Now that we're out of the woods with the unlimited free app updates policy being clarified, it's time to go back to our Marketplace roots and clear up some misconceptions around the different statuses that your app can have as it passes through certification.
"Submission In Progress" - this is an app that you've started the submission progress for, but have not completed, so the app will not be ready to submit until you go through the full submission form. To do this, click "View details" (under "action" on your dashboard), then click "Edit Submission" (again, under "Action") and run through form. Note that you may encounter a stage where the current form is complete but the "Next" button is not activated (I get this a lot on the screenshot page), simply refill on of the fields (for example, add a dummy screenshot and then remove it).
"Ready for Testing" - You've successfully passed the first hurdle in getting your app onto the Marketplace, your XAP has been submitted and is (duh!) "Ready for Testing". It will soon be picked up and your status will move to...
"Testing in Progress" - Your XAP has moved along and is currently being tested. The amount of time it takes to have an app go through will vary depending on the app. I have found that it will tend to come back to you quicker when failing (i.e. as soon as there is a problem) otherwise it usually finishes certification within a couple of days to a week.
"Ready for Signing" - Congratulations! You've passed testing, your app is certified. It's now going to go through the last technical stage where the XAP is signed and prepared for the Marketplace. This is largely automatic and should be finished within a few hours.
"Published to Marketplace" - Break out the champagne! Your app is in the marketplace and you're now ready to move on to vNext or appNext. Note that it can take up to 12 hours for your application to show up in the search index, so don't fret if it takes a while.
"Certification Failed" - oh oh, an issue was found in your app while running through the certification process. On the submission details page you'll find a testing report in the drop under "action" which will detail exactly what was wrong, and the steps to repro the problem. I'll admit that I was impressed with the reason for one of my failures (clicking multiple times, very quickly, on a button caused the app to crash) and with the way the report detailed the exact problem so that I could find it, fix it and resubmit asap. That said, sometimes there are mistakes made or unclear reports and in this case the support team are your friends.
How long does certification usually take?
Certification shouldn't take more than 7 days, with the average being a lot lower than that. My record is currently 13 hours (submitted at 2am, on the marketplace by 3pm), though the average that I see reported is 3-4 days.
What should I do if it's taking more than 7 days?
First, DON'T PANIC. That said, if you're app is taking more than 10 days, log a support request to find out what's happened. There's a possibility that there was a problem with the file upload which will require you to resubmit your xap, but at least you'll know that things are moving!
Logging a Support Request
To log a support request login to create.msdn.com -> My dashboard -> Windows Phone and then hit the "Support" link on the left menu. You should get an initial response within 24 hours (if you haven't gotten a response after 48 hours, log another request).
Run into any marketplace tips / tricks? How about some annoyances? Drop me a comment and I'll see if I can address them in a future blog post (before I head back to writing about perf!).