Windows 10 Background Execution and Multitasking

The Universal Windows Platform introduces new mechanisms to allow applications to run while not in the foreground. As well as Background Tasks and Triggers, UWP adds the ability for applications to extended their execution time in the background. Learn how to use these new features and how new resource policies affect how and when your application runs in the background.
    Copyright © Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
    The code provided in this post is licensed under the Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL).

Reveal Hidden Content Using Hash in URL

Suppose you have a web page that provides details on a given product.  The page has preloaded a number of products in HTML, but they are hidden from viewing via jQuery hide method.  If a user clicks a product link on the page, then the jQuery show method explicitly reveals it.  Now the user visits the page from another with a hash in URL like http://yoursite.com/products#shoes and the desired result is to automatically reveal the details for that product?  That was a question posed recently at StackOverflow, and this is how I answered it:

The key line of code above is line 11 of jqueryHash snippet. If the URL ended with #shoes, the details for that product would be automatically revealed. Note the code snippet does not do any validation of the hash (for brevity).

There were a number of answers given at the StackOverflow post, each with merit.  You can test my answer at my codepen testing grounds.

    Copyright © Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
    The code provided in this post is licensed under the Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL).

WebCamp MVC Events

imageI have been inspired to write some blog posts that feature highlights from a series of WebCamps I delivered along the west coast.  In this post, I am going to share a discovery I made when observing traditional ASP.NET (Web Form) developers attempt the switch to ASP.NET MVC.

The first question that might come to mind is: Why leave Web Forms?  The real answer is – you don’t have to.  However, here are a few reasons why many may choose to do so in the near future:

  • Web Forms are phat! …yet fat.  The page source is typically bloated with view state info.
  • Web Forms don’t encourage separation of concerns as does MVC.
  • Web Forms request/response model invokes many events and is process intensive.
  • Web Forms do not exist in ASP.NET 5.

The latter reason was the primary motivator for WebCamp attendees to consider moving to MVC because it exists prominently in ASP.NET 5 (by the way, Web Pages do too!)

You can learn a lot about what is on an attendee’s mind by a question he/she asked.  The following question is a classic example – and served as inspiration for this blog post and title:

“How do I respond to the click event of a button?”

The concept of interacting with elements on a page via event handlers is an easy concept to learn.  Unlearning it (for some) is a struggle.  MVC doesn’t use events like Web Forms do.  Instead of simply stating it doesn’t do that, I wanted to show how it was accomplished in MVC.  I used a very simple scenario -  one submit button on a page that displays a message when clicked.  Here is a snippet from the view:

<h2>Button Click Event in MVC</h2>
@using (Html.BeginForm())
    <input type="submit" name="submit" value="Submit" />    

And here is the code in the controller:

Palermo4Mvc.Controllers { public class DemoController : Controller { // GET: Demo public ActionResult Index() { return View(); } [HttpPost] public ActionResult Index(string submit) { ViewBag.Message = "Muhahaha!"; return View(); } } }

I went through the process of explaining how requests hit controllers first, then views were rendered.  Now that a simple task was accomplished, there was the inevitable questions that follow such as ‘What if I have two buttons?  How do I retrieve submitted values in the controller?  Do I still have access to querystring data? …’

What became clearer to me each time I presented a WebCamp is the need to bridge a gap starting with a simple process they already knew well.  Once the concept came into view (no pun) the attendees would organically accelerate their own learning path  Many new MVC developers have arisen from these events, and I was honored to be a part of that process!

    Copyright © Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
    The code provided in this post is licensed under the Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL).

WebCamp Essentials

imageSince the beginning of this year, I have had the privilege to tour across the west coast speaking at WebCamps featuring content and demos using Visual Studio 2013.  A common theme across all of these camps was the positive reaction to some particular demos targeting the productive features enhancing web development.  Specifically, these demos were showcasing the goodness found in the Web Essentials extension for Visual Studio.  Although I have been a fan for years, it was surprising to me how many long-time ASP.NET developers were not using it or even aware of it.  Thus I am inspired to spread the word about this free add-in which is available for multiple versions of Visual Studio.  It was truly an essential part of the WebCamp experience, thus why I named this post “WebCamp Essentials”.

In the spirit of the WebCamps, I would like to reveal the features that seemed to render the highest level of praise or interest – and in no particular order.  Although all the features are listed categorically on the Web Essentials home page, I wanted to iterate the camp favorites by listing them under problems they address.

“What file is this static content in?”

When testing your site in a browser, you may want to know where (source file) a visual element is coming from.  Since sites can be complex with nested content, it may not be easily discernable what file a static element resides in.  With the browser link feature, you can toggle a mode in the browser that will enable visual selection of an element which will reveal in Visual Studio the source file in which it resides.  Not only can you find content, you can change it right in the browser and see how it updates your file in Visual Studio automagically!   This is made possible by script injected into the page when launching from Visual Studio – and it works across all the modern browsers.

“I prefer less typing!”

With minimal typing, you can create HTML content quickly with Zen Coding.  A simple example:

<!-- type this and then tab -->

<!-- becomes -->
<div id="demo" class="groovy">Amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.</div>


“Collapsible regions please!”

A popular feature in the C# world, this extension makes it possible to do the same in HTML, JavaScript, or CSS.  Content inside the region can be collapsed visibly to help organize. 


<!--#region name-->



//#region name



/*#region name */

/*#endregion */

As mentioned, these are just a few of the many features provided with Web Essentials.  If you are a web developer using Visual Studio – it is simply essential for you to employ it!

    Copyright © Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
    The code provided in this post is licensed under the Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL).

Accelerate into Power Map

What Power Map can do


How to get Power Map

Power Map is an add-in for Microsoft Excel 2013 or with Office 365 subscription.


Best starting point for Power Map

Explore data...

Sample data

[Download nmaz.xls sample data]

    Copyright © Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
    The code provided in this post is licensed under the Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL).

Mouse Cursor Disappears When Switching Screens with Synergy

SynergyI discovered the solution to an issue with my mouse cursor disappearing when using Synergy (software that allows multiple computers to share the same keyboard and mouse)  If you are having a similar issue, I hope my fix below removes the problem.

I am running Windows 8.1 on both PCs involved.  I noticed that my display settings were slightly different than one another in the Display setting found in Control Panel.  Here is a screen capture of what that looks like:

control panel display

In my case, the slider for modifying text size was “smaller” (as seen above) on one PC, but moved up a notch on the other.  When I made both PCs use the same (in my case, “smaller”) the cursor appeared on both screens when switching back and forth. 

    Copyright © Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
    The code provided in this post is licensed under the Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL).

Context Aware Access to Command Prompt or PowerShell in Windows

I have been ramping up on ASP.NET 5 which has had me in PowerShell or the command prompt quite a bit (this is to support upcoming x-plat features).  In many cases, I have needed to run commands in the context of a folder.  Here is an easy way to do this in Windows Explorer…  

From the Windows File menu

Suppose I am in a folder and I want to immediately go to the command prompt or PowerShell and already be in the context of that directory?  I simply go to the File menu option in Windows Explorer ([Alt] F keyboard shortcut) and select either the command prompt or PowerShell as seen below:

File menu in windows explorer
Letters appear when [Alt] key is used

If I choose the command prompt, it will put me in the same directory as the current open window as seen here:

path in windows and command prompt

    Copyright © Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
    The code provided in this post is licensed under the Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL).

Creating an ASP.NET 5 Starter Application

This blog post is part of a series covering ASP.NET 5  To follow along, this post requires installing Visual Studio 2015 CTP.

This post will cover:

  • Creating the project
  • Examining the project
  • Comparing to "Empty project"

The goal of these topics is not only to show “how-to”, but to answer the “what is that…” and “why is that” as well.  It is written as if you are following along in Visual Studio 2015 (tutorial style), yet with enough supplemental detail to simply read (article style). Although not an exhaustive dive into each area, it should provide enough context to quickly get started with ASP.NET 5.

Creating the project

To create a new ASP.NET 5 application, it is necessary to think in terms of projects, not web sites.  The Web Site… option as seen below is still supported in Visual Studio 2015 to support legacy site development.  The specific “ASP.NET vNext” features require the Project… option. With this in mind, in Visual Studio 2015 select from the top menu bar: File --> New --> Project...

visual studio 2015 new project

After selecting Project…, a new project dialogue box appears.  On the left side of the box, select the Web option under the language of preference (Visual C# used below).  From there, select ASP.NET Web Application and choose the solution/project name and file location.  This post will use ASPNET5 as the solution name, and StarterSite as the project name.

asp.net web application project
ASP.NET 5 Class Library and Console Application project templates will be covered in an upcoming blog post

Another dialogue box will appear to fine tune the type of web project desired. In this post, we will look at the ASP.NET 5 Starter Web template.



Examining the project

The following is the default structure for the ASP.NET 5 Starter Web project:


A closer look at the wwwroot folder reveals helpful static (non-compiling) content:


The bin folder contains the AspNet.Loader.dll file, which is needed in deployment to IIS.

The css folder contains the site.css file, with minimal style declarations.

The lib folder contains multiple references for support of Bootstrap and jQuery, and contains the _references.js file, which is used to support IntelliSense in Visual Studio.

Back at the project level items, folders such as Controllers, Models, and Views contain what is needed to support MVC.

The Migrations folder contains code to support Entity Framework database migrations.

For an understanding of gruntfile.js and bower.json, take a look at this post by Mike Wasson.


Comparing to “Empty project”

In a previous post discussing how to create an ASP.NET 5 site with the “empty” template, there was significantly less folders and files.  This does however help us to appreciate what is truly required for ASP.NET 5 to run.  The folder and files below represent the true minimum:

wwwroot Folder of static files served to client. No code or ‘razor’ goes here
project.json File for managing project settings
Startup.cs File for startup and configuration code

The wwwroot folder in the “empty project” only contains the bin with the AspNet.Loader.dll file – much less than what was shown earlier in this post.

The content of the project.json file and the Startup.cs file also differ from the ‘empty’ with more code to support features commonly used.  The point here is that much has been added to the ‘starter’ template to provide a basis for common tasks associated with web site development.


In conclusion, there is a solid basis for quick web development when using the ASP.NET 5 Starter Web project template.

    Copyright © Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
    The code provided in this post is licensed under the Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL).

WebCamp 2015

imageLearn how to develop beautiful, fast and interactive websites! Join us for a FREE WebCamp in your local area to get hands-on with the new release of ASP.NET and Web Tools for Visual Studio 2013. We’ll discuss the Microsoft tools and resources that can help you build cutting-edge websites, and then show you how to deploy them with Microsoft Azure. WebCamps are no-fluff, hands-on learning events for developers, by developers. Don’t miss this exciting chance to sharpen your coding skills and create something amazing. Register now for a Web Camp near you. http://aka.ms/msftwebcamps

For the Web Camps that I am presenting at, here are some resources I would like to share:

    Copyright © Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
    The code provided in this post is licensed under the Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL).

Install Visual Studio 2015 CTP

This blog post is part of a series covering ASP.NET 5

The following is a step-by-step guide to installing Visual Studio 2015 (currently in CTP).  The process for installing has been simplified compared to the preview edition.

  1. Download Visual Studio 2015
  2. Execute the file when the download is complete.  You will be prompted with the following screen capture.  You can keep the default options selected and click Install.
    Features not installed by default are C++ Cross Platform Mobile, Apache Cordova, and support for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 development. If you want any of these, choose the Custom option instead of Typical and select desired features.
    The application will start to acquire files and perform the install.
    This process may take awhile.
  3. When the previous step completes, you will be prompted to restart:
  4. After restarting your PC, the setup continues and then prompts to launch:

  5. Once launched, you will need to sign in with your Microsoft account:image

Visual Studio 2015 CTP is now installed and ready!

    Copyright © Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
    The code provided in this post is licensed under the Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL).