Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Using the web server built into every Windows 10 device #UWPLunch

All this month, I'm taking some time each day to explore (and document) things that are related to UWP development that I haven't fully investigated or used before. While doing it over lunch each day I'm calling it #UWPLunch.

Just a few weeks ago I was thinking to myself - If Windows 10 has a built-in web server for hosting the remotely accessible device portal, can I also use it for my own functionality?
I was curious about the possibility of using any Windows10 device as my own web server.
While that's not possible, something related was announced last week and that's the Windows Device Portal Wrapper project.

This works if you enable the portal after enabling developer settings.

The idea is that it makes it an easy way for you to write an app that can interrogate the status of the device or perform some actions. The most interesting actions are probably installing or uninstalling other apps. It might provide an interesting tool for managing a small number of devices where more formal MDM solutions are too expensive or overly complex.

I'd originally wondered if this might be a route to eventually adding additional functionality to the portal but upon reflection, that's unnecessary and not the best way of doing things.

Originally I was thinking about the portal as a way to make any device a web server. But not every device needs to be a web server. If you do need a web server then forcing an arbitrary device to act as one is unlikely to lead to you getting the best results. Use tools/devices appropriate to the task.

I also wondered if the portal could become a generic way of accessing extension functionality for an installed app. I was thinking about this as a way for doing things like extracting log files from an app on a remote device. Now I'm wondering if that's too niche a task. For apps where this is appropriate, this could, I think, be achieved with a remote messaging of connected apps. (Which is something I hope to look at later this week.)

Maybe more will become possible with the portal (and the wrapper project) in the future but right now I don't see it being a part of my app dev plans.


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