HttpClient();
    var response = await client.GetAsync(baseUrl + "Data.xml");
            
    //------------------------------------------------
    //convert xml into an easily digestable object
    clsCongress congress = null;
    XmlSerializer des = new XmlSerializer(typeof(clsCongress));
    congress = (clsCongress)des.Deserialize(response.Content.ContentReadStream);
    //------------------------------------------------

    foreach (clsRegion r in congress.Region)
    {
        string RegionTitle = r.Title;

        foreach (clsState s in r.State)
        {
            string StateTitle = s.Title;

            foreach (clsDistrict d in s.District)
            {
                string DistrictTitle = d.Title;
            }
        }
    }
}

There you have it… deserializing your XML document into an easily digestible object within C#.

If you have any questions or comments please leave them below…

Windows 8 Metro Application–Bing Maps

I’ve entered myself into a new Windows 8 application contest.  I’ve come up with a wonderful idea which includes utilizing Bing Maps.  After an awful lot of research I’ve come up with something that works… Perfectly!!!

Since this is a Windows 8 application, I’m writing this in Visual Studio 11 express which utilizes an awesome multi-threading feature called async/await.  So I’ll be taking advantage of that here.

First thing I needed to do was acquire my Bing Map Developers key… Acquire yours free from:  https://www.bingmapsportal.com

Let’s start coding!!!

I followed the following MSDN article to setup my app for access to the Bing SOAP API’s.  http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc966738.aspx

Then added the following to the top of my code:

using HouseofRepresentatives.GeocodeService;
using HouseofRepresentatives.SearchService;
using HouseofRepresentatives.ImageryService;
using HouseofRepresentatives.RouteService;


private ImageSource _map = null;
public String Latitude = "";
public String Longitude = "";


public ImageSource Map
{
    get
    {
        if (this._map == null) UpdateMap();
        return this._map;
    }

    set
    {
        if (this._map != value)
        {
            this._map = value;
            this.OnPropertyChanged("Map");
        }
    }
}

I had two situations for my locations… in one case I knew the exact Lat/Lon, and in others I only knew an address… in my case a state name.  First I needed to turn that address into a Lat/Lon for passing onto the get map function.

private async Task<string> getLocationPoint(string address)
{
    if (address != null && address != "")
    {
        GeocodeRequest request = new GeocodeRequest();
        request.ExecutionOptions = new HouseofRepresentatives.GeocodeService.ExecutionOptions();
        request.ExecutionOptions.SuppressFaults = true;
        GeocodeServiceClient geocodeClient = 
            new GeocodeServiceClient(GeocodeServiceClient.EndpointConfiguration.BasicHttpBinding_IGeocodeService);
        HouseofRepresentatives.GeocodeService.Credentials t = 
            new HouseofRepresentatives.GeocodeService.Credentials();
        t.Token = "[[put your Bing Maps Key Here]]";

        request.Query = address;
        request.Credentials = t;

        GeocodeResponse response = await geocodeClient.GeocodeAsync(request);
        if (response.Results.Count() > 0)
        {
            return response.Results[0].Locations[0].Latitude.ToString() + 
                "," + response.Results[0].Locations[0].Longitude.ToString();
        }
    }
    return "";
}

Next I needed to actually get the Image from Bing.  Now let’s do that using the following function:

private async Task<string> GetImagery(string locationString)
{  //http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd221354.aspx
    string key = "[[insert your Bing Maps Key here]]";
    MapUriRequest mapUriRequest = new MapUriRequest();

    // Set credentials using a valid Bing Maps key
    mapUriRequest.Credentials = 
        new HouseofRepresentatives.ImageryService.Credentials();
    mapUriRequest.Credentials.ApplicationId = key;
                      

    // Set the location of the requested image
    mapUriRequest.Center = new HouseofRepresentatives.ImageryService.Location();
    string[] digits = locationString.Split(',');
            
    mapUriRequest.Center.Latitude = double.Parse(digits[0].Trim());
    mapUriRequest.Center.Longitude = double.Parse(digits[1].Trim());

    // Set the map style and zoom level
    MapUriOptions mapUriOptions = new MapUriOptions();
    mapUriOptions.Style = MapStyle.AerialWithLabels;
    mapUriOptions.ZoomLevel = 17;

    // Set the size of the requested image in pixels
    mapUriOptions.ImageSize = new HouseofRepresentatives.ImageryService.SizeOfint();
    mapUriOptions.ImageSize.Height = 240;
    mapUriOptions.ImageSize.Width = 480;

    mapUriRequest.Options = mapUriOptions;

    //Make the request and return the URI
    ImageryServiceClient imageryService = 
        new ImageryServiceClient(ImageryServiceClient.EndpointConfiguration.BasicHttpBinding_IImageryService);
            
    try
    {
        MapUriResponse mapUriResponse = await imageryService.GetMapUriAsync(mapUriRequest);

        if (mapUriResponse.Uri != null)
        {
            return mapUriResponse.Uri;
        }
        else { return ""; }
    }
    catch (Exception ex)
    {
        return "";
    }
}

Ok… now that I have my image Uri, it’s time to use it to load a picture:

public async Task<bool> UpdateMap(string address = "")
{
    if (address != "")
    {
        //then user is specifying an address instead of a specific long/lat.  
        //We need to get that info in order to proceed...
        string point = await getLocationPoint(address);
        if (point != "")
        {
            string[] p = point.Split(',');
            Latitude = p[0];
            Longitude = p[1];
        }
    }

    if (Longitude != "" && Latitude != "")
    {
        string uripath = await GetImagery(Longitude + "," + Latitude);
        if (uripath != "")
        {
            this.Map = new BitmapImage(new Uri(uripath));
            return true;
        }
        else
        {
            this.Map = new BitmapImage(new Uri(imageBaseUri, "Data/blank.png"));
            return false;
        }
    }
    else
    {
        this.Map = new BitmapImage(new Uri(imageBaseUri, "Data/blank.png"));
        return false;
    }
}

If you’ve stuck with me this far… you are a programmer… LOL.

In each of my functions I utilized the new async/await features.  This means when I call either of the two functions as below, it will load the image once the OS has downloaded and cached it.  The image will automatically appear when ready…

//calling the get-map function with an address
UpdateMap("Arkansas");

//or
UpdateMap("1 Microsoft Way, Redmond, Washington");

//or i can configure my lat/lon then update
Latitude = "39.450000762939453";
Longitude = "-98.907997131347656";
UpdateMap();

If you guys have any questions or comments, be sure to post them below!

CountDown Timer

SNAGHTMLd734465During our last Week in Review broadcast, I realized we needed a timer which would provide us a visual queue for the start and stop of the broadcast.  Since our show is centered around the start of the hour and lasts for an hour, the programming was rather easy to accomplish.

I built an application which would count down to the hour and flash at the 2min warning and on the hour.  Since I have all these spare monitors on the wall, what better place to put it than up there.

Get it from CNET Download.com!

Compiling an Application to require UAC Rights Elevation

Recently I was developing an application that played around with my services.  I kept running into the access denied message.  After some research I found out it was related to UAC.

After compiling the application and right-clicking to run as administrator, I wanted something that would force my app to be run as administrator automatically…. thus my search began:

The solution came from Judah Himango on the following post:  http://stackoverflow.com/questions/227187/uac-need-for-console-application

To implement what he’s talking about do the following:

1. Download and install the Windows SDK from http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?displaylang=en&id=11310

This SDK contains the MT command referenced in Judah’s response.

 

2. Add a program manifest to your application:

image

 

3. Modify the manifest to reflect the new “requireAdministrator” status as below:

image

 

2. Paste in the following line in your projects post-build step under Visual Studio:

(for 64-bit systems)

"C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v7.0A\Bin\mt.exe" -manifest "$(ProjectDir)$(TargetName).exe.manifest" -updateresource:"$(TargetDir)$(TargetName).exe;#1"

 

(for 32-bit systems)

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v7.0A\Bin\mt.exe" -manifest "$(ProjectDir)$(TargetName).exe.manifest" -updateresource:"$(TargetDir)$(TargetName).exe;#1"

 

image

 

Compile and you’re done.  On Windows 7, vista and 2008 (r2), you should see a little shield next to your icon indicating that administrator privileges are required to run your app.

image

 

Hope this helps others out there!   Let me know by posting your comment below.

Wireless provides an easy Virtual GPS device

858001-1053401So I’ve done the research and have determined what Skyhook wireless and other Wi-Fi Mapping companies has done and it is ingenious!  Ok, let me set the scene:  Say you’re walking through the forest and spot an interesting tree.  Right next to that is another interesting tree.  If you end up walking in circles in the forest and you see those same two interesting trees you know where you are at that instant right?

Well… apply that same line of thinking to wireless access points (AP) anywhere in the world.  Skyhook has went around the world mapping out all of the access points and linking them to GPS locations… Thus if your in a certain location and you see 5 wireless access points around you and one of them has a 99% signal.  Odds are you are extremely close to that access point right? Send the information about that access point (like ssid and/or mac) to skyhook and they’ll send you back your most likely position.  This is the perfect mix of technology and good old fashion logic.

Well I’ve spent the time putting together the components needed to do this very same mapping and I’m sharing it with you guys free…  You will need a few things… a laptop with Wi-Fi and a GPS device. 

As far as code goes, you’ll need the following two visual studio 2008 projects:

1. WifiScanner (755kb) – a program to be run on the laptop.  It uses netsh and GPS (41kb) to map out all of the surrounding Wi-Fi access points. This map is uploaded via a SOAP call to our next program needed…

2. SOAP vGPS (56kb) – a server side application for databasing the mapped access points and returning results for finding your virtual GPS location.

The great thing about this project is the bigger the map gets the more accurate the vGPS becomes.

There are two directions these VS projects can go… the first is to complete the logging feature on the WifiScanner so the data can be captured off-line and uploaded at a later time… or second an offline and portable database can be created for personal use.  This database can be updated as you drive and vGPS can be taken with you so if you are not using the real GPS device, the vGPS can act as a viable alternative.

Comment on all the things you do with this stuff below…