Tip o’ the Week 346 – Under the Bridge

clip_image002There’s something beautiful about a well-made bridge, even a modernist one with engineering on display and functional elements providing elegance as well as strength. Of course, not all bridges work out quite as planned while some engender mythology all of their own.

There other types of bridge too, of course – they form intrinsic parts of some music, and essential parts of musical instruments, but there is also the concept in computing, of a bridge that can be used to make stuff designed for one environment to connect to or work in another. Like in networking, or in the case of several projects Microsoft worked on over the last few years, in bridging applications to work across multiple platforms.

At the build conference in 2015, Microsoft unveiled several bridges to bring Universal Windows Platform apps from other platforms – “Islandwood”, which allowed developers to port iOS apps to Windows was later released as Windows Bridge for iOS and a few high-profile apps have reportedly used it.

There was a web bridge, taking HTML and Javascript based apps and repurposing them for Windows with additional functionality like Live Tiles and Cortana support. Shazam used that. And a “Project Astoria” (tentatively called the Windows Bridge for Android) was announced, leaked and then unannounced and subsequently deep sixed.

Which leaves “Project Centennial”, a closer-to-home, perhaps smaller, less ornate & elaborate bridge, but one that’s likely to see a lot more traffic – it’s the bridge that lets developers take traditional Windows/Win32 apps and clip_image004package them up to be in the Store, with a bunch of additional capabilities yet without wholesale rewriting.

Now released as the “Desktop bridge”, Centennial is available for developers to push their apps into the store by converting them to UWPs – see here for more detail. There are a handful of apps already in store thanks to the conversion process, perhaps most notably Evernote, who have now dropped their previous Win8.x app that had relatively limited functionality, and replaced it with the fully featured desktop version re-packaged for the Windows Store.

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