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As I’ve already written in my blog post from July 2012, there is now the SharePoint 2013 mobile client authentication object model which you can use to authenticate users of your mobile app against SharePoint 2013.

Here are some more details, so that you can easily integrate SharePoint into your apps.

Authenticator

Authenticator UI

Source: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj163079.aspx

The object model provides two classes called “Authenticator” and “ODataAuthenticator”.

Authenticator works with ClientContext and cannot be used across multiple URLs.

When you use ODataAuthenticator it works with DataServiceContext and you’ll get an additional property called “ResolvedUrl”:

Gets the URL that is used for communication to the server that is running SharePoint when an ODataAuthenticator is being used. This may be the URL published on the Unified Access Gateway (UAG) server or, if the AllowSmartRouting property is true, this may be the SharePoint intranet URL if it is reached first when theAuthenticate method is called

The following authentication methods are supported:

  • Default: Windows Authentication
  • FormsAuthentication: Represents forms-based authentication mode
  • Anonymous: Represents anonymous access mode
  • BrowserBasedAuthentication (old name) / MicrosoftOnline (new name): Represents Microsoft Office Forms Based Authentication (MSOFBA) mode

Also good to know:

  • The user name and password cannot be hard-coded for SharePoint Online.The user will be prompted for logon credentials, while for on-premises installations you could hard-wire a password, so that the user would never have to authenticate.
  • You can also use Federation Authentication and pass an ADFS authentication scheme like: “domain\user”, “password”

Code Samples

For Windows Phone developers, there are some code samples for SharePoint 2013 available in the Windows Phone Dev Center.

Unfortunately, however, the samples (even the ones from 3. Jan 13) are built against the Microsoft SharePoint SDK Preview for Windows Phone (published on 14. Aug 12), although the final version of the Microsoft SharePoint SDK for Windows Phone is available since 30. Oct 12. (Update: My colleague Heinrich Ulbricht has also tested it and can confirm the differences between the two SDK versions.)

So if the code samples won’t build and you receive the following error message…

The type or namespace name ‘Authenticator’ could not be found (are you missing a using directive or an assembly reference?)

…then here is what to do:

  • Go to “References” > “Add reference…” and add the following DLL:

Assembly Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.Phone.Auth.UI

C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SDKs\SharePoint\v15.0\Phone\v7.1\Libraries\Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.Phone.Auth.UI.dll

Bildschirmfoto 2013-01-19 um 03.39.10
Also new, compared to the preview version of the SDK:
  • Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.Search.Applications.Phone.dll
  • Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.Search.Phone.dll

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No problem!

You’ll only have to register as a Microsoft Partner, take a 30-minute online course and subscribe to the Action Pack Development and Design which will cost you 429 USD or 350 EUR per year and includes everything you’ll need – from Windows Server to Visual Studio Professional.

This is actually cheaper than a stand-alone copy of Visual Studio Professional, which costs about 470 USD or 590 EUR.

See also: Free SharePoint 2010 development environment (three ways to get one)

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Let me start with an introduction of how it works with the previous version of SharePoint:

SharePoint 2010

Microsoft has an official document on what features are supported on Mac and what you’ll miss. Just go to the Office for Mac 2011 Administrator’s Guide and read this article:

They list a total of 7 features as “not included”.

There is also a very helpful blog post by Jie Li on MSDN:

His article answers the following questions with detailed explanations and screenshots:

  • Can Mac users use SharePoint 2010?
  • Can SharePoint Admins manage SharePoint 2010 with Safari?
  • Can I directly open Office file from SharePoint and save it back?
  • Can I upload file to SharePoint using Mac?
  • Can I upload multiple files to SharePoint using Mac?
  • Can I have Explorer View in Mac?
  • How do I use Infopath/Onenote/Access/Visio, etc…on SharePoint with Mac?
  • Does Media Web Part work on Mac?
  • Can I insert HTML5 video content to SharePoint so it can work with Mac?
  • Since I have already installed Office for Mac 2011, can I use the features on the Ribbon such as Connect to Outlook, Excel, SharePoint Workspace, etc?
  • Can I edit SharePoint pages using Safari? I cannot do it with iPad or iPhone!
  • Is there presence support if I installed Communicator for Mac?

Finally, this video from Dux gives you an impression of how SharePoint 2010 works on a Mac.

SharePoint 2013

There is no official documentation for the use of SharePoint 2013 with Office for Mac 2011, yet.

So I’ve collected some things that you should know:

  • Most of the restrictions and missing features listed above are still valid for SharePoint 2013 as the technological basis for most of these features has not changed that much.
  • The TechNet document Plan browser support in SharePoint 2013 says that Safari is “Supported”. Unfortunately “Supported” does not mean that you will get full functionality. There are a hand full of features, that still only work with ActiveX (IE8/9 on Windows,Chrome/Firefox on Windows via plugins). This are important features like: presence information, Outlook integration (stssync), multiple file upload, and so on…)
  • Microsoft has no plans to create a version of Office 2013 for Mac. (see article on The Verge from July 2012)
  • If you are a subscriber of Office 365, this includes a license for Office 2013 for Windows and Office 2011 for Mac. You can download the clients via the downloads section of your Office 365 portal. So you could go, grab a copy of Windows 8 Pro for $39, virtualize your office client and enjoy full functionality for just a few bucks. 😉 (Hurry up, this offer only lasts until Jan 31, 2013.)
    Bildschirmfoto 2013-01-17 um 23.43.35
  • There is an official forum for Mac users. These forums are overseen by Microsoft employees. So if you have a problem or a question, you can go there and ask:
    Microsoft Community > Forums > Office for Mac
    Bildschirmfoto 2013-01-17 um 23.13.50

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Last month, during our christmas holidays, my son (9) asked me to teach him programming. Being a programmer myself, I was glad that he asked. I never pushed him in this direction, he came and asked by himself. I can still remember how I built our first personal computer together with my dad. The keyboard was made of custom-made wooden plates. I glued the leather coating on it. – Oh what times!

Because I didn’t know where to start, I asked my friends and colleagues about recommendations on how to teach programming for kids. These were some of their proposals:

I skipped Logo directly, because in 7th grade at school, we had to use Logo and I found it boring. Maybe this was because I had been using C++ in my free time since 5th grade. Don’t know. 😉

After going through all the other proposals, I decided to tryScratch logo, a project of the MIT Media Lab Lifelong Kindergarten Group.

Over 3,000,000 projects from around the world have been created with Scratch!

This is how it looks like:

Scratch screenshot

I won’t give you an introduction, the website does a pretty good job itself and Wikipedia can also help. There are also good books available. We bought a hard copy of Super Scratch Programming Adventure which I can recommend.

Let me tell you about some interesting observations from our first few days with Scratch.

What I’ve noticed:

  • The use of the cat as an object you can empathize with works very well. Children love to manipulate the sprites. We already had a cat that has been bitten by a vampire or a rocket with a fuse, which burns.
  • Creating little animations / swapping costumes is fun.
  • The second day, after he woke up, he had his brain filled with ideas for new programs. Our breakfast was exhausting. The problem of having too many things to do is somehow very well know to me. 😉
  • Errors happened, but he fixed them very fast and learned from them. They did not demotivate. Quite the contrary was the case: debugging sessions that we had together could really be fun.
  • At the beginning he used proper writing for his variables. After he realized that no user will ever see his variable names, he began to use abbreviations, ignore cases and gramar.
  • Kids have a love for details. Once we did a programming competition. My program had error handling routines, but his was much more beautiful.
  • The learning material and my “courses” only showed the possibilities and the building blocks the one can use. My son quickly found new combinations that I did never show or even think of. Very inspiring.

What my son realized very quickly:

  • Creating a program that is hard to use is easy, while creating a program that is easy to use is hard.
  • If you want to ask the player about his age so that you can calculate his year of birth, you better wait until next year, otherwise you’ll have to change your program. (Year was hard coded due to lack of a dynamic date variable.) 😀
  • For a good program, you also need a good designer: On the third day, he wanted to download special effects from the internet so that he could use them with his sprites. E.g. for an exploding airplane when crashing against a wall.

I’m looking forward to our next programming experiments and will tell you how it goes.

In the mean time, you might want to check out some of his first projects. There is a “Like” button… 😉

 

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Introduction

While there was no integrated backup functionality in Windows Phone 7, things have changed for the better with Windows Phone 8.

Windows Phone 8 uses SkyDrive to automatically backup your device settings to the cloud, similar to how your Windows 8 settings are backed up, when you use a Microsoft account for login. (See: Your life, connected through the cloud)

With such a backup you can restore your previous configuration, which for example can be necessary after a reset of the phone, a firmware upgrade, buying a new phone or if your Windows Phone 8 doesn’t work or respond as expected.

Microsoft provides two short and easy to understand articles in the Windows Phone How-to that you should read:

Unfortunately you will not get a full backup of your phone, here is what gets saved:

  • App list and settings
    • The list of apps you’ve installed on your phone.
    • Your call history.
    • Your theme color.
    • The accounts you’ve set up on your phone.
    • Your Internet Explorer favorites.
    • Settings from around your phone, including photos, messaging, email and accounts, location, Internet Explorer, lock screen, Speech, and more.
  • Text messages
  • Photos and videos

Microsoft is also very clear about how the backup works:

  • Your phone will wait for a Wi-Fi connection to automatically save backups. If you don’t connect to Wi-Fi for a week, any changes to your App list and settings will be saved using a cellular data connection.
    • Read: If you do not connect to a Wi-fi network, your backup can be up to 7 days old.
  • Backup saves the apps on your phone, but it doesn’t save any data associated with the apps.
  • Start will reset to its default set of pinned Tiles when you restore.

Things that annoy me about Windows Phone 8 backup

The Windows Phone 8 backup and restore process has still a lot of room for improvement.

  • There is no option to store your backup on a local hard drive. You can only use the cloud.
  • Except for photos and videos you have no control about the location where your data is stored. You wont’t even see it in SkyDrive. The only option you have is to delete it completely via the settings menu on your phone.
  • Although every file transfer from and to SkyDrive is encrypted via SSL, no encryption is imposed at rest. (See: SkyDrive Review on Encrypted File Storage)
  • Microsoft automatically scans your uploaded pictures using its PhotoDNA scanning tool to ensure that no illegal files are stored on SkyDrive or files to are non-conform with their Code of Conduct (nudity of any sort including full or partial human nudity or nudity in non-human forms such as cartoons, fantasy art or manga, content that is protected by intellectual property laws, …)
  • After initial setup / restore (when you see the home screen) you should go to Settings > WiFi, otherwise all the re-downloaded apps will be downloaded over your cellular network. The phone will not ask you for WiFi settings, like the iOS setup process does.
  • You will have to re-enter passwords for some of your settings. For example for these accounts:
    • Facebook
    • Exchange Accounts (Gmail, Office 365)
  • In my test with a Nokia Lumia 920, not all settings were restored, following was missing:
    • Nokia Account
  • If you have Apps, they will loose their settings / passwords, for example:
    • 4th & Mayor, Mehdo, Nextgen Reader, …
      • However there are apps like CNN that use SkyDrive directly to create their own backup.
    • Authenticator (!) – You better have your backup codes for Google 2-step verification at hand.
    • Battle.net Authenticator – You may need to scan a personal document with photo and send to the Blizzard support.
    • IE default search provider will be reset to Bing (was Google when I backed it up) while bookmarks (favorites) will be restored just fine.
  • You will have to re-select and re-download the maps the had been stored for offline usage.
  • You will have to re-select and re-download the files for voice support.
  • Wallet still knew my payment options (restored via Microsoft account) but had forgotten the PIN that I had set up for protection.
  • In order to have a backup of your start screen, you will have to create screenshots of it and then restore it manually, step-by-step.

I hope that at least some of this annoyances will get addressed in a future update for Windows Phone. It should work more like the iPhone backup. 😉

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my-first-google-chrome-extension

 

Somehow Facebook sometimes looses the sort order for the Newsfeed. This extension helps you keep your sort order set.

This extension currently supports the following languages:
– English
– Deutsch

Click here to download an install from Chrome Web Store.

The source code for this quick hack is available on GitHub. Feel free to contribute.

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Rumor has it, that the device will be available on January 29th. So now is a good time to prepare for your purchase.

Surface with Windows 8 Pro – which variant to choose

The key specs:

  • 10.6-inch, Core i5, 4 GB RAM, display 1920×1080, external display up to 2560X1440 resolution, 2 pounds, 4 hours battery life

Microsoft has announced the following prices (incl. Surface pen, excl. cover):

  • 64GB standalone version at $899
  • 128GB standalone version at $999

You will want to choose the 128GB version with a Type Cover ($129.99). If you choose the 64GB variant, only 45GB will be available to you. And the Touch Cover ($119.99) just isn’t enough if you have to do a lot of writing with the machine.

So basically you start with $1.128,99 which is about what you would have to pay for a 11-inch MacBook Air with similar configuration.

Useful accessories you will want to buy

Important things that are missing when you buy a Surface:

  • integrated 3G/LTE
    • A device as portable as the Surface just wants to travel with you. And on these journeys, you will want to connect it to the internet.
  • port for ethernet connection
    • For security reasons most companies do not make their complete network available via Wi-Fi®, so for business scenarios you need the ability to connect via a wired connection.

So you might consider buying the following:

The Surface Pro is powerful enough to replace your desktop PC. Because there is no docking station for the Surface you will need a way to connect at least 3 different devices.

In order to connect a beautiful hi-res display supporting a 2560X1440 resolution, you will need to buy the following adapter from Microsoft:

To connect a keyboard and a mouse you should make use of devices that can connect via Bluetooth® because you only have one USB 3.0 port on the device and you do not want to block it with these devices

If you want to be able to connect to older beamers in conference rooms, you will need a:

Comparison to Surface RT

You do not want the Surface RT. Trust me. I’ve used it as my primary machine for about 1 week. It has better hardware than my Nokia Lumia 920 but is slower, even when comparing basic tasks like swiping through my photos on SkyDrive. And for business scenarios you’ll have to make too many compromises with Windows RT. For example try starting a GoToMeeting or connecting to your company via OpenVPN. You can’t. It would have been nice, but we are not there, yet.

Alternative machines running Windows 8 Pro

Windows 8 has a wonderful touch interface. It deserves to be run on a device with a touchscreen. After 1 week with the Surface RT I was trying to touch parts of the screen on my MacBook Pro running OS X. A good sign that the Windows 8 touch interface is good and works.

And if you want to use touch, only Ultrabooks™ seem to be viable alternatives to the Surface Pro. Everything else is just too bulky and heavy. The following models are not cheap, but they might be your choice if you need more processing power, more memory or a integrated component for cellular networks.

Lenovo ThinkPad Helix

  • 11.6-inch, Core i7 processor, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, 2×2 pounds, LTE, 6 hours battery life

Samsung Series 7 Ultra

  • 13.3-inch, Core i7 processor, 16 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, 3 pounds, LTE, 8 hours battery life)

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch

Wrap up

If you do not need the fastest processor, the most RAM or a big screen when travelling, and if you have an extra monitor on the desktop in your office, than the Surface with Windows 8 Pro is the best choice when going for a portable machine that is running Windows 8.

With the required adapters and cover it will cost you about $1.250. But it can replace your desktop PC, your notebook and your tablet which makes it worth the money.

Update, 9. Jan 2013: The Verge has published a review of a pre-production unit of the Surface Pro. Looks promising.

Update, 15. Jan 2013: The Surface Pro will have a second USB 3.0 jack on the power brick, according to David Pogue from The New York Times, who has had an early look at a Surface Pro unit at CES in Las Vegas. At the moment it’s not clear whether this second port is just for charging your phone or if the system will be able to use the second USB 3.0 port. If so, this would be the place to connect your USB 3.0 gigabit ethernet adapter. Pogue says: “[…] the Surface Pro is, conceptually and practically, a home run.

Update, 22. Jan 2013: Panos Panay has published more information about the Surface Pro: “Growing the Surface Family: Surface Windows 8 Pro Availability Confirmed“.  It will go on sale in the U.S. and Canada starting 9. Feb. No word about other countries or release dates. Also new: Wedge Touch Mouse Surface Edition ($69.95)

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Microsoft has published a refreshed version of the CU for October 2012 today.

While the initial version from October 30th has the build number 14.0.6129.5000 the new one from November 15th has the build number 14.0.6129.5003.

Descriptions:

Downloads:

Regressions:

Currently, there are no known issues with the update. I’ve checked it against Todd Klindt’s regressions section on his blog… 😉

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Just in time for the SharePoint Conference 2012 in Las Vegas (#SPC12), a preview version of the SharePoint Newsfeed app makes it’s appearance in the Windows Phone Store. (Link)

The perfect software for my new Nokia Lumia 920. 😀

I could not find versions for Android or iOS, though.

Excerpt from the product description in the app store:

The SharePoint Newsfeed for Windows Phone makes it easy to stay connected with your colleagues using SharePoint’s social features. You can post to newsfeeds on all your SharePoint sites, follow people, documents, and tags, and more.The SharePoint Newsfeed app allows you to:

  • Create new status posts
  • Add comments to ongoing discussions
  • Read and “like” your colleagues’ posts
  • @mention a colleague directly
  • Use #hashtags
  • Upload pictures
  • Discover people profiles
  • Work with followed documents

Requires Windows Phone 7.5 or higher

(Link)

Screenshot from the Windows Phone Store:

Update, 2012-11-12

Mary Jo Foley from ZDNet has more information and a screenshot of the Windows 8 client:

Microsoft to deliver SharePoint apps for Windows 8, Windows Phone, iOS starting in early 2013