It is almost nine years since I first set foot in the US. It was through that experience that I rediscovered the joy in challenging myself and embracing change, something I had not so strongly felt since I first started singing in a band. So, while I had faced challenges before as a result of my own decisions, none had been bigger. Even though the opportunity had been provided by someone else, it had been my choice to take it and to see it through1.

It took me a while to settle in to my new home (or even to acknowledge it as home), but I eventually joined the developer community in Ann Arbor and the wider mid-west region. The interaction with other developers has continued to provide challenging opportunities and encourage positive change within my career, as well other aspects of my life. It was through the basic act of attending one local Ann Arbor .NET Developers Group meeting and the people I met there that I learned about CodeMash.


CodeMash v2.0.1.4 logo
The CodeMash conference – a community-organized event held annually in Sandusky, Ohio – never fails to provide unique experiences or challenges. My first CodeMash, CodeMash v2.0.1.2 was unique because I had never attended a developer conference before (or any other conference), and CodeMash v2.0.1.3 provided a completely new experience when, after attending a fantastic workshop on public speaking, I went on to win the PechaKucha contest.

This year, I was guaranteed yet another unique experience when I was accepted to be a speaker. I am extremely grateful to friends, mentors and others for their support and encouragement leading up to speaking at CodeMash v2.0.14. It was a wonderful honor that I thoroughly enjoyed, and while it changed my CodeMash experience with the added anxiety of speaking and subsequent release when my session ended, I would definitely do it again if the chance arose.

To those that attended my talk on AngularJS for XAML developers, thank you. I  hope that you found it valuable. If you were there or if you have an interest, you can find my slide deck and code on GitHub (Deck|Code).

I am very grateful to the volunteers that organize and run CodeMash each year, as well as the many friends and mentors that have guided my own CodeMash experiences and the many other experiences within the developer community. Without these people, I would not have had such amazing opportunities, nor would I have learned how important it is to challenge myself and strive for new experiences. It is always uncomfortable to embrace change, but the rewards of doing so are often worth the pain.

To close, I encourage you to challenge yourself this year. Make sure to let me know in the comments below how you will challenge yourself and perhaps we can follow-up at the end of the year.

  1. Of course, there were many times in the weeks between being offered the position and setting foot in the US when I considered changing my mind, including just after the plane doors closed 

Creating and using your own AngularJS filters

I have been working on the client-side portion of a rather complex feature and I found myself needing to trim certain things off a string when binding it in my AngularJS code. This sounded like a perfect job for a filter. For those familiar with XAML development on .NET-related platforms like WPF, Silverlight and WinRT, a filter in Angular is similar to a ValueConverter. The set of built in filters for Angular is pretty limited and did not support my desired functionality, so I decided to write new filter of my own called trim. I even wrote some simple testing for it, just to make sure it works.


For the sake of argument, let's presume I followed TDD or BDD principles and wrote my test spec up front. I used jasmine to describe each of the behaviours I wanted1.

An important point to note here is that for your filter to be injected, you have to append the word Filter onto the end. So if your filter is called bob, your test should have bobFilter as its injected parameter.

Implementing the Filter

With the test spec written, I could implement the filter. Like many things in Angular that aren't directives, filters are pretty easy to write. They are a specialization of a factory, returning a function that takes an input and some arbitrary parameters, and returning the filter output.

You add a filter to a module using the filter method. Below is the skeleton for my filter, trim.

Here I have created a module called awesome and then added a new filter called trim. My filter takes the input and a token that is to be trimmed from the input. However, currently, the filter does nothing with that token; it just returns the input. We can use this filter in an Angular binding as below.

You can see that I am applying the trim filter and passing the token, "Awesome". If someValue was "Awesome", this would output:

Add More Awesome Awesome

You can see that "Awesome" was not trimmed because we didn't actually implement the filter yet. Here is the implementation.

This takes the input and removes any extra spaces from the start and end. If we have a token and the trimmed input value ends with the token value, we take the token off the end, trim and trailing space and return that value. Our binding now gives us:

Add More Awesome


  1. Try not to get hung up on the quality of my tests, I know you are in awe 

SettingsFlyout Class For C#/XAML Windows 8 Apps

One of the interesting things about Windows 8 Modern UI app development is the amount of boilerplate code that the project wizard adds to your project. Why some of the classes are not part of the WinRT base class library is not clear and not hugely important. It is more puzzling to think of the things that are not provided such as a settings flyout wrapper. If you're new to all this, the settings flyout1 is that thing that appears to the right when you use the Settings charm2. Windows has its own implementation for the system level Settings but your app must implement this for its own settings.

I discovered the hard way that to get certified in the Windows Store you must support the settings contract so you can provide "about" information. Adding this isn't particularly difficult, but there is a lot of boilerplate that can be abstracted away. Not only that, but if you're using the WebView, you need to know when the settings come and go to ensure the WebView is properly hidden as it would otherwise draw all over your beautiful settings (I'll perhaps talk about XAML apps and the WebView another time, when I've calmed down a bit).

To simplify this I wrote SettingsFlyout, a simple wrapper that handles the boilerplate activity of showing a UserControl as your settings while providing some handy events to track any settings flyout being shown or hidden. You may notice that other than the dimensions of this flyout, it could easily be adapted to support any of your flyout needs. However, I'm not sure that there are many valid reasons for flyout usage in Modern UI apps other than the standard system implementations and settings. Therefore, I'll leave that up to you, I'd hate to lead you into bad habits.

Using the SettingsFlyout class is as simple as this:

If you find this useful or you did something similar yourself, I would love to hear about it. Is there something you feel is missing that should be there either in WinRT or the project template? Have you created any useful utility classes like this that could be used in almost every app?

  1. A flyout is the new Windows 8 modern UI term for what we might've called a popup, dialog or tooltip in the past. It's anything that appears over your application and you use a Popup control to show them as you would in Silverlight or WPF. 

  2. The Settings charm is the cog-like button that appears when you swipe from the right or hover your mouse in the lower right (or press Windows+C). It looks a lot like an icon, except it's not. It's a charm.