As you may know, the Microsoft TechDays Conference took place in Montreal last week and we have landed an interview with Louis-Philippe Pinsonneault, a local Montreal developer. He is a really nice guy and a great developer. I was very happy to finally meet him in person after chatting with him over email on several occasions. If you used the Windows Phone TechDays 2011 application (free download is available here) , then you may be interested to know that he’s the author!
Can you introduce yourself?
Hi, my name is Louis - Philippe Pinsonneault. I am a.NET developer who specializes in Silverlight and Windows Phone 7 development and I am also an MVP Device Application Development. I work for RunAtServer (www.runatserver.com), a company in Montreal with expertise in Web, RIA, Touch solutions and Mobile with.NET, Silverlight, Windows Phone and WPF, also offering courses on these same technologies.
What is your experience in development with Windows Phone?
I have personally developed 4 applications. I also have taken built applications such as Tou.tv (Radio Canada), and 10 applications for Sun Media (Canoe.ca, Journal de Montréal, Toronto Sun, etc) for RunAtServer.
Tell us about the WP7 TechDays Canada application!
It all started a year and a half ago, after coming back from the MIX09 in Las Vegas. I was looking for a project idea in order to explore Windows Phone development. A few weeks later, TechDays Team Canada put online an OData feed which gave access to the information of the Conference, and this is where I got the idea to make a first version of the TechDays 2010 application. It was therefore a purely personal decision to build something for TechDays and not initiated by Microsoft. But following some blogs posts, the team gave me the green light to make it the official application. This year I decided to update the application so as to publish TechDays 2011 (Canada).
Have you integrated specific features from Mango in the TechDays App?
This year, I wanted to improve the application while exploring the new features offered by Mango. So I used the "Fast Application Resume" which allows you to go back to the application without having to reload the data. I also implemented Secondary Tiles and Deep Linking. These secondary tiles,in the context of the application, allow direct access to the information of a city from the home screen.
Did you experience any particular technical challenges while developing this application?
The biggest challenge was the access to the data. In reality, it is not the access to data itself but the caching management. Last year, the application required a constant connection to access the data. This year, I wanted to make sure that the application could work in offline mode. After managing the cache, I realized that there were some performance issues. Given these performance issues, I changed my approach and I decided to load data in batch at startup. This has greatly improved the phone performance and reduced the use of its bandwidth.
What is your favorite feature of Mango?
From a ‘developer’ point of view, it is the Secondary Tiles, but from a ‘user’ point of view, it is the integration with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as social media.
What do you think about the WP7 platform?
I think that it is an excellent platform, especially when you get familiar with XAML (eXtensible Application Markup Language, an XML format that defines the layout and behaviour of the UI). For a developer who already knows Silverlight or WPF, it is quite easy to develop applications. The interesting thing is that the major part of the code (C# / VB, XAML) is reusable in Silverlight applications. In addition, for those who are interested in the world of game, XNA allows to create games for the three platforms (WP7, XBOX and PC). And now you can easily integrate 3D parts made in XNA in a Silverlight-based Windows Phone application.
Do you have any interesting recommendations (Blogs/books...)?
There are many blogs on the subject. Recently, Jeff Blankenburg has made a series of blog posts on the different Mango’s functions. There is an excellent book on Windows Phone which was written by Charles Petzold called "Programming Windows Phone 7" which is available in paper format and the ebook is available free of charge. Twitter is also an excellent source of information regarding Windows Phone development ( #wp7dev, #wpdev). And you can still find my blog where I write about my experience and about some features or components that I find interesting.