Susan IbachTechnical Evangelist
The Windows 8 store is open for individuals to publish and students can get a Windows store account for free through the DreamSpark program, here’s how you do it.
Microsoft announced this week, that the Windows 8 Store is open to individuals and that they will be providing free accounts to students through the DreamSpark program, the same awesome deal we got for the Windows Phone marketplace. That means the only thing standing between you and an app in the store is some time at your keyboard geeking out!
How do you get your free marketplace account, go here and follow the instructions, the rest of this blog provides more detailed instructions on how to create your marketplace account.
Then jump to step 2 and Get your registration code!
You need a DreamSpark account in order to get a registration code. It’s the registration code that allows you to create your store account for free. Only students or educators can create DreamSpark accounts. If you are a student or educator and do not have one yet, create a DreamSpark account.
Go to DreamSpark and Sign in with your DreamSpark account, now from the top menu select Students | app development
Select Windows 8 Learn more
Scroll to the bottom of the page and select Get Your Registration code
You will be brought back to the top of the screen. In the box with the title Get Registration Code. Select Get Code Now.
After you select Get Code now a code will be displayed in the box. Write that code down. That’s the code that will allow you to create your Windows Store account for free. Now you can creating your Windows Store account!
Go to the Windows Store
Yes, even if you get a free Store account you are required to enter credit card information. Pre-paid credit cards won’t work. That’s because this is another way of confirming your identity. You enter credit card information and a small amount is charged to your credit card and then reversed. You will need to look at your credit card statement to find the transaction in order to be able to verify your Store account.
Now that your account is created, you need that credit card statement! It may take a day or two for your online bill to show the transaction. If you are in a hurry, you can try calling your credit card company to get the information sooner. If you do not have online billing, you will have to call the credit card company or wait until you get your credit card bill in the mail.
Once you have the credit card bill with the transaction information return to the Windows Dev Center, Sign In, select Dashboard from the menu, and select Verify your payment method.
At the bottom of the screen you are asked to enter the 3 digit code that appears in the transaction description OR the transaction amount that was charged (and will be refunded to the credit card!)
Once you have entered that information, Congratulations! You are ready to submit your first app to the Windows store! Whenever you are ready return to the dashboard and choose Submit an app to get started!
Go reserve the name of your app (before someone else nabs it! Better to be Timer than Timer74) and get coding! Here’s a few resources to help
This blog is part of a series, you can see the rest of the series here.
If you want to develop for Windows 8, you need to decide which programming model best suits your needs and skills and find some resources to help you get started with your chosen model. Don’t forget in Canada, any app you publish before end of March 2013 can earn you rewards through the Developer Movement, and students building apps can enter them in Imagine Cup!
Let’s look at options for different types of developers:
There are a number of options for game development on Windows 8, what makes sense for you depends on your existing game experience and the complexity of the game you plan to build.
I would not recommend C++ and DirectX for a beginner programmer, but, when it comes to high performance games, serious gamers turn to C++ and DirectX. With DirectX and C++ you can build great games for Windows 8. To get started, check out the Developing Games for Windows 8 or Developing apps with C++ and DirectX (scroll down to the section Game Programming in C++.)
Easier for beginners than DirectX, you might be surprised at the games you can build with HTML and Canvas. It is growing in popularity for web games, especially with fewer platforms supporting Flash. The same HTML and Canvas capabilities that exist on the web can be used to build cool games for Windows 8. To get started here’s a good post by David Rousset called Everything you need to know to build HTML5 games with Canvas
XNA is not included on Windows 8, however there is an open source cross platform implementation of the XNA framework called MonoXNA that you can use to build Windows 8 apps. To get started check out Tara Walker’s blog on Windows 8 development using C#, XNA and MonoGame 3.0
There are a lot of companies out there who produce tools for beginner and experienced game developers. These products have their own development environments and generate the application code for you. Some of these tools are free, some charge you either for the development environment tools, or to publish the apps. To get started check out cross platform tools that support Windows 8
If you are already familiar with the .NET framework, you will probably find it easiest to develop your apps in C# or VB .Net with XAML. To get started check out the Roadmap for Windows 8 apps using C# or Visual Basic.
If you have already coded in Java, you will find it pretty easy to pick up C#. Consider building your apps with C# and XAML.To get started check out the Roadmap for Windows 8 apps using C# or Visual Basic.
Go ahead and build your app using C++ and XAML. To get started check out Building your first Windows Store app using C++.
There’s some great resources to help you bring your knowledge of Objective-C, Cocoa Touch, and XCode to Windows Store app development. To get started check out Resources for iOS developers. If you are planning to build a new app and want to target multiple platforms you may also want to check out Cross platform tools that support Windows 8.
The platforms are different, but you can certainly take an app you built for Android and port it to Windows 8. To get started check out this article Porting Android apps to Windows 8 . If you are planning to build a new app and want to target multiple platforms you may also want to check out Cross platform tools that support Windows 8.
Here’s five of my favorite keyboard shortcuts in Visual Studio, I think there’s a good chance there is at least one of them you haven’t seen before!
Find more Visual Studio tips and tricks here
This keyboard shortcut is new in Visual Studio 2013. If you put the cursor on a line of code and use the <ALT><UP ARROW> key the line of code you have selected moves up. If you use the <ALT><DOWN ARROW> the line of code selected moves down.
Chances are you have noticed the “+” and “-“ symbols in the margins that allow you to collapse and expand your classes and functions. Did you know you can create your own collapsible regions? If you select a section of code and then use the key sequence <CTRL><M><H> you turn that region into a collapsible/expandable region. The key sequence <CTRL><M><U> will remove the collapsible region (it doesn’t delete the code, it just removes the icon that allows you to expand and collapse.
Whether it’s because you are trying to track down a but, or experimenting with code change, from time to time you will want to comment and uncomment blocks of code. If you select a block of code and use the key sequence <CTRL><K><C> will comment out the section of code. <CTRL><K><U> will uncomment the code.
When you are going through your code and you want to examine the code in the method you are calling, many programmers will use the <F12> key or the pop-up menu option Go To Definition. Go To Definition will navigate to the called method, however many times you don’t need to navigate to the code. Sometimes, you just want a quick look at the method. If you have installed Visual Studio 2013 there is a new keyboard shortcut <ALT><F12> which will give you a preview of the method being called inline. You can use the <ESC> key to close the preview.
When you have multiple files open at the same time you may want a way to quickly move back and forth between two or three different locations in your code. If you have moved from one location to another you can use the keyboard sequence <CTRL><-> to move to the previous location and then you can return using <CTRL><SHIFT><->
Students can download Visual Studio 2013 Professional at DreamSpark
MSDN subscribers can download it from MSDN
Anyone can get express versions of Visual Studio for free or 90 day trials of Visual Studio Professional, Premium, or Ultimate at the Visual Studio downloads center.
Learn more about the new features of Visual Studio by watching the Visual Studio 2013 New Features at Microsoft Virtual Academy
Want your app on multiple platforms without rewriting all the code? Here’s a summary of some of the tools, libraries and SDKs out there to support building multi-platform apps.
Every mobile developer struggles with the decision of which platforms to support, and most end up building for more than one platform. I am frequently asked what tools are out there to make it easier to build for multiple platforms. Well, there are lots of options out there for you, everything from professional paid tools to open source libraries. I decided to sit down and put together a list for you. Information is all based on what I could find on their websites at the time this blog was posted. For the most up-to-date information I recommend you visit the product sites themselves. Each product title is linked back to their website. There are some gaming and graphic specific tools listed as well.
Don't forget good design of your app also makes it easier to implement on multiple platforms. Using a Model View ViewModel architecture makes it easier to re-use your code. Check out this MVVM Light Toolkit or Okra (formerly Cocoon) to help you get started with the MVVM model pattern in XAML. This is great when combined with portable class libraries which allows you to share code between Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 apps.
Apache Cordova (formerly known as PhoneGap)
Embarcadero RAD Studio XE3
Yo Yo Games GameMaker
Construct2 by Scirra
I’m sure there are some I missed, feel free to add comments to point out any good tools and tips for cross platform development that you have discovered. Don’t forget in Canada when you publish your app you could earn rewards through Developer Movement!
Ready to submit your first Windows 8 app to the Windows Store? Read this walkthrough to guide you through the process
Publishing your app requires a series of steps, we’ll try to walk you through them here!
Log in to the windows store
Submit your app
Before you can publish your app, you need a Windows Store account. Go to the Windows Store to register. Remember if you are a student you can get your Store account for free, you can find instructions on how to do that here.
After you log in to the store with your live ID (the one you used for your store account), go to “Dashboard”
If this is your first time logging in since you created your account, you may see a message that says “Before we can list any of your apps in the Store, you’ll need to verify your payment method. Verify your payment method.” When you created your account you entered credit card information. A small amount was charged and then reimbursed on your credit card to validate the card. You need to find your billing statement (or call your credit card company) to find out the transaction amount that was charged.
Select the Verify your payment method link and you will be taken to the Payment account verification screen. When you get there scroll to the bottom of the screen. using the information from your credit card billing statement, enter the amount that was charged or the 3 digit code from the transaction description and select Next.
Once you see the message saying “We successfully verified your payment account” You are ready to begin submitting your app!
From the top menu, select “Dashboard” then select “Submit an app” from the menu on the right.
Use the dashboard to see all the applications you submitted and their status in the store certification process. It can take as little as 2 days or as much as 2 weeks for an app to be published after you submit it.
Your app name is important! It is the first thing a customer sees when they find your app in the store. Be creative! Make sure you don't use names that are trademarked by others or those who own the trademark could ask to have your app removed from the store.
Enter the app name you wish to use and select Reserve App Name. If you get a message back informing you your app name is already in use, you will have to enter a different app name.
NOTE: The app name you enter here must match the Display Name in your app manifest.
TIP: You can just do this first step to reserve your app name before you have the code ready to publish. Your name will be reserved for 12 months.
Price - This is where you set the price of your app, and your free trial options. If you choose to charge for your app, pricing can start at 1.49 USD. The price you select may include a sales tax that the customer must pay. Your proceeds will be based on the pretax amount.
TIP: Apps with free trials of some sort usually get more downloads, you can either limit the duration of the trial, or in your code you can limit the features available on the trial version. Use the license Information class to determine if a trial has expired, or if a user is running a trial version. You can find more information about handling trials in your code here.
Markets - Select the countries where you want your app to be available. Selecting a country does not guarantee your app will be published there. There is some content and features that is restricted to certain regions, you could be using a feature that is not available in a particular region yet. You might want to consider the primary languages spoken in a particular country when deciding which countries you select.
TIP: When publishing a game, the countries Korea, South Africa, Brazil, and Taiwan require a game to be rated by a rating board and certified to prove the age rating of the game. If you do not have certificate files to prove you have completed that process, make sure you do not select those markets or your app will fail certification.
Release Date - If you want your app to be published as soon as it is certified select the first option.
Category - Now, select the category that best matches your app, this will affect where your app will be listed in the store, so consider your choice carefully. If a Windows user was searching for an app like yours in the store, which category would they choose to search? It's important to make it as easy as possible for users to find your app in the store. Picking the wrong category can also result in failing certification, because the testing team may not feel the category is appropriate for your app.
Hardware requirements – If your app has minimum RAM or DirectX requirements, you can specify that here.
Accessibility – Only select this check box if you have gone through all the accessibility guidelines and tested your app to ensure it is accessible. Accessibility includes testing for users with low vision or screen readers.
You only need to complete this section if your application supports push notifications (often used to update tiles), connect services such as SkyDrive and Single Sign-On, or in-app purchases. In app purchases is a popular way of making money with apps, the app is free, but a user can make in app purchases improve their app experience. For example, there are games where players can purchase weapons or armour.
If you have not implemented any of the above features you can just leave all the fields in this section blank.
This section is to describe the audience for your app and upload your rating certificates. If you can't decide between two age ratings, for example your app has content you feel is suitable for 12 and older, but requires an account that can only be created by users 16 or older, choose the higher age rating. Some countries requires will also require that your app be rated through a ratings board, especially for games. So check the list to see if a market you selected requires a rating certificate. If you try to publish to a market that requires a rating certificate and you do not provide the certificate file, your app will fail certification.
You must declare whether your app calls, supports, contains or uses cryptography or encryption.
There are US regulations regarding the exporting of technology that use certain types of encryption. Apps in the Windows store must comply with these laws because the app files can be stored in the US. These rules apply even if you are a developer in Canada selling apps in Canada through the store. So if your app is doing some type of cryptography or encryption you should read up on the regulations to see if your app requires an Export Commodity Classification Number (ECCN).
Now it's time to upload your app to the Windows Store. But there are a couple of things you need to do first:Build your package and run the WACK test.
After your package is created, you are prompted to launch the Windows App Certification Kit. This will run your app through a series of tests to chefck for issues that could cause it to fail certification. While it is running you will see the app occasionally launch and close. Do not interact with the app while the WACK test is running.
To start the WACK test select Launch Windows App Certification Kit. This process can take 10 minutes or so. You will know when it is complete because you will see the test summary page informing you if your app passed or failed. The results window does not automatically appear in the foreground, so you may want to occasionally check your task bar and desktop to see if the test is completed..
If your app failed, select “Click here to view full report” then investigate and resolve the issues that caused it to fail, then create a new package and try again. If your app passed, you are ready to upload the package to the store.
Once your package is created you will find a new folder called “AppPackages” inside your application folder. Inside the “AppPackages” folder is a file that ends with “.appxupload” extension. This is the file you will select when you upload your app.
If you made changes to your app and rebuilt the package, make sure you pick the most recent app package, the version number in the package file name or the date created can help you identify the most recent package(s).
Go to the Packages section in the application submission and then drag your package(s) to the app submission page. (remember if you chose to make separate builds for x86,x64 or ARM you will have multiple packages and you will need to upload all of them to the store.)
You will know when your package is uploaded because you will see it listed as an uploaded package.
App Description - This is where you describe what your app does and this is what users will see when they look at your app in the Windows store. If you want your app to be downloaded by a lot of people, make sure to take time to write a good description. Take a look at the descriptions of similar apps in the store, how will your description stand out? Make sure the first couple of sentences grab their attention. Make sure you have a short list of your app's best features. If you offer a free trial, this is a good place to explain how the trial works. There are some good tips on writing your app description here.
TIP: If your app will require anyone to log in to complete certain tasks, you must mention that in your description or you will fail certification.
Screenshots - After you add the description of your app, you will need to upload images of your app including a logo that the will be used to feature the app.
If you don’t have these images already, you can create them using the simulator in Visual Studio. Change the launch option to Simulator using the drop down key in the menu.
When the app launches, on the right side of the simulator is a button with a camera icon which will let you to take a snapshot of the screen and put it in your clipboard. Then you can open an app such as Paint paste it and save it as a .PNG file. If your image is larger than 2 MB you may have to use a tool like Paint .NET (which you can download for free) to save it at a lower resolution. You can’t just resize the image because it must be at least 1366 x768 pixels (landscape) or 768X1366 pixels (portrait).
Keywords – If someone was searching the store, what keywords would they use to find your app? Specify these as keywords to help users discover your app.
Copyright and trademark info – this is a mandatory field where you specify the copyright information for your application. Basically this is where you get to say, whose app is this.
Promotional Images – If you have a great app, make sure you include some extra images so your app has the potential to be featured in the store! Being featured always results in more downloads, so if you’ve done something amazing, make sure to include all the promotional images so your app could be highlighted!
Website – If you have a website for your app or other apps you have built, you can include a link to it here
Support Contact Info – you must provide a way for users to contact you if they have problems with the app. An email address, or a link to a website with a Contact Us option will suffice.
This is a place for you to add any notes you wish to share with the people who are testing your app for certification. For example, if your app requires a login to an online service, you must provide the login information for an account the testers can use. If your app is only intended for a limited audience, it is good to mention that in notes to testers as well, because your app can be rejected because it does not appeal to a wide audience. So, if you are making an app for a specific audience, make that clear in the description and notes to testers. The information you enter in this section is not seen by users of the app, it is only seen by the team who tests your app to see if it is suitable for the Windows Store.
After you have completed all the sections you should see a checkmark beside every section. If there is a section without a checkmark, go back to see if you either missed a mandatory field, or you have a field entered incorrectly.
If every section is marked as complete you can now select Submit for Certification.
Congratulations! You have just submitted your app to the store!
Once you submit your app, it will take up to 2 weeks to get certified, you can track the progress of your app in the main dashboard. You don’t have to keep coming back here to check the status. If you fail certification, you will receive an email and a detailed error report explaining why it failed so you can correct any errors and resubmit. If you pass certification, you will receive an email with a link to your app in the store!
The Windows team has created this great checklist to help you prepare and organize all the required info to make it easier to enter the info when you submit an app.
If you are a Canadian don't forget to register for the Developer Movement to see if you can get rewards for your app!