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:

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!

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:

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


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:


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

Let’s start coding!!!

I followed the following MSDN article to setup my app for access to the Bing SOAP API’s.

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
        if (this._map == null) UpdateMap();
        return this._map;

        if (this._map != value)
            this._map = value;

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)
{  //
    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);
        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;
            this.Map = new BitmapImage(new Uri(imageBaseUri, "Data/blank.png"));
            return false;
        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("1 Microsoft Way, Redmond, Washington");

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

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