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Windows Phone 7 has been available for a while now and it has been great to see so many developers jumping on board with the platform. Just yesterday I read that the WP7 App Store has hit 12,000 applications and that it achieved that number faster than both the Android Market Place and the iTunes App Store. Most of us reading this newsletter will be very aware of how developing on the .NET framework makes development easier, and I think the rate of applications being delivered for WP7 accurately reflects that.
Free development tools for WP7
As you may be aware, I am a co-founder of Mindscapewhich builds tools for .NET developers around the world. We were stoked to be the first development tools company in the world to release a comprehensivecommercial suite of controls for WP7 to help developers deliver applications even more quickly. There are 19 controls all up - from charts to gauges, colour pickers to looping list boxes. As part of our launch, we want to offer all MSDN Flash subscribers a free license to this suite valued at $299 USD. To grab your free copy:
- Visit the Mindscape store
- Click "buy now" for "Phone Elements - 1 Developer License"
- When prompted, enter the discount codeNZFLASHWP7
- The price discounts to $0, download the software for free!
- Once you've built your app using Phone Elements,Email Microsoft for a free one-year WP7 marketplace account. Get in quickly, as numbers are strictly limited.
We really want to help developers build great applications, and we hope that this will help towards that. The discount code is valid until Friday 8 April 2011, so make sure to download your copy today. To help further, here are some tips from our experiences in building for the Windows Phone:
1. Think about the platform
Applications that do really well on the phone are those that recognise the difference between a small touch interface and a PC. Keep in mind that fingers are a lot fatter than a cursor, so make buttons and selectable elements big. Also be sure to remember that there is no "hover" state with a touch interface, so there's no opportunity to show helpful things like tool tips. Incorporate this type of thinking into your application design to ensure that you create great user experiences. Lastly, make sure your application stays consistent with the phone itself – stick with the Metro styling as it is already familiar to your users.
2. Keep performance in mind
We're all used to building software for powerful servers and quad core desktop machines with oodles of memory. Often, because of this, it's easy not to worry about performance too much, however on the phone things are a bit different. You can't make the argument "hardware is cheap, developers are expensive, just get faster hardware" so you'll need to focus early on making sure your applications are fast and responsive to give your users the best experience possible. We have put countless hours into profiling and improving the performance of the controls in our Phone Elements suite so, when you're ready to profile your application to find places to improve performance, I strongly recommend the free profiler from Eqatec.
3. Once you're live, promote promote promote!
As developers we're often focused on the construction of software more than getting people to use our software. If you release an application to the WP7 App Store, you'll find a wealth of websites that will review your software. Get in touch with the various sites and let them have a look. The App Store makes finding software easier, but you are competing against 1000 new applications a week – so expect to work hard on getting folks talking about your great application. There are also great blogs about running small software businesses such as Micro ISV on a Shoestring.
Good luck and happy coding!