Introducing BioWF – Workflow Bioinformatics Designer

One of the projects that was really interesting was Trident -  It provided a graphical designer based on Windows Workflow 3.0 to create scientific analysis applications.  The .NET Bio team created some activities to introduce bioinformatics into that platform and it was a sample application that was shown off in some of the training sessions.  Unfortunately, WF 3.0 was deprecated when .NET 4.0 shipped (and replaced by a completely different version of … [Read more...]

Moving from synchronous APIs to async APIs

One of the main features added to .NET 4.5 is a whole new set of asynchronous APIs that mirror the current synchronous versions.  These were added primarily for Windows Store Apps (where they actually replace the existing APIs) but also to improve the responsiveness of UI applications with the advent of the async/await keywords in C# 5. The .NET Bio project has a whole set of APIs to hit common bioinformatic web services such as BLAST which searches various databases trying to find matching … [Read more...]

Using .NET Bio with Windows Store apps

We recently published .NET Bio 1.1 (see and included a version for Mono in the source tree which allows you to use C# and .NET Bio but run the applications on Linux or Mac machines when Windows just isn't available.  You can even use Xamarin Studio to build the apps which is quite cool.  [Check out the Bio.Mono solution in the source code on codeplex for that project!] Lately, I've spent a lot of time in Windows Store land building Windows Store apps - so I thought I'd try to … [Read more...]

Adding a watermark to a PasswordBox in a Windows Store app

In the previous post, I wrote about a Blend behavior for Windows Store apps to add a watermark to a TextBox.  The next question I got was "Well, what about a PasswordBox?" PasswordBox is a bit tricker since it doesn't allow text to be displayed in the clear - so our little trick of changing the Text property doesn't work here.  So, instead, let's get a little hacky (or clever depending on how you look at it I suppose).  We can use the same series of events (GotFocus/LostFocus/Loaded) but instead … [Read more...]

Watermark TextBox in Windows Store apps

A common request for WSAs is to add a "watermark" to TextBox entries so users get a hint as to what is expected in the TextBox. You can see this in many Search Charm implementations as it allows a search hint to be provided via the SearchPane.PlaceHolderText property.  However, the built-in TextBox in XAML doesn't have this feature (HTML does!). There are a few custom controls out there which allow for this, however, I'm a big fan of behaviors over custom controls - so when I needed this, I … [Read more...]

Variable sized tiles in Windows Store Apps

One of the common requests I hear when training customers on Windows 8 is "How do I create variable sized tiles in a GridView?" The Windows Store app utilize this technique where different tiles have different sizes to promote content. It turns out this is relatively easy in HTML - which is probably one of the reasons Microsoft chose to use that visual platform to build the app.  In XAML however, this is a bit more difficult.  There are many posts which detail using a VariableSizeWrapGrid … [Read more...]

.NET Bio 1.1 alpha available now

One of the open source projects I'm actively involved in is a bioinformatics library for .NET called, appropriately enough, .NET Bio. You can check it out at We have just put out the alpha version of the next release for community testing - this has several significant changes in it: A new (more standard) implementation of the Smith-Waterman alignment algorithm. A new (more standard) implementation of the Needleman-Wunsch alignment algorithm. Several improvements to the … [Read more...]

Synchronizing Collections in Windows Store Apps

One issue that often comes up when building WSAs is managing selection in your filled/snapped/full screen views.  The goal, of course, is to provide a reasonable view as the user snaps your application which is often done by providing two UIs within the page - one with a GridView for filled or full screen and the second with a ListView for snapped view.  You hide and show the two views using the Visual State Manager when using the normal templates. If selection is provided, then ideally it … [Read more...]

Navigation and Persistence with MVVM in Windows Store Apps take #2

Earlier I posted on an updated version of MVVMHelpers with persistence support (see here). Paulo Quicoli, a long-time MVVMHelpers contributor, sent me a little code and a different way of managing navigation and persistence that he's been using. I thought it was quite elegant and asked if I could include a version in the library, which he graciously agreed to.  The result will be in the next release of the library - but I thought I'd introduce it here. The idea is to use a serializer on the … [Read more...]