February, 2011

  • DaveDev

    Numerous new Windows Phone 7 features coming out this year. First update to hit mid March.

    • 5 Comments

    Big day of announcements

    What a great time to be a Windows Phone 7 developer!  Hot off the heals of the recent Nokia partnership we announced some of the free updates that will be coming to Windows Phone 7 this year. Several new features were demoed at the Mobile World Congress expo today in Barcelona, Spain.  They include some long awaited features as well as some unexpected surprises.

     

    First update only weeks away

    The first free customer update will be made available for all Windows Phone 7 devices by the second week of March.  This is the long awaited update that includes copy & paste and faster application performance.  This update will also include support for CDMA networks.  That means U.S. mobile operators such as Verizon and Sprint will be releasing Windows Phone 7 devices right on schedule for the first half of 2011.

    Windows Phone 7 Developer Tools - February 2011 Update

    The Developer Tools for this new update are already available and launched on February 4th.  Most applications should run just fine under the new update (my own DoodlePad app didn’t require any changes) and any apps using normal textbox controls will automatically take advantage of copy and paste.

    As pointed out on the Windows Phone 7 Secrets Blog copy and paste will also allow you to paste the text multiple times.



    People and Office Hub getting new Features

    I am very happy to report that Twitter will be integrated into the People Hub in the second half of 2011.  This is great news if you are a fan of the current hub for all your Facebook updates and have been waiting for tweets to be included.  It was also announced that documents inside the Office Hub  will be directly integrated with Windows Live SkyDrive.  Expect these updates to hit in the second half of 2011.

    DaveDev - Windowsphone.live.com

    Don’t forget you can already do something similar today with OneNote by turning on Cloud Sync with your phone via the Zune Software. Above is the screen I get off Windows Live for my own Samsung Focus. 


    Internet Explorer 9

    We all know that the current browser in Windows Phone 7 is based off of Internet Explorer 7.  It is, like the rest of the mobile platforms out there, a mobile browser.  This means it comes across in the header as a mobile device to website owners.  Developers have to code custom screens for those mobile devices.  What if we could change all that?  What if an HTML5 developer could target just open web standards for their pages.  What if those same pages ran hardware accelerated across both phone and desktop without changing any code? Enter Internet Explorer 9!

     No Contest - Hardware Accelerated IE9 running circles around iPhone4 Safari Browser

    This is full Internet Explorer 9 running on the phone that is running on the desktop and the results speak for themselves.  I captured the above screenshot during the iPhone4 Safari  vs. WP7 IE9 mobile browser html5 showdown.  The Windows Phone 7 device was able to run 50 fish without any stuttering thanks to IE9 and the included phone hardware acceleration.   The best news of all is this will be a free update hitting devices in the second half of this year!


    Multi-Tasking

    Later this year users of Windows Phone 7 will have the ability to switch quickly between applications or run applications in the background (such as listening to music).  While the current build shown is not UI complete we were able to see how it will function.  To switch back and forth between apps you hold down the Back Button.  This presents a list of live thumbnails for your currently running apps.

    MultitaskingSend an Email then go right back to Fruit Ninja!

    I took the above screenshots during the keynote demo and you can see both Fruit Ninja and Rise of Glory running at the same time as E-Mail.  Both of these titles are currently available X-Box Live games on Windows Phone 7 and they appear to be multi-tasking just by running on the new build.  By simply holding down the back button after writing the e-mail, swiping over to Rise of Glory and tapping on its thumbnail the game got focused again.  Rather than showing the standard “Resuming…” screen like we are used to in the current builds today.  I am looking forward to this and imagine we will be getting a lot more details at MIX11!

     

    Kinect and Windows Phone 7?

    With over 8 million Kinect devices sold in just 60 days Xbox Kinect has quickly become one of the fastest selling consumer devices of all time.  If you haven’t seen one yet go to your local Best Buy and check it out.  That’s what got me hooked seeing how quickly my two little daughters took to it.  Several sore muscles later, thanks to Kinect Sports, my wife and I can vouch for it as well.  It truly is something revolutionary.

    So it was a great pleasure to see the X-Box team looking at ways of integrating Windows Phone 7 with Kinect and taking it to the next step. 

    KinectWP7

    A video was shown of the Kinect Adventures Rally Ball game (included free with the X-Box Kinect bundles).  The primary player was moving their body around to reflect the balls across the court and two people were controlling how those balls interacted on screen via their phones.  This included both the number of balls as well as their direction and speed.

    Pretty amazing stuff and I am looking forward to the coming year to see what other games start to integrate the two devices together.  Since we have X-Box Live already on our Windows Phone 7 devices how cool would it be to unlock achievements for both the person using the phone (right on the phone) as well as the person logged into Kinect!

  • DaveDev

    Windows Phone 7 Tip - How to automatically sync your OneNote documents to the Cloud

    • 12 Comments

    OneNote for Windows Phone 7

    OneNote is one of my favorite Microsoft Office applications and an amazing note taking tool.  I use it constantly to take screen shots of websites or applications, quick dictation, to-do lists, and even some sketching/doodles (via my Tablet’s pen).  One of the goals of the OneNote Team was to bring that note taking application to all three screens (PC, Cloud and Phone).  With the release of Windows Phone 7 that goal became a reality and we can now sync notes between all three screens.  Changes made on the phone will be available on our desktop and changes made on our desktop will show up in a web browser.  If you haven’t checked out the free Office Web Applications yet you owe it to yourself to take a peek.  Office Web Applications are part of SharePoint, are available when editing or viewing any Office document on your Skydrive as well as through other services like Docs.com and Office Live Workspace.

    Four Easy Steps to Cloud Sync

    What I don’t think we have done a good job of is actually exposing this functionality on Windows Phone 7 easily.  I had a conversation just last night with someone who was adamant about Windows Phone 7 not being able to cloud sync One Note Documents yet.  This prompted me to write this blog post in hopes I can make it easier for you as well. 

    Step 1 – Open Microsoft Office Hub

    When we first open up the Office Hub we are presented with a list of shortcuts to our most recently used OneNote Documents.  You can also tap and hold on these shortcuts to pin them to your start experience on the phone (I use this for quick to-do or shopping lists).  What is not obvious at first is you need to hit the All icon to get to the rest of your documents and open up the syncing option. In the below screenshot you will notice I have just created a quick OneNote document called DaveDev and I am now going to click on the All icon.

     

    Main Menu - Click ALL

    Step 2  - Click on Refresh icon on the Application Bar

    This will take you to a list of Pages in your current Notebook.  Windows Phone 7 only has one Notebook by default where all of your Pages will be stored.  When we enable syncing however we will start to pull down all Notebooks from the Cloud.  This means we can select these other Notebooks and create Pages in them right on the phone.  So while we cannot create Notebooks directly on the phone we can integrate with them existing ones.  If we bring up the full Application Bar we will notice a Refresh icon.  Go ahead and click that now.

    Document ListDocument List

     

    Step 3 – Confirm that you want to start syncing your documents with Skydrive

    You will be asked to confirm that you want to begin syncing OneNote with your Skydrive.  What Skydrive would that happen to be?  When you created/entered your Windows Live ID into the phone you were automatically given 25 gigabytes of free storage in the cloud (what a nice present eh?).  Office Documents on Windows Phone 7 are integrated with your Windows Live ID so it will take care of everything for you.  Exactly the same way the Zune Marketplace and X-Box Live integration works.  Go ahead and confirm that you want to enable Skydrive sync.

    SkyDrive Confirmation Prompt

    You will now be notified during the process of the sync status.  First it will connect up to Windows Live and then it will set up a default notebook (Unfiled Notes) if it does not already exist.

    Connecting to Windows Live!Creating Default Notebook

     

    Step 4 – Verify that your notebooks and pages have synced

    Now that we have enabled sync you will notice some changes.  First, all of your notes will now include the SkyDrive Folder (Personal) and OneNote Notebook (Unfiled Notes) they have been synced to.  You will also notice a Notebooks option that is now available.

    Notes-Synced!

    Swiping the screen to the left or clicking on Notebooks will take you to the new Notebooks screen.  This screen will display the status of all your Notebooks currently located in Skydrive as well as their Sync status.

    Synced Notebooks and Pages!

    Notice too that you now have the ability within each Note to sync immediately back to your Skydrive.  Clicking on the Refresh icon will kick off this process for you.

    DaveDev Note - Sync Button

     

    Viewing your One Note documents from the Cloud

    So now we have One Note running on our Windows Phone 7 device and we have One Note running on our Windows 7 PC.  But, let’s say we are out, maybe over at a friends house, and we need to pull up a quick One Note document.  I told you our stuff is in the cloud so we should be able to get to it from any Web Browser, right?  Of course! 

    Simply point your browser to Windows Phone Live and you will be presented with a bunch of functionality for your phone.  This is really where your cloud integration comes alive!  X-Box Live achievements, avatar customizations, contacts, calendar, phone tracking, photos as well as our newly synced OneNote documents are accessible here.  Simply click on the View All link under OneNote and you will be taken directly into the OneNote Web App.

     

    OneNote at http://WindowsPhone.live.com

    Like all of the Office Web Apps the One Note Web App is full featured and even includes the familiar Office Ribbon.  Notice along the top you can see the current Skydrive folder my Notebooks are synced under (Personal Web).  This is the same folder we saw displayed on our Windows Phone 7 device.  On the left pane you can now navigate between all of your notebooks and their included pages.  Opening up my newly synced document will display it in the editor on the write and any changes here will save back to the desktop and my phone.

    SkyDrive - Editing my OneNote Docs

    To the Cloud

    Hopefully this eliminated any confusion you might have had around enabled Cloud sync for Office One Note documents on your Windows Phone 7 Device.  Although we only do this for OneNote today we have already announced a free Windows Phone 7 update later this year that will sync your Excel, PowerPoint and Word documents as well.  These documents will be able to sync back to your Skydrive like we have shown here in addition to the already existing SharePoint functionality. 

  • DaveDev

    What I learned about being a Windows Phone 7 Developer

    • 7 Comments

    Who is this guy?

    First, let me start off by saying I work for Microsoft as a Developer Evangelist covering client technologies like Silverlight, Windows and Windows Phone.  So it is a given I believe in the technology of Windows Phone 7 and am excited about its future.  This doesn’t mean I am a robot who is forced to repeat the company line to you verbatim.  I get paid because I am a developer first, going on fifteen years now (I’m a child of VB4 ) with only four of those spent as a Microsoft employee.  I have been around long enough to have seen the promises of abandoned technologies as well as the fruits of successful breakthroughs.  Those that have seen me present know I talk as much about how we can improve our products as much as where we are totally rocking right now.

    I’m also a mobile gadget geek.  I have always loved the concept of Mobile Computing it just seems that the hardware never seemed up to the task.  

    Dell Axims FTW. 2002 Smart Device Extensions in the house!

    Yes that’s me in the shorts, you can take the boy out of the jersey shore but not the shore out of the boy!  Apologies too to my woman coders out there ahead of time when I say “you guys” its my jersey upbringing again I mean everyone.  The above picture was taken in 2002 and I’ll award a free t-shirt to anyone who can count the number of Dell Axim’s in that shot.  I, like a lot of developers at the time, quickly tired of hearing the promise of Mobility’s future and the lack of any follow through in the hardware space.  It wasn’t until 2007 when Apple came on the scene and changed what we thought about mobility that things change.  That’s when I started getting excited again. 

    I tried out Objective C and X-Code I really did.  I tried out Eclipse and the Android SDK.  I don’t have my head in the sand and I also don’t live in Redmond.  I live in Pennsylvania amongst a community of thousands of .NET Developers who will show up in the hundreds (500+) on a Saturday to talk shop.  I see people using competitor devices, I’ve coded in the tools and I hope when I speak its from a place of experience and not blind marketing.  I think you guys as developers can spot that in an instant and it is one of those things I love so much about our industry.  Developers have a sense of honor of what's right and wrong.  I think that’s why you see such passionate dialog online too.  Do you know there are over a million and a half .NET Developers on the East Coast?  If you look at Microsoft IT Pros there are another three million.  That’s a lot of folks and that’s just on the Microsoft stack!  I feel , like a lot of you do here, that the Valley sometimes forgets our side of the country and maybe New York will change that.  Microsoft does gets that though and that’s why my team is here – all ten of us covering east coast developers.

    I also want to point out while I will celebrate my platforms successes and strengths I will not openly bash competitors (what can I say he’s an old Microsoft DPE guy and we can’t help being passionate).  So if you came here to find that you won’t.  What I believe is that the market , including you developers, will be the ones who ultimately decide success.  There are some great things on those other platforms and I have nothing but love for those developers.  But, I was a .NET guy and after using tools like Expression Blend I wanted something that took advantage of that.  I know a lot of you can relate and man did we have to wait a long time, eh?  But that time is here and our time is now.  Make it or break it Windows Phone 7 was going to be my entrance back into the Mobile space and that meant not just doing my Microsoft job of teaching developers about the platform but also bringing an app to market.  It was time to put my money where my mouth is, get down to coding and Ship It!  Having been out of the mobile development space for a while though I realized I needed to understand what was working for developers and what wasn’t.  So who better to talk to than you guys?   

     

    Thinking about being a Mobile Developer? Go talk to Mobile developers.

    The first time I got a glimpse of what was coming with Windows Phone 7 was at MIX10 last year.  We had an internal briefing for field employees intended to cover all the mobile changes in the coming months.  This eventually turned into the Windows Phone 7 Champs program and it was during the summer that I got my first developer device, an LG Pacific. Over the next six months I got to travel and talk to mobile developers across the East Coast US as well as lead the content and present at our national Windows Phone 7 Developer launchesAndroid , RIM and iOS all came up and I learned a lot.  Topics such as free versus paid were pretty common as well as the developer tooling.  I couldn’t help but feel a bit nostalgic it reminded me so much of the early dot-com days when I first took the leap to a professional developer from an IT Pro.  Technology was changing fast, new platforms were being adopted at great speed.  Developers were still developers back then and just like today they share solutions to the same problems, the same excitement, and the same wide eyed expectations of future rewards.  Another feeling was in there air too - no more layoffs, outsourcing down trending, we were back baby and the sky was the limit!

    What kind of advice did I get?

    When I look back there was two things that really stuck with me and lighted a fire under my coding fingers. 

    • The first was don’t be afraid to take the leapEverybody has a great mobile app idea but very few actually go out and do it.  If you look at the number of downloads we have had for the Windows Phone 7 SDK (over a million), the number of registered developers (over 24,000) and the number of apps (about 8,000) you will start to see what I am talking about.  If we do a little math we will see that out of all the downloads the number of registered accounts is less than 5% and only one developer in every three accounts has published an app.  I can’t talk about what’s in the app queue for marketplace since we don’t publically share those numbers.  But lets just say its very healthy and someone may already be in the queue with your app idea.  Just like in life talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words.  Just do it!
    • The second lesson was know your market.  Most Android developers I talked to said Ads were the way to go.  iOS developers said go paid if you think you can reach the top of the charts otherwise go free.  My approach for Windows Phone 7 was to start out paid (99 cents) and then depending on how I did on the charts I would release a free version at some point in the future (wound up being 2 months later).   I will elaborate on this more when I talk about paid versus free but my advice for you is to try both.
    • The third was keep it simple.  Too often developers look at mobile apps like they do the web or desktop.  Never forget that this is a very small device with a very small screen.  It is also a personal device with very personal experiences.  The phone follows you around and you move through these experiences together.  If you have a bunch of ideas then make a bunch of apps don’t overload your customer.  If your App invokes an emotional response, for good or bad,  it is going to be a personal one.  More so than a desktop or web app.

     

    Common Questions

    The idea behind this and upcoming blog posts is to share my own windows phone 7 development experiences and the stuff that worked and didn’t work for ME.  Your experience could be quite different than mine.  My hope is you came across this blog post and maybe you are trying to decide whether to develop for Windows Phone 7.  You’ve read the training materials till your head hurt, you are into the promise of what Microsoft is trying to deliver and may even own a device already.  You now long to hear some first hand accounts of what to expect and this is my story. 

    If by some chance you’ve come looking for Windows Phone 7 specific Training materials I won’t repeat all of that here.  There is enough good content out there now for our RTM release. When we start to release updates to the operating system you can expect to get training style content from me.  The good news is the training materials out there are absolutely stellar and in my opinion some of the best Microsoft has put forward.  The WP7 Resource List I put together months ago is still applicable - http://bit.ly/WP7Resources .  Windows Phone 7 has a very active community as well.  New content is posted each day so much so we put together an ongoing Reddit List here: http://www.reddit.com/r/wp7dev.  If you are looking for short 5 min burst videos then most popular ones by far are the MSDev "7-in-7" series.  These are core topics for WP7 all done in 7 minutes and my personal favorites: http://www.msdev.com/Directory/SeriesDescription.aspx?CourseId=158

    Ok, with that out of the way lets get right down to the juicy stuff…

    ‘What do your download numbers look like for your app?”

    I have released two versions of my DoodlePad application onto the marketplace.  The idea behind the App was a quick sketchpad you could pull out wherever you are.  For me that could be boredom during a meeting, taking a picture of a friend and doodling over their face, or giving it to my kids for a few minutes.  Those principles is what shaped the design of the application and probably took the longest.  I spent about 40 hours of design and usability testing and only 30 hours of actual coding.  Granted the coding took less because I was already familiar with the tools and platform I would double it if you are just starting out.  Quick and simple was very important for me too especially from a customer perspective.  In and out with the ability to both share your application (when you save doodles they are Ad free) and customize (choose backgrounds, take a picture, create custom colors).   If I had to add help documentation into the app than my design had already failed.  Again – follow the principle of keeping your mobile apps simple and good at one thing. 

    To date both versions of DoodlePad have seen downloads in the thousands.

    It's Alive! 


    Above is the chart for the free version of DoodlePad and as you can see in less than 4 weeks it has already seen over 3,700+ downloads.  Daily averages appear to be around 80-150 a day.  The bump you see around January 11th is because I was at the top of the list for new applications.  What is important to see here is discoverability will help get you downloads.  Luckily everybody will get this bump the first time you are published to the marketplace.  You will see similar bumps if you get featured but I will go into that more in a bit.

    Keep in mind that these downloads are Global and you need to do absolutely nothing extra as a Windows Phone 7 developer to deploy globally.

    You like me - you really like me!

    As someone who has lived and worked in New Jersey and Pennsylvania all of my life it was so cool to see people from all over the world downloading, using, and contacting me about their experiences with DoodlePad.  I can’t say enough about that even if your app doesn’t generate huge success the experience alone is something I think we should all do once.  Some of these overseas sales are very strong too.  Germany for instance is close behind the United States for DoodlePad.  Hasselhoff background in the next version anyone?  I kid guys – much love!  In fact this probably says more about the creative talents of Europe versus some of the other countries .  You guys just love to doodle.

    “Have you gotten paid any money yet?”

    Yes!  Without being tacky and giving actual revenue numbers I can share that the conversion to Paid from Trial versions was better than I thought it would be around 28%.  Ads in the free version are earning anywhere from $1 to $9 US a day with it averaging lower on that scale.  Interestingly the Saturday before the Superbowl saw the highest daily eCPM  and Sunday the second highest. 

    Keep in mind you will not see any money till you hit $200 revenue with paid apps or $50 in one month with Ad based apps.

    “Should I go Trial, Free or Paid or some combination?”

    Plan to create both versions of your application.  Once you get a feel to how your app is selling you can chose where to focus.  Free seems to be selling a lot more for ME than my Paid/Trail version.  I imagine a lot of this depends on how discoverable you are though.  Ask yourself are there already other apps that do similar things to what my app does?  Are they at the top of my categories charts on the marketplace? 

    For DoodlePad there were about ten other apps that did a very similar thing (draw/doodle).  I was also at a disadvantage being a Microsoft employee since employees are not allowed to have their applications featured in the Marketplace.  We are also not allowed to be featured on any of the Microsoft Websites that promote Windows Phone 7 apps.  This means all of the awareness I generated was through word of mouth whether that was one person recommending the app to another or a quick post to Facebook and Twitter.  Some of the apps that were similar to mine were even featured on the Microsoft intranet – talk about competition! 

    Even with all of those disadvantages and no marketing my app has managed to be successful.  According to the WP7 Marketplace Search App data today the Marketplace is currently ranking DoodlePad 336 out of 7,402 apps.  That puts me roughly in the top 5% of apps but I am far from easily discoverable.  It takes quite a while to find me in the marketplace if you scroll down through the list apps.  If you go directly to Entertainment I am still a bunch of pages down although I am in excellent company right next to my buddy Dmitry’s TWiT app.

    Marketplace Search App Feb 9th, 2011 Rankings for DoodlePad.  Also a Shout Out to TWiT - best podcasts in the world!

     

    What does that mean?  It means the user base is now large enough that there is room for multiples apps that do similar things (at least free apps) to all be successful.  It also means you don’t necessarily need to be featured or heavily marketed to begin to make a profit. 

     

    “Are Microsoft PubCenter Ads any good?”

    I certainly think so.  I got over 26,000 impressions in the first three weeks using Microsoft Pubcenter and the provided Windows Phone 7 control.  eCPM has been very good when I talk to other mobile developers but I also picked Ad categories that matched a drawing application (Art Schools, Entertainment, etc). 

    Show me the money! I can't hear you! I said - Show me the moneeeey!

    Another plus was all my Pubcenter questions were answered via email by the support staff within 30 minutes and billing certification was completed in a week (faster than marketplace!)   Above are the number of Ad Impressions DoodlePad saw between January 11, 2011 and January 20, 2011.  Looking at the numbers for February the impressions seem to be very similar to the previous month.  So the people who have downloaded the application are in fact using it and hopefully enjoying it (as the reviews and emails I’ve gotten seem to day). 

    Show me the money! I can't hear you! I said - Show me the moneeeey!

    The reports for Ads can also be pulled down live so I know throughout the day what my impressions are.  This is in stark contrast to the Marketplace Apphub Reports (which I’ll cover in a later post) that are sadly still a full week behind.

     

     

    “Did you fail certification?  How long does the process take?”

    This is going to be a personal experience I imagine.  I have talked to developers who had nothing but pleasurable experiences going through Certification and others who were left confused at times.  For me the experience was very good and informative.  The first time I submitted my application I failed certification and the report I got back was extremely detailed.

    Not only did it list all of the reasons (instead of just the first one found)  but it also pointed me to the exact item number in the certification guidelines as well as steps on how to reproduce the issue.  Here is the complete report and what it looked like.

    What? You mean I had some bugs? Thank you Cert Team. =)

    What? You mean I had some bugs? Thank you Cert Team. =)

     

    The report was very useful to me and after I went back in and fixed the issues my app passed certification successfully.  Coincidently, Back Button and other Navigational issues are one of the top reasons apps fail certification so I was in good company.  I will cover some tips and what I did differently as we move through this blog series.

     

    Summary

    I hope the data here speaks to the fact that the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace is thriving, growing and already capable of generating revenue for your apps.  Having a successful app now means you will continue to see revenue grow as more devices are sold.  I can’t speak for other developers but I am already seeing growth in revenue month to month about ~ 20%.  I can’t think of another thing I’ve done in this life where I put two weeks into it and it continues to reward me everyday.  Well other than having two little girls but they bring me a different type of success.  

    Of course any one of you guys could write a better application than mine tomorrow and push me off the charts.  I welcome it! That’s what what mobile development is all about and it will only push me to be better or create something new.  Like any other mobile dev will tell you too you’re not a real mobile guy till you sit there refreshing the app certification page all day long.  Studies on OCD could have probably benefited from watching me during my firsts applications submission.

     

    Go to Issue 2 - Application Manifest

  • DaveDev

    What I learned about being a Windows Phone 7 Developer – Issue 2– Application Manifest

    • 1 Comments

    Overview

    This is the second installment in an ongoing series of my experiences developing for Windows Phone 7.  The first issue included my background, a general overview of my experience developing for Windows Phone 7 and what type of revenue my own app has seen.  If you missed it you can read it here.

    Windows Phone Application Manifest

    The Application Manifest file for Windows Phone is called WMAppManifest.xml and it contains several pieces of important information.  This file is part of the Marketplace Certification process that understands your application’s capabilities.  These capabilities get listed in your application’s description page for users both on the phone and in the Zune Marketplace software.  This file is generated automatically every time you compile and for most developers you won’t need to touch it.  There are a few instances like application capabilities however that I want to cover.

    Capabilities

    The default project’s included capabilities are numerous and I highly recommend removing whatever your application is currently not using instead of keeping it in for future use. Having a drawing application for example that asks for microphone access might put doubt into your users mind.  Other capabilities such as location require you to implement user notifications before passing certification.  The goal should be to get this section as small as possible with only what you currently need.

    For example the manifest file for DoodlePad looks like this:

        <Capabilities>
          <Capability Name="ID_CAP_MEDIALIB" />
        </Capabilities>

    Which has the following capabilities description on Marketplace:

    DoodlePad

    You would expect a drawing application to have access to your media library.  The ability to load backgrounds and save out your drawings is a useful feature.  You will however see some differences when it comes to free applications. 

    For example the manifest file for DoodlePad Free looks something like this:

        <Capabilities>
            <Capability Name="ID_CAP_IDENTITY_DEVICE"/>
            <Capability Name="ID_CAP_IDENTITY_USER"/>
            <Capability Name="ID_CAP_LOCATION"/>
            <Capability Name="ID_CAP_MEDIALIB"/>
            <Capability Name="ID_CAP_NETWORKING"/>
            <Capability Name="ID_CAP_WEBBROWSERCOMPONENT"/>
        </Capabilities>

    Which has the following capabilities description on Marketplace:

    DoodlePadFree

    Notice that even though both versions of my application do the same thing and run off the same code base they are using different capabilities of the phone.  This winds up actually being due to a requirement of the PubCenter Ad System that I will go into more when I cover creating Ad based apps.  For now I just want to point out the importance of what you put here in the phone capabilities and how that will end up being verified during certification and ultimately displayed to your users.  So really be certain of what you are putting into the capabilities field.  As a user of free Windows Phone 7 applications this is also something that you will be used to seeing in the application descriptions. 

    So what should you include for your own application?  Fortunately for us developers Microsoft provides a free tool called the Capability Detection Tool that helps with that. Running this tool will give you details on what you need to edit in the capabilities section of your manifest file.  The only thing I have seen it hiccup on is with Ads.  I needed to ad those fields myself when using the Pubcenter Ad Control.  This will most likely be fixed in a future version but something you should be aware of.

    Genre

    You may have seen blog posts during the beta tools days talking about not being able to display XNA games after exiting.  That issue was fixed at RTM and should no longer be a problem.  This has to do with the Genre being listed in the manifest file as App.Games instead of App.Normal.  If you have Windows Phone 7 device though for testing you can use the same trick in reverse

    XboxHub

    By editing the App.Normal to App.Games and then deploying to your phone you will see what your application looks like in the Games Hub!  This is a great way to ensure your game icons displays correctly when running inside Game Hub at 173x173 pixels.   

     

    Version

    I have seen some confusion on what exactly uses version number so I wanted to talk about it here  Generally the version number you can leave at 1.0.0.0 it will not be the version of your application that gets displayed on the Marketplace.  That version number is always the one that you entered manually during your application’s submission.  The certification process will add the correct version number back into the manifest file during processing without you needing to do anything. 

    What I did during Doodlepad’s development was to keep a version number in App.xaml  that the rest of my code references.  This way I only needed to change it in one place when pushing out an update.  I have also gotten into the habit of keeping all versions of the application I have submitted through the AppHub.  I am talking about the actual xap file and assuming all of you are already using some type of source control for your code right? <wink> So I typically zip up the submitted xap that was uploaded to the AppHub along with its thumbnail images and application description.  I then name the zipfile a combination of the appname, version and date it gets published to the marketplace.  This goes into source control under an AppHub releases folder.  This has already saved me some headaches when I wanted to go back and see how much faster a newer version with re-written controls ran than the old.  Sure you could recompile from source but there is nothing like the security of knowing the xap file you are testing was the same exact one that you submitted to AppHub. 

     

    Conclusion

    Hopefully my own experiences using the WMAppManifest file will help steer you clear of any issues.  Always make sure you run the capabilities detection tool and keep those capabilities as small as possible.  If you have had an UnAuthorizedAccess Exception from the Ad Control while debugging  this may very well  fix your issue.

     

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