Introduction to Windows 8 Metro & WinRT (part 2)

Welcome to the second in this two part series on developing Metro applications in Windows 8. The first part is available here

Introduction to Windows 8 Metro & WinRT (part 1)

In the first part you saw how to create a Metro/WinRT application using the Blank Application Template. In this part you see how to utilise both the Grid and Split application templates

Grid Application

If you open Visual Studio (or the Visual Basic or C# Express editions) and select the Grid Application Template and call the project GridApplication (take note of the information on the right in the New Project Dialogue that explains the core features of this template). This template (in a nutshell) allows you to create Master/Detail views of your data in a touch friendly way.

New Project

After clicking OK, it is best that you hit F5 and ensure you build the project as there are custom resources that need to be built, if you fail to do this then the XAML designer will show errors.

Note:  I am also experiencing a bug where the project is blank in the solutions explorer, if you run into this issue, close the application in Visual Studio, and restart it, and it should show up now. I have also (this morning) been offered some updates for Visual Studio that I hope resolve some of these issues in Visual Studio, I recommend you update


If you look at your solution explorer you will find that there are some additional folders and files. Take special note of the DataModel folder, and the three pages highlighted below

Solution Explorer

If you (like me) have been using MVVM religiously in your WPF, Silverlight or Windows Phone applications, a lot of the structure of the application should be familiar. If you go into GroupedItemsPage.xaml you will find the following XAML where the SampleDataSource is bound. Also note that there are two main Views in the XAML. When viewing data normally the GridView is used (wrapped in a scroll viewer) but when you pin the application to the side of your screen, the ListView is used instead.

<!– Collection of items displayed by this page –>
Source="{Binding Items}"
d:Source="{Binding ItemGroups[0].Items, Source={d:DesignInstance Type=data:SampleDataSource, IsDesignTimeCreatable=True}}"/>

Look at the code behind of the App.xaml file, here you will see how the data gets populated and fed to the windows that will display the data by creating an instance of  the SampleDataSource and passing the ItemGroups into the constructor of the page.

/// <summary>
/// Invoked when the application is launched normally by the end user.  Other entry points
/// will be used when the application is launched to open a specific file, to display
/// search results, and so forth.
/// </summary>
/// <param name="args">Details about the launch request and process.</param>
protected override void OnLaunched(LaunchActivatedEventArgs args)
// TODO: Create a data model appropriate for your problem domain to replace the sample data
var sampleData = new SampleDataSource();
if (args.PreviousExecutionState == ApplicationExecutionState.Terminated)
//TODO: Load state from previously suspended application
// Create a Frame to act navigation context and navigate to the first page,
// configuring the new page by passing required information as a navigation
// parameter
var rootFrame = new Frame();
rootFrame.Navigate(typeof(GroupedItemsPage), sampleData.ItemGroups);
// Place the frame in the current Window and ensure that it is active
Window.Current.Content = rootFrame;

If you run the application you will find you have this master page


If you select any items in the list you will be taken to this details view


If you select the group title (look at the arrows in the master page image) you will have this view


Also take note of the touch friendly handles


If you move your mouse to the top of the screen so a little hand cursor show, and then drag the app to the right hand corner, you can pin the application to the side (this is the aforementioned ListView). Dragging the Grid Splitter to the left will restore full screen mode


In your Visual Studio Solution, if you navigate to your DataModel folder, you will find the SampleDataSource.cs. This (as you might have guessed) contains the data that you see in the application in the following four classes (as a best practice you will want to move these classes into their own files)


The Simulator

A really useful tool in Visual Studio is called the Simulator. This in essence, allows the ability to run the application in Simulation mode, where you can test how you app will respond to different screen resolutions for example. If you toggle the build setting to simulator and build


you will have the following

Simulator Actual

You can rotate the application 90 degrees to see what it looks like


If you want to see what the application looks like on a bigger screen

Bigger screen

Split Application

If you open Visual Studio (or the Visual Basic or C# Express editions) and select the Split Application Template and call the project SplitApplication (take note of the information on the right in the New Project Dialogue that explains the core features of this template).

New Project

The assets and files for the SplitApplication are almost identical to the GridApplication except here you have a SplitPage and an ItemsPage.

Split and Items

Main View

If you press F5 to build you should have the following


Split View



As you can see Visual Studio makes it very easy for you to get started and create applications that look beautiful and can bind to data sources very easily. I really love the Expression Designer they have included in Visual Studio 11,  it really makes working with mark-up like XAML so much easier.

Introduction to Windows 8 Metro & WinRT (part 1)

Welcome to the first in this two part series on developing Metro application in Windows 8. Part two is available here

Introduction to Windows 8 Metro & WinRT (part 2)

In this two part series, I will demonstrate just how easy it is to create your first Windows Metro application, and highlight some of the changes that you will need to be aware of if you are coming from a WPF, Silverlight or Windows Phone background. The series will concentrate specifically on the three different types of Metro application available to you in Visual Studio.

The first part will demonstrate how to create a blank Metro application, familiarise yourself with the location of the resources and files, and finally demonstrate how to load some data from your computer using the new async and await keywords in C# 5.0.

The second part will demonstrate how to create a Grid and Split Application, highlighting the differences between the two, and also show you the amazing “Simulator” that incidentally, will please project managers no end, as they will have to purchase far less hardware to test their Metro applications on.

    The first thing to do, is ensure you download the tools. In order to create a Windows Metro application, you will need to be running Windows 8 (consumer preview available here) and Visual Studio 11 (beta available here or any of the express editions. If you are using Windows 7 and Visual Studio 11 beta, or Visual Studio Express, then the metro templates will not be available to you in Visual Studio.

Windows 8



Visual Studio 11


Visual Studio


Creating a Simple Metro Application

If you run Visual Studio, select New Project and then the Windows Metro Style template (Visual Basic template is at the bottom of this screenshot), also note that there are three application types available that are highlighted in yellow. Select the Blank Application Template and name the project BlankApplication and click OK

New Project


The first thing to notice is that your solution explorer has an Assets folder and a Common folder


Blank Solution

In the Common Folder you have a StandardStyles.xaml file that (as you might guess) contains the styles all Metro applications use, and since one of the Metro Guidelines is that “a Metro Style app should look like a Metro application”, these styles are invaluable. If you also look at both the XAML and code being of the App.xaml you will see that this works like WPF or Silverlight if you have ever used the navigation framework and it also explain why when you hit F5 you get a blank page

Viewing Images from my computer

If you double click on the BlankPage.xaml and add the following mark-up and code to click a button and load some images from your computer. Also be aware that everything in WinRT is asynchronous. Since it is Olympic year, I have a folder  in “My Pictures” on my computer with some aerial photos of the Olympic Village as a work in progress


<Grid Background="{StaticResource ApplicationPageBackgroundBrush}">
<Button Content="Find Pictures" HorizontalAlignment="Center" Command="{Binding Path=LoadImages}" Click="Button_Click" />
<Image x:Name="image1" />

Code Behind

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.IO;
using System.Linq;
using Windows.Foundation;
using Windows.Foundation.Collections;
using Windows.UI.Xaml;
using Windows.UI.Xaml.Controls;
using Windows.UI.Xaml.Controls.Primitives;
using Windows.UI.Xaml.Data;
using Windows.UI.Xaml.Input;
using Windows.UI.Xaml.Media;
using Windows.UI.Xaml.Navigation;
using Windows.UI.Popups;
using Windows.Storage;
using Windows.Storage.Pickers;
using Windows.Storage.Streams;
// The Blank Page item template is documented at
namespace BlankApplication
/// <summary>
/// An empty page that can be used on its own or navigated to within a Frame.
/// </summary>
public sealed partial class BlankPage : Page
public BlankPage()
/// <summary>
/// Invoked when this page is about to be displayed in a Frame.
/// </summary>
/// <param name="e">Event data that describes how this page was reached.  The Parameter
/// property is typically used to configure the page.</param>
protected override void OnNavigatedTo(NavigationEventArgs e)
private async void Button_Click(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
var dialog = new MessageDialog("Would you like to find some pictures?");
dialog.Commands.Add(new UICommand("Yes", null, "Yes"));
dialog.Commands.Add(new UICommand("No", null, "No"));
var result = await dialog.ShowAsync();
if (result.Id.ToString() == "Yes")
var picker = new FileOpenPicker();
picker.ViewMode = PickerViewMode.Thumbnail;
picker.SuggestedStartLocation = PickerLocationId.PicturesLibrary;
var file = await picker.PickSingleFileAsync();
if (file != null)
IRandomAccessStream fileStream = await file.OpenAsync(FileAccessMode.Read);
var bitmapImage = new Windows.UI.Xaml.Media.Imaging.BitmapImage();
bitmapImage.DecodePixelHeight = 400;
bitmapImage.DecodePixelWidth = 400;
image1.Source = bitmapImage;

Run Application

If you select F5 in Visual Studio, and click on Find Pictures


Find Pictures

Here you can see the text that you added to the command in the code behind


View Images

Finally here you can view all the images that I have in the My Pictures folder on my computer

My Pics

As you can see there are a lot of similarities for WPF and Silverlight developers coming to WinRT, and though some libraries will differ it will not be that difficult to incorporate these differences to your existing toolset.