Susan IbachTechnical Evangelist
When you use the power of the WinRT you can build some pretty amazing apps without requiring complex code. Leverage the code that’s already there to get a great app in the store early!
When you are deploying an app to the store it’s better to have Timer than Timer698. Getting in the store early can make a difference. In Canada, the app excellence labs give you the earliest chance to publish to the store. But with the labs coming up in June, you may think you can’t build a decent app in time. Fair enough, some of you may have some amazing ideas that will take some time to develop. But there is so much you can do with a simple idea when you add the capabilities of WinRT.
My kids have been playing computer games since they were 12 months old. As a parent I was always on the lookout for fun or educational computer games. One of the most common games was the match game. You have 4, 16, or 25 cards flipped upside down, you have to flip the cards over and find the matching pairs. This would be easy enough to build on Windows 8, but how do we take a simple app and bring that to the next level without a lot of work? leverage WinRT!
Not every great app requires 3-6 months development time. You can build apps that will surprise and delight users in under a week with the help of WinRT and a little imagination. It’s also a great chance to learn more about the Windows 8 platform and how to publish apps to the store before you release *the* big app you are working on. Don’t miss out on your chance to be first to the store. Get coding, and contact Win8CDN@Microsoft.com to request a session either in person or remotely in one of the app excellence labs and get your app in the store.
One last thing, if you decide to build and publish the match game I described above, let me know, I know some kids who will want to try it!
Anyone can build an app, that is the truth, but what’s should you try for your first app?
If you sat down this weekend and took 3-4 hours you could build an app for Windows Phone or Windows 8. That is the honest truth! You download the tools here (windows 8) or here (Windows Phone), you find a getting started guide here (Windows 8) or here (Windows Phone), and you are off!
Okay an app you build in 3-4 hours isn’t going to be the most awesome app ever, but it gets your feet wet, and gets you through the first hurdles of installing the tools, figuring out the development environment, and the steps to publish. That said, your first app can be simple but useful. I have used a flashlight app to find my way back to my tent when out camping and you can’t get much simpler than that.
Don’t forget, regardless of whether it’s for Windows 8 or Phone, if you are in Canada, it can still qualify you for rewards at Developer Movement!
If you don’t have an app idea, think of the things you have done on your laptop or phone in the past few weeks and ask yourself could an app do make that easier? Here are examples of tasks I did in the past two weeks where a simple app on my phone or laptop could have helped
If you still can’t come up with an idea for your first app, another option is to take a template and modify it to get you started. Once again, this helps you get past the basic hurdles of downloading and installing the tools, getting comfortable with the development environment and platform, and the publication process. Keep in mind templates are always provided as-is with no guarantees or warranties, but they can be great jump-starts.
Windows 8 templates
Not enough developers take the time to learn the platform and the design guidelines for the platform, such as the Search and Share Contracts, or Snap view in Windows 8, or basic rules like put your buttons at the bottom of the screen on phone apps (so your hand doesn’t cover the screen when you press a button).
As a result you see simple apps that although functional, lack polish and don’t really shine. Even a simple app can embrace good design! Take the Chuck Norris facts app on Windows 8. I like Chuck Norris facts, they amuse me, but why didn’t the developer let me use swipe to move from one fact to the next instead of making me bring up the app bar and tap next? Why didn’t they implement a Snap view that uses a bigger font size so I can read it? Why not a live tile with a randomly selected Chuck Norris fact? How about Search so I can findmy favourite Chuck Norris facts? I still installed it, but I would appreciate a better version! Yes, adding more of these features will add more time to your development time, but the result will be a more polished app, and more skills you can re-use for that awesome app idea you build next!
If you think learning these new features is too complicated, how about some code examples you can re-use?
At our WOWZapp hackathon, we had a developer who had never built anything for a mobile platform, and had never coded C# or XAML. She wanted to build a Windows 8 app. After a couple of false starts she finally settled on an app that would let you look up Windows 8 shortcuts. This is simple, but very useful! Not everyone has touch on their laptops, and so keyboard shortcuts make life easier, but I always found myself going to a blog post to look up a particular shortcut. She didn’t just build a screen that listed the shortcuts, she also implemented a snap view that is easy to scroll and view, and, she implemented Search. The Search is great, because that means when I am in another app or even in the Desktop and can’t remember a shortcut, I just search her app to find the keyboard shortcut I need. You can check out Donna’s app in the store here. I think it’s a great example of a simple app, that is useful, and shows some good design!
Hopefully this gives you some ideas for that first app, I’ll blog soon about taking the skills you learn from your first app and using them to build something bigger and better!
Sign up to be part of Microsoft’s technical student network and you’ll be first to know and maybe first to win!
During the year we organize some big events and some cool promotions. Whether it’s the Imagine Cup which challenges you to do amazing things with code or the Developer Movement which rewarded students who built apps. We want to make sure we can let you know about our big announcements.
Sign up to be part of Microsoft’s technical student network and you’ll be first to know and just for fun we’ve got a grand prize of a cool new laptop and 2 winners per week for a Kinect for Xbox 360. Contest closes October 25, 2012.
Sign up today!
Take a look at our MSP Kowsheek Mahmoud’s experience migrating his XNA game to Windows 8!
The answer to the owes of XNA developers comes in the form of MonoGame which is an open source implementation of Microsoft XNA 4. The development of MonoGame for Windows 8 has been a little slow so the hackers at SickHeadGames came to the rescue. Now it is possible to migrate existing XNA games without having to dive through SharpDX. Read more.
Kowsheek Mahmoud Microsoft Student Partner at Ryerson University
Learn about HTML gaming, talk to a VC to learn about funding for start-ups, join the hackathon, learn about Windows 8 design, or how to use Azure for free websites or to give you back end services for iOS, Windows8, or Windows Phone, all this and more at Windows 8 Pure Imagination
Microsoft with partner Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University is bringing you Windows8 Pure Imagination this weekend, November 24-25th! If you have any interest in developing on mobile platforms, you’ll find something this weekend for you! For those in the Toronto area you can attend in person, if you aren’t in Toronto, you can register online and still catch some great content!
If you’ve even been thinking about building an app for Windows 8 this is a fantastic event to learn and get rolling! Looking forward to meeting lots of Ryerson students at the exclusive Friday night event! Don’t miss out! and last but not least…