Speeding up Windows Phone Application Development Using App Studio

Introduction

We all have ideas and think we can quickly build applications. However, when rubber meets the road, we realize that building an application is not as simple as we think. Sometimes, we are trying to just check out an idea, but as any application developer can tell you, it takes a lot of time to even get a simple prototype working.

Microsoft realized that the best ways to get apps built for their platform was to make it super easy to build applications. The result is “App Studio”, which allows users to take an idea and convert it into a Windows Phone app in record time.

App Studio provides the ability to quickly build applications, which can be published immediately. If advanced tweaking is required, it also allows you to download the source code, something which no other mobile platform provides.

How to Build an Application with Windows Phone App Studio

The process of building an application with App Studio follows 4 steps

1. Choosing the category that maps closely to the idea from the Marketplace categories.

2. The second step is to add content to the application, which can be images, videos or RSS feeds.

3. The third step involves choosing the styling for the application, and building the splash screen and lock screens for the application.

4. Finally, you can publish the application directly or if you choose, you can download the source code to add customization to the application.

Getting Started with App Studio

Getting started with App Studio is simple. Visit http://apps.windowsstore.com/Dashboard/Index and you can get started on building a Windows Phone application.

Walkthrough of Using App Studio

Click http://apps.windowsstore.com/Dashboard/Index and sign into your Microsoft account.

You will need to allow App Studio access to your email address to continue.

On the next page, click on the checkbox to accept the “Windows Phone App Studio Agreement” and click Register. Make sure you enter the desired user name  before you click Register.

Welcome to Windows Phone App Studio
Welcome to Windows Phone App Studio

You will then be prompted with a list of templates to choose from for your Windows Phone application.

Create an App from a Template
Create an App from a Template

We will choose the City template for our walkthrough.

Upon selecting the City template, you are asked to provide the details about the city.

Provide Details
Provide Details

We will provide details of “Gotham City” as the city for which we are building the application.

Provide Details
Provide Details

Click Next. You will see the screen below.

Application Sections
Application Sections

Click on Info under the Data Source to provide more information about the city.

Edit DataSource: info
Edit DataSource: info

Provide a short description of Gotham City and continue.

You can see that the provided description shows up on the home page for the application.

Description Shows on Homepage
Description Shows on Homepage

We can now add more information about the city by adding content under the monumentsCollection, specialplacesCollections, historyCollection and/or album.

To demonstrate how easy it is, we will add content into the monumentsCollection section.

Click on the monumentsCollection link on the left side.

It will open up the data source screen for the monumentsCollection.

Data Source Screen for the MonumentsCollection
Data Source Screen for the MonumentsCollection

Since there are no historical monuments in Gotham city, we will reuse some of default monuments and repurpose them as Gotham City monuments.

If you want to add a monument, you can add one by clicking on “Create New”.

For our case, I will edit the Michelangelo’s David and call it Gotham’s David.

Editing MonumentsCollection Item
Editing MonumentsCollection Item

After our changes, the monument list look like the screenshot below:

Edited MonumentsCollection
Edited MonumentsCollection

As you can see, we just finished adding a few monuments to the application.

Similarly, we can add other content to the application. This is left as an exercise for the reader.

Click Next to set up styling for the application.

Styling for the Application
Styling for the Application

Select the Accent Brush , Background Brush, Foreground Brush and Application bar brush of your choice. Next, Click on Tiles tab.

Select the Brushes
Select the Brushes

We can choose the type of tiles we want for the application.

By default the Iconic template is chosen. For our walkthrough, we will leave it as the chosen one.

Click Next.

Default Template
Default Template

We are now ready to generate the application. If you want to change anything, click “Back” to make the changes.

Click Summary page to take a look at your application before you generate it. In our case, we had Gotham misspelled, so we corrected it.

Summary Page
Summary Page

If everything looks Ok, click “Generate” to generate the application.

Application generation can take some time, so click yes at the “Generate Application confirmation dialog”.

Confirm App Generation
Confirm App Generation

Generating the Application
Generating the Application

Our application is now generated.

Congratulations
Congratulations

If you want to test the application before publishing it, you need to install the certificate on your phone before the application can be installed.

To install the certificate, click on the link to generate the QR code, which can be scanned by the phone to download the certificate on the device.

There, we just created a working Windows Phone application without even opening up Visual Studio.

Summary

In this article, we learned about Windows Phone App Studio and how simple it is to create an application using it. I hope you have found this information useful.

About the Author

Vipul Patel is a Program Manager currently working at Amazon Corporation. He has formerly worked at Microsoft in the Lync team and in the .NET team (in the Base Class libraries and the Debugging and Profiling team). He can be reached at vipul.patel@hotmail.com



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Comments

  • Windows Application Development

    Posted by Windows Application Development on 02/06/2014 02:28am

    Great News

    Reply
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