DevMov2015: Azure and DocumentDB

It’s been a wild ride for the Developer Movement this year, and it’s slowly coming to an end. We’ve just seen #devMania come and go, and hopefully you managed to get your apps in for a lot of points.

If you’re like me, you’ve gotten a lot of points, but you’re still just a bit short. Maybe you joined late, or maybe you’re just going for those last few points, but your big prize is just out of reach. If that’s the case, the mini challenges and final few app submissions mean a lot. Well, I thought I’d help you bypass a pitfall I hit with this month’s Mini Azure challenge and DocumentDB.

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Global styles from a XAML file in Xamarin.Forms

So I’m learning Xamarin.Forms and there is a simple (in Windows 8, at least) thing I want to do. I want to make a master style form in XAML for all my various styles. The thing is, as of right now Xamarin.Forms doesn’t support this. Well, I found a way to do it.

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A Step to the Left

There’s starting to be a lot of Virtual and Augmented Reality options. While some aren’t quite as obvious (I contend that Google Glass and its ilk have some interesting possibilities in this area), others are finding traction in the gaming world (I’m looking at you, Oculus Rift).

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How to make money with Open Data

One of the big questions people are talking about (sometimes, at least) with open data is how to make money with it. While it is great to see so many governments getting into open data with a fervor, it’ll really take off and become a veritable treasure trove when we see businesses get involved. And by that, I mean producing and releasing their data. Of course, as with everything, they need to find some money in it.

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Seeing it through: Hacking Health and My Baby and Me Passport

Back in November 2013, Hacking Health came to Toronto. Marisa Cicero and Amanda Hignell, two social workers with St. Michael’s Hospital, came in with a simple pitch: Put their paper-based Baby Passport, a help guide and information tracker for mothers-to-be of no fixed address, on smart phones. At the end of the weekend, they had not one but two apps, an award for Best Solution for Consumer Health & Patients, and a lot of potential. That potential has been met, because Thursday, 13 February 2014, three months after it all started, those two apps went into the Windows Phone store and Google Play.

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Toronto Changes

One of the amazing things about open data is combining different sets together to make bigger things. What to find out a city service’s cost per capita? Cross reference a budget with census data. Making a restaurant picker? Throw in parking data and health inspections.

A little while ago Richard Pietro came to me with an idea. What if we put Toronto city development projects on a map? After a few sessions of just learning how the development application process works (so you know, it’s complicated), and figuring out how to expand on Toronto’s development projects site, we started to gel together a few ideas. Here’s a brief distillation of those discussions.

As mentioned in the video, the missing datasets is a big deal, but after talking to a few contacts we’re really happy that some of the data we need will be opened soon. Also, Import.io is a neat tool but doesn’t quite meet our needs for this project.

Hard to believe all this came out of Open Data Day Toronto 2014 and The Hack Goes On through Make Web Not War.

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Building an Open Data App – Part 7: Styles and Converters

So far we’ve grabbed a data set, supported it, stored it, parsed it, displayed it, and linked events to it. Not too shabby. Now, let’s give the user some meaningful data to make decisions with. Some of this will involve binding more data to the view, while some it will involve applying a bit of design to emphasis important details.

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Building an Open Data App – Part 6: Launchers

As of right now, we have a simple list of the various bike stations in the Toronto Bike Share network. Ideally, we’d be able to tap on a location and see where it is on a map, maybe even get directions. So let’s do that. We’ll add an event to the list items and launch the user’s default mapping software with the required data to display the location.

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Building an Open Data App – Part 5: Updating the Bindings

Last time I showed you how to get your data onto user’s screens without hardcoding it. Everything you reload the control, or the user returns to the page, you’ll see the updated data. But, what if the user doesn’t leave the screen? What if you want to update with new data without updating the control? That’s what I’m going to show you today.

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Build an Open Data App – Part 4: Binding the Data

Binding is when you take data and push it to your UI. A classic example is showing a user’s name when they’ve logged in. It’s not hardcoded into the UI, you change it based on differing criteria. In the case of this app, we’re going to show a list of Bike Share stations in Toronto, Canada. For this example, we’ll build the UI in the shared app, using XAML.
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