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Whilst working on a number of early Windows 8 projects I noticed companies often had a base set of features that they were trying to implement, it seemed to me that you could build a tool that could generate a decent base app that would comply with the store rules and give developers a head start to making their apps a reality... Essential that’s what ZipApp is.
ZipApp gives you the ability to enter some data, hook up some of your existing online content and create a Minimum Viable Product which you can then extend and add functionality too if you wish.
So here is a simple guide to building your first app in 10 minutes:
Firstly, Go to ZipApp.co.uk and sign in with a Twitter, Google, Facebook or Microsoft Account. Once you are signed in you will be able to create a new app. It will ask for some basic information such as the App Name, and a description.
You can then choose a template, these templates are simply colour variations, in my opinion the "ZipApp" Template looks the best. Next choose an icon. The icon will be used to create all of the Windows 8 tiles and store icons.
First add some groups to the application. We are going to add a YouTube playlist, a Twitter stream and an introduction page to our app. In ZipApp a group is a collection of Articles, Videos or Tweets. You can get your Videos from a YouTube playlist, your Tweets from a Twitter Hashtag and/or a Twitter Screen Name and your articles from either an RSS feed or you can manually add them via a simple Content Management system on ZipApp.
To add a group edit your newly created application, navigate to the "Create New Group" button in the sidebar navigation. You will need to enter a group name and a description. For my YouTube group I added the title "How-to build Videos" and the description "A selection of videos that show you, step-by-step how to build Windows 8 applications from scratch" Finally I need to fill the group with my videos from YouTube.
To do this go down to the Plugin Configuration section and choose the YouTube Plugin. In the username box enter a YouTube username. It will then show you all of the playlists from that user. I am getting my videos from the user "windowsvideos" find the playlist you wish to add and press the "Create" button.
To add a twitter Group navigate to the "Create New Group" button in the side bar navigation. Enter a title for the Group such as "Tweets from the Team" add a description like "All the latest tweets from our friendly Team" go down to the plugin configuration section and choose the Twitter plugin. Enter a Twitter Username or hash tag such as "BuildWindows8" then press the "Create" button.
To add our introduction page navigate to the "Create New Group" button in the sidebar navigation. Enter a Title for the Group such as "About" and a description such "This group contains articles about the application". In the Plugin Configuration make sure that "Static Content" is selected. Press the "Create Button".
Now we have a group called "About" we can add an article to this group. On the sidebar navigation expand the article section, find the group called "About" and click on it. This will load all of the Articles for that group.
Since we haven't added any yet you will see a message telling you to add an article and a button saying create new, press this button. Enter a name for the article such as "An introduction to this app", enter the Subtitle, this is used on the hub page just underneath the image. I often use it to describe the image or the article. It should be just one line, around 20-30 characters.
Enter a description of the article, this text appears next to the image on the hub page. You should use this text to get users intrigued about the content. It’s only a couple of lines but it should encourage the user to click on the article. If you have an image add it by clicking the small picture icon, this will give you an image dialog box. You can choose from your existing pictures or upload new ones to the system. Finally you will need to add some content. You can type the content directly into the text box and use the various formatting tools to get the text looking how you want it. Finally press the Create button.
You now have an app and it's ready to download. At the top of the page press the download button. A Zip file containing all of the source code for the application will be downloaded to your system.
Now you have a working app, you can submit to the store. It generally takes a couple of days to get past certification.
Once your app has launched, your job isn't over. As you gather more users, improvements will suggest themselves. You can start adding features and improve your content based upon feedback.