Tag Archives: C++ /CX

Using JSON and C++ in Windows 8 Apps

The LiveSDK team has a bunch of exciting samples demonstrating using JavaScript along with HTML, C# with XAML to build apps that integrate Live services. Sadly however, a full blown C++ sample is missing from the lot as I write this today. Last week I built a proof of concept sample PhotoViewer app as part of writing samples for my upcoming book on building Windows 8 Apps using C++ and XAML. What follows below is a summary post on how to consume JSON APIs in C++.

Windows Runtime has built in APIs to support JSON APIs: both building objects based on responses from web services like the Live service in our case and then parse the object collection to build desired features. The namespace Windows::Data::Json namespace contains a list of APIs that make JSON consumption a breeze. The various classes and types that form part of this namespace are listed below:

  1. IJsonValue
  2. JsonArray
  3. JsonError
  4. JsonErrorStatus enumeration
  5. JsonObject
  6. JsonValue
  7. JsonValueType enumeration.

In order to make successful requests to Live services, it is recommended to have users sign in using “Microsoft Accounts”. Purchasing and downloading apps from the Windows Store needs users to sign in with Microsoft Account. Having such an account also enables single sign on for all Microsoft services. We will explore the process of triggering a sign in operation in a later blog post. For today, we focus on making requests to the skydrive APIs.

Fetching Album data from Skydrive

The Live Services team built a great “test” portal for testing various Live APIs here.  The first web request to fetch a list of album data is to make a GET request to the base API url at http://apis.live.net/v5.0/me/albums and append an authentication token. This token is initially obtained when the user signs in to the Live OAuth authentication API. For our C++ code to make a successful web request, we rely on XHR (Xml Http Request). The LiveSDK samples on GitHub have a helper class called XHREvent and we will rely on the same. Our code to make a web request looks like this:

 1: std::wstring url = PhotoSkyCpp::BaseApiUrl + L"/me/albums" + SampleDataSource::GetAccessTokenParameter();

 2: SendRequest(

 3:     ref new Uri(ref new String(url.c_str())),

 4:     "GET",

 5:     ref new XHRDataReceivedHandler(this, &SampleDataSource::OnDataAvailable),

 6:     ref new XHRCompletedHandler(this, &SampleDataSource::OnGetAlbumDataCompleted),

 7:     ref new XHRFailedHandler(this, &SampleDataSource::OnSendRequestFailed));

The SendRequest function accepts a URL, an action verb, which in our case is “GET” and three callback functions, one for notifying if data is available, one for the data fetch completion status and finally a callback to handle request send failures.

For the case of our discussion, we will ignore both the OnDataAvailable and OnSendRequestFailed functions. When the Live API sends a response to our “/me/albums” request, it does so in JSON format. This response is passed back to the OnGetAlbumDataCompleted handler and we will build our JSON objects here.

In order to build a Json Object successfully from a web response such as Live service, we first need to initialize the Json object as follows:


 1: JsonObject^ tokenResponse = ref new JsonObject();


The JsonObject class listed above has a static function named TryParse that accepts a string and a reference to a JsonObject type that can be initialized with the said response string.


 1: if (JsonObject::TryParse(responseString, &tokenResponse))

 2: {

 3:     ... use the JsonObject tokenResponse

 4: }


Once the JsonObject is initialized successfully, we obtain a read-only collection of the Json Objects. The next step is parsing this collection for the data key. For a valid Json object view, a data key must be present. The Lookup method on the IMapView collection returns a IJsonValue^ associated with the data key. The next step is to obtain a string representation of the series of Jsonvalues by calling the Stringify method on the IJsonValue^ obtained from the previous step.


 1: auto map = tokenResponse->GetView();

 2: IJsonValue^ value = map->Lookup("data");

 3: String^ s = value->Stringify();


The final step is to iterate over the collection of items present in this string and do whatever is needed for your app.


 1: JsonArray^ mapValue = ref new JsonArray();

 2: if (JsonArray::TryParse(s, &mapValue))

 3: {

 4:     auto vec = mapValue->GetView();

 5:     std::for_each(begin(vec), end(vec), [this](IJsonValue^ M)

 6:     {

 7:         Name = M->GetObject()->GetNamedString("name");

 8:         ID = M->GetObject()->GetNamedString("id");

 9:         //Do specific operations using the Name and ID properties

 10:     });

 11: }


This is a very simplified introduction to using the JSON APIs in Windows Runtime and consume the same from C++.



Writing C++ /CX code to generate XAML UI

Quite often I get asked a very simple question: Can I skip using XAML for creating the User Interface for my app and use C++ instead? The answer is yes you can, but the bigger question is: why do you want to go down that route? I guess, to each his/her own. I must say, I do not relish the idea of writing so much C++ code. Anyways, here is our sample.

Our example today relies on the very basic Blank Metro app template that ships along with Visual Studio.

  1. Create a solution based on the Blank Metro app template and in the MainPage.xaml, delete the Grid section.
  2. Add a new function to the MainPage.xaml.h file, say, CreateUI. This function takes no parameters and returns void.
  3. In the MainPage.xaml.cpp, add the call to CreateUI inside the MainPage constructor, just after the InitializeComponent function call.
  4. Now for the cool part.
  5. For our sample today, we will create a Grid and add a TextBlock with the message Hello World. This is our pure-code only equivalent of the canonical Hello World samples. Smile
  6. Here is the full listing of the function
    auto grid = ref new Grid();
    auto gridBackground = ref new SolidColorBrush();
    gridBackground->Color = Windows::UI::Colors::Black;

    this->Content = grid;

    auto helloText = ref new TextBlock();
    helloText->Text = "Hello World";
    helloText->HorizontalAlignment = Windows::UI::Xaml::HorizontalAlignment::Center;
    helloText->VerticalAlignment = Windows::UI::Xaml::VerticalAlignment::Center;

    helloText->FontSize = 30;
    helloText->FontWeight = Windows::UI::Text::FontWeights::Bold;
    helloText->FontStyle = Windows::UI::Text::FontStyle::Oblique;
    auto fontFamily = ref new Windows::UI::Xaml::Media::FontFamily("Segoe UI");
    helloText->FontFamily = fontFamily;

    auto textForeground = ref new SolidColorBrush();
    textForeground->Color = Windows::UI::Colors::Green;
    helloText->Foreground = textForeground;



Announcement: Book on C++ /Cx and Metro style app development


I am happy to announce an upcoming book on C++ /Cx and Metro style app development. This book is currently in the works and will be published by Microsoft Press. I present a brief list of topics that are covered in the book.

1. Windows Runtime, WRL and writing apps using WRL.

2. C++ /Cx and C++ 11 features.

3. XAML and C++ /Cx (includes discussion on XAML plus DirectX)

4. Incorporating C++ AMP in Metro style apps.

5. Building WinRT components using C++ /Cx

6. Unit Testing support for C++ in VS 2011.

C++ 11 is new; C++ /Cx is new and so is WinRT. I am super excited to work on these technologies and author a book. Stay tuned for more!!


Hello World from XAML and C++ /CX

We have previously explored how to write a Hello World console application using C++ /CX. Today we will develop a Hello World Application using XAML. Our Hello World app will have a simple XAML Button. Clicking the Button displays the text, Hello World on screen. Smile

As is the case, here is our MainPage.xaml


    <Grid Background="{StaticResource ApplicationPageBackgroundThemeBrush}">
        <Button x:Name="myBtn" Width="200" Height="120" Content="Click Me" Click="myBtn_Click_1"/>
        <TextBlock x:Name="Hello" TextWrapping="Wrap" Width="200" Height="50" FontSize="20"/>

Now the actual “code behind” for MainPage.xaml. Visual Studio 2011 does an excellent job of generating the initial “ref class” for MainPage. Here is the full listing for MainPage.xaml.h

// MainPage.xaml.h
// Declaration of the MainPage class.

#pragma once

#include "MainPage.g.h"

namespace FirstApp
    /// <summary>
    /// An empty page that can be used on its own or navigated to within a Frame.
    /// </summary>
    public ref class MainPage sealed

        virtual void OnNavigatedTo(Windows::UI::Xaml::Navigation::NavigationEventArgs^ e) override;
        void myBtn_Click_1(Platform::Object^ sender, Windows::UI::Xaml::RoutedEventArgs^ e);

Finally, the full implementation of MainPage ref class, MainPage.xaml.cpp

// MainPage.xaml.cpp
// Implementation of the MainPage class.

#include "pch.h"
#include "MainPage.xaml.h"

using namespace FirstApp;

using namespace Platform;
using namespace Windows::Foundation;
using namespace Windows::Foundation::Collections;
using namespace Windows::UI::Xaml;
using namespace Windows::UI::Xaml::Controls;
using namespace Windows::UI::Xaml::Controls::Primitives;
using namespace Windows::UI::Xaml::Data;
using namespace Windows::UI::Xaml::Input;
using namespace Windows::UI::Xaml::Media;
using namespace Windows::UI::Xaml::Navigation;

// The Blank Page item template is documented at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=234238


/// <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>
void MainPage::OnNavigatedTo(NavigationEventArgs^ e)
    (void) e;    // Unused parameter

void FirstApp::MainPage::myBtn_Click_1(Platform::Object^ sender, Windows::UI::Xaml::RoutedEventArgs^ e)
    Hello->Text = "Hello World";

Finally the output on screen

Hello World


Implementing an IValueConverter in C++ /Cx for Data Binding

To create a value converter, we create a class that implements the IValueConverter interface and then implement the Convert and (optionally) the ConvertBack methods. Converters can change data from one type to another, translate data based on cultural info, or modify other aspects of the presentation.

In our sample today, we create a basic two way grade converter based on the DataBinding Metro SDK Sample App. Unlike most samples, this example shows a Two Way implementation of the IValueConverter interface and binding.

Our XAML markup is fairly simple and straight forward.

This is the MainPage.xaml


    <Grid Background="{StaticResource ApplicationPageBackgroundThemeBrush}">
            <RowDefinition Height="Auto"/>
            <RowDefinition Height="*"/>
        <Grid x:Name="Input" Grid.Row="0">
                <RowDefinition Height="Auto"/>
                <RowDefinition Height="Auto"/>
                <TextBlock Style="{StaticResource BasicTextStyle}" TextWrapping="Wrap" Text="The demonstration below shows how a custom value converter (an IValueConverter implementation) is used to control how data is displayed." />                
        <Grid x:Name="Output" HorizontalAlignment="Left" VerticalAlignment="Top" Grid.Row="1">
                <Border BorderBrush="LightBlue" BorderThickness="4" CornerRadius="20" Margin="5">
                    <StackPanel Margin="5">
                        <!-- Add converter as a resource to reference it from a Binding. -->
                            <local:DataConverter x:Key="GradeConverter"/>
                        <TextBlock Style="{StaticResource BasicTextStyle}" Text="Percent grade:" Margin="5" />
                        <Slider x:Name="sliderValueConverter" Minimum="1" Maximum="100" Value="70" Margin="5"/>
                        <TextBlock Style="{StaticResource BasicTextStyle}" Text="Letter grade:" Margin="5"/>
                        <TextBox x:Name="tbValueConverterDataBound" 
                                Text="{Binding ElementName=sliderValueConverter, Path=Value, Mode=TwoWay, 
                                              Converter={StaticResource GradeConverter}}" 
                                 Margin="5" Width="150"/>

Next, we create a local C++ class, named DataConverter. This is the class that implements the IValueConverter interface. The IValueConverter interface is found in the Windows::UI::Xaml::Data namespace.

Here is the full listing of the DataConverter.h

// This class provides a simple IValueConverter implementation
#pragma once

#include "pch.h"

using namespace Platform;
using namespace Windows::UI::Xaml::Data;
using namespace Windows::UI::Xaml::Interop;

namespace DataBinding
    public ref class DataConverter sealed : Windows::UI::Xaml::Data::IValueConverter
        virtual Object^ Convert(Object^ value, TypeName targetType, Object^ parameter, String^ language);
        virtual Object^ ConvertBack(Object^ value, TypeName targetType, Object^ parameter, String^ language);

Next, we provide the implementation of DataConverter class.

Here is the full listing of DataConverter.cpp

#include "pch.h"
#include "DataConverter.h"

using namespace DataBinding;

using namespace Platform;
using namespace Windows::Foundation;
using namespace Windows::Foundation::Collections;
using namespace Windows::Globalization::NumberFormatting;



Object^ DataConverter::Convert(Object^ value, TypeName targetType, Object^ parameter, String^ language)
    String^ _grade = "";
    String^ _valueString = "";
    //try parsing the value to int
    int _value = ((Windows::Foundation::IPropertyValue^)value)->GetInt32();
    if (_value < 50)
        _grade = "F";
    else if (_value < 60)
        _grade = "D";
    else if (_value < 70)
        _grade = "C";
    else if (_value < 80)
        _grade = "B";
    else if (_value < 90)
        _grade = "A";
    else if (_value < 100)
        _grade = "A+";
    else if (_value == 100)
        _grade = "SUPER STAR!";
    return _grade;

Object^ DataConverter::ConvertBack(Object^ value, TypeName targetType, Object^ parameter, String^ language)
    int _value = 0;
    String^ _grade = ((Windows::Foundation::IPropertyValue^)value)->GetString();
    if (_grade == "SUPER STAR!")
        _value = 100;
    else if (_grade == "A+")
        _value = 95;
    else if (_grade == "A")
        _value = 85;
    else if (_grade == "B")
        _value = 75;
    else if (_grade == "C")
        _value = 65;
    else if (_grade == "D")
        _value = 55;
    else if (_grade == "F")
        _value = 45;

    return _value; 

That’s it. Our sample is now ready.


[Updated URL]:Live Streaming of the Developing Windows 8 Metro apps on Channel 9

Live Streaming link at http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Windows-Camp/Developing-Windows-8-Metro-style-apps-in-Cpp

I will be tuned in for the entire event. I would encourage all C++ developers to watch the event online, if you cannot make it to Redmond. These are exciting times for C++ developers with Windows 8, XAML and Metro style apps.

Developing Metro style apps using C++: Free event in Redmond, live streaming on Channel 9 starting shortly


From the page, http://channel9.msdn.com/posts/Announcing-Building-Windows-8-Metro-Style-Apps-with-C-A-Free-Event , the Visual C++ team is conducting a free, day long, event in Redmond, on May 18, 2012. The registration is currently full, but the team intends to stream the event Live!!!

Herb Sutter is doing the keynote and the day is full of deep technical training on all things Metro: C++, C++ /CX, WinRT, XAML, DirectX and much more.

This is not an event for C# or VB.net or JS developers.

Hello World using C++ /CX

As is customary with programming languages, here is a Hello World introduction using C++ /CX.


   1: #include <iostream>

   2: using namespace std;


   4: #using "platform.winmd"


   6: using namespace Platform;


   8: int __cdecl main()

   9: {

  10:     String^ str = "Hello World";

  11:     wcout << str->Data() << endl;

  12: }

In order to compile this code, make sure you set the winmd directory containing “platform.winmd” using the LIBPATH environment variable.

Compile this code from the command line using cl.exe and link.exe

   1: a.    Cl.exe /c /ZW /ZI /EHsc <filename.cpp>

then link using the following command

   1: a.    Link.exe <filename>.obj vccorlib.lib runtimeobject.lib ole32.lib /SUBSYSTEM:CONSOLE

That’s it. Your first program using C++ /CX is now ready. Execute it at the command line and it should print the message “Hello World” to the console.