Next to games, ‘tools and productivity’ is the most popular category of mobile applications, as developer Matt Ruffell, founder of MDR Applications, knows from experience. His Cool Tools application on the Windows Phone marketplace has a four star rating and over 200,000 downloads (and climbing)! When I first contacted Matt about bringing some of his apps to Windows 8, he was definitely ready to take advantage of the “first mover” opportunity.
Matt has was off and running quickly, registering for Generation App and already having access to Windows 8 via an MSDN license (note though that both Windows 8 and Visual Studio trials are available to all even before the October 26th launch!). He mentioned that his first inclination was to just pull up the Windows Phone version of the application and convert or upgrade, but quickly realized that was the wrong way to think about the Windows 8 development paradigm. As he mentioned in a note to me: “Windows Phone apps are small and design limiting; Windows 8 apps can be larger and more complex”.
Took me about a week to redesign the interface, took me about 2 days to plug in the code behind. So within 2 weeks I was ready to test and submit to the Windows 8 Store.
Cool Tools developer
Armed with that realization, he found that rethinking the application design wasn’t really as much work as he’d thought it might be. He was able to reuse the C# code behind, classes, and methods from his phone application, but did have to rework the interface both to take advantage of the larger form factor and to pull in some of the controls unique to Windows 8. With about a week of focusing on the design and layout, Matt was able to plug in his existing code, and in a total of two weeks was ready to deploy to the store, where his app is available now for trial or purchase.
The application itself is a collection of simple but frequently used tools that are just great to have at your fingertips – like a loan calculator for checking if the interest rates are low enough to refinance and a simple countdown app to remind you baste the turkey in another hour. I see the random number generator coming in quite handy for determining recipients of giveaways at user group events where I present. I’d say the most intriguing tool for me though is the ruler, perhaps because of the marriage of the analog and digital world.
Congrats to Matt on his debut entry into the Windows Store. In the scant few weeks since Matt submitted Cool Tools, he already has two other apps available in the Windows Store – check them out as well:
Code Vault: Manage your passwords, codes, and logon information. Very handy tool if you have several unique accounts and passwords and need a way to keep track of them.
Perfect 10: Rate and manage various items within a custom category. Create categories such as "Favorite Restaurants", or "Top Cars", or any category you wish. Great for remembering items and products you have tried.