Home > Articles > Programming > Windows Programming

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Networking in WinJS and WinRT

A large number of client-side apps require access to data provided over the Web, among them e-mail, photo browsing, social networks, music playback, document syncing, and multiplayer games. If you can name a popular app built in the past decade, chances are that it makes use of data accessed over a network. Toward that end, Windows Store apps have several ways to access data over the network, including the most basic: the XMLHttpRequest object.

XMLHttpRequest (XHR) is the name of the object that sparked the AJAX10/Web 2.0 revolution in 2005 (although the object has been part of Internet Explorer since version 5.0, released in 1999).11 It provides for downloading data using HTTP. The xhr function provided with WinJS is an XMLHttpRequest wrapper that only requires the URL from which to retrieve data:

// postsPage.js
WinJS.UI.Pages.define("/pages/postsPage/postsPage.html", {
  ready: function(element, options) {
    // download the feed
    this.feed = options.feed;
    var pageTitle = element.querySelector(".pagetitle");
    pageTitle.innerText = this.feed.title;

    this.section = document.querySelector("section[role=main]");
    this.section.innerHTML = "<p>downloading...</p>";

    // download using XMLHttpRequest by creating a promise and
    // telling it what to do when it's done

    // the long way
    var xhrPromise = WinJS.xhr({ url: this.feed.url });
      processPosts.bind(this), downloadError.bind(this));

    // the short way (recommended)
    WinJS.xhr({ url: this.feed.url }).
      done(processPosts.bind(this), downloadError.bind(this));

Before downloading the feed data, we stash the feed object into a property associated with this instance of the postsPage page control, set the page title using the feed’s title, and set a progress indicator for download. The reason we let the user know that we’re downloading is because there’s no telling how long it’s going to take to do the actual download. Further, when we call the xhr function, passing in the URL for the feed, the result is not returned to us synchronously, blocking UI updates until the data winds its way back from some random server on the Internet. Instead, the return from xhr is a promise.

In fact, all asynchronous functions in WinJS (and in the WinRT) return an instance of WinJS.Promise, which represents results to be provided at some time in the future. The Promise object exposes the done method, which takes three functions as optional arguments: one for success, one for failure, and one for progress.

Upon success, our processPosts method is called:

// process using XMLHttpRequest
function processPosts(request) {
  // clear the progress indicator
  this.section.innerHTML = "";

  // parse the RSS
  var items = request.responseXML.querySelectorAll("item");
  for (var i = 0, len = items.length; i < len; i++) {
    var item = items[i];
    var parent = document.createElement("div");
      item.querySelector("title").textContent, "postTitle");
      item.querySelector("pubDate").textContent, "postDate");
      item.querySelector("description").textContent, "postContent");

function appendDiv(parent, html, className) {
  var div = document.createElement("div");
  div.innerHTML = toStaticHTML(html);
  div.className = className;

This code is pretty standard HTML DOM manipulation and XML processing code familiar to any experienced JavaScript programmer, creating div elements as we did earlier in the chapter. The only thing that’s unique to Windows Store apps is the call to the toStaticHTML method. This call is specifically for when we have random HTML from an unknown source. By default, when setting the HTML of an element, the HTML engine will throw an exception if it finds a piece of dynamic HTML such as a script tag. The toStaticHTML call strips out any dynamic HTML it finds, rendering the content unable to take over your app.12

In the event that there’s an error, we let the user know:

function downloadError(feed) {
  this.section.innerHTML = "<p>error</p>";

With this code in place as well as some styling in postsPage.css, our app is finally starting to rock, as you can see in Figure 1.23.

Figure 1.23

Figure 1.23. Showing the contents of an RSS feed using WinJS.xhr

At this point, there are a few nits in our networking code that we might like to work through. For example, Brandon puts a summary of his posts in his feed’s description field, whereas I put my entire set of content in there (both approaches are valid). Also, the XML parsing code we’ve written is specific to RSS,13 whereas most blogs these days support Atom.14 Luckily, because RSS and Atom are so prevalent on the Internet, the WinRT library provides a set of types for dealing with feeds of both syndication formats:

WinJS.UI.Pages.define("/pages/postsPage/postsPage.html", {
  ready: function (element, options) {
    // download using WinRT
    var syn = new Windows.Web.Syndication.SyndicationClient();
    var url = new Windows.Foundation.Uri(this.feed.url);
      processPosts.bind(this ), downloadError.bind(this));

In this code, we’ve replaced the use of the xhr function with the WinRT SyndicationClient and Uri types from the Windows.Web.Syndication and Windows.Foundation namespaces, respectively. Like the xhr function, the retrieveFeedAsync function is asynchronous, returning a promise that works exactly like every other async function in WinJS or WinRT. In our success handler, we handle a list of posts instead of raw XML:

// process using WinRT
function processPosts(request) {
  // clear the progress indicator
  this.section.innerHTML = "";

  // iterate over the items
  for(var i = 0, len = request.items.length; i < len; i++) {
    var item = request.items[i];
    var parent = document.createElement("div");
    appendDiv(parent, item.title.text, "postTitle");
    appendDiv(parent, item.publishedDate, "postDate");
    appendDiv(parent, item.summary.text, "postContent");

The updated networking code is a little smarter about where Brandon keeps all of his content, as Figure 1.24 shows.

Figure 1.24

Figure 1.24. Showing the contents of an RSS feed using the WinRT SyndicationClient

And not only is the WinRT smart about Brandon’s feed and RSS versus Atom, but you’ll notice that Visual Studio 2012 is smart about the WinRT. At no time did I need to add a WinRT reference or do anything else special to access a WinRT type or namespace. In fact, if you start typing “Windows.” inside Visual Studio 2012, you’ll see that it knows all about it (see Figure 1.25).

Figure 1.25

Figure 1.25. Visual Studio 2012 knows WinRT!

You’ll see a great deal more of WinRT throughout this book, but I encourage you to dig around the Windows namespace on your own; there’s a lot of good stuff in there.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020