I’m happy to finally have the next update to Dark Skies in the Windows 8 store! In the initial release, I used Bing Maps to display light pollution data. In this version, I allow users to display and share favorite viewing spots, and spruced up the live tile with some cool info.
The main page can display information about a pin on the map:
Admittedly, there aren’t too many pins just yet, but it will grow over time. It’s not just favorite viewing locations – astronomy shops, user groups and clubs, and events can all be added. Also, the live tile now displays some useful moon info:
The tile displays the current phase of the moon, as well as the rise and set times (if location services is enabled). The little + (or –) signs indicates the set or rise occurs on the next or previous day, so for me, the moon rises at 1:14 p.m. and sets tomorrow at 3:45 a.m.
This is a developer blog, after all. Everything in this release relies on Windows Azure Mobile Services (WAMS). The service for the live tiles is hosted in Windows Azure Web Sites, and Windows Azure Mobile Services does the authentication and single-sign on, and also serves notifications when new sites are added. For example, if there’s a new site added near any of the user’s home locations, a new tile with a Bing map is sent down as a notification, while the badge displays the total number of new nearby points since last run:
It’s been a lot of fun to develop, and really, it would’ve been too much work without having WAMS to power everything. The bulk of the work was getting things to look just right, rather than fiddling with authentication code and developing a back end system. I’ve also been using TFS in the cloud to store source code, and do continuous integration with the Windows Azure Web Site (an ASP.NET MVC 4 controller that serves XML as tiles.)