I’m an accomplished developer but new to the app concept and certainly new to working for myself and the tools, resources and people at Microsoft have made the journey an enjoyable (and profitable) experience from the off.

What's your background?

I’ve been a full time software developer for about 7 years now, initially working as a subject matter expert creating training material for Microsoft Learning as well as other global technology companies. Now working for a global ISV developing scheduling software used by manufactures the world over (Sailr Solutions), I write Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 apps in by spare time.

What motivated you to start building apps?

Originally I started developing Windows 8 apps as a way of keeping my skills up to date so it was really more of a hobby, but as times gone on I’ve come to realise that Windows 8 is a fantastic platform to develop for and I’ve been blown away by the response to my apps. I’ve received emails from people all over the world who are using my apps and that’s a really surreal experience.

How did you come up with the initial idea for the app we see in store today?

ModernMap is an HTML /JavaScript application and I had already written a good portion of the code for a previous project. I wanted something familiar to get started with so I decided to port it to Windows 8. I was truly shocked at how quickly I was able to get from an initial sketch to a release product, two and a half weeks was all it took.

 

What was your inspiration for the design?

I generally like an uncluttered and simple UX, simple colour schemes that put the content at the heart of the experience. That’s where Windows 8 really excels.

What’s your process for designing the user journey?

I like to do it the old fashioned way with a pencil and paper! Lots of sketches and notes. I use Team Foundation Server for my source control so I do keep all my notes in there. Its not as chaotic as it sounds!

What was the biggest challenge you faced and how did you overcome it?

Its been challenging designing an application that targets so many different form factors. Not only have we got varying resolutions to scale to but the app layout needs to respond well to being snapped or positioned in different orientations. There’s obviously only so much testing you can do so in the end you just have to trust your design.

Windows 8 offers many exciting features like Search and Share charms and Live Tiles and I wanted to incorporate these where they were appropriate which presented a few challenges but with help they were quickly overcome.

 

What technology did you use for your app development?

ModernMap is built with HTML and JavaScript and is built it entirely in Visual Studio 2012 and Blend. Visual Studio 2012 is amazing and combined with Blend its now a joy to work with.

I have some managed code that I use across all of my apps which is written on c# and I love the way I can so easily consume this from within my JavaScript app.

What's the appeal of Windows from a business perspective?

Obviously the market potential is massive but the big attraction for me is the small cost to market. You can go from idea to market in a few weeks and the revenue share is good too. Microsoft offer an amazing infrastructure so by utilizing services such as Azure and Windows Live services you can quickly build large scalable applications with amazing ease.

What were the challenges for you building this app?

The main challenges were really around the packaging and marketing of the App. It’s things like a privacy policy that I never thought I’d need and promotional images. Fortunately the documentation and support from Microsoft is amazing so these challenges are soon overcome.

What's next for you?

When I’m not writing apps for Windows 8 I like to spend my time sailing and I’ve got a great idea for a sailing related application. I’m also working on a project called Eventus which is a socially integrated event management service built atop Windows Azure but that’s in very early stages.

I’ve also got some ideas for a new social reporting feature for ModernMap but its finding the time!

What would you say to other web developers who might be sitting on the fence as far as Windows 8 development is concerned?

If you’ve got an idea then download the tools and go for it. There is so much help and support available from both Microsoft and the developer community so even if you’re new to Windows development it will be a lot easier than you think. Creating a quality application and promoting it can be a lot of work but the rewards are there so get stuck in.

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