While it’s good to read how-to’s and tutorials, sometimes just hearing the experiences of those who have been there and done it can be really helpful. With that in mind, I’m going to start including some developer interviews on the blog. First up, Brandon, who has 5 applications in the Windows Phone Marketplace, under the publisher name BC3 Technologies. His apps (with links and more details after the interview) are:
- Social Camera
- Cloud Transfer
- Who Called Me?
So without further ado…
MicroNokiaDev: Which windows Phone do you use and what is your favorite feature of Windows Phone?
Brandon: I own and use the HTC Trophy on Verizon Wireless
Without a doubt the live tile feature of windows phone is my favorite. The ability for me to see, at a glance, everything important to me; to redefine that importance as I see fit; and as a developer, create dynamic experiences for my users is second to none.
MND: For you, as a user, how does windows phone compare to other platforms?
B: For me it’s a win all the way, with notable points not the least of which are:
1. Lack of malware
2. Choice in device form factors and (with Windows Phone 8) configurations
4. Ownership experience – the ability to make my phone “my own” with colors, layouts, etc
MND: How long have you been developing Windows Phone apps and why did you choose that platform?
B: I’ve been developing since October 2010. I chose WP because I am familiar w/ the Microsoft ecosystem, C#, and WPF. It was the obvious choice for me if for no other reason than to avoid a learning curve.
MND: What do yo think of the windows phone platform in general? Has it been a good experience using it or has it been frustrating at times? If you have tried to develop mobile apps on other platforms, how does the development experience compare?
B: In general, the WP7 platform had room to grow. Room they have greatly advanced on with Windows Phone 8. WP7 lacked many of the things in other OSes that people take for granted, stuff as simple as turn-by-turn directions, custom tones for alerts (text messages), a notification center to review notifications that have come through, and things like that. The basic stuff. It’s more clear to me now that WP7 was a stopgap for Microsoft until they could really go whole-hog with WP8. I’m excited to see WP8 when it hits the market and the splash it’ll make, and I can’t wait to see how they grow it even further
The experience as a whole as been very rewarding for me. Initially I found a few things to be quite annoying, not the least of which was the inability to send Video taken w/ the phone via text message, e-mail, or upload it to Youtube (hence the reason for creating Social Camera). After living with and using the phone, however, I’m overall quite happy w/ my decision and constantly brag about my phone to anybody who would challenge it :)
Dev Experience: Blows the others out of the water if for no other reason than Microsoft’s far superior developer tools. Eclipse, XCode, MonoDevelop, all of those are clunky, outdated and inefficient when set beside Visual Studio. And for one of those, you have to have proprietary hardware just to run it ;)
MND: Aside from Visual studio/The windows Phone SDK, are there any other tools that have been important for your development process?
B: Telerik’s RadControls for Windows Phone is a great investment.
Attending Microsoft code camps and seminars in my area have proven quite useful.
Windowsphonegeek.com is a great resource for not only learning about the platform and how to code for it, but also finding components you can re-use in your own development that were written by other developers.
MND: Do you see your self as a coder or designer or ui guy? We there aspects where you got other people involved in creating your apps?
B: I am definitely a coder. Far from a designer/UI guy. I tried many times to involve friends of mine that have an eye for UI/UX but they never wanted to put the time in with me to create a polished product, so I’ve done the best I can do and rely on user feedback to get me the rest of the way.
MND: What are the biggest technical challenges have you had when developing your apps?
The windows phone SDK. Most of my apps serve a purpose to work around capabilities that aren’t built in the OS. Upload video to YouTube, saving business searches from Bing, etc. As you can imagine, if the OS can’t do it, then the SDK isn’t going to be able to either. So I’ve had to do some fancy footwork in a lot of instances to get things working the way I needed them to.
MND: What advice do you have for people just starting?
B: Learn the tools. Take time to educate yourself not just on the SDK, but also the wealth of capability the tools provide you.
MND: Are there any particular web sites/tutorials/community resources you found particularly helpful since starting out that you want to point people to?
MND: Are there any development or framework quirks that people should know about before they get too far? Or any tips and tricks you would like to share?
B: Always remember Isolated Storage. Learn how it works, when it’s cleared out.
Learn how tombstoning works. Without knowing fully how it’s handled, you can not only frustrate the crap out of your users but, depending on the kind of app you’re writing, you could actually lose their data.
MND: Windows Phone 8 is just around the corner. from both a user and platform point of view, Are there any new user features that are know you are looking forward to seeing or perhaps unconfirmed ones you are especially hoping to see?
B: I’m definitely looking to see if they built in a Notification Center. It has to be the singlemost frustrating thing the OS is lacking in my daily life.
I’m anxious to use the Wallet and see any integration points in the SDK that it may have along with other NFC-related capabilities.
MND: How do you see the future of Windows Phone and do you have any more apps in the pipeline?
B:The next app I write will likely be Windows 8/Windows Phone cross-platform, I am not actively working on anything though.
I see the future of Windows Phone hinging solely on the adoption of Windows 8. If that goes well, WP will be in a good place. If it doesn’t, I don’t see it surviving.
MND: So you have 5 apps on the app store right now. If i right now was to open the marketplace and download one of those, which one should it be and why?
B: I’d probably recommend BizSaver first, because to me it’s a very useful feature that wasn’t included in the core OS. After that, probably my newest app Cloud Transfer because I think the idea is solid and I feel that many users could really take advantage of what it has to offer.
MND: If readers would like to get in touch to ask about your apps or windows phone development in general, is there a way they should reach you? and do you have a web page.
If you would like to download Brandon’s apps, here’s a full list with links:
Social Camera: Social Camera is THE FIRST Windows Phone app that allows you to upload your OWN videos to Youtube, and the ONLY one that lets you transfer your videos from Skydrive to Youtube! If you have suggestions, comments, or criticisms, please contact us through the About page of the app
BizSaver: Ever searched via Bing, found a Local establishment, and wanted to add it to your contacts? Now you can, quickly & easily! Simply tap “Save Details” from a Bing local search and save it to your contacts! BizSaver does NOT need your location information to function and has been rigorously tested to provide excellent results internationally!
Demerits: Demerits is a free ad-supported app that allows you and/or your coach/trainer to keep track of mistakes you make during your routine! Incorporating a whole-screen interface, Demerits makes it easy to watch your trainee and simply tap the screen to decrement their overall score. You can configure different profiles to have their own max score and presets to turn the sound and vibration on or off. You can also pin these presets to Start for easy launching later.
Who Called Me: Who Called Me? uses the crowd-sourced caller ID website whocalled.us to deliver you up-to-the-minute results of telemarketers, robocallers, and general annoyances plaguing people around the country. Whocalled.us lets people report who called them, when, what the Caller ID said, and who was REALLY on the other end. By giving you an easy way to access this information on your phone Who Called Me saves you the hassle of wondering if the number you just got a call from is even worth your time! Download Who Called Me today and stop wondering if that missed call was important or just another telemarketer, and join the revolution of people helping people by reporting when YOU receive useless calls!
Cloud Transfer: Cloud Transfer allows you to transfer files from SkyDrive to other services around the internet.