Well, it's taken a lot longer than I had hoped, but we've finally got our Windows Mobile Starter Kits shipping! Ok, so maybe we're not going to have a real Ship Party, and I know I'm not going to get a "Ship It!" award for my special Microsoft plaque, but it was still a lot of work getting it all sorted out, so I treated myself to a Starbucks and a cookie. There were last minute hitches with the internal processes of getting code available to download (you don't want to know the magic spells involved - many thanks to Ross, Jason, Billy, Martin, Keith, Laurie..), but we've now got two samples ready to go, and a third very nearly complete. And they are just the start.
But what is a Starter Kit?, I pretend to hear you cry.
A "Starter Kit" is complete, ready-to-compile-and-run sample application for Windows Mobile developers. We've tried to make a list of common tasks, and turn them into real world applications. Then we add loads of comments, some extra documentation, and there you have it - all you need to do is load them into Visual Studio 2005, hit F5 and voila! From there you can hack the code to pieces, add your own features, put sections into your own applications, make a killer app and move to the Caribbean.. whatever you like.
The two samples we have at the moment are a C# based Web Browser for Pocket PCs that supports Tabs (I wrote this one, and it was ridiculously easy, but it's pretty cool), and a C++ Pocket PC Today Screen plug-in that controls Windows Media Player. Now I do know that one was hard work, and I also know a lot of you will be interested in seeing not only a Today Screen project, but also a way of interacting with the media player. Two birds with one stone, thanks to stellar work from Ross, a programmer/writer in our UA team.
So, if you're a developer, I'd love to hear your opinion on the usefulness of these kits, and what kits you would like to see in the future. I have my list - we have an awesome C# based game coming very soon, and some other neat projects in the works - but I'd like to know what would be on your list. We know our documentation tends to focus on APIs rather than on ways of putting these APIs together, and also that there is a lot of "secret sauce" stuff that experienced Windows Mobile developers know and that is hard to find - so this is one of the ways in which we're hoping to makes things better.
Here's the six million dollar question though: what else would you like to see as a Starter Kit?
Feel free to leave comments, email me directly, or use the Wiki page that is associated with each Starter Kit.
And, last but not least, here is the link.