WP7

Two New Books for Windows Phone 7 Developers

by Joey deVilla on November 1, 2010

Free Ebook: Programming Windows Phone 7

Cover of "Programming Windows Phone 7"

Charles Petzold literally wrote the book on Windows development, and he’s now doing it for Windows Phone 7. Programming Windows Phone 7 is published by Microsoft Press and covers Windows Phone 7 development from many angles: building apps with Silverlight, making games with XNA and making your programs even better by accessing online services.

Windows Phone is a lot of ground to cover, so the book is sized to match. Petzold’s been working on it since at least the start of the year and it shows – it’s over 1,000 pages on our favourite mobile operating system! Luckily, this book is free-as-in-beer: that’s right, you can download it in ebook form, along with the sample code, for no money at all. If you’re looking to seriously get into Windows Phone 7 development, you should have this book.

Downloads for Programming Windows Phone 7

XNA 4.0 Game Development by Example

Cover of "XNA 4.0 Game Development by Example"

Survey after survey shows that games are the most popular mobile phone apps, and Windows Phone is really good at games, and not just from the user’s point of view. The XNA framework, available to Windows Phone developers, takes Windows Phone 7 beyond mere informational apps – it’s like having an Xbox in your pocket!

XNA is also more than just about Windows Phone – it’s also for developing games for Windows and the Xbox 360. Better still, it lets you target three platforms – desktop, console and phone – with a single codebase and tweaks specifically for each platform. If you want to write games and reach a wide audience, XNA is your ticket.

Packt Publishing’s XNA 4.0 Game Development by Example is a great way to get started with XNA programming. It walks you through the development of four games, each from a different genre:

  • Flood Control, a timed puzzle game where you have to quickly assemble pipes before time runs out and water flows through them
  • Asteroid Belt Assault, a 2-D shooter that classic 80’s arcade gamers will find familiar
  • Robot Rampage, a tank game featuring multi-axis controls, a scrolling world, particle effects and enemy AI
  • Gemstone Hunter, which takes the Platformer Starter Kit to new levels

I just got the book, and have only done the most cursory of scans, but I’ve already picked up a few ideas for how to implement features in my games. If you’re looking to do game development for Windows Phone and beyond, this is a great starter book!

Get XNA 4.0 Game Development by Example

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

{ 0 comments }

31 Days of Windows Phone 7

by Joey deVilla on October 17, 2010

"31 Days of Windows Phone 7": Windows Phone showing the calendar for the month of October

Keep an eye on Jeff Blankenburg’s blog for the rest of the month! Every day in October, he’s posting an article on Windows Phone 7 development in a series called 31 Days of Windows Phone 7.

As of this writing, he’s posted these articles:

Jeff talked about his “31 Days” series (previous;y, he did a 31 Days of Silverlight series and 28 Days of Did-You-Knows in Technology one as well) on show 5 of Silverlight guru Jesse Liberty’s podcast.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

{ 0 comments }

Got a Windows Phone 7 App? Let Joey Know!

by Joey deVilla on October 12, 2010

contact joey

Are you a Canadian developer working on a Windows Phone 7 app that’s done or nearly done? We want to help you get a head start on everyone else. Contact me – Joey deVilla – by Monday, October 18th (and sooner is better) and let’s see what we can do to make your app one of the first in Windows Phone Marketplace!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

{ 0 comments }

coffee and code

Just a reminder: there are a couple of Coffee and Codes this week…

  • Ottawa: Join developer/trainer Colin Melia and IT Pro Evangelist/destroyer-of-technology Rick Claus as they set up office on Thursday, October 14 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Bridgehead Coffee House at 109 Bank Street (at Albert). They’ll have some WP7 devices that you can deploy apps to, and you can ask them questions about Windows Phone 7. Colin will field the developer questions while Rick will handle your “How does this fit into the enterprise?” inquiries.
  • Toronto: Join yours truly, Joey deVilla, at the Starbucks at King and Yonge, where I’ll be on Thursday, October 14 from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.. I’ll have a WP7 device you can deploy apps to, and if you’re working on an app and think you have have it done by Monday the 18th, you will really want to drop by and talk to me!

Come on down, see a real live Windows Phone up close and personal and deploy your apps to it!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

{ 0 comments }

deployment opportunities

You’re building apps for Windows Phone 7. You’ve tested them as much as you can on the emulator. You now need to test them on a real device. We can help!

Getting your hands on a Windows Phone is a very hard thing to do. Even those of us who work inside the company are having trouble getting our hands on them because there just aren’t enough advance devices to go around. We have a small pool of phones and a big number of people who need to test their apps on them, so we’ve had to get creative in order to help people test.

First, there’s Coffee and Code. Coffee and Code has traditionally been an event where we take advantage of our mobile worker status and work out of a café, where we’re easily accessible. Lately, we’ve been using them as a chance for you to drop by, impromptu, take a look at our Windows Phones and even deploy apps to them for some quick testing. These are pretty informal, with no appointment required, and first-come-first-serve.

Then, there are the Deployment Clinics. These are a little more structured – you book an appointment to drop by one of Microsoft Canada’s offices and spend some quality just-you-and-your-app time with a Windows Phone. You have to book time in advance, and you have the phone all to yourself for the appointment.

Take advantage of these opportunities to test your WP7 apps on a real phone!

Here’s the schedule for the upcoming Coffee and Code and Deployment Clinics:

What When Where
Coffee and Code
(Drop in)
Thursday, October 14
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Ottawa
Bridgehead Coffee
109 Bank Street (at Albert)
Coffee and Code
(Drop in)
Thursday, October 14
11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Downtown Toronto
Starbucks at King and Yonge
Deployment Clinic
(Book an appointment)
Friday, October 15 Downtown Toronto
Microsoft office
Ernst & Young Tower,
TD Centre, 12th floor
Coffee and Code
(Drop in)
Thursday, October 21
11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Downtown Toronto
Starbucks at King and Yonge
Deployment Clinic
(Book an appointment)
Monday, October 25 Mississauga
Microsoft Office
1950 Meadowvale Blvd
(Off Mississauga Road, just north of Highway 401)
Deployment Clinic
(Book an appointment)
Wednesday, October 27 Vancouver
Microsoft Office
1111 W. Georgia, 11th floor
Coffee and Code
(Drop in)
Friday, October 29
11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Downtown Toronto
Timothy’s
255 Front Street West
Coffee and Code
(Drop in)
Thursday, November 4
11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Halifax
Location TBD
Coffee and Code
(Drop in)
Thursday, November 11
11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Ottawa
Location TBD
Deployment Clinic
(Book an appointment)
Friday, November 12 Montreal
Microsoft Office
2000 Ave McGill College,
4th floor
Coffee and Code
(Drop in)
Thursday, November 18
11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Downtown Toronto
Starbucks at King and Yonge
Deployment Clinic
(Book an appointment)
Friday, November 19
11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Montreal
Microsoft Office
2000 Ave McGill College,
4th floor
Coffee and Code
(Drop in)
Thursday, November 25
11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Montreal
Location TBD
Deployment Clinic
(Book an appointment)
Monday, November 29 Ottawa
Microsoft Office
World Exchange Plaza (100 Queen Street), 5th floor
Deployment Clinic
(Book an appointment)
Wednesday, December 1 Calgary
Microsoft Office
Atlus Centre (500 – 4th Ave. SW), 19th floor
Coffee and Code
(Drop in)
Thursday, December 2
11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Downtown Toronto
Starbucks at King and Yonge
Deployment Clinic
(Book an appointment)
Friday, December 3 Calgary
Microsoft Office
Altius Centre (500 – 4th Ave. SW), 19th floor
Coffee and Code
(Drop in)
Thursday, December 9
11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Winnipeg
Location TBD
Coffee and Code
(Drop in)
Thursday, December 9
11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Downtown Toronto
Starbucks at King and Yonge
Coffee and Code
(Drop in)
Thursday, December 16
11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Calgary
Location TBD
Coffee and Code
(Drop in)
Thursday, December 16
11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Downtown Toronto
Starbucks at King and Yonge

To book an appointment, drop Samantha Wong a line and she’ll set you up.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

{ 1 comment }

The Ads

Rather than tell you how great-looking and clever the new ads for Windows Phone 7 are, I thought I’d show them instead. Here’s the first one, which features Donovan’s song, Season of the Witch:

Here’s the other one, which asks this question: “Really?” (In case you were wondering, the tune is In the Hall of the Mountain King by Edvard Grieg.)

The Hint

Clock

The message in both these ads is pretty simple: Smartphones eat up a lot of your attention and time. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was one that didn’t do that?

There are lots of little goodies in Windows Phone 7 that address this issue. The ones I can think of off the top of my head include:

  • The lock screen. You don’t have to unlock your phone just to find out what the next appointment on your calendar is. The lock screen displays it, along with the date, time and the number of voice and text messages you have.
  • The Start page. The start page is where you pin your favourite and often-used items so you can access them quickly, so you don’t have to riffle through page after page of apps.
  • What you can pin to the Start page. You can pin more than just apps to the Start page. Is there someone – a spouse, significant other, friend or family member – whom you phone, text, or email often? Pin that person to the Start page! Is there a website you hit many times a day? Pin it to the Start page!
  • Communicating quickly with people. The People Hub on your phone makes looking up and reaching people fast and easy. Tap on a person for all the ways to reach him or her and tap on any of one of those ways to start communicating. A quick swipe shows you that person’s Facebook updates. Getting in touch and keeping up is pretty easy with this UI.
  • Finding. The context-sensitive Search button is all about finding what you need, whether it’s some information on your phone, on the web or in the real world, and you get this all from a single button press.

In all these cases, it’s about getting what you need from the phone, as quickly as possible.You should ideally be able to “glance and go”: fire up your phone, get the information you need, then put it away and go do what you set out to do. The phone is supposed to augment your life; it’s not supposed to be your life.

And therein lies the hint for your app designs. If you’re designing an informational, non-game app for Windows Phone 7, take a cue from its “glance and go” philosophy and ask yourself this: What one question does my app answer for the user, and does it answer this question quickly?

Examples of questions that apps can answer include:

  • Where’s the nearest Tim Hortons?
  • Should I take an umbrella with me today?
  • Am I getting a good deal from this store, or should I be shopping elsewhere?
  • Given a choice of three different wines, which one should I buy?
  • What interesting stuff is happening in this city tonight?

If you’re thinking of building a WP7 app, think of a question it can answer for the user, provide the answer and then get out of the way. Let that be your guide and you just might code up a winner.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

{ 0 comments }

Windows Phone 7 Launch Today

by Joey deVilla on October 11, 2010

Windows Phone 7 Launch

It’s Canadian Thanksgiving today, which means it’s a day off here, but it’s a regular working day for our American neighbours, and it’s the day that a lot of big announcements about Windows Phone 7 get made at an event in New York City.

As Mary Jo Foley points out in her article on today’s event, today is about announcements and not about phones hitting shelves, but the day when you can go buy a WP7 phone isn’t far off. You’ll find out more about the phone today starting at 9:30 a.m. Eastern, and I believe a lot of your questions will be answered. (And if you have questions, you can always ask us, either here on the blog or in person at the various TechDays, Coffee and Codes or other opportunities to have a face-to-face chat with us.)

I think you’ll find that Windows Phone represents a tremendous opportunity for phone app developers and designers. Consider that:

  • Gorgeous design. In starting from the ground up and redesigning what it means to be a Microsoft Phone, the WP7 team came up with a design that isn’t just “me too”. Even Jon Gruber, the ultimate fanboy for the Esteemed Competition, says it’s really nice.
  • It’s early in the game. The phone app market for WP7 is a new one, and it’s your chance to make your mark and shape the app market with your ideas, designs and coding skills.
  • You’re working with great developer tools. Even the most die-hard fanboys of the Esteemed Competition grudgingly acknowledge that Visual Studio is a great IDE. Combined with Expression Blend, you’ve got a killer combo for developing, designing and debugging phone apps.
  • It’s not just great developer tools, but great frameworks. First, there’s the .NET framework, which gives you a big library with loads of built-in functionality. Then there’s the fact that you have not just one, but two app frameworks! You have Silverlight, for more “application”-like app development with controls and an event-driven model, and XNA for game development with its game loop programming model.
  • Windows Phone Marketplace. It’s your chance to directly sell apps to customers, and it’s straightforward. The rules for submitting apps and what is and isn’t an acceptable app are spelled out clearly. If your app isn’t accepted, you’ll know why. Telling this stuff to app developers is such a crazy idea that it might catch on!
  • Here’s something that we need to point out: You are important. As developers, you shouldn’t feel like pseudo-competitors who are barely tolerated by the people behind the phone platform. You should feel like a key part of Windows Phone 7, because you are! WP7 doesn’t happen without you. Your creativity, hard work and passion as app developers is as much a feature as anything else that goes into WP7. What you do is our best feature!

Keep an eye on the announcements coming out today, and if you have any questions, ask away in the comments!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

{ 0 comments }