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Project Siena

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Add a Live Tile to a Project Siena App


Microsoft Project Siena is a really cool tool. Basically, it’s a Modern App that allows you to BUILD Modern Apps almost ready for uploading to the Windows Store. A small amount of customization work can be done in Visual Studio 2013 to tweak settings, but MS Project Siena is really a visually driven tool that builds complex JavaScript and HTML apps.

One of the few things it (currently) does not do (in Beta 2) is provide a Live Tile experience. There’s an active Project Siena TechNet forum and Ronan Monaghan came up with some code using that, when inserted into the proper file, provides a Live Tile. As it turns out, you don’t need to visit unless you have a web site and want a pinned live tile function for site visitors.

All you need is a properly formed RSS feed which you insert into the “template” below, replacing text in red with your own feed for your app. In fact, you can use a different RSS feed in each of the five slots if you have multiple feeds for your app.

var notifications = Windows.UI.Notifications;
var recurrence = notifications.PeriodicUpdateRecurrence.HalfHour;
var urls = [
new Windows.Foundation.Uri(""),
new Windows.Foundation.Uri(""),
new Windows.Foundation.Uri(""),
new Windows.Foundation.Uri(""),
new Windows.Foundation.Uri("")
notifications.TileUpdateManager.createTileUpdaterForApplication().startPeriodicUpdateBatch(urls, recurrence);


Once you have personalized the template, open init.js in the JS folder inside Visual Studio and insert the code above any existing var statements as shown in the screen shot below.


Once you’ve finished any other customization work inside Visual Studio, if you pin your app to your Start Screen, you’ll see the Live Tile functioning. Below is a screen shot of two of my apps showing Live Tiles in action.


That’s all there is to it. While there isn’t any additional customization available for the Live Tile (as there would be if you built from scratch using Visual Studio), this quick and dirty work around will give your app a little something extra to offer.

No guarantees that this will work for every RSS feed and all the usual disclaimers apply – edit the project’s init.js file at your own risk and create a backup first.


NASA Historic Photos App Now Available


Since its creation in 1958, NASA has been taking pictures of the Earth, the Moon, the planets, and other astronomical objects inside and outside our Solar System. Under United States copyright law, works created by the U.S. federal government or its agencies cannot be copyrighted. (This does not apply to works created by state or local governments.) Therefore, the NASA pictures are legally in the public domain. One of the best organized collection of images and information is available on Flickr, as part of the Commons project at Organized into 60 Albums (or Sets), the collection contains some of the very best images and accompanying information on NASA through the years.

I’m a real space buff, and have spent hours viewing bits of space exploration history. Flickr has done a great job of packaging information within 60 categories and it struck me that this content would make a great Windows 8.1 App. I ‘ve been working on this app for a while, and I’m happy to announce that my new free app, NASA Historic Photos is now available in the Windows Store. 

I’ve included the very best of the 60 albums into a Windows 8.1 app that contains 60 scrollable galleries with descriptive information. I’m hoping that other space aficionados find it useful.

The home screen contains a menu, presented as a scrollable gallery. Scroll through the 60 items with touch or your mouse and then select an individual gallery to view.

main menu

Once you’ve selected a gallery, you can navigate with touch or mouse. I’ve constructed the app so that the individual items within each gallery should “snap” into place as you scroll. Below is a sample showing one of the galleries. You’ll see an image, an accompanying description (if available) and the date published (not the date of the event, which I hope to add in a future release).

gallery 1

When you’ve finished viewing an individual gallery, select the Home button to return to the main screen and select another gallery. You’ll find galleries for all the missions, Apollo, Gemini, the Space Shuttle and lots more. Below is another sample gallery.

gallery 2

You’ll find hyperlinks to the source material below the images. Just click or tap to open in your browser.


Please download NASA Historic Photos  at and let me know what you think on Twitter @barbbowman (or even write an app review).

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