Using Vorlon.js in production

Vorlon.js is a great debugging and auditing tool. It is designed to help you with any web technology. It works great for a website, an application with Apache Cordova or with Windows UWP applications, or even now with Node.js and Office addin (as the time of this writing, Office addin support is in dev branch).

It is great during development because you have one common tool to address many different devices, but that’s not the only way to use it.

Have you ever had a mobile website that shows problems on some device that you don’t have at hand ? or users reporting strange behavior and you cannot access it ? Vorlon can really help you diagnose problems in production, having access to console, objects, and so. But in production, you might have to integrate it in a slightly different way. In production, you probably don’t want to have it active by default to save performances, battery, network and other resources.

Fortunately, Vorlon.js comes with a small helper that will help you to turn it on, on demand. The idea is to embed a very tiny client in your application, and provide a way to your user to activate Vorlon. It could be a button in your about page, an easter egg of some sort (why not using the Konami code ?), or whatever way you would like.

Adding production client library

Let’s see how to do it. If you run Vorlon locally with default options, you have it running on « http://localhost:1337 ». The client script is available at « http://localhost:1337/vorlon.production.js ». Add a script tag pointing to it in your application like this :

<script src="http://localhost:1337/vorlon.production.js"></script>

Add it first in the head of your page, and immediately after, create an instance of Vorlon.Production :

<script type="text/javascript">
if (VORLON && VORLON.Production){
    var vorlonProd = new VORLON.Production("http://localhost:1337", "mysessionid");
}
</script>

By default, this code will not do anything, and it will have no impact on your app. It just allows you to turn Vorlon on when you will need it. As you probably noticed, you specify the URI for your Vorlon server, and the session id you want to use.

Turning Vorlon.js on

Now you could use your instance of Vorlon.Production to activate it with a simple function call.

vorlonProd.activate();

The call to activate will add the vorlon client script to your page. It also adds a flag in sessionStorage. It means that Vorlon will still be active for the lifetime of your browser if your user navigate from page to page (or the lifetime of your app if you use Cordova or Windows UWP).

Sometimes you may want to force your page to reload when activating Vorlon, especially when you are auditing a single page application. To do that, just add true to your call to activate.

vorlonProd.activate(true);

Persisting Vorlon activation

Some bugs die hard. You may want to persist Vorlon activation and deactivate it explicitely. To do so, you must create your Vorlon.Production with an additional argument :

<script type="text/javascript">
if (VORLON && VORLON.Production){
    var vorlonProd = new VORLON.Production("http://localhost:1337", "mysessionid",true);
}
</script>

With that argument, activation token will persist using localStorage instead of sessionStorage. It means Vorlon will be active until you explicitely turn it off. You could do it by calling « vorlonProd.deactivate() ».

We really hope you are enjoying Vorlon.js. Feel free to get in touch through the GitHub page.

If you run Vorlon, you could try the production helper in the sample page.

Using Vorlon.js with your Windows 10 JavaScript UWP

Vorlon.js is a great tool for diagnosing and auditing any application built with web technologies, and Windows JavaScript applications, or UWP are no exception. It means you could use Vorlon to diagnose your app running on PC, tablet, phone, Xbox, Hololens, Raspberry Pi and any device supporting Windows IoT.

However, for being able to use Vorlon.js in a UWP, you will have to configure your application sandbox to enable communication between your app and Vorlon.js server (or desktop app).

In this post, we will illustrate the different aspects for a packaged application (a JavaScript application that embeds pages, scripts, styles, …) because it is the most complicated, but what we will see here will work equally well for a hosted app (an app where pages, scripts and styles are hosted on a web server). In fact, what we will see here could also help you using Vorlon.js in a webview for a C# application.

Put your application in web context

This step is very specific to packaged applications. Packaged applications runs in a very specific security context where resources can only be loaded from inside your package. It means that you cannot use a script tag which « src » attribute points to a resource outside of your package.

For using Vorlon, you will have to force your app into a web context, allowing you to use alien resources. Be aware that doing this is a weakpoint in your app’s sandbox. It’s not a major one but do it only if you have the need to.

Putting your app in web context is very easy. You just need to update a couple entries in the manifest of your application.

First, you must change your start page. If your start page is named « default.html », replace it with « ms-appx-web:///default.html ». You could do it by editing the appxmanifest.xml, or by opening your manifest within Visual Studio.

startpage

In application context, you have access to WinRT API, but not in web context. To bring it back; you must add your start page to Content URIs. Again, you could do it manually in your manifest or with Visual Studio. Go to the content URIs tab and add a URI to « ms-appx-web:///default.html ». Don’t forget to enable WinRT by choosing « All » in « WinRT Access ».

contenturi

Allow your Vorlon.js client script

Now we must allow our app to access Vorlon.js client script. This step is required for packaged and hosted JavaScript UWP, or if you want to use Vorlon in a webview in a C# app.

First you must take note of your Vorlon.js server URI, and add it to the content URIs for your app. I will use a local Vorlon instance running on localhost on port 1337.

Open your manifest with Visual Studio and go to the Content URIs tab. Add Vorlon server URI to the list. In my case, I must add « http://localhost:1337 &raquo;.

contenturi2

Enjoy !

You are ready to go, just start your Vorlon server and your app. If you have followed the steps above, you are now able to inspect your app. The screen capture bellow shows the WinRT API with object explorer !

vorlon

If it’s not working properly, look for messages in the console in Visual Studio. You probably have misspelled some URI and errors should show up there.

Happy Vorlon.js 🙂

 

Hey Cortana, do you speak JavaScript?

In this article I will try to describe every steps to use Cortana with your JavaScript UWP app.

The first step is to create an xml file that represents the Voice Command Definition :

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
<VoiceCommands xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/voicecommands/1.2">
  <CommandSet xml:lang="fr-fr" Name="VDM_fr-fr">
    <CommandPrefix> VDM, </CommandPrefix>
    <Example> Affiche les dernières VDM </Example>
    
    <Command Name="showlast">
      <Example> Affiche les dernières VDM </Example>
      <ListenFor RequireAppName="BeforeOrAfterPhrase"> Affiche [les] dernières </ListenFor>
      <ListenFor RequireAppName="BeforeOrAfterPhrase"> Affiche [mes] dernières </ListenFor>
      <ListenFor RequireAppName="BeforeOrAfterPhrase"> Ouvre [les] dernières </ListenFor>
      <ListenFor RequireAppName="BeforeOrAfterPhrase"> montre [moi] [les] dernières </ListenFor>
      <Feedback> affichage des dernières VDM </Feedback>
      <Navigate />
    </Command>
    <Command Name="showcategorie">
      <Example> Affiche les VDM de travail</Example>
      <ListenFor RequireAppName="ExplicitlySpecified"> ouvre les {builtin:AppName} [de] {cat}</ListenFor>
      <ListenFor RequireAppName="ExplicitlySpecified"> affiche les {builtin:AppName} [de] {cat}</ListenFor>
      <Feedback> ouverture des VDM de {cat}</Feedback>
      <Navigate />
    </Command>

    <PhraseList Label="cat">
    </PhraseList>
  </CommandSet>
  <CommandSet xml:lang="en-us" Name="VDM_en-us">
    <CommandPrefix> FML </CommandPrefix>
    <Example> Show me the latest </Example>

    <Command Name="showlast">
      <Example> Show me the latest </Example>
      <ListenFor RequireAppName="AfterPhrase"> show [me] the latest </ListenFor>
      <ListenFor RequireAppName="AfterPhrase"> open the latest </ListenFor>
      <ListenFor RequireAppName="AfterPhrase"> display the latest </ListenFor>
      <Feedback>  display of the last FML</Feedback>
      <Navigate />
    </Command>

    <Command Name="showcategorie">
      <Example> Displays the FML of love </Example>
      <ListenFor RequireAppName="ExplicitlySpecified"> Opens the  {builtin:AppName} [of] {cat}</ListenFor>
      <ListenFor RequireAppName="ExplicitlySpecified"> Displays the {builtin:AppName} [of] {cat}</ListenFor>
      <Feedback> opening FML of {cat}</Feedback>
      <Navigate />
    </Command>

    <PhraseList Label="cat">
    </PhraseList>
  </CommandSet>

</VoiceCommands>
  • In this file the root element is the VoiceCommands Element, it’s contains a list of commandSet elements. Each commandSet is for a language.
    • An commandSet contains a list of command (and others things …)
      • A command is a “command” and contains an example, and multiple elements of ListenFor, a feedback element, and an instruction element (navigate in the first sample) that explicitly specifies that this command will navigate to your app.
        • ListenFor is the command phrase, it has a RequireAppName attribute that specifies where the app name can appear in the voice command.
      • A PhraseList that contains multiple item, each Item specifies a word or phrase that can be recognized to initiate the command that references the PhraseList (optional). You can optionnaly load dynamically a list of items from your code.

You have to be very careful, when you write this file! If you don’t respect the structure or If you miss an element, the Cortana API will fall in error without any information*.

The final step.
Instantiate your new XML file of VCD, in your JavaScript code.

In this following code, I call initCortana function to initialize the VCD file using de VoiceCommandDefinitionManager API located in the Windows.ApplicationModel.VoiceCommands namespace.

You have to pass your xml file to the « installCommandDefinitionsFromStorageFileAsync » function. If everything it’s not OK the callback of the promise returns a error and you pass by:

console.error(‘error file vdmvoicecommands.xml’, er);

In this case: check and re check an re re re check your VCD file 🙂

If the file was initialized correctly, you could add a list of items to populate the phrase lists.



    var wap = Windows.ApplicationModel.Package;
    var voiceCommandManager = Windows.ApplicationModel.VoiceCommands.VoiceCommandDefinitionManager;

    var initCortana = function (categories) {
        categories = categories || [];
        return wap.current.installedLocation.getFileAsync("vdmvoicecommands.xml").then(function (file) {
            return voiceCommandManager.installCommandDefinitionsFromStorageFileAsync(file);
        }, function (er) {
            console.error('error file vdmvoicecommands.xml', er);
        }).then(function () {
           var language = window.navigator.userLanguage || window.navigator.language;

            var commandSetName = "VDM_" + language.toLowerCase();
            var commansets = Windows.ApplicationModel.VoiceCommands.VoiceCommandDefinitionManager.installedCommandDefinitions;
            if (commansets.hasKey(commandSetName)) {
                var vcd = commansets.lookup(commandSetName);
                var phraseList = [];
                categories.forEach(function (c) {
                    phraseList.push(c.title);
                });
                return vcd.setPhraseListAsync("cat", phraseList).then(function () {
                    console.log("VCD loaded !");
                 }, function (er) {
                    console.error('error set phraseList', er);
                })
            } else {
                console.warning("VCD not installed yet?");
            }
        }, function (ee) {
            console.error("installCommandDefinitionsFromStorageFileAsync error", ee);
        });
    }

Now you have to handle the activation event that will get sent to your app, and parse arguments.

  app.addEventListener("activated", function (args) {
        var appLaunchVoiceCommand = activation.ActivationKind.voiceCommand || 16;
        if (args.detail.kind === appLaunchVoiceCommand) {
            return handleVoiceCommand(args);
        }
    });

The handleVoiceCommand function parse the args passed from the activated app event and do the navigation to the right place

    var app = WinJS.Application;
    var commands = {
        "showlast": function (commandresult) {
            return WinJS.Navigation.navigate(VDM.Pages.VDMList, { viewType: 'last', viewLabel: WinJS.Resources.getString('appbar_views_last') });
        },
        "showcategorie": function (commandresult) {
            var categorie = commandresult.semanticInterpretation.properties.cat[0];
            return WinJS.Navigation.navigate(VDM.Pages.VDMList, { viewType: categorie.toLowerCase(), viewLabel: categorie });
        }
    }
    var handleVoiceCommand = function(args) {
        if (args.detail && args.detail.detail) {
            var voicecommand = args.detail.detail[0];
            if (voicecommand) {
                var result = voicecommand.result;

                if (result) {
                    var commandname = result.rulePath ? result.rulePath[0] : '';
                    var properties = result.semanticInterpretation ? result.semanticInterpretation.properties : {};
                    console.log("voice activation (" + commandname + ") confidence: " + result.rawConfidence, result);
                    var cmd = commands[commandname];
                    if (cmd) {
                        return cmd(result).then(function () {
                            VDM.Utils.loadMainAds();
                        });
                    }
                }

            }
        }
    }
    app.addEventListener("activated", function (args) {
        var appLaunchVoiceCommand = activation.ActivationKind.voiceCommand || 16;
        if (args.detail.kind === appLaunchVoiceCommand) {
            return handleVoiceCommand(args);
        }
    });

Let’s talk more with the app (with appService)

If you need a deeper integration with Cortana, you could also « talk » with her using an app service.

An app service is a Background task that Cortana could call when you use a command. You will have to explicitely declare which service Cortana must call in your command file.

    <Command Name="getFML">
      <Example> tell me a FML </Example>
      <ListenFor RequireAppName="ExplicitlySpecified"> tell me a {builtin:AppName} </ListenFor>
      <Feedback> Here an FML </Feedback>
      <VoiceCommandService Target="FMLVoiceCommandService"/>
    </Command>

Now let’s implement the Application Service. You must add it to your application manifest by pointing to JavaScript file, and give it the name you use in the command file :

 <uap:Extension Category="windows.personalAssistantLaunch"/>
 <uap:Extension Category="windows.appService" StartPage="js/voiceCommandService.js">
    <uap:AppService Name="FMLVoiceCommandService"/>
 </uap:Extension>

Beware the visual studio appxmanifest editor, it removes this entry if anything changes in it (like a upgrade of version when you generate a new appx package) this bug will certainly be corrected in the update 1 of Visual Studio.

Now let’s create the javascript file and implement the service itself.

When you are using JavaScript App Services are a lot like independant web workers. You can import all the JS file you need to run your code by using importScripts

importScripts("/WinJS/js/base.js");
importScripts("/js/FML.API.js");

The service is loaded by cortana, so when is loaded the doWork function is called.
If the Windows.UI.WebUI.WebUIBackgroundTaskInstance.current.triggerDetails is an instance of Windows.ApplicationModel.AppService.AppServiceTriggerDetails, we can get voice command used to launch this task and do things like:

  • Send an waiting response message
  • displays items
  • Send a final response message
var appService = Windows.ApplicationModel.AppService;
var backgroundTaskInstance = Windows.UI.WebUI.WebUIBackgroundTaskInstance.current;
var details = backgroundTaskInstance.triggerDetails;
var deferral = backgroundTaskInstance.getDeferral();

if (details instanceof appService.AppServiceTriggerDetails) {
    voiceServiceConnection = voiceCommands.VoiceCommandServiceConnection.fromAppServiceTriggerDetails(details);
    voiceServiceConnection.addEventListener("voiceCommandCompleted", onVoiceCommandCompleted);

    voiceServiceConnection.getVoiceCommandAsync().then(function completed(voiceCommand) {

    // here you can check the voiceCommand, call an API (or read a file) and send messages to Cortana UI

            var userMessage = new voiceCommands.VoiceCommandUserMessage();
                    userMessage.spokenMessage = "I'm Cortana and I read this awesome message";
                    userMessage.displayMessage = "I'm Cortana and I read this awesome message";
            var response = voiceCommands.VoiceCommandResponse.createResponse(userMessage);
            return voiceServiceConnection.reportSuccessAsync(response);

    });
}

The displayMessage string must not exceed 256 character

And now, with this, you can ask Cortana: « hey cortana, tell me a FML »

#UWPHTML – Building Windows 10 web applications

Many people still ignores it, but since Windows 8 (and 8.1 for Windows Phone), you can build Windows native applications using HTML and JavaScript. Yes you read it correctly NATIVE applications. Those applications does NOT run through a webview but with a native HTML/JavaScript application shell called « wwahost ». Those applications are now called « Windows web applications ».

Windows 10 introduced a few enhancements to Windows web apps. They run with a different security context and on Microsoft Edge engine. There is also something called « project Westminster ». More simply, Westminster is « hosted applications », or applications that runs with content hosted on the internet but still have access to Windows APIs. You could find more about hosted apps on our blog, or obviously on Microsoft’s blog.

Windows web apps are fully parts of the new concept of Universal Windows Platform applications. It means that you could make applications using HTML/JavaScript for Windows desktop and tablet, but also for Windows 10 mobile, Xbox, Windows IoT, and the soon to come Hololens.

This post is the first of a serie where we will talk about various aspects of Universal Windows web apps using HTML and JavaScript. We will illustrate the different topics with a real application called « Bring the popcorn », a remote controller for a Kodi or Xbmc media server.

This application is open source, and available in the Windows store. It uses WinJS and WinJSContrib to provide a fast and fluid experience, using the latest features of Edge and Chakra engine (or at least those made available in web apps…).

Hope you will enjoy this serie !

Writing Windows 10 App Services in JavaScript

What is an App Service ?

Windows 10 introduce a bunch of new ways for applications to communicate with each others. One way is to implement « App Services ». App Services are a request/response model where one app can call a service located within another app. App Services enable communication between apps, but also with the system. If you want to implement interactive scenarios with Cortana, you will have to implement an App Service to provide data to Cortana.

If you’re the kind of people who prefer code than blabla, you may head directly to the github repository with sample applications.

App Services use the same infrastructure as BackgroundTasks, and most of the logic and implementation details still applies. It means that when your service is called, you don’t have the whole application running, but only your service. It also means that your application don’t communicate directly with your App Service. For example, your application does not get notify when your service is called, or terminated.

In all resources I can found (Build session, Channel 9 videos, samples, …), App Services are implemented in C#. Those resources are really helpfull (especially this one on Channel 9), but if (like me) you are writing apps in HTML and JavaScript, it is likely that you prefer writing those services in JavaScript and share business code with the rest of your application. Porting C# resources to JavaScript is actually very easy. In this post, we will dive into implementing an App Service in Javascript, based on a C# sample from Microsoft Virtual Academy.

Show me some code !

In a Windows Web Application (Windows application written in HTML and JavaScript), a background task, therefore an App Service, should be thought of as a special Web Worker (no postMessage with it unfortunately). It’s a standalone JavaScript file that will get caught independently by the system.

The first step to implement your App Service is to create this file. As with web workers, you could use « importScripts » to reference any code you want to share between your app and the service. Be aware that, like with Web Workers, there is no « window » or « window.document » objects inside your background task or app service. The global context points to a completely different beast, and there is no DOM.

Inside your task or service, you will access to the current instance of the BackgroundTask object using WinRT APIs, and get a deferral on it to control the lifecycle of your service. As with background task, your service can also be canceled by the system if it needs to recover memory, or if battery is running low on the device. Your task instance provide a « cancel » event that will get caught is such cases.

A minimalistic background task/app service would look like this

var backgroundTaskInstance = Windows.UI.WebUI.WebUIBackgroundTaskInstance.current;
var triggerDetails = backgroundTaskInstance.triggerDetails;
var bgtaskDeferral = backgroundTaskInstance.getDeferral();

function endBgTask() {
    backgroundTaskInstance.succeeded = true;
    bgtaskDeferral.complete();
    bgtask.close();
}

backgroundTaskInstance.addEventListener("canceled", function onCanceled(cancelEventArg) {
    return endBgTask();
});

Now we must declare this file as an App Service. For that, we must add an extension to our application in its manifest, pointing to our javascript.

<Applications>
    <Application Id="App" StartPage="default.html">
        ...
        <Extensions>
            <uap:Extension Category="windows.appService" StartPage="js/appservice.js">
                <uap:AppService Name="MyJavascriptAppService"/>
            </uap:Extension>
        </Extensions>
    </Application>
</Applications>

As you can see, we provide the path to our JavaScript file, and we are giving a name (MyJavascriptAppService) to the App Service.

Now we must implement the service logic. To do that, we will check the trigger details on our background task, and register for a request event. When the event gets activated, we received an App Service request. This request will contains a message (with request arguments), and a sendResponseAsync method to reply to the caller. On both sides, the values in the request and in the response are provided with a ValueSet object.

//check that the app service called is the one defined in the manifest. You can host
//multiple AppServices with the same JavaScript files by adding multiple entries in the application manifest
if (triggerDetails && triggerDetails.name == 'MyJavascriptAppService') {
    triggerDetails.appServiceConnection.onrequestreceived = function (args) {
        if (args.detail && args.detail.length) {
            var appservicecall = args.detail[0];
            //request arguments are available in appservicecall.request.message
            var returnMessage = new Windows.Foundation.Collections.ValueSet();
            returnMessage.insert("Result", 42);
            appservicecall.request.sendResponseAsync(returnMessage)
        }
    }        
}

Calling your App Service

The app calling your service can be any app. If you want to restrict access, you will have to implement your own security mecanism. As you may have understood, the caller and the callee doesn’t have to be written in the same language. You can call a service written in C++ from a JavaScript app. All data are passing throught Windows APIs.

Calling the app service require some arguments, the caller should provide the package family name (PFN) of the target application, and the name of the App Service (as declared in the target’s app manifest). If you don’t know your PFN, you can get it through WinRT APIs by calling « Windows.ApplicationModel.Package.current.id.familyName » in your service application.

Using the PFN and service name, you will first get a connection to your App Service, and register to the « serviceclosed » event to be notified if your service terminate.

function getServiceConnection(){
    var connection = new Windows.ApplicationModel.AppService.AppServiceConnection();
    connection.appServiceName = "MyJavascriptAppService";
    connection.packageFamilyName = "...your PFN here...";

    return connection.openAsync().then(function(connectionStatus){
        if (connectionStatus == Windows.ApplicationModel.AppService.AppServiceConnectionStatus.success) {
            connection.onserviceclosed = serviceClosed;
            return connection;
        }
        else {
            return WinJS.Promise.wrapError({ message: 'service not available' });
        }
    });
}

Once you get a valid connection, you will be able to send requests to the service

function callService(){
    return getServiceConnection().then(function (connection) {
        var message = new Windows.Foundation.Collections.ValueSet();
        message.insert("Command", "CalcSum");
        message.insert("Value1", 8);
        message.insert("Value2", 42);

        return connection.sendMessageAsync(message).then(function (response) {
            var e = response;
            if (response.status === Windows.ApplicationModel.AppService.AppServiceResponseStatus.success) {
                document.getElementById('result').innerHTML = 'calculated ' + response.message.Result;
	                
                return response.message;
            }
        });
    });
}

And voilà ! you’re ready to go. A picture is worth a thousand words, so I put a sample with service and caller apps on github for you.

Debugging your service

If you grab the sample, you can see how easy it is to debug your service. If you configure the solution to run both caller and callee on debug, you can set breakpoints in your app service. If you don’t want to run the full service app, you could also edit the properties of the project hosting the service. In the debugging section, you could set « Launch Application » to false. In that case, when you run debug for both apps, you will only see the caller application starting, but your breakpoints in the app service will get called appropriately.

Build 2015 – The « Microsoft Edge » rendering engine that makes the Web just works

Le moteur d’Internet Explorer a 20 ans (1995), mettre en place de nouvelles versions sans altérer la compatibilité devenait un réel problème, et la gestion de la compatibilité un frein à l’innovation et aux performances. Les navigateurs concurrents ne se posent pas ces contraintes… il était donc temps pour Microsoft de faire place nette.

Le moteur de Edge est issu de celui de Trident (le moteur HTML de IE), mais il a subit un gros nettoyage avec la suppression de certaines fonctionnalités anciennes (ex: attachEvent) et de tout ce qui touchait à la compatibilité avec les version séculaires de IE. Edge s’aligne ausi sur le comportement implémenté dans les autres navigateurs pour que les sites fonctionnent correctement, même si ils sont alignés sur les spécificités de webkit.

Edge implémente aussi beaucoup de nouvelles choses. La liste est longue et l’idéal est de consulter status.modern.ie pour se faire un aperçu complet.

Si vous jetez un oeil à cette session, vous pourrez voir des démos de css filters (post processing d’un noeud du DOM avec des shaders déclarés en css), @support (feature detection en css), srcset (gestion des images selon la résolution), svg foreign objects (incorporer du HTML dans du SVG), et HTTP 2 (multiplexage des requêtes, …).

La session se termine par une petite démo de Vorlon.js, un nouvel outil dans la ligné de choses comme weinre, pour diagnostiquer et auditer très facilement une application web, quel que soit son mode de fonctionnement (Cordova, web, web mobile, etc).