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Application Content URI Rule effects

Jun 30, 3:01

Previously I described Application Content URI Rules (ACUR) parsing and ACUR ordering. This post describes what you get from putting a URI in ACUR.

URIs in the ACUR gain the following which is otherwise unavailable:

  • Geoloc API usage
  • Audio and video capture API usage
  • Pointer lock API usage
  • Web notifications API usage
  • IndexedDB API usage
  • Clipboard API usage
  • window.external.notify access from within webview
  • window.close the primary window
  • Top level navigation in the primary window
  • Cross origin XHR and fetch to ms-appx(-web) scheme URIs
  • Cross origin dirtied canvas read access if dirtied by ms-appx(-web) scheme URIs
  • Cross origin text track for video element for tracks from ms-appx(-web) scheme URIs

URIs in the ACUR that also have full WinRT access additionally gain the following:

  • Cross origin XHR and fetch
  • Cross origin dirtied canvas read access
  • Cross origin text track for video element
  • Local audio and video WinRT plugins work with media elements
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Application Content URI Rules rule ordering

Jun 1, 1:30

Application Content URI Rules (ACUR from now on) defines the bounds on the web that make up a Microsoft Store application. The previous blog post discussed the syntax of the Rule's Match attribute and this time I'll write about the interactions between the Rules elements.

Order

A single ApplicationContentUriRules element may have up to 100 Rule child elements. When determining if a navigation URI matches any of the ACUR the last Rule in the list with a matching match wildcard URI is used. If that Rule is an include rule then the navigation URI is determined to be an application content URI and if that Rule is an exclude rule then the navigation rule is not an application content URI. For example:

Rule Type='include' Match='https://example.com/'/
Rule Type='exclude' Match='https://example.com/'/

Given the above two rules in that order, the navigation URI https://example.com/ is not an application content URI because the last matching rule is the exclude rule. Reverse the order of the rules and get the opposite result.

WindowsRuntimeAccess

In addition to determining if a navigation URI is application content or not, a Rule may also confer varying levels of WinRT access via the optional WindowsRuntimeAccess attribute which may be set to 'none', 'allowForWeb', or 'all'. If a navigation URI matches multiple different include rules only the last rule is applied even as it applies to the WindowsRuntimeAccess attribute. For example:

Rule Type='include' Match='https://example.com/' WindowsRuntimeAccess='none'/
Rule Type='include' Match='https://example.com/' WindowsRuntimeAccess='all'/

Given the above two rules in that order, the navigation URI https://example.com/ will have access to all WinRT APIs because the last matching rule wins. Reverse the rule order and the navigation URI https://example.com/ will have no access to WinRT. There is no summation or combining of multiple matching rules - only the last matching rule wins.

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Application Content URI Rules wildcard syntax

May 31, 4:48

Application Content URI Rules (ACUR from now on) defines the bounds of the web that make up the Microsoft Store application. Package content via the ms-appx URI scheme is automatically considered part of the app. But if you have content on the web via http or https you can use ACUR to declare to Windows that those URIs are also part of your application. When your app navigates to URIs on the web those URIs will be matched against the ACUR to determine if they are part of your app or not. The documentation for how matching is done on the wildcard URIs in the ACUR Rule elements is not very helpful on MSDN so here are some notes.

Rules

You can have up to 100 Rule XML elements per ApplicationContentUriRules element. Each has a Match attribute that can be up to 2084 characters long. The content of the Match attribute is parsed with CreateUri and when matching against URIs on the web additional wildcard processing is performed. I’ll call the URI from the ACUR Rule the rule URI and the URI we compare it to found during app navigation the navigation URI.

The rule URI is matched to a navigation URI by URI component: scheme, username, password, host, port, path, query, and fragment. If a component does not exist on the rule URI then it matches any value of that component in the navigation URI. For example, a rule URI with no fragment will match a navigation URI with no fragment, with an empty string fragment, or a fragment with any value in it.

Asterisk

Each component except the port may have up to 8 asterisks. Two asterisks in a row counts as an escape and will match 1 literal asterisk. For scheme, username, password, query and fragment the asterisk matches whatever it can within the component.

Host

For the host, if the host consists of exactly one single asterisk then it matches anything. Otherwise an asterisk in a host only matches within its domain name label. For example, http://*.example.com will match http://a.example.com/ but not http://b.a.example.com/ or http://example.com/. And http://*/ will match http://example.com, http://a.example.com/, and http://b.a.example.com/. However the Store places restrictions on submitting apps that use the http://* rule or rules with an asterisk in the second effective domain name label. For example, http://*.com is also restricted for Store submission.

Path

For the path, an asterisk matches within the path segment. For example, http://example.com/a/*/c will match http://example.com/a/b/c and http://example.com/a//c but not http://example.com/a/b/b/c or http://example.com/a/c

Additionally for the path, if the path ends with a slash then it matches any path that starts with that same path. For example, http://example.com/a/ will match http://example.com/a/b and http://example.com/a/b/c/d/e/, but not http://example.com/b/.

If the path doesn’t end with a slash then there is no suffix matching performed. For example, http://example.com/a will match only http://example.com/a and no URIs with a different path.

As a part of parsing the rule URI and the navigation URI, CreateUri will perform URI normalization and so the hostname and scheme will be made lower case (casing matters in all other parts of the URI and case sensitive comparisons will be performed), IDN normalization will be performed, ‘.’ and ‘..’ path segments will be resolved and other normalizations as described in the CreateUri documentation.

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URI functions in Windows Store Applications

2013 Jul 25, 1:00

Summary

The Modern SDK contains some URI related functionality as do libraries available in particular projection languages. Unfortunately, collectively these APIs do not cover all scenarios in all languages. Specifically, JavaScript and C++ have no URI building APIs, and C++ additionally has no percent-encoding/decoding APIs.
WinRT (JS and C++)
JS Only
C++ Only
.NET Only
Parse
 
Build
Normalize
Equality
 
 
Relative resolution
Encode data for including in URI property
Decode data extracted from URI property
Build Query
Parse Query
The Windows.Foudnation.Uri type is not projected into .NET modern applications. Instead those applications use System.Uri and the platform ensures that it is correctly converted back and forth between Windows.Foundation.Uri as appropriate. Accordingly the column marked WinRT above is applicable to JS and C++ modern applications but not .NET modern applications. The only entries above applicable to .NET are the .NET Only column and the WwwFormUrlDecoder in the bottom left which is available to .NET.

Scenarios

Parse

This functionality is provided by the WinRT API Windows.Foundation.Uri in C++ and JS, and by System.Uri in .NET.
Parsing a URI pulls it apart into its basic components without decoding or otherwise modifying the contents.
var uri = new Windows.Foundation.Uri("http://example.com/path%20segment1/path%20segment2?key1=value1&key2=value2");
console.log(uri.path);// /path%20segment1/path%20segment2

WsDecodeUrl (C++)

WsDecodeUrl is not suitable for general purpose URI parsing.  Use Windows.Foundation.Uri instead.

Build (C#)

URI building is only available in C# via System.UriBuilder.
URI building is the inverse of URI parsing: URI building allows the developer to specify the value of basic components of a URI and the API assembles them into a URI. 
To work around the lack of a URI building API developers will likely concatenate strings to form their URIs.  This can lead to injection bugs if they don’t validate or encode their input properly, but if based on trusted or known input is unlikely to have issues.
            Uri originalUri = new Uri("http://example.com/path1/?query");
            UriBuilder uriBuilder = new UriBuilder(originalUri);
            uriBuilder.Path = "/path2/";
            Uri newUri = uriBuilder.Uri; // http://example.com/path2/?query

WsEncodeUrl (C++)

WsEncodeUrl, in addition to building a URI from components also does some encoding.  It encodes non-US-ASCII characters as UTF8, the percent, and a subset of gen-delims based on the URI property: all :/?#[]@ are percent-encoded except :/@ in the path and :/?@ in query and fragment.
Accordingly, WsEncodeUrl is not suitable for general purpose URI building.  It is acceptable to use in the following cases:
- You’re building a URI out of non-encoded URI properties and don’t care about the difference between encoded and decoded characters.  For instance you’re the only one consuming the URI and you uniformly decode URI properties when consuming – for instance using WsDecodeUrl to consume the URI.
- You’re building a URI with URI properties that don’t contain any of the characters that WsEncodeUrl encodes.

Normalize

This functionality is provided by the WinRT API Windows.Foundation.Uri in C++ and JS and by System.Uri in .NET.  Normalization is applied during construction of the Uri object.
URI normalization is the application of URI normalization rules (including DNS normalization, IDN normalization, percent-encoding normalization, etc.) to the input URI.
        var normalizedUri = new Windows.Foundation.Uri("HTTP://EXAMPLE.COM/p%61th foo/");
        console.log(normalizedUri.absoluteUri); // http://example.com/path%20foo/
This is modulo Win8 812823 in which the Windows.Foundation.Uri.AbsoluteUri property returns a normalized IRI not a normalized URI.  This bug does not affect System.Uri.AbsoluteUri which returns a normalized URI.

Equality

This functionality is provided by the WinRT API Windows.Foundation.Uri in C++ and JS and by System.Uri in .NET. 
URI equality determines if two URIs are equal or not necessarily equal.
            var uri1 = new Windows.Foundation.Uri("HTTP://EXAMPLE.COM/p%61th foo/"),
                uri2 = new Windows.Foundation.Uri("http://example.com/path%20foo/");
            console.log(uri1.equals(uri2)); // true

Relative resolution

This functionality is provided by the WinRT API Windows.Foundation.Uri in C++ and JS and by System.Uri in .NET 
Relative resolution is a function that given an absolute URI A and a relative URI B, produces a new absolute URI C.  C is the combination of A and B in which the basic components specified in B override or combine with those in A under rules specified in RFC 3986.
        var baseUri = new Windows.Foundation.Uri("http://example.com/index.html"),
            relativeUri = "/path?query#fragment",
            absoluteUri = baseUri.combineUri(relativeUri);
        console.log(baseUri.absoluteUri);       // http://example.com/index.html
        console.log(absoluteUri.absoluteUri);   // http://example.com/path?query#fragment

Encode data for including in URI property

This functionality is available in JavaScript via encodeURIComponent and in C# via System.Uri.EscapeDataString. Although the two methods mentioned above will suffice for this purpose, they do not perform exactly the same operation.
Additionally we now have Windows.Foundation.Uri.EscapeComponent in WinRT, which is available in JavaScript and C++ (not C# since it doesn’t have access to Windows.Foundation.Uri).  This is also slightly different from the previously mentioned mechanisms but works best for this purpose.
Encoding data for inclusion in a URI property is necessary when constructing a URI from data.  In all the above cases the developer is dealing with a URI or substrings of a URI and so the strings are all encoded as appropriate. For instance, in the parsing example the path contains “path%20segment1” and not “path segment1”.  To construct a URI one must first construct the basic components of the URI which involves encoding the data.  For example, if one wanted to include “path segment / example” in the path of a URI, one must percent-encode the ‘ ‘ since it is not allowed in a URI, as well as the ‘/’ since although it is allowed, it is a delimiter and won’t be interpreted as data unless encoded.
If a developer does not have this API provided they can write it themselves.  Percent-encoding methods appear simple to write, but the difficult part is getting the set of characters to encode correct, as well as handling non-US-ASCII characters.
        var uri = new Windows.Foundation.Uri("http://example.com" +
            "/" + Windows.Foundation.Uri.escapeComponent("path segment / example") +
            "?key=" + Windows.Foundation.Uri.escapeComponent("=&?#"));
        console.log(uri.absoluteUri); // http://example.com/path%20segment%20%2F%20example?key=%3D%26%3F%23

WsEncodeUrl (C++)

In addition to building a URI from components, WsEncodeUrl also percent-encodes some characters.  However the API is not recommend for this scenario given the particular set of characters that are encoded and the convoluted nature in which a developer would have to use this API in order to use it for this purpose.
There are no general purpose scenarios for which the characters WsEncodeUrl encodes make sense: encode the %, encode a subset of gen-delims but not also encode the sub-delims.  For instance this could not replace encodeURIComponent in a C++ version of the following code snippet since if ‘value’ contained ‘&’ or ‘=’ (both sub-delims) they wouldn’t be encoded and would be confused for delimiters in the name value pairs in the query:
"http://example.com/?key=" + Windows.Foundation.Uri.escapeComponent(value)
Since WsEncodeUrl produces a string URI, to obtain the property they want to encode they’d need to parse the resulting URI.  WsDecodeUrl won’t work because it decodes the property but Windows.Foundation.Uri doesn’t decode.  Accordingly the developer could run their string through WsEncodeUrl then Windows.Foundation.Uri to extract the property.

Decode data extracted from URI property

This functionality is available in JavaScript via decodeURIComponent and in C# via System.Uri.UnescapeDataString. Although the two methods mentioned above will suffice for this purpose, they do not perform exactly the same operation.
Additionally we now also have Windows.Foundation.Uri.UnescapeComponent in WinRT, which is available in JavaScript and C++ (not C# since it doesn’t have access to Windows.Foundation.Uri).  This is also slightly different from the previously mentioned mechanisms but works best for this purpose.
Decoding is necessary when extracting data from a parsed URI property.  For example, if a URI query contains a series of name and value pairs delimited by ‘=’ between names and values, and by ‘&’ between pairs, one must first parse the query into name and value entries and then decode the values.  It is necessary to make this an extra step separate from parsing the URI property so that sub-delimiters (in this case ‘&’ and ‘=’) that are encoded will be interpreted as data, and those that are decoded will be interpreted as delimiters.
If a developer does not have this API provided they can write it themselves.  Percent-decoding methods appear simple to write, but have some tricky parts including correctly handling non-US-ASCII, and remembering not to decode .
In the following example, note that if unescapeComponent were called first, the encoded ‘&’ and ‘=’ would be decoded and interfere with the parsing of the name value pairs in the query.
            var uri = new Windows.Foundation.Uri("http://example.com/?foo=bar&array=%5B%27%E3%84%93%27%2C%27%26%27%2C%27%3D%27%2C%27%23%27%5D");
            uri.query.substr(1).split("&").forEach(
                function (keyValueString) {
                    var keyValue = keyValueString.split("=");
                    console.log(Windows.Foundation.Uri.unescapeComponent(keyValue[0]) + ": " + Windows.Foundation.Uri.unescapeComponent(keyValue[1]));
                    // foo: bar
                    // array: ['','&','=','#']
                });

WsDecodeUrl (C++)

Since WsDecodeUrl decodes all percent-encoded octets it could be used for general purpose percent-decoding but it takes a URI so would require the dev to construct a stub URI around the string they want to decode.  For example they could prefix “http:///#” to their string, run it through WsDecodeUrl and then extract the fragment property.  It is convoluted but will work correctly.

Parse Query

The query of a URI is often encoded as application/x-www-form-urlencoded which is percent-encoded name value pairs delimited by ‘&’ between pairs and ‘=’ between corresponding names and values.
In WinRT we have a class to parse this form of encoding using Windows.Foundation.WwwFormUrlDecoder.  The queryParsed property on the Windows.Foundation.Uri class is of this type and created with the query of its Uri:
    var uri = Windows.Foundation.Uri("http://example.com/?foo=bar&array=%5B%27%E3%84%93%27%2C%27%26%27%2C%27%3D%27%2C%27%23%27%5D");
    uri.queryParsed.forEach(
        function (pair) {
            console.log("name: " + pair.name + ", value: " + pair.value);
            // name: foo, value: bar
            // name: array, value: ['','&','=','#']
        });
    console.log(uri.queryParsed.getFirstValueByName("array")); // ['','&','=','#']
The QueryParsed property is only on Windows.Foundation.Uri and not System.Uri and accordingly is not available in .NET.  However the Windows.Foundation.WwwFormUrlDecoder class is available in C# and can be used manually:
            Uri uri = new Uri("http://example.com/?foo=bar&array=%5B%27%E3%84%93%27%2C%27%26%27%2C%27%3D%27%2C%27%23%27%5D");
            WwwFormUrlDecoder decoder = new WwwFormUrlDecoder(uri.Query);
            foreach (IWwwFormUrlDecoderEntry entry in decoder)
            {
                System.Diagnostics.Debug.WriteLine("name: " + entry.Name + ", value: " + entry.Value);
                // name: foo, value: bar
                // name: array, value: ['','&','=','#']
            }
 

Build Query

To build a query of name value pairs encoded as application/x-www-form-urlencoded there is no WinRT API to do this directly.  Instead a developer must do this manually making use of the code described in “Encode data for including in URI property”.
In terms of public releases, this property is only in the RC and later builds.
For example in JavaScript a developer may write:
            var uri = new Windows.Foundation.Uri("http://example.com/"),
                query = "?" + Windows.Foundation.Uri.escapeComponent("array") + "=" + Windows.Foundation.Uri.escapeComponent("['','&','=','#']");
 
            console.log(uri.combine(new Windows.Foundation.Uri(query)).absoluteUri); // http://example.com/?array=%5B'%E3%84%93'%2C'%26'%2C'%3D'%2C'%23'%5D
 
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Percent Clcok Windows Store App Development Notes

2013 Jul 11, 1:00

My third completed Windows Store app is Percent Clock which displays portions of a time span like the time of the day or time until your next birthday, as a percentage. This was a small project I had previously started as a webpage and converted and finished as an HTML JavaScript Windows Store app.

The only somewhat interesting aspect of this app is that its the first app for which I tried charging. I picked the minimum amount for price 1.49 USD as it is a simple app and unsurprisingly it has sold very poorly. I'm considering releasing new instances of the app for specific scenarios:

  • Death Clock: viewing your current age with respect to your life expectancy as a percentage.
  • New Year Countdown: percentage of the year until New Years.
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Words with Hints Windows 8 App Development Notes

2013 Jul 4, 1:00

My second completed app for the Windows Store was Words with Hints a companion to Words with Friends or other Scrabble like games that gives you *ahem* hints. You provide your tiles and optionally letters placed in a line on the board and Words with Hints gives you word options.

I wrote this the first time by building a regular expression to check against my dictionary of words which made for a slow app on the Surface. In subsequent release of the app I now spawn four web workers (one for each of the Surface's cores) each with its own fourth of my dictionary. Each fourth of the dictionary is a trie which makes it easy for me to discard whole chunks of possible combinations of Scrabble letters as I walk the tree of possibilities.

The dictionaries are large and takes a noticeable amount of time to load on the Surface. The best performing mechanism I found to load them is as JavaScript source files that simply define their portion of the dictionary on the global object and synchronously (only on the worker so not blocking the UI thread). Putting them into .js files means they take advantage of bytecode caching making them load faster. However because the data is mostly strings and not code there is a dramatic size increase when the app is installed. The total size of the four dictionary .js files is about 44Mb. The bytecode cache for the dictionary files is about double that 88Mb meaning the dictionary plus the bytecode cache is 132Mb.

To handle the bother of postMessage communication and web workers this was the first app in which I used my promise MessagePort project which I'll discuss more in the future.

This is the first app in which I used the Microsoft Ad SDK. It was difficult to find the install for the SDK and difficult to use their website, but once setup, the Ad SDK was easy to import into VS and easy to use in my app.

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Shout Text Windows 8 App Development Notes

2013 Jun 27, 1:00

My first app for Windows 8 was Shout Text. You type into Shout Text, and your text is scaled up as large as possible while still fitting on the screen, as you type. It is the closest thing to a Hello World app as you'll find on the Windows Store that doesn't contain that phrase (by default) and I approached it as the simplest app I could make to learn about Windows modern app development and Windows Store app submission.

I rely on WinJS's default layout to use CSS transforms to scale up the user's text as they type. And they are typing into a simple content editable div.

The app was too simple for me to even consider using ads or charging for it which I learned more about in future apps.

The first interesting issue I ran into was that copying from and then pasting into the content editable div resulted in duplicates of the containing div with copied CSS appearing recursively inside of the content editable div. To fix this I had to catch the paste operation and remove the HTML data from the clipboard to ensure only the plain text data is pasted:

        function onPaste() {
var text;

if (window.clipboardData) {
text = window.clipboardData.getData("Text").toString();
window.clipboardData.clearData("Html");
window.clipboardData.setData("Text", util.normalizeContentEditableText(text));
}
}
shoutText.addEventListener("beforepaste", function () { return false; }, false);
shoutText.addEventListener("paste", onPaste, false);

I additionally found an issue in IE in which applying a CSS transform to a content editable div that has focus doesn't move the screen position of the user input caret - the text is scaled up or down but the caret remains the same size and in the same place on the screen. To fix this I made the following hack to reapply the current cursor position and text selection which resets the screen position of the user input caret.

        function resetCaret() {
setTimeout(function () {
var cursorPos = document.selection.createRange().duplicate();
cursorPos.select();
}, 200);
}

shoutText.attachEvent("onresize", function () { resetCaret(); }, true);
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Windows Store on Windows 8 Fun For Independent Developers

2013 Jun 24, 1:00
Having worked on Windows 8 I'm not in a neutral position to review aspects of it, however I'll say from a high level I love taking the following various positives from smart phone apps and app stores and applying it to the desktop:
  • Independent developers can easily publish apps.
  • One trusted place for a user to find apps.
  • User can trust apps are limited to a declared set of capabilities.
  • One common and easy way for users to buy and try apps.
  • Easy mechanism for independent developers to collect revenue.
Relieving the independent developer of software development overhead, in this case Windows taking care of distribution and sales infrastructure is wonderful for me with my third party developer hat on. This combined with my new found fun of developing in JavaScript and the new Windows Runtime APIs means I've been implementing and finishing various ideas I've had - some for fun and some for productivity on my Surface. Development notes to follow.
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