Learn to write software – Lesson 2 – HTML layout


In Lesson 1 we looked at how to write well-formed markup by following the rules of ensuring that our open tag <car> always ends with a closing tag </car> and any attribute values are enclosed in double quotes <car make=”Porche”></car>. The one thing we failed to talk about in our last lesson is using a special format to emit the closing tag. Instead of using <car></car> we can also use <car/>, this becomes useful where you don’t have any child-tags and maybe only have attributes, <car make=”Porche”/>.

What is HTML?

HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language and is the language the Web is built on. Every single website use some HTML. The exciting thing is HTML in the past few years started becoming a language of choice not only for building web pages but also applications on your PC, Mac and Smartphone. Many apps found on iPhone, Android, Windows Phone etc. are written with HTML.

HTML Versions

Before we start looking at how to write HTML we need to quickly talk about HTML through the ages. There is a body called W3C that looks after standards for all things Web, companies like Microsoft, Google, Apple, IBM etc. have an interest in this body and work together to form and adhere to standards for the web.

In the early 90s, html was written without much regard for standards and browsers accepted html in many forms. In 1999 W3C first released the HTML 4 standard and in 2000 the XHTML standard which is the XML format of HTML 4. These standards obviously described much more than just being well-formed.

Since 2000 we did not see much change in how HTML was formed but in 2012 a new standard was formed called HTML 5. This is a significant change in the HTML world and was only finalised as a complete standard in the third quarter of 2014.

We will focus on HTML 5 but in the real world it will probably take more than a decade before HTML 4 is not used anymore and in many cases you will find HTML 5 mixed with HTML 4 standards. Most browsers understand and interpret HTML 5 properly, so it make sense to set our focus on the future and try to learn HTML 5.

HTML 5 Tag and Attribute Syntax

I would have loved if HTML remained well-formed and remained readable by XML parsers , but the people that undoubtedly know more than me decided otherwise. I do still think wherever you are able, try and stick to tags and attributes being well formed.

You will find that some tags especially in the headers omit the closing tag and then the following attribute syntaxes are allowed:

Empty: <input type=”text” value=”John Doe” disabled>

Unquoted: <input type=”text” value=John Doe>

Double-quoted: <input type=”text” value=”John Doe”>

Single-quoted: <input type=”text” value=’John Doe’>

Hands on: Hello World

Let’s go ahead and write the simplest piece of HTML we can and see what it looks like in our browser.

Open Notepad and type the following:

    <p>Hello World!</p>

Save in Notepad with an extension .html, and double click on the file. The file will open in your browser with Hello World!

All HTML pages will have a open <html> and closing </html> and inside the html tags you will always have a <body></body> tag.

We made use of our first UI tag or element <p> which stands for paragraph. And the web page displayed our text inside the <p> tag.

Tags or Elements will give instruction to the browser rendering the web page how to construct your UI.

HTML Layout

Most HTML pages will have the following layout and special tags:

<!DOCTYPE html>

    <meta charset="utf-8" />
    <meta name="description" content="Learn to write software"/>
    <meta name="keywords" content="HTML,Learn"/>
    <meta name="author" content="Anton"/>
    <meta name="viewport" content="initial-scale=1.0, width=device-width" />
    <title>Learn to write software – Lesson 2</title>
    <p>I want to learn</p>
    <p>to write software</p>
    <p>and publish my first HTML app</p>


<!DOCTYPE html> This tells any browser to interpret the HTML as HTML 5
<html> As you know by now, all html pages start this way
<head> This section is dedicated for special tags like meta tags that crawlers and robots use to index your page.
<meta> Meta is a description of data, and read by engines like Google search to index your page appropriately.
<meta name="description" This is the little blurp you will see when you search in Google and your page is indexed by Google. Best to keep this fairly short.
<meta name="keywords" This tell search engine, crawlers, robots what keywords to index for your page. When someone search for your page this will be taken in consideration, although there are many other rules that apply for optimal search engine rankings.
<meta name="author" For copyright reasons.
<meta name="viewport" This tells other devices like Smartphones to display your content for that device width.
<title> This is the title that will display when your page load in the browser.
<body> As you know by now, all html tags will have a body tag and in the body tag is the content of your web page.

Next Lesson

That concludes this lesson, in the next lesson we will start looking at HTML 5 specific layout and what actually makes HTML be version 5. Try and practice what you already know.

Categories: Learn Tags: ,

Learn to write software – Lesson 1 – Markup Language

January 21, 2015 1 comment


In this series I am going to attempt to teach the art of programming to anyone that are able to read. My disclaimer is that my first language is not English and I am bound to make mistakes and sadly I am unable to “compile” English to make sure it works (okay, no more lame jokes).


In this lesson we are going to explore Markup Language, what is that you may ask. Markup Language is a standard text based format used to ensure that the target system or program will be able to read and interpret the text.


XML is a standard markup format that forms the base of many other markup languages to some extend. XML stands for Extensible Markup Language and in this lesson we are going to learn how to write proper XML. You may ask why start here, well XML forms the base of HTML and XAML, two popular User Interface markup languages. You will learn quite a bit more about HTML in the lessons to follow, by the way HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language.

Tag or Element

The first thing we are going to learn is what is referred to as a XML/HTML Tag or Element. For the sake of sanity I will call this a tag going forward. A tag basically starts with a “<” sign followed by a specific word like cars and then followed again with a “>” sign.

Something like this: <cars>

A tag formed like this will always be referred to as an open tag which leads you to think, okay there must be a closing tag, and you will be correct an open tag ALWAYS must have a closing tag. Now there is special ways to a shortcut but I will explain that a bit later.

But there is a catch, you cant just use the same format for the closing tag like this <cars><cars> as that will not be well-formed markup. You need to add a “/” after the closing tag starting “<” bracket.

This is well formed <cars></cars>

Child-Tags or Child-Elements

The idea of having an opening <cars> and closing </cars> tag is so that you can add child tags and that the system that need to interpret your markup knows where your parent tag starts and ends. Usually if a tag does not contain child-tags it will contain text between the open and close tag as data.

As an example let’s add a few child tags to our cars parent tag and add the make of the car between the child open and close tag:


As you may have guessed this format is perfect to add multiple levels of child tags to describe your data. Let’s add a few more tags to show how we can expand the depth of our XML tree.

      <model>911 Carrera S</model>
      <model>Cayman S</model>
      <model>Boxter S</model>

Tag Attributes

Apart from using child-tags to give more information to a parent tag, we can also make use of attributes. Attributes are added after the start bracket “<” and name of the tag and will always have its own name followed by an “=” sign and then VERY important the value of the attribute is then enclosed in double quotes to start and end the value.

Here is an example: <car make=”Porche></car>

It is very important to remember that the value of your attribute must always be enclosed in double quotations to be well-formed markup.

Let’s add the make of our above expanded XML as an attribute instead of a child-tag and also the add the country of origin as another attribute:

  <car make="Porche" country="Germany">
      <model>911 Carrera S</model>
      <model>Cayman S</model>
      <model>Boxter S</model>
  <car make="Ferrari" country="Italy">
  <car make="Jeep" country="America">


Now it is time for you to write your first XML file and to make sure it is well-formed:

  1. Open Notepad (or any other text editor)
  2. Create a collection of animals and add an attribute to each child tag for the animal’s legs and another for it’s food.
  3. For extra points make a collection of food for each animal and list the different food items.
  4. Save your text file with the extension .xml
  5. Open your .xml file in Internet Explorer to make sure it is well-formed. If you see the layout of your XML then it is correct otherwise you will just see a white page.
Categories: Learn Tags: ,

Cocos2d-x baby steps

I blog for my own reference, if it helps you it is a bonus, so here is my journey as I try and understand the world of game writing in C++

Watch these Videos

Thanks to Sanjeev Dwivedi, Dale Stammen and Eric Mittelette a great starter course is available here http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-courses/build-a-game-with-cocos2d-x-for-windows-devices

Download the Tools

You are going to need to following tools:

Download the Universal App Template

One of creators of Cocos2d (Dale Stammen) works closely with the Microsoft Open Technologies team that created a template for cocos2d that includes a Universal App that can run on both Windows Phone and Windows 8.x

The following is an extract from the video above that you will require to get going:

  1. Once you have all the Tools installed listed above
  2. Create a directory somewhere to store your code like C:\GameDev
  3. Right click in the directory and select Git Bash. This option should be available after you installed Git and probably rebooted your PC.
  4. Run the following command in the Git Bash window
  5. $ git clone https://github.com/MSOpenTech/cocos2d-x.git
  6. This will take a little while to download > 300mb

Install the Cocos2d Dependencies

Once the Template is downloaded you need to run the python file located in the root of your source. This will download the dependencies required.

  1. In File Explorer double click on the Python file download-deps.py  located in the cocos2d-x directory.

Create a project from the Template

You will now use the python template to create a project that you can open in Visual Studio.

  1. In your command prompt
  2. Go to the directory where you downloaded the Cocos2d-x source
  3. Go to the sub-directory \tools\project-creator
  4. Run the following Python command. create_project
  5. You will see the help with the parameters that are required
  6. You can choose your own names but it needs to be something like this create_project -project MyGame -package com.MyCompany.game -language cpp
  7. Browse to your source to see the newly created Projects folder with your game source, something like this C:\GameDev\cocos2d-x\projects\MyGame

Open the Universal App

Once you completed all the steps above you will have your game source ready to develop for almost any platform. To open the project:

  1. Under your MyGame source you will find a directory \proj.win8.1-universal.
  2. Double click the Solution file
  3. Do a clean solution and a rebuild solution from within Visual Studio and make sure it builds.

Download Rocket man source

You are now ready to download the source for the game as used in the video above. The git source can be found here https://github.com/sanjeevdwivedi/rocket-man-game

  1. Open the command prompt or Git Bash in your game source folder root C:\GameDev
  2. Run the following command: git clone https://github.com/sanjeevdwivedi/rocket-man-game.git

Add Rocket-man to the Universal App

You will need to make a few changes in order to get this working and this was ultimately my goal of this blog as it took me a few hours to figure out all the little gremlins. There are two important directories in the root of your source Classes and Resources

  1. You need to make sure you copy Classes and Resources from the root of rocket-man-game to your new Universal app source MyGame in my case. Overwrite all files when prompted.
  2. Open your Universal App solution, MyGame
  3. Expand the project MyGame.Shared
  4. Expand the Classes folder and select all files and right click and choose Remove
  5. Right click on the Classes folder and choose Add –> Existing, choose all the files in your Classes folder, in my case C:\GameDev\cocos2d-x\projects\MyGame\Classes
  6. You are ready to build your application although you may find some errors that I will explain below

ERROR FIX: error C2661: ‘cocos2d::CCMenuItemLabel::create’ : no overloaded function takes 2 arguments

This is the first error I encountered and I believe it happens due to the compiler directive not accepting a CCObject for Win8, but we are using Win8.1

So in your HighScoresLayer.cpp  make sure your signature looks something like this

void HighScoreLayer::_changePlayerDone(CCObject* pObject)

void HighScoreLayer::_cancelPopupPlayer(CCObject* pObject)

and the HighScoresLayer.h

void _changePlayerDone(CCObject* pObject);

void _cancelPopupPlayer(CCObject* pObject);


ERROR FIX: App starts but crash

If you add a breakpoint to the first line of the constructor of the MainLayer you will notice that the application crash trying to load sprites.png. The reason for this is it seems that Windows Phone and Windows require these assets to be added as resources.

  1. Expand the MyGame.WindowsPhone project
  2. Right click on Assets and Add –> Existing
  3. Choose all the files in your \Resources\Images and \Resources\fonts and add them.
  4. Make sure you did copy all the Resources from the Rocket-man source
  5. Right click on the Font files in your Assets directory and choose Properties
  6. Click on the dropdown under Content and select Yes
  7. image

Make the App start in Portrait

Rocket-man or TweeJump was designed to run in Portrait mode, so make sure to change the following:

  1. Expand your WindowsPhone and Windows projects
  2. Open the Package.appxmanifest file
  3. Choose Portrait



Special Thanks

Just a special thanks to Sanjeev Dwivedi, Dale Stammen and Eric Mittelette for the course material and the example source. Without you guys it would have been a very difficult exercise. I am hoping to see the cocos2d-x 3.3 version material soon, maybe adding some cool 3d images and skeleton animations.

Categories: Cocos2d-x

Create .NET Simple Membership Tables

If you created a new Web API project you might feel slightly lost how to create your tables in a SQL server database instead of the local MDB file. Good news is, it is really easy…


Change your Web.config

Two changes are required in the web.config file.


1. Change the DefaultConnection connection string. In your web.config change the DefaultConnection to point to your local or remote SQL server installation. Something like this:

<add name=”DefaultConnection” connectionString=”Data Source=.;Initial Catalog=MyDatabase;Integrated Security=True” providerName=”System.Data.SqlClient” />

2. Change the EntityFramework section to not point to a local database

<defaultConnectionFactory type=”System.Data.Entity.Infrastructure.LocalDbConnectionFactory, EntityFramework”>
<parameter value=”v11.0″ />
<provider invariantName=”System.Data.SqlClient” type=”System.Data.Entity.SqlServer.SqlProviderServices, EntityFramework.SqlServer” />


Register a user using the API

If you run your new project and click on HELP or navigate to /help you will see all the APIs for your project. We are going to use the api/Account/Register API to create our tables.

1. Open a Web Debugger like Fiddler to


  • Enter the localhost url including your unique port as follows  http://localhost:51505/api/Account/Register
  • Change the type to POST
  • In the header add a new header item content-type: application/json
  • In the body add your JSON class

“Email”: anton@wordpress.com,
“Password”: “SomePassword01”,
“ConfirmPassword”: “SomePassword01”

  • And Execute the POST call

View your tables

If you open your database in SQL server you will notice that .Net would have created all the necessary tables for you


Categories: Web API (MVC 4)

Consuming RESTful Services from a Command Line


Install HTTPIE to use as follows

$ http -f POST example.org hello=World
$ http DELETE example.org/todos/7

What to Download and Install

Download and Install Python https://www.python.org/download . Add the Installed path C:\PythonX to your Path. Found in Environment Variables. You can run the command Path in your command prompt after changing your Path to apply your changes.

Install PIP

Right click on this link and save file to your PythonX directory.  get-pip.py. You can also get instructions here https://pip.pypa.io/en/latest/installing.html.

Open Powershell in Administrator mode. Go to your PythonX directory and run this command.

python get-pip.py

Install HTTPIE

In Powershell in Administrator mode run the following command:

pip --allow-external install --upgrade httpie

Read More



Categories: RESTful

Finding the table name of a specific column name


I recently faced the challenge of finding to what table a specific column belongs to. Trying to add some logic to an overly complicated and very old stored procedure with more lines than Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet I was faced with the lovely error “Procedure x, Line y Ambiguous column name ‘TypeID’. Below is an easy script to find a specific column.


SELECT S.name as SchemaName,O.name as ObjectName, O.type_desc as ObjectType,C.name
FROM sys.schemas S
INNER JOIN sys.objects O ON S.schema_id=O.schema_id
INNER JOIN sys.columns C ON O.object_id=C.object_id
WHERE O.type in(‘U’,’V’) and C.name = ‘TypeID’
ORDER BY S.name,O.type_desc, O.name,C.Name


Thanks to SQL Like

Categories: TSQL

Keeping the Session alive when running Silverlight

What is the problem?

It happens every so often that you will experience an error after a while when trying to access your RIA services from your Silverlight application. The error will usually be some sort of “Load Operation failed for query” message.

What is the Solution?

I discovered that this happens when the session on the server expires and keeping it alive stopped this error from happening.

How to do this?

1. Create a Ping.ashx file and add the following code to the code-behind:

public class PingHttpHandler : IHttpHandler, IRequiresSessionState

public void ProcessRequest(HttpContext context)
context.Response.ContentType = “text/plain”;

ContactDomainService service = new ContactDomainService();
bool heartBeat = service.HeartBeat();


public bool IsReusable
return false;

2. Add Javascript to your Master page or Page hosting the Silverlight plugin

In your Master page or plugin hosted web page add the following script:

<script type=”text/javascript” src=”Scripts/jquery-1.4.4.js”></script>
<script type=”text/javascript”>
function heartbeat() {

$(document).ready(function () {
setInterval(heartbeat, 900000); // 15 minutes

Make sure your paths are correct for the files you reference.

Final words

We found this code from some source on the web a long time ago. I am not sure exactly where I did find this, if you recognize it, let me know please.

Categories: RIA Services