Reading a file in Windows 8 html5 js


Hi again, this is my last post were I compare the same WinRT application written in three different ways.

  • C++ / Xaml
  • C# / Xaml
  • JavaScript / html

My previous post covers c++ and c#, this one covers javascript.

JavaScript / html



I have to admit, this really took me by surprise! It was pretty painless. I had it written off before I even tried it, but this task proved somewhat simplistic. I’d one little obstacle trying to use a CDN, but other than that it was trivial.

So the penny has dropped, the WinRT developer pool is going to be massive! I predict good things.
If Microsoft play their cards correctly it will be a very successful platform (even more so with the promises of WP8 portability).

So what didn’t I like about this particular app? Not much really, other that realising I’ve a lot more talent to content with Winking smile



So I compared the three different approaches, for the task in question c#/xaml or js/html won hands down.
C++ was overkill.

I think each option would have to be considered on an application per application basis.


btw: on a non related note: my wife has just switched on the bedroom networked TV and windows 8 on the laptop here in the sitting room started installing stuff


I’m sure it’s got to be cool, if only I knew what for Smile

jQuery and WinRT


As part of this WinRT comparison I’m doing, I next need to recreate my apps in html+js.

This is my first WinRT app I’ve written in html+js and right off the mark I hit a problem with the WinRT sandbox. These days I won’t write a web app without jQuery it’s just awesome. so I wanted it in my app.

My first instinct was to use Nuget to bring down jQuery for me, but alas no Nuget extension that I could find for vs11, so next easiest step was to use the CDN. Sad smile doesn’t work.

So I go to, download it, and then use add the local script, now it all works.


hopefully this post might save someone a few minutes of head scratching.

Reading a file in windows 8 CPP vs CSharp

I left my last blog very indecisive, would I use CPP, would I use .NET or would it be html/js.

Again I’m thinking Cpp is really for faster and better performance, and while it might even be the hands down winner on ARM architecture, I don’t expect to see any performance differences in the app I’m going to write.

I’m actually going to write the same application 3 times, and I’ll review my findings as I go along.

I’ll present the c++ and the c# apps here and the html/js will follow in the next blog post.

First up was the cpp. To be honest I did find this painful to write, the syntax is pretty convoluted. At least the markup for cpp is Silverlight so that was a no brainer.

<Grid x:Name="LayoutRoot" Background="#FF0C0C0C">
    <Button Content="Open" HorizontalAlignment="Left" 
         Height="4" Margin="84,45,0,0" VerticalAlignment="Top"
         Width="194" Click="Button_Click"/>
    <TextBlock HorizontalAlignment="Left" Height="381" 
        Margin="282,45,0,0" Text="TextBox" VerticalAlignment="Top" 
        Width="1065" x:Name="tb1"/>

I’ll even use the same markup for the C# application.

Now to the code


#include "pch.h"
#include "MainPage.xaml.h"
using namespace Windows::UI::Xaml;
using namespace Windows::UI::Xaml::Controls;
using namespace Windows::UI::Xaml::Data;
using namespace Windows::Storage;
using namespace Windows::Storage::Pickers;
using namespace Windows::Storage::Streams;
using namespace Windows::Foundation;
using namespace CppApplication17;
void CppApplication17::MainPage::Button_Click(Platform::Object^ sender, Windows::UI::Xaml::RoutedEventArgs^ e)
    auto openPicker = ref new FileOpenPicker();
    openPicker->SuggestedStartLocation = PickerLocationId::Desktop;
    auto pickOp = openPicker->PickSingleFileAsync();
    TextBlock^ content = tb1;
    pickOp->Completed = ref new AsyncOperationCompletedHandler<StorageFile^>(
    [content](IAsyncOperation<StorageFile^>^ operation)
        StorageFile^ file = operation->GetResults();
        if (file)
            //content->Text = file->FileName;
            auto openOp = file->OpenForReadAsync();
            openOp->Completed = ref new AsyncOperationCompletedHandler<IInputStream^>(
            [content, file](IAsyncOperation<IInputStream^>^ readOperation)
                auto stream = readOperation->GetResults();
                auto reader = ref new DataReader(stream);
                auto loadOp = reader->LoadAsync(file->Size);
                loadOp->Completed = ref new AsyncOperationCompletedHandler<unsigned int>(
                [content, reader](IAsyncOperation<unsigned int>^ bytesRead)
                    auto contentString = reader->ReadString(bytesRead->GetResults());
                    content->Text = contentString;



using System;
using Windows.Storage.Pickers;
using Windows.Storage.Streams;
using Windows.UI.Xaml;
namespace CSharpApp12
    partial class MainPage
        public MainPage()
        async private void Button_Click(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
            var openPicker = new FileOpenPicker();
            openPicker.SuggestedStartLocation = PickerLocationId.Desktop;
            var file = await openPicker.PickSingleFileAsync();
            if (file != null)
                uint size = (uint)file.Size;
                var inputStream = await file.OpenForReadAsync();
                var dataReader = new DataReader(inputStream);                
                tb1.Text = dataReader.ReadString(await dataReader.LoadAsync(size));                



Now I’m not going to explain every trivial detail, but’s here where I felt I c# won out.

  • C++ 11 lambda syntax is a bit clumbsy, I don’t like having to pass down my closure variables or having to make a local copy first
  • C++ intellisense is vastly inferior, to the point of being just painful. Lets be honest, tooling cannot be under estimated when it comes to productivity. (this is why I when I write Java I find that only since i started using IntelliJ has my speed really ramped up, it’s the right tool for my background.)
  • I’m fast at typing, but using . is a lot faster than –> for pointers.
  • The async await construct is just magical!, now, to those you who I’m sure will complain that I’m comparing apples with oranges, you have a bit of a moot point, in C++ I could have used the parallel patterns library to make it a little neater, but nowhere near as close to C#.

My next post I’ll rewrite the same application in html + js. I predict that the syntax is not that difficult but productivity is where I feel I may fall down… let’s see.. It promises to be interesting.

It’s COM Jim, but not as we know it!


Those of you that started out in windows c++ like me are likely familiar with COMPunch, COM+Ghost, DCOM Ninja
If you stayed in unmanaged land then you’ve probably still very familiar with, ATL, HResults etc.
However if on the other hand, like me, you progressed into the managed realm, then those icons above probably sum up your recollections.

For me I once considered myself pretty hot in C++ (shamefully I still do but I’m sure I’d have to spend a week hands on to really tick that box), COM collections on stl (ICollectionOnSTLImpl) were a walk in the park, multiple inheritance was a given and finding you didn’t release a COM reference was the highlight of your day. But, fast forward a few years and then you really scratch your head as to why life had to be so difficult.

Well I’ll answer that question, performance is by far and above one of the biggest factors. With Windows8 fast approaching you may be starting to panic a little, I guess even more so if you started you coding life in a managed kingdom, but fear not, and let me dispel some common misconceptions that are solved with the C++ Component Extensions (C++/CX for short)

  • COM means HRESULTS – No, C++/CX gives yields exceptions from the underlying Fail HResults.
  • COM means no returns – No, C++/CX allows return values
  • COM means reference counting – Kinda, but you don’t have to worry about AddRef and Release, you use the “ref new” keyword and C++/CX does the reference counting for you (not garbage collection!)
  • COM mens CoCreateInstance etc - Again C++/CX ref new takes care of this for you
  • COM means interfaces - C++/CX takes care of IUnknow/IDispatch, if fact IDispatch has been superseded.
  • COM means no inheritance - C++/CX takes care of this for you.

So will I develop my apps in C++/C#/JS+Html (come on don’t expect me to add VB.NET that battle was lost a long time ago Smile.

Well here’s my feelings:

  • C++ maybe, depends on how much pref i need from my machines (sacrificing time to market), if i want to use an existing library,  Parallel patterns library, C++ AMP etc.
  • C# yes, I like this language and it’s a RAD language (albeit i won’t have access to the full Framework)
  • JS+HTML, I’m not sold on this yet, maybe, if i want to produce for the web then I choose js+html+asp not silverlight, would I ever have enough of a code base to reuse on WinRT??… jury is out..

Visual Studio you rock.


I’m was not sure what I’d installed but tonight I needed to create a few regular expressions, and as i started typing this appeared in VS2010



Pretty cool if I say so myself.

A quick look at my extension manager and I see


Visual Studio you rock!

I’ve used quite a few IDE’s lately

  • Netbeans
  • Eclipse
  • IntelliJ (pretty good)
  • XCode 4.0

One thing is for certain, only IntelliJ comes close (but then the Refactor developers are pretty familiar with VStudio Nyah-Nyah

Disclaimer: I’ve been using visual studio since the mid 90ies so I’m truly biased.

Converting EPM operations to Tasks using the TPL


Previous post


The Event Programming Model (EPM from her on in) was introduced in .NET 2.0, it’s purpose was to serve as a simpler pattern for asynchronous operations than the Asynchronous Programming Model (APM / IAsyncResult, see my previous post on APM) where possible, mostly in UX code. Methods that use this pattern typically end in Async and have a Completion event.

The best known implementation of the EPM is the BackgroundWorker component, it’s got a distinct advantage in that it tries to use a synchronization context to fire the event on the thread from which it was called, the APM on the other hand offers no such guarantee.

Let’s see this in action (.net 4.0)


What you can see in the snippet above is a simple windows form (been a while my old friend) application. Let me paint you a picture, it’s early February 2012 and I’m stuck here at Brussels international airport, in the middle of a snow blizzard wondering if I’m going to have a flight home. The plane that will take me there is arriving in from Dublin so I’m looking at the live departures to see if it’s departed (already 15 mins late darn it.. ) anyway back to the post at hand; I’m downloading the page html with the call to DownloadStringAsync(), you can see in the completion event handler that I’m not doing any Invoking (dispatching to those of you that never had the pleasure of windows forms).

Now this is what it looks like after the event gets fired.


hey and looks like it’s running MS tech (notice that viewstate, incase the .aspx didn’t give it away!) nice! If you come from a web background this may not seem that odd to you, but if you started out desktop application development like me there was one golden rule you never forgot and that’s that always talk to the GUI in one thread and one thread only.

If the event handler wasn’t in the GUI thread above we would have received a cross thread exception like this:



Sadly TPL doesn’t handle the EPM as easily as the APM specifically in respect to the synchronization context, but lets see how we approach it, you may have to if you’re pre .net 4.0 as the DownloadStringAsync doesn’t exist!


With the code above we hit the cross-thread exception problem. We could do a Control.BeginInvoke (or Dispatcher.BeginInvoke in WPF), but lets imagine we were writing a library and we wanted it to be framework agnostic, how would we do this?

Actually it’s pretty simple, we just supply a context like this:


p.s. I got home at 4am Sad smile