• Canadian Mobile Developers' Blog

    Changes to the WP7 Marketplace


    TD3aHello, everyone!  Before I dive into the specific content of my subject title, I’d like to (re)introduce myself to you.  I’m Paul Laberge and I’m a Developer Advisor with Microsoft Canada’s Developer and Platform group.  Those of you who have been following the Canadian Developer blog for a few years may recognize me from my posts a while back when I was covering Silverlight and other web and UI technologies from a Microsoft Partner angle.  Since then I’ve been lucky enough to immerse myself in a few other roles at Microsoft Canada (most recently helping some big Canadian brand customers build Windows Phone 7 apps), but now I’m in a new role again, working with the awesome Canadian evangelism team that you know and love.  It’s great to be officially working with the great folks on this team as I’ve enjoyed working with them in the past. 

    It’s also great to be blogging again – you’ll see me being active on our blogs going forward.  My focus will be on Windows Phone and our mobility strategy so if you have questions about our mobile platform feel free to contact me on Twitter or via Microsoft Canada’s community connection blogs.

    Alright, time to get to the good stuff!

    This past Monday (July 18, 2011), the App Hub was offline for the better part of the day for planned maintenance and upgrades.  These upgrades provide some significant new features and functionality that will benefit you as a Windows Phone 7 developer. This post summarizes some of the more pertinent info, but if you want the full, detailed story, you can check out the official Windows Phone Developer Blog post by Todd Brix here.

    What’s New in the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace

    • Geographic Changes
    We have introduced the Marketplace into 19 new countries/geographies from a consumer standpoint. 

    Impact: The reach and number of potential consumers of your apps and games will be much larger than it used to be.
    • Pricing Tiers
    The Marketplace has been updated to reflect currency rates that more accurately reflect the price of your app compared to the US dollar as of today as this has not been done since the Marketplace opened 9 months ago.

    Impact:  The cost of your non-free applications and games to your users in the geographies you support will be aligned to the US, making it more fair.
    • Enhanced In-App Ad Support
    By the end of 2011, the Microsoft Advertising pubCentre will be supported in 18 countries, including Canada.

    Impact: If you build ad-supported applications, your ability to monetize your apps may be increased depending on if your app is available in some of the new ad-supported countries.  For some interesting stats on the benefits of using the Microsoft Advertising pubCentre, see here and here.
    • Private App/Game Distribution
    One of the gaps in the Marketplace that developers have told me about in the past is the lack of private distribution of apps.  The typical usage scenario for this is for beta testing apps and to allow only specific users access to an app.  With this update, you can give up to 100 users that you select access to an app in the Marketplace for 90 days (this is our “beta testing” scenario answer).  For “private” applications that you do not want publicly available, we now give you the option of publishing your app privately.  The app will not be discoverable via search on the Marketplace and you can distribute your app to users by giving them a deep link that will send them to the app in the marketplace (this is our “Targeted Distribution” scenario).

    Impact:  If you are building apps that you want to test out with larger number of users without having to developer unlock their WP7 devices, the Beta Testing scenario will give you greater flexibility in doing this while maintaining control on who you invite to the beta.  If you build apps like Line of Business/Enterprise apps that you don’t want to have widely available in the public, the Targeted Distribution model is a great way to deliver the app to legitimate users.
    • Application Management
    I can’t count how many developers I have talked to that were frustrated with the fact that anytime they wanted to change the metadata of their apps/games, they needed to resubmit the app for certification, even though no material changes to the functionality of the app were made. That changes now – metadata changes to apps and games can be made directly in the App Hub without recertification of the app. 

    We also provide much better analytics for your apps and games via the App Hub dashboard and you can even download these metrics into Excel.

    The submission process has been streamlined as well to make it easier for you to submit your app.  Thanks to the feedback from developers such as you, the Marketplace team has incorporated a large number of your suggestions and have made the submission process much cleaner than it was in the past.

    Impact:  As an app or game publisher for Windows Phone 7, your ability to monitor the popularity and usefulness of your app to your users has increased, which allows you to make more informed decisions on how to improve your app in future releases as well as give you a better understanding of how well your app is doing in the Marketplace in general.

    With the introduction to the new Marketplace functionality on the App Hub, we have updated a number of documents that you may have seen there as well in the past.  The list below provides links to some of the more pertinent updated documentation that you may want to review:

  • Canadian Mobile Developers' Blog

    Long Weekend Plans? One Word – Mango


    It’s finally here! The first long weekend of the summer! Looks like all of the stars aligned, giving us an amazing opportunity to spend three whole days ramping up on Windows Phone 7 Mango.

    Yesterday, Brandon Watson of the Windows Phone team announced the availability of the Windows Phone Developer Tools Beta 2 on the Windows Phone Developer Blog. There’s lots of new features to play with in this release and some new goodies as well. Check out the release notes for a complete listing. To top the news of the release of the new tools, the Mango OS can now be put on your retail Windows Phone 7 device so that you can test out features like fast app resume, updated Live Tiles, motion sensor, live agents, sockets, background audio, and raw camera access on your retail Windows Phone 7 device.

    I mentioned that the stars aligned – well that’s not just because the tools were released or that you can now update your phone. It’s actually that you can do all of that AND have Windows Phone 7 expert and Microsoft MVP Mark Arteaga (@MarkArteaga) to guide you through exploring these really cool updates!

    Get Started

    1. First, go get the tools. You’ll need to update your developer tools to update your phone and to deploy your apps. Read the instructions before updating – These are very important steps which you need to follow to the letter. The Windows Phone team is committed to supporting you with such an early access program, so if you have questions, start with the forums, which they are monitoring.
    2. Update your retail phone to Mango using the instructions included with the tools download. Make sure to save your backup somewhere safe (maybe on your machine and on an external device as well – you can never be too sure).
    3. Head over to Mark’s blog where he’s prepared some walkthroughs for you.

      Windows Phone 7 and Multitasking Revisited
      Windows Phone Multitasking - Fast Application Switching
      Windows Phone Multitasking - Scheduled Notifications
      Windows Phone and Database Support
      New Windows Phone Device Status APIs
      Windows Phone Launchers and Choosers
      Augmented Reality and Windows Phone 7 - Part 2
      Quick Tip: Theme Aware Icons

    Make sure you stay tuned to Mark’s blog and follow him on Twitter. With 1500 new APIs in Mango, have no doubt that there will be additional walkthroughs posted in these months coming up to the Mango release and beyond.

    From your team here at Microsoft Canada, we all wish you a safe and enjoyable weekend! Happy learning!

    On behalf of Canadian mobile developers, I’d like to thank you, Mark, for guiding us on this exciting journey.

    About Mark Arteaga

    Mark Arteaga is Founder and President of RedBit Development which specializes in helping customers such as Bell Media (formerly CTVGlobeMedia), The Globe & Mail and MTV implement mobile based solutions. Mark has an extensive background in software development and has dedicating the last 10 years to the trade. Mark has also been awarded Microsoft’s Most Valuable Professional award 6 years in a row for his role in the Windows Phone developer community and is the only Windows Phone Developer MVP in Canada. Mark is often speaking to the developer community at various events about mobile based solutions throughout Canada. You can contact Mark via his blog at blog.markarteaga.com, mark@redbitdev.com or follow him twitter.com/MarkArteaga on Twitter.

  • Canadian Mobile Developers' Blog

    Mobile Development at DevTeach



    There was a lot of buzz around mobile development at DevTeach Montreal a few weeks ago with an entire track dedicated to mobile development, 4 Windows Phone 7 sessions, and a post-conference full day event all about Windows Phone 7 with Colin Melia.

    As an added bonus, Carl Franklin (@carlfranklin) and Richard Campbell (@richcampbell) were on hand to host a special .NET Rocks! show – Panel of Mobile Platform Experts. On the panel were Kevin McNiesh, iPhone expert; Robert MacHale, Android expert; Michael Hutchinson, Mono expert; and Colin Melia, Windows Phone 7 expert. The experts sat down to talk about where mobile development is at, development processes, and fielded questions from the audience. 

    Now, you can relive the discussion here.

    Get Microsoft Silverlight

    In addition to this conversation, Colin had an opportunity to chat with Richard about the challenges of securing applications using the phone and the Cloud. The discussion dug hard into Active Directory Federated Services, Azure Access Control Services and more.

    Download the RunAs Radio Interview “Colin Melia Secures Azure and Windows Phone 7”

    Do you have any questions you’d like to ask Colin? Share your questions in this Phone Development LinkedIn discussion.

    About Colin Melia

    Colin Melia is a Microsoft Regional Director and Microsoft MVP for Silverlight known as an architect, trainer, speaker and author with deep and broad knowledge of the latest Microsoft technologies, proven problem solving skills, hands-on solution creation ingenuity and the ability to communicate rich and complex ideas.

    He speaks regularly with his British accent at conferences, events and code camps for Microsoft and community organisations as well as being a college academic advisor. In the summer of 2010 he developed and delivered the first Windows Phone 7 boot camp tour in North America, training dozens of developers and companies across Canada at Microsoft offices. His recent articles and reference cards have been featured on Mobile Developer Magazine & DZone and he regularly posts on his blog.

    Colin has 17 years of hands-on experience in areas of rich UI with WPF/Silverlight, cloud development with Azure and BI with SQL Server, along with in-depth knowledge of core technologies such as .NET, OData, WCF, WF, LINQ and WIF. He has developed award-winning simulation technology with rich UI, cloud-based learning portals and workflow-driven BI systems. He also created the first streaming video community site with Windows Media.

    He has worked in the finance, telecoms, e-learning, Internet communications and gaming industries, with his business solutions recently in use at major league companies world-wide.

  • Canadian Mobile Developers' Blog

    7 Apps In 7 Days


    7 Apps in 7 DaysShortly after Victoria Day, Atley Hunter (@atleyhunter), a local GTA developer, and Phone geek, sent me an email letting me know of a challenge that he had set up for himself – he was going to write 7 Windows Phone 7 applications in 7 days.

    The premise of the challenge was to start in the morning with a new app idea, code the app during the day, test it, and then release the application to the Windows Phone Marketplace before 11:59:59 PM each day. Sounds fun, eh? He chronicled the challenge, code, commentary, and all on his blog.

    Check it out!

    So what’s the lesson from this challenge? Developing applications for Windows Phone 7 is a breeze! If you’re tossing around the idea of creating a phone app, stop tossing. Start doing! Getting your next big app idea out to the world doesn’t have to be a big project. As Atley mentions in his summary:

    … I could get apps done even faster than I previously thought. I have always said that the tools were fantastic, easy to use and the most complete I had ever seen for a mobile platform. Doing this just proved that to me without a doubt.

    For those of you already creating phone apps, you know this already! So I challenge you, similar to what Atley has done – take your app ideas, code them, test them, and see how fast you can get them all in to the Marketplace!

    When you’re done, share the challenge of your story in this LinkedIn discussion in the Ignite Your Coding: Mobile Development group.

  • Canadian Mobile Developers' Blog

    Connecting Windows Phones and Slates to Windows Azure


    In the words of Rob Tiffany (@robtiffany), Mobility Architect at Microsoft, “the combination of mobile and cloud computing is like peanut butter and chocolate. Nobody does it better than Microsoft when Windows Phones and Slates are connected to Windows Azure over wireless.” If you haven’t had a chance to see how Windows Azure offers you, the mobile developer, an easy way to add redundant storage, compute power, database access, queuing, caching, and web services that are accessible by any mobile platform, check out this session from TechEd North America last week.

    In this session, Rob helps you make sense of wireless-efficient web services and data transports, such as JSON. You’ll learn how to scale out processing through multiple Web and Worker role instances. Next, you’ll learn how to partition your data with Windows Azure Tables to dramatically increase your scalability via parallel reads. You’ll also learn about providing loose-coupling for inbound data from devices through the use of Azure Queues and Worker Roles. Finally, you’ll combine all this with distributed AppFabric Caching and Output Caching to provide a responsive mobile experience at Internet scale.

    Did this make you think of cool ideas for the two? I’d love to hear them, so please share. Are you doing something with Windows Phone 7 and Windows Azure? I’d love to hear how you’re using it. Share the coolness in this LinkedIn discussion.

    Happy viewing.

  • Canadian Mobile Developers' Blog

    Windows Phone 7 Hackfest in Ajax This Saturday!


    Guest post by Atley Hunter (@atleyhunter)


    HackFest Spring 2011 - Part 2If you’re in the Toronto area and you’ve been meaning to write apps for Windows Phone 7, there’s a Hackfest near you this coming Saturday, May 14th! 

    · If you have an idea for an app but don’t know how to build apps for Windows Phone, this event is for you! We’ll have experts and tutors on hand to show you how to write your first Windows Phone app, and it’s easier than you think.

    · If you have the skills to build apps for Windows Phone but don’t have any ideas for an app, this event is also for you! If you’ve got C#, .NET, Silverlight or XNA skills but can’t think of what to write, the Hackfests are a great place to brainstorm with other people and come up with ideas for apps.

    · If you’re looking for a job or clients, this event is also for you! Okay, Hackfests aren’t actually job fairs, but they’re excellent networking opportunities, and these days, 80% of the tech jobs out there are found by networking.

    Find The Hackfest

    Ajax’s Hackfest takes place this Saturday, May 14th from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the McLean Community Center (95 Magill Drive, Ajax, ON).

    This event is free – click here to register!

    Get the Tools

    If you’re coming to the Hackfests, you’ll want to bring a computer (preferably a laptop, unless you’re into heavy lifting), and to make the best use of the time, you should install the Windows Phone developer tools beforehand.

    You can download the tools from the App Hub (create.msdn.com). They’re free-as-in-beer and they’re awesome.

    You’ll want to do it in this order:

    1. Download and install the Windows Phone Developer Tools (Release Notes)

    2. Download and install the Windows Phone Developer Tools January 2011 Update (Release Notes) [Note: Installation may take several minutes and is complete when the install dialog box closes.]

    3. Download and install the Windows Phone Developer Tools Fix

  • Canadian Mobile Developers' Blog

    AzureFest Makes A Surprise Visit to Calgary This Weekend


    AzureFest is making a surprise visit to Calgary this weekend! If you haven’t yet heard of AzureFest, check out this post where AzureFest is described in full.

    Remember, AzureFest is a hands-on event. This means that you’ll be following along on your own laptop and actually deploying your solution during the event. In order to get the most out of the experience, make sure to bring your laptop, a power cable if you’re going to need to plug in your laptop, and a credit card. Don’t worry, nothing will be charged to your credit card during AzureFest. Your credit card is just required for activating your Windows Azure account.

    If you want to see for yourself how easy it is to move your existing application to the cloud, this is an event you don’t want to miss. Register early as space is limited.

    University of Calgary, Rm 121 ICT Building
    2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, AB
    Saturday, April 30, 2011
    Click here to register

    Have plans? No problem! A virtual AzureFest is coming your desktop in May – stay tuned.

  • Canadian Mobile Developers' Blog

    MobileTeach 2011: May 30th–June 3rd in Montreal



    Billing itself as the biggest mobile development conference in Canada, MobileTeach will take place in Montreal from Monday, May 30th through Friday, June 3rd. It’s put on by our friends at DevTeach and part of the annual DevTeach conference (also taking place May 30th – June 3rd) and will cover Windows Phone 7 development along with development for the Esteemed Competition’s platforms.

    Among MobileTeach’s sessions on Windows Phone 7 and Silverlight are:

    • What you should know about WP7 Dev
    • WP7 high-end app pitfalls and how to avoid them
    • Secure and Personalize with WCF RIA Services
    • Async Calls in Silverlight and WPF clients
    • Optimizing Silverlight animation

    colin meliaThere will also be a full-day post-conference Windows Phone 7 workshop on Friday, June 3rd run by our good friend Colin Melia, who’ll get you up to speed on Windows Phone development topics, including:

    • Silverlight Development
    • UI Design
    • Data Binding & Data Access
    • Development Tools
    • Notification Services
    • Cloud Services
    • MVVM
    • Application Model & Navigation
    • Input
    • Shell Integration
    • Devices Integration
    • Building Phone-compatible Services
    • Marketplace policies
    • and other select topics requested and a selection of XNA topics

    For all the details, see the MobileTeach site.

    This article also appears in Global Nerdy.

  • Canadian Mobile Developers' Blog

    Brandon Foy’s Indie Windows Phone 7 Ads


    I’m told that if Brandon Foy’s funky indie ad (as in it wasn’t commissioned by Microsoft; he just came up with the idea and made it himself) for Windows Phone 7 gets 200,000 views, it’ll get aired in a national spot. Let’s give this young digital artist’s career a jump-start, shall we?

    Brandon also created this ad (also for Windows Phone 7):

    This article also appears in Global Nerdy.

  • Canadian Mobile Developers' Blog

    Internet Explorer 9 / Windows Phone 7 Boot Camps in Ottawa and Edmonton


    ie9 wp7 boot camp

    More IE9 / WP7 Boot Camps? Where and When?

    We’ve had some great Internet Explorer 9 / Windows Phone 7 Boot Camps in many cities across Canada already, and here are two more!


    The Ottawa Boot Camp takes place on Wednesday, May 11th. It runs all day (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) and takes place at the National Arts Centre (53 Elgin Street, at Confederation Square) in the Panorama Room. This event is free, but you should register to attend.


    Edmonton’s Boot Camp happens on Tuesday, May 17th. It runs all day (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) and takes place at the Art Gallery of Alberta’s Ledcor Theatre (2 Sir Winston Churchill Square). This event is free, but you should register to attend.

    What’s on the Agenda?

    These boot camps will be all about making the most of IE9 and WP7. Internet Explorer 9 has released and Windows Phone is due for a couple of updates this year, so there’s never been a better time to get up to speed on these two technologies. That’s why we’re holding boot camps in cities across Canada to help you get the most out of both. These free (that’s right, free, as in you-don’t-pay-nuthin’) events will feature the sessions below.

    The Internet Explorer Sessions (in the morning)

    A Lap Around Internet Explorer 9 and HTML5
    A look at IE9’s support for the troika that collectively goes by the name “HTML5”: HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript. You’ll see how standards compliance and the resulting “same markup” will make life good for both developers and users and how that same markup runs faster on IE9 thanks to the newer, faster JavaScript engine and hardware acceleration.

    Enhancing Pinned Sites with Internet Explorer 9
    IE9’s “pinned sites” feature makes web apps feel more like desktop apps by letting users add website to the taskbar and start menu and let developers add custom context menus to pinned site icons, provide visual notifications on the task bar with icon overlays and even add custom buttons on the default thumbnail preview. This session will show you how to best use this feature and also cover IE9’s developer tools.

    The Windows Phone Sessions (in the afternoon)

    Windows Phone 7 Silverlight Recipes
    You’ve read the introductory material and written “Hello World” on the Phone, and you’re now thinking of starting a bigger project. You’re now asking this question: “How do I do X on Windows Phone?”. This session is the answer. You’ll learn all the recipes for building blocks of applications, which you can use, modify and combine in your own Windows Phone 7 apps.

    Windows Phone 7 XNA Kickstart
    Haven’t you always wanted to write a videogame, but could never get started? This is your chance. This session will show you the basics of XNA, the game development framework for Windows Phone (and the Xbox 360 and Windows too!). You’ll get your feet wet writing 2D videogames, learn some game coding techniques and get you need to start you on your journey as a game developer.

    This article also appears in Global Nerdy.

  • Canadian Mobile Developers' Blog

    Mobile Dev’s Shallow Pools, Deep Opportunities, and Tomorrow’s Hackfests


    A Shallow Pool

    help wanted

    The subtitle of the Wall Street Journal article Mobile App Talent Pool is Shallow tells the story: “Companies Scramble for Engineers Who Can Write Software for Smartphones”. If you’ve got the mobile dev know-how, you can write your own ticket anywhere.

    Some of the key take-aways of the article:

    • Companies are competing fiercely with each other in an attempt to snap up mobile development talent – to the point where the competition is a “bottleneck”.
    • The number of developers with mobile development skills isn’t enough to meet the demand, which has been increasing at a greater rate than for other types of development.
    • The shortage of mobile talent means that companies are willing to find developers with promise and invest in getting them trained to develop mobile applications.
    • The wages are good: average pay among mobile developers and designers is higher, with a Dice.com survey taken last fall reporting that experience mobile developers are raking in US$90K – $150K.

    Deep Opportunities

    If you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, you know all about the importance of having a head start. The book is full of king-sized success stories, from Bill Gates to the Beatles to hockey players to big Manhattan lawyers, all of whom were passionate about something, honed their skills and then capitalized on that experience when the opportunities arose.

    If you’re a .NET developer, Windows Phone is a “lining up of the planets” that represents an opportunity that you can capitalize on:

    • You already have a head start on Windows Phone development! You use Visual Studio (either the full version or the free Express edition) as your IDE, familiar languages like C# and VB, and the .NET framework. If you’ve been working with Silverlight or XNA, you’re even father ahead of the game.
    • You can stand out. The growth in the number of apps in Windows Phone’s marketplace is pretty impressive; about 12,000 since November and climbing fast. It’s the perfect opportunity for someone trying to make a name: small enough that you can make a splash, but big enough so that the splash you make actually matters.
    • We’ve got your back. Microsoft has team of Windows Phone 7 “Champs”, whose mission is to make sure that you get the help, information and support as you write Windows Phone apps. As far as I know, the Esteemed Competition doesn’t have a team that has this level of support for developers building on their platforms.

    Hackfests in Vancouver and Toronto Tomorrow


    If you’ve been thinking about getting into Windows Phone development and you’re in the Vancouver or Toronto areas, you’re in luck – we’ve got free Windows Phone Hackfests in those cities tomorrow! These are events where you can learn about Windows Phone development, try your hand at it, and share ideas for apps. Here are the details:

    This article also appears in Global Nerdy.

  • Canadian Mobile Developers' Blog

    A Quick Wrap-Up of Today’s Windows Phone Announcements at MIX


    Now That Was a Keynote!

    First, allow me to offer a graphic representation of today’s keynote at the MIX conference:

    cool story bro

    It was that nice. Great announcements, great demos, great flow and wonderful surprises – everything a technology keynote should be. If you missed the live stream, check back at the MIX conference site in 24 hours and watch the recording. You won’t be disappointed.

    I’ve got to run and go catch today’s Windows Phone dev sessions, so this blog entry will have to be a quick one, covering some of the announcements and things shown at today’s MIX11 keynote, and it covers only the Windows Phone stuff. I’ll post more later, but in the meantime, here’s a quick taste!

    Emulator Improvements

    tilt emulator

    One of the most annoying things about the current state of Windows Phone 7 development is that there are certain things that are just not doable in the emulator because computers lack the necessary sensors. (I like to joke that modern urinals are more aware of your presence than modern desktop and laptop computers.) If you want to test apps that make use of the accelerometer or GPS, you either have to deploy to a device or use cumbersome workarounds. Not with the next version of the dev tools!

    Want to test your tilt-driven app in the emulator? No problem using the upcoming dev tools. There’s a window pane that will let you rotate a 3-D “virtual phone” (pictured above), and those simulated pitches, rolls and yaws get sent to the emulator, making it as if you were tilting a real phone. Better still, there’s a tilt recording facility so you can create a library of tilt motions to use in repeated testing as you build your app. A very nice touch.

    location emulator

    There is a location emulator facility for Windows Phone, but it’s a little on the cumbersome side. You won’t need it once the next version of the dev tools comes out, thanks to the built-in location emulator (pictured above), which lets you specify a location with lat and long or more simply, by clicking on a Bing Map. As with the tilt emulator, it sends the location data to the phone emulator, and it’s as if you relocated the phone to a specific place.

    APIs Galore!


    The folks on the Windows Phone team have been hard at work adding all sorts of functionality to Windows Phone, and you’ll see it in the next version of the dev tools. The slide shown in the photo above shows some of the goodies that are coming your way soon, and they include:

    • Silverlight + XNA, together at last! It’s the peanut butter cup of user interface technologies.
    • Battery-friendly background agents: let you write apps that run in the background and still preserve the user’s battery life
    • Fast app resume: Leave an app and come back again? There’ll be less waiting.
    • Database! Yup, you’ll be able to store data in a proper queryable database.
    • Sockets! I wanted this one, and now I have it.
    • Access to the camera raw data. This opens up a whole class of apps.
    • Access to the compass! Here come the augmented reality apps!

    The Profiler


    With mobile devices, we’re working with a less than what we’d get with desktops: less processor power, less RAM, less resources – and less patient users, since these devices tend to get used while on the go. As a result, efficiency is the watchword for mobile apps: anything you can do to get the most out of the limits of the phone is a big help. Hence the jumping for joy when it was announced that the next version of the dev tools will contain a profiler.

    Visual Studio is an amazing good dev toolkit, and the Profiler is a great match. Scott Guthrie ran through a quick demo of finding performance bottlenecks using the profiler, and I think that it’s going to help developer create better, snappier, less patience-taxing apps.

    Angry Birds!

    angry birds

    Coming to Windows Phone on May 25th – ‘nuff said!

    IE9: Bringing Standards and Speed to Windows Phone

    ie9 on wp7

    We were also treated to a quick demo of IE9 for Windows Phone, which comes out later this year with the “Mango” update. It’s the first mobile version of IE that shares a common codebase with the desktop version, and hence it inherits those things that make IE9 for the desktop the “well, it’s about time!” browser. Like IE9 for the desktop, IE9 for the phone runs like snakes on energy drinks on ice, and we saw it run circles around Chrome for Android and even more so than Safari for iPhone. Attention other mobile browsers: it’s on!

    The Payoff

    I’ll leave it to Super Popped-Collar Guy to say it for me:

    cool dev tools bro

    That’s right: your first chance to get your paws on the dev tools comes next month. Watch this blog for the announcement, and start working on your app ideas!

    This article also appears in Global Nerdy.

  • Canadian Mobile Developers' Blog

    MIX Day 1 Keynote Live Stream!


    mix stageThe MIX keynote room, earlier this morning.

    Don’t forget – you don’t have to be in Vegas to catch the MIX11 Day 1 keynote. All you have to do is point your browser at live.visitmix.com.

    This article also appears in Global Nerdy.

  • Canadian Mobile Developers' Blog

    Windows Phone 7 Hackfests in Vancouver and Toronto This Saturday!



    wp7 hackfestIf you’re in the Vancouver or Toronto areas and you’ve been meaning to write apps for Windows Phone 7, there’s a Hackfest near you this coming Saturday, April 16th!

    • If you have an idea for an app but don’t know how to build apps for Windows Phone, this event is for you! We’ll have experts and tutors on hand to show you how to write your first Windows Phone app, and it’s easier than you think.
    • If you have the skills to build apps for Windows Phone but don’t have any ideas for an app, this event is also for you! If you’ve got C#, .NET, Silverlight or XNA skills but can’t think of what to write, the Hackfests are a great place to brainstorm with other people and come up with ideas for apps.
    • If you’re looking for a job or clients, this event is also for you! Okay, Hackfests aren’t actually job fairs, but they’re excellent networking opportunities, and these days, 80% of the tech jobs out there are found by networking.

    The Vancouver Hackfest

    Vancouver’s Hackfest takes place this Saturday, April 16th from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. at BCIT Burnaby Campus (3700 Willingdon Avenue, Burnaby), Building SW3, Room 1710.

    This event is free – click here to register!

    The Toronto Hackfest

    Toronto’s Hackfest also takes place this Saturday, April 16th from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the ObjectSharp offices (11 King Street West, Toronto), suite 1400.

    This event is free – click here to register!

    Get the Tools

    If you’re coming to the Hackfests, you’ll want to bring a computer (preferably a laptop, unless you’re into heavy lifting), and to make the best use of the time, you should install the Windows Phone developer tools beforehand.

    You can download the tools from the App Hub (create.msdn.com). They’re free-as-in-beer and they’re awesome.

    You’ll want to do it in this order:

    1. Download and install the Windows Phone Developer Tools (Release Notes)
    2. Download and install the Windows Phone Developer Tools January 2011 Update (Release Notes) [Note: Installation may take several minutes and is complete when the install dialog box closes.]
    3. Download and install the Windows Phone Developer Tools Fix

    This article also appears in Global Nerdy.

  • Canadian Mobile Developers' Blog

    Results from “The Great Canadian Appathon”


    great-canadian-appathonToday, at Yonge Dundas Square in the heart of Toronto, the three finalists for the Great Canadian Appathon, a 48-hour programming marathon to create games for Windows Phone 7, showed their creations to the judges. Their apps were:

    • Plasmium, a 2-D space shooter game that borrows some ideas and designs from Geometry Wars.
    • Super Punch, a physics based game where you play a superhero punching out a supervillain for maximum distance.
    • Valley Raid, a 3-D homage to the classic Atari 2600 videogame River Raid.

    The Great Canadian Appathon was a contest open to Canadian post-secondary students where they were challenged to write a great mobile game for Windows Phone 7 (the official mobile platform of the Appathon) in a 48-hour marathon session on the weekend of March 9th. The event was put together by the Toronto-based mobile game development shop XMG Studio with the help of the National Post, KPMG, Telus and Microsoft. As the Windows Phone guy on Microsoft Canada’s Developer and Platform Evangelism team, I was only to happy to catch the final round.

    In the end, here’s how it broke down:

    Third Place: Plasmium ($1,000 prize)


    Plasmium takes its inspiration from the visual style of the Xbox 360 game Geometry Wars, sticking to “simple shapes but glowy particle effects and bright colours”. It was part stylistic decision, but also part pragmatic: they didn’t have an artist on the team.

    “We’re all programmers of course,” said team member Michael Hoffman, “so we decided right from the beginning to overcome our lack of artistry [by using] procedurally generated graphics. And it looks very nice even though you can make those sort of graphics with just programmers drawing triangles.”

    Plasmium’s team is from McGill and consisted of Michael Darwish, Michael Hoffman and Marek Zaluski.

    Second Place: Valley Raid ($10,000 prize)

    valley raid

    Valley Raid is based on the classic Atari 2600 game River Raid, Activision’s scrolling shooter from 1982. Like River Raid, Valley Raid has the player piloting a fighter plane through a valley, destroying enemies and obstacles and picking up power-ups along the way. Unlike its ‘80s predecessor, Valley Raid is a 3-D game; in fact, it was one of only 3 out of more than 50 submitted to the Appathon that were 3-D.

    “Because the game we chose was a 3D game and a 3D game is really tough to do, so the time was so short on us that we just had to code as fast as we could,” said team member Mahdi Tayarani Najaran.

    Valley Raid’s team is from UBC and made up of Eason Hu, Mahdi Tayarani Najaran and Ben Sheftel.

    First Place: Super Punch ($25,000 prize)

    super punch

    Super Punch is a physics-based game in which you control a superhero who continually punches a supervillain through the air for maximum distance. Success lets you score points which you can use to buy upgrades to eventually be powerful enough to send the supervillain into space.

    “We love the condensed time line because we come up with everything off the cuff and its all from scratch, you just have to come up with something really quick,” said team member Pieter Parker. “A lot of ideas died that first day, but one made it out and that was Super Punch.”

    Super Punch’s team comes from two schools in Edmonton: Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and University of Alberta. It consisted of Stephen Baden, Jeremy Burns, Pieter Parker and Tyler Ste Marie.

    Here’s a video of Super Punch in action:

    Congratulation to the winners, and thanks to everyone who participated!

    This article also appears in Global Nerdy.

  • Canadian Mobile Developers' Blog

    New Game Development Tutorial at App Hub!


    game dev tut

    All enterprise and no games makes Jack (or Jill) a dull developer, and lucky for you, we’ve got a brand new game dev tutorial over at App Hub. It’s your chance to build a nifty little game called Shooter from start to finish and learn the XNA game development framework (which targets Windows, Xbox 360 and Windows Phone) and game programming techniques along the way!

    You can download the Shooter project and take it apart to see how it works, and you can also follow along with the tutorial and videos, which are broken into three parts:

    1. Getting started. In this section, you’ll learn about the design of the game you’re going to build and take the first steps by creating a player object and responding to user input.
    2. Getting in deep. The next steps will be to:
      • Animate the player object
      • Draw the background
      • Add enemies
      • Incorporate collision detection
      • Shootin’ and blowin’ stuff up!
    3. Getting it done. And finally, it’s time for polish: sounds, a user interface and menuing system to complete the game.

    Download the Windows Phone Developer Tools, go visit the Game Development Tutorial, and start making some games!

    This article also appears in Global Nerdy.

  • Canadian Mobile Developers' Blog

    The Road to MIX


    road to mix

    The MIX Conference – billed by Microsoft as its web conference (and now with phone!) and me as “Microsoft’s most right-brained major conference” – takes place in Las Vegas next week! It’s the conference where developers, designers, UX/UI pros and businesspeople get together to talk about “consumer”-focused applications and sites for the web and phone.

    A little aside: I put “consumer” in quotes because I hate the term but don’t have a reasonable substitute for it. My problem with the term “consumer” is the same one that Jerry Michalski has: it makes us sound like “living gullets whose only purpose is to gulp down products and crap out cash.“ If you can think of a better word for “consumer”, please share it with me!

    There will be a fair number of announcements made at MIX, so we’re doing a couple of things to make sure you get the news as soon as possible:

    • We’re sending a few members of the Evangelism team to cover the event, including myself, John Bristowe (who’ll be presenting at MIX), Frederic Harper and Paul Laberge.
    • We’re bringing along a few friends to help cover the event, including Mathieu Chartier, Richard Campbell, Colin Melia, Andrew Louis and Mark Arteaga.
    • And finally, videos of the sessions will be posted online very soon after they’ve concluded.

    You can view the MIX11 schedule to see what’s going on during the conference, or you can check out the pared-down schedule I’ve posted below, featuring those sessions that focus on the web and the phone. You might notice that a lot of the scheduled phone sessions have no name and (TBA) beside them: I leave it to your imagination and deductive powers to figure out what they might be about!

    Monday, April 11

    Web Phone
    9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Pre-conference Boot Camps Pre-conference Boot Camps

    Tuesday, April 12

    Web Phone
    9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Keynote Keynote

    11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

    Hot from the Labs: HTML5 WebSockets

    HTML5 for Silverlight Developers

    Application Design for Windows Phone

    Flickr API: Tap Into Billions of Photos for Windows Phone 7

    XNA Game Studio for Fun, Profit, Danger, Excitement and Windows Phone 7 Games

    2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

    50 Performance Tricks to Make Your HTML5 Web Sites Faster

    Microformats and Semantic Markup

    Node.js, Ruby, and Python in Windows Azure: A Look at What’s Possible

    Deep Dive MVVM

    Expert Lessons: Top Tips for Building a Successful Windows Phone Application

    Who Would Pay For That Feature? Adding Analytics to Your Windows Phone 7 Applications

    3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

    Building Adaptive HTML5 Applications

    JavaScript: The Language

    Making Better Web Apps For Today's Browsers

    Rx: A Library for Managing Asynchronous Data and Events in your Windows Phone 7 Application

    Wednesday, April 13

    Web Phone
    9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Keynote Keynote

    11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

    Deep Dive Into HTML5 <canvas>

    ECMAScript 5: The New Parts

    Going Mobile with Your Site on Internet Explorer 9 and Windows Phone 7

    Building Windows Phone 7 Applications with the Windows Azure Platform

    Going Mobile with Your Site on Internet Explorer 9 and Windows Phone 7

    Windows Phone Session (TBA)

    2:00 p.m. – 2:25 p.m.

    Hacking with the F12 Developer Tools

    The View of the World Depends on the Glasses I Wear

    Windows Phone Session (TBA)

    2:35 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

    Building Data-centric N-tier Applications with jQuery

    Windows Phone Session (TBA)

    2:35 p.m. – 3:35 p.m.

    5 Things You Need To Know To Start Using <video> and <audio> Today

    Adding the Awesomesauce Flavor with Internet Explorer 9 Pinned Sites


    3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

    The Devil Went Down to HTTP: Debugging with Fiddler

    Interactive Panel: JavaScript

    Script#: Compiling C# to JavaScript using Visual Studio

    Windows Phone Session (TBA)

    5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

    Is that a Sherpa on Your Shoulder?

    Reactive Extensions for JavaScript (RxJS)

    Windows Phone Session (TBA)

    9:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m. Attendee party Attendee party

    Thursday, April 14

    Web Phone
    9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

    Designer and Developer: A Case for the Hybrid

    The Future of HTML5

    MMP Player Framework: Past, Present, Future

    Writing Maintainable JavaScript

    Windows Phone Session (TBA)

    Windows Phone Session (TBA)

    10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

    Filling the HTML5 Gaps with Polyfills and Shims

    Analyzing and Improving Windows Phone Application Performance

    Windows Phone Session (TBA)

    12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

    HTML5 for Skeptics

    Modernizing Your Website: SVG Meets HTML5

    Making Money with your Application on Windows Phone

    Windows Phone Session (TBA)

    1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

    CSS3 Takes on the World

    Data in an HTML5 World

    Good JavaScript Habits for C# Developers

    Creating Windows Phone Applications Using Expression Blend

    Windows Phone Session (TBA)

    3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

    Designing Great Experiences for SharePoint 2010

    All Thumbs: Redesigning an Existing UI to Suit Windows Phone 7

    Get Real! Sketch, Prototype, and Capture Great Ideas with Expression Blend and SketchFlow

    New Technologies for Immersive Content Creation

    The Tale of Two Apps: Making a Splash in the Windows Phone Marketplace

    Windows Phone Session (TBA)

    This article also appears in Global Nerdy.

  • Canadian Mobile Developers' Blog

    The Windows Phone 7 Numbers, in Pictures


    The Windows Phone Team’s Brandon Watson gave out the number behind Windows Phone 7, and I thought I’d spice it up with some graphics. Enjoy!

    1.5 mill downloads

    36000 app hub

    11500 apps in marketplace

    7500 paid apps

    1200 register

    1100 money ads

    12 doanloads

    1.8 days approval

    62 percent pass

    44 percent trial

    40 percent devs submitted

    one idea

    This article also appears in Global Nerdy.

  • Canadian Mobile Developers' Blog

    Worth Reading: “Professional Windows Phone 7 Game Development” by Wrox


    professional wp7 game development

    I just picked up the ebook version of the latest book on Windows Phone game development: Wrox’ Professional Windows Phone 7 Game Development, written by Chris G. Williams (@chrisgwilliams on Twitter) and George W. Clingerman (@clingermangw on Twitter). Both authors are XNA MVPs and have written a great deal about XNA online, which makes them choice authors for a book on making games for WP7.

    Among the topics covered in the book are:

    • Dealing with device orientation and the accelerometer
    • Touch input: detecting touch, handling gestures and the SIP (virtual keyboard)
    • Building a user input management system
    • Game state management
    • Playing and recording audio
    • Building a base game template
    • 3D graphics and effects
    • Push notifications
    • Accessing web services
    • Accessing the camera
    • Trial mode

    From my initial skim of the book, it looks like a pretty good guide for the developer who’s looking to get into game development on Windows Phone, and as I write this, there are a couple of Amazon reviewers who’d agree with me.

    Both the dead-tree and ebook versions of  Professional Windows Phone 7 Game Development are available directly from Wrox for USD$44.99 (CAD$43.72 as of this writing).

    This article also appears in Global Nerdy.

  • Canadian Mobile Developers' Blog

    Connecting Windows Azure to Windows Phone 7 Just Got A Whole Lot Easier



    As of today, connecting Windows Azure to your application running on Windows Phone 7 just got a whole lot easier with the release of the Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows Phone 7 designed to make it easier for you to leverage the cloud services running in Windows Azure. The toolkit, which you can find on CodePlex, includes Visual Studio project templates for Windows Phone 7 and Windows Azure, class libraries optimized for use on the phone, sample applications, and documentation.

    The toolkit contains the following resources:

    • Binaries – Libraries that you can use in your Windows Phone 7 applications to make it easier to work with Windows Azure (e.g. a full storage client library for blobs and tables). You can literally add these libraries to your existing Windows Phone 7 applications and immediate start leveraging services such as Windows Azure storage.
    • Docs – Documentation that covers setup and configuration, a review of the toolkit content, getting started, and some troubleshooting tips.
    • Project Templates – VSIX (which is the unit of deployment for a Visual Studio 2010 Extension) files are available that create project templates in Visual Studio, making it easy for you to build brand new applications.
    • Samples – Sample application that fully leverages the toolkit, available in both C# and VB.NET.  The sample application is also built into one of the two project templates created by the toolkit.

    There’s a really great article on how to get started in the wiki. Definitely check that out before you get started. To help make it even easier to get started with the toolkit, today’s (3/25) Cloud Cover episode will focus on the toolkit and how to get started using it. Over the next few weeks, videos, tutorials, demo scripts, and other great resources to go along with the toolkit will be released. Stay tuned here – I’ll keep you posted with all the new stuff as soon as it becomes available!

    Want more?
    If those resources aren’t enough to get you started, make sure to stop by Wade Wegner’s blog (a fellow evangelist) for a quick “how to get started" tutorial.

    Get Windows Azure free for 30 days

    Windows AzureAs a reader of the Canadian Mobile Developers’ blog, you can get free access to Windows Azure for 30 days while you’re trying out the toolkit. Go to windowsazurepass.com, select Canada as your country, and enter the promo code CDNDEVS.

    If you think you need more than 30 days, no problem. Sign up for the Introductory Special instead. From now until June 30, you’ll get 750 hours per month free!

    If you have an MSDN subscription, you have Windows Azure hours included as part of your benefits. Sign in to MSDN and go to your member’s benefits page to activate your Windows Azure benefits.

    Next Steps
    Download the toolkit and get your app connected to Windows Azure.
  • Canadian Mobile Developers' Blog

    Plug In Cloud Power to Your Mobile App: Learn How at AzureFest



    T-Mobile, in the States, used Windows Azure as the backend for their mobile application Family Room (you can read further in the whitepaper Mobile Operator Speeds Time-to-Market for Innovative Social Networking Solution published on Microsoft Case Studies). Now, you can bring the same concepts home to Canada by extending your mobile applications to the Windows Azure platform. If you haven’t done any work with Windows Azure yet, I invite you to check out AzureFest, a hands-on educational event designed by Canada’s own MVPs Cory Fowler (@SyntaxC4) and Barry Gervin (@bgervin) from ObjectSharp. At AzureFest, you’ll see how developing and deploying applications to Windows Azure is fast and easy, leveraging the skills you already have (.NET, Java, PHP, or Ruby) and the tools you already know (Visual Studio, Eclipse, etc.).

    AzureFest sessions are focused around web applications using .NET and Visual Studio, but the concepts are the same for mobile applications. You’ll learn everything to you need to know to get up and running with Windows Azure quickly including:

    • Overview of Cloud Computing and Windows Azure
    • Setting up the Windows Azure SDK and Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio
    • Setting up your Windows Azure account
    • Migrating a traditional on-premise ASP.NET MVC application to the Cloud
    • Deploying solutions to Windows Azure

    You can use the learnings from AzureFest to migrate your mobile application’s backend services, if they exist, to Windows Azure or now have the background knowledge required for your next mobile application so that it can leverage the power of Windows Azure.

    AzureFest is a hands-on event. This means that you’ll be following along in your own development environment and actually deploying your solution during the event. In order to get the most out of the experience, you’ll need to bring a laptop with you that is running Windows Vista SP1 or Windows 7 with the Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio installed. If you don’t have Visual Studio, that’s not a problem. The Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio will help you download Visual Studio Express for free.

    You’ll also need to bring a credit card. Windows Azure activations require a credit card even for the trial period, but don’t worry, nothing will be charged to your credit card as the last part of the event shows you how to take down all of your Windows Azure instances.

    We’re taking AzureFest across Canada, and will be coming to a city near you. Check out the listings below to get all the information you need about each of the cities. Don’t see a city that’s near you? Keep checking back as we will be adding more cities and dates as we confirm them. If you’d like to help organize an AzureFest in your city or at your user group, please contact me via email, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

    Where and When

    Downtown Toronto
    Microsoft Canada
    Ernst & Young Tower
    222 Bay Street, 12th floor
    Wednesday, March 30, 2011 6:00PM – 9;00PM
    Click here to register

    Presenters: Cory Fowler (@SyntaxC4), Barry Gervin (@bgervin)

    Microsoft Canada
    1950 Meadowvale Boulevard
    Thursday, March 31, 2011 6:00PM - 9:00PM 
    Click here to register

    Presenters: Cory Fowler (@SyntaxC4), Barry Gervin (@bgervin)

    BCIT, Burnaby Campus
    3700 Willingdon Avenue
    Tuesday, April 5, 2011
    6:00PM – 9:00PM
    Click here to register

    Presenters: Jonathan Rozenblit (@jrozenblit)

    Algonquin College Campus
    1385 Woodroffe Avenue, Ottawa
    Saturday, April 16, 2011 12:45PM – 1:30PM
    Click here to register

    Presenters: Christian Beauclair (@cbeauclair)

    University of Calgary, Rm 121 ICT Building
    2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, AB
    Saturday, April 30, 2011 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Click here to register

    Presenters: Michael Diehl (@MikeDiehl_Wpg) and Tyler Doerksen (@Tyler_gd)
    Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce Board Room – First Floor
    1273 Main Street, Suite 200, Moncton, NB
    Friday, May 6, 2011 6:00 PM - 10:00 PM
    Click here to register

    Presenters: Cory Fowler (@SyntaxC4)

    The Hub
    1673 Barrington St., 2nd Floor, Halifax, NS
    Sunday, May 8, 2011 1:30PM – 4:30 PM
    Click here to register

    Presenters: Cory Fowler (@SyntaxC4)

    UNB Campus
    Room 317, ITC
    Saturday, May 7, 2011 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
    Click here to register

    Presenters: Cory Fowler (@SyntaxC4)

    Quebec City
    l'École National d'Administration Publique (ENAP), salle 4114
    555, boul.Charest Est, Québec, QC
    Thursday, May 12, 2011 5:00 PM – 8:30 PM
    Click here to register

    Presenters: Frédéric Harper (@fharper)

    Microsoft Canada
    2000 McGill College, Montreal, QC
    Tuesday, May 17, 2011 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
    Click here to register

    Presenters: Frederic Harper (@fharper)
    Online Business Systems, Assiniboine Room, 2nd Floor
    200-115 Bannatyne Ave., Winnipeg, MB
    Thursday, May 19, 2011 5:30 PM – 9:00 PM
    Click here to register

    Presenters: John Bristowe (@jbristowe)
    Coming Soon! Save the date!
    Tuesday, May 31, 2011 8:30 AM – 12:00 PM

    Presenters: Jonathan Rozenblit (@jrozenblit)
    Virtual Lunch and Learn Series
    Part 1: Thursday, May 19, 2011 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EST, CST, MST, PST
    Part 2: Thursday, May 26, 2011 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EST, CST, MST, PST
    Part 3: Thursday, June 2, 2011 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EST, CST, MST, PST
    Click here to register

    Presenters: Jonathan Rozenblit (@jrozenblit)

    Make sure you register early as space is limited. Make sure to find me when you’re are the event – it will be an opportunity for us to chat about what you’re working on, possible projects to move to the Cloud, and how I can help you take your applications and skills to the Cloud.

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