Nokia Windows Phone Developer Day

What: Windows Phone Developer Day

When: Feb 1st, 12pm to 6pm

Where: Microsoft Offices, 1 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142

Mark your calendars for Saturday, Feb 1, 2014 and free up 12-6 PM to be in Cambridge, MA. The Microsoft and Nokia Evangelist are teaming up to help you publish your Windows Phone Apps!

Here is the preliminary schedule (subject to tweaking):

  • 12 PM DevCenter Submission Walkthrough (30 minutes): See just how easy it is to submit and publish an app worldwide
  • 12:30 PM Build an app in 30 minutes with App Studio (30 minutes): See how to build an app from an idea to publishable in 30 minutes, literally.
  • 1 PM – 1:30 PM Lunch: I’ll be providing food and snacks. This is when you think about what you need help with or when you should think of your app idea for App Studio.
  • 1:30-6 PM Hands-on time: The experts will be available to help during this time. They will be walking around helping and/or attending to requests for help.

By the end of the day I fully expect everyone’s apps will be ready and submitted to DevCenter and on it’s way to the global app marketplace.

Sign up here

What will you need to bring?

  • If you need help on an existing app, bring your laptop dev environment with your app on it.
  • If you want to build an app without any code, bring a laptop that has a modern browser (IE10-11, Chrome). You’ll only need your browser to build and submit the app to the store. If you do not have a Windows Phone, the experts will be able to help you test the app on their phone

Giveaways

Everyone who attends and publishes their app will be entered to win a “hero” Nokia Lumia (1020, 928, 925, 920, etc) of their choice. I’ll be saving some swag/prize surprises for the day of the event. Also, Microsoft will be bringing some prizes of their own! I will update this post with more details as we get closer to Feb 1st.

Note: If you accept a prize from Nokia, you agree to these terms.

Developer Environment

To write native Windows Phone 8 apps, you will need to be using Windows 8 Pro. If you do not have windows 8 Pro, you can utilize the Windows Phone App Studio app.

General Windows Phone 8 developer environment minimum

1.  Mac users only: Boot CampParallels DesktopVirtualBox or VMWare Fusion

2.  Windows 8 (or 8.1) Professional (a 90-day evaluation version available here)

3.  The Windows Phone SDK is available here.

Directions to #1 CAMBRIDGE CENTER  Directions from Bing

(Note: there is some construction being performed on the Longfellow bridge and it is currently closed to Cambridge-bound traffic )

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ARRIVING BY PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

MBTA (“The T”)

Cambridge Center is accessible via the MBTA Red Line at the Kendall Square/MIT stop (between the Charles Street and Central Square stops). The Red Line links up with other lines providing access to virtually the entire Greater Boston region, including Logan Airport.  Please follow the Microsoft signs to our main entrance in the front of our building.

Sign up here

 

Windows 8 App Development. The Time is NOW!

There is a lot of momentum with Windows 8 right now. From the launch of the Nokia 2520 to all of the Windows Phones and other tablets, it is a great time to be part of the Windows ecosystem.

With that said, it is a great time for Students and Developers to start building apps and games for the Windows Platform. Listed below are a few promotions going on.

 

App Builder Rewards: Double Points December

App Builder
Publish an app in December • Complete the quest • Earn 10,000 points

It’s Double Points December! Publish your app in the Windows Store and complete the “Apps Quest” between December 1st and 31st 2013, and you’ll get double points for up to 8 apps. The more apps you submit, the more you earn.  Join App Builder Rewards today! https://build.windowsstore.com/rewards

 

Build an app this holiday season and ring in the new year with some cash in your pocket

Holiday App Challenge

We are excited to announce the Windows 8 Holiday App Challenge. Spend your winter break coding an awesome new app to be eligible to win up to $150. Full contest details can be found at http://windows8challenge.com.

How to participate?

  1. Develop a Windows 8 app. Submit your app to http://aka.ms/HolidayAppChallengeSubmission to be eligible to win av$50 gift card.
  2. Promote your app to get 100 downloads. Visit www.windows8challenge.com for tips and tricks to get 100 downloads in no time!
  3. Confirm your app has 100 downloads. Submit your confirmation at http://aka.ms/HolidayAppDownloadConfirmation to be eligible to win an additional $100 gift card. The contest ends on January 15th, 2014.

Offer terms and conditions: http://aka.ms/HolidayAppOfferTerms.

 

The Modev Windows $10k App Contest

MoDev Contest

We’re looking for those game changers, industry disruptors—denizens of creative awesome from across the developer community. We’ll award prizes two ways:

  1. An impartial panel of judges will pick the top three apps from among the entries and award prizes
  2. We’ll put the pool of entries up for a public vote, and encourage some healthy competition between entrants to promote your app and get the public to vote for you

To qualify, entrants need to submit new Windows 8 or Windows Phone apps to the Windows Store or Windows Phone Store between October 1 and December 31, 2013, and fill out the Contest Entry form. Judging and public voting will begin in January 2014, with winners announced by January 31st.

 

The Lean Startup and Nutty Squirrel

When I first came aboard at Microsoft, the Director of Evangelism, Bob Familiar, handed me a book and said “read it”. Not really, but he gave me the book and told me about how we can utilize the books story to help developers build apps. The book was called The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.leanstartup

When I first was handed the book a few things rushed into my mind. The first being what does Microsoft know about “Lean Startup” and the second was why does this apply to building apps? Bob further explained about the principles in the book and it all made sense. After reading the book, not only can I talk about the major principles but I apply them to my projects.

The Lean Startup is an approach not only developers of apps can take advantage of, but anyone that has an idea or wants to be an entrepreneur. It is continuing on your idea by innovating, measuring, learning and adapting. The author, Eric Ries, goes into detail about experiences he had with his company along with examples of other companies.

The biggest takeaway I am using from the book is the Minimum Viable Product. This hits home with developers immediately. What is the minimum feature set and functionality that you can put into a product that will make it viable to the consumer?

When I host events for developers and students, especially game development events, they all come in thinking they will build the next Halo 4. That is just not the case. There is a thing called Time, Money and Resources that just make that impossible. However, the MVP approach can help a bit with that.

I do use Halo as an example. I tell the audience that there is no harm in having a goal of creating it, but start with the MVP and get that out to the consumer. Maybe it is one level and 2 enemies. Maybe there are no power ups or weapon selection but there are scores and leaderboards. Work on that. Get that in the hands of consumers and test the waters. Measure from the feedback. Did anyone download it? Reviews? Etc. Then learn and adapt accordingly.

Another thing that I am a big believer is if you are going to “talk the talk, you need to walk the walk”. So that is the approach I am taking with my development. What functions and features can I put into a product to make it viable for the consumer without sacrificing quality?Screenshot.242603.100000 In my first release of Nutty Squirrel, I just included 2 levels and high score. I wanted to get the game out there pretty quick to see if there was any interest in a silly squirrel who chases acorns as a game. Well in close to 2 weeks I hit 700 downloads. Might not sound like a lot but to me that was a success. So I worked on a few more levels for a total of 4. I now have a level selector and added a few more features as well. When I submitted it to the store on Tuesday I had over 1000 on version 1. As of today I am at 1093 and still growing.

I know Nutty Squirrel is not Halo or any of the companies mentioned in the book. However, if I waited until my final vision was complete (a total of 12 levels) it would not be in the store and gaining traction. Developers and students get that. They see what is attainable by creating a Minimum Viable Product.
Another example I give the developers and students are my experiences in the digital agency world. Before I joined Microsoft I was a technical director in digital agencies for close to 15 years. With agencies more often than not you are working on a fix bid cost for a project. There are 2 major problems with fixed bid projects. The first being the “fixed” part about it. It is difficult to go back and get extra dollars for the project after the client has committed a dollar amount. And the second is the bid. Most times you are “bidding” on something that is not defined nor even known about. Both of these items end up working against each other in the end. You most likely come out of the project over budget and under fulfilled.

Example: Client wants a new website that focuses on a new product launch. We can use recipes and a promotion to help drive awareness and activation. At first glance we provide a few key features and some high level designs and user experience along with a price. Then negotiations happen. Most of the time price comes down but due date and feature request stays the same. What ends up happening at the end of the project is we need to scale back on what we can deliver. Instead of 1000 recipes, we can deliver only 200. Stock images have to be used due to timing and money. Searching, SEO, Social functions and some other items needs to be scaled back as well. What ends up happening is the site is launched, few bugs but not at 100% of what we “could” have done. Reason is there was no Minimum Viable Approach. If we took the same project and used MVP maybe recipes just would be the focus. Images and Metadata along with rich snippets would be the focus. Get a great recipe section out and then work on promotions etc. for the next release.

Easy to say now, but if we all think in the way to determine what would be the minimum amount of functionality would be to create a viable and quality product that consumers would engage in then more products and projects could be a bit more successful. And on top of that, to adjust or to change direction would also be a bit easier because you are still at a minimum feature set.

If you have not heard or want to learn more about The Lean Startup, please pick up a book or go to one of the seminars. It opened my eyes from a product development standpoint and is hitting home with my audience.

Windows 8 App Developer Workshop Farmington CT

Screenshot (3)Attend a free hands-on workshop this weekend, October 12th 2013! This one is perfect for beginning developers and experienced coders alike. Get individual guidance on designing, building, marketing and publishing your app. Who knows? Your app could entertain, educate or even change the world!

The App Development Workshops provide you Windows 8 and Windows Phone starter kits based on well-known open data API’s such as Twitter, Meetup, Instagram, Edmunds and many more.

By attending a workshop you will:

1. Code Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 apps by leveraging our API starter kits
2. Publish your apps to the Windows and Windows Phone stores
3. Market your app online and through social media to drive downloads

Workshop Agenda

Hour 1 Presentation: Getting started with the Windows App Starter Kits

Hours 2 & 3 Code your app following our Hands-On Lab Workbooks and get expert, personal help with your project

Hour 4 Presentation: Marketing Apps 101

Refreshments will be served

MeetupSign up over at Meetup.

 

View the resources need for this event.

 

jQuery Accordion with 8 Lines of Code

Ok.  Maybe more than 8 lines of code but very little.  I have been working with another agency (that will rename nameless) on a mobile web site for a client of ours.  The agency provided the HTML/CSS/Images and Script for our technology team to implement.  We hook up all the back end and call it a day.

The section that came into question was an ‘accordion’ style UI for a set of FAQ’s and other content.  When I first loaded up their pages, everything worked fine.  Upon further inspection of their code I noticed a lot of JavaScript libraries that were not needed.  They included jQuery AND Prototype along with some effects and accordion scripts.  (Prototype alone is almost 100kb in file size and the other scripts were 42kb.  That still does not include the 70kb for jQuery)  I thought to myself, this is a mobile site…why have extra scripts if not needed.  To make matters even more funny, we are supporting Mobile Safari (iOS), Mobile Chrome (Android) and the BlackBerry Browser (RIM), it does not work in BlackBerry at all.  Forget enabling or disabling JavaScript it just does not work.  Even the elements are hidden.

So it got me thinking about the old saying, “if you want something done right you have to do it yourself”.  So I did.

I removed all the libraries except for jQuery and made all of the elements visible by default.  Basically if a user does not have JavaScript enabled then they can see everything.

Here is my HTML

Styles and other HTML can be wrapped around it. You can change the paragraph tags to div’s if needed but that is the structure you need more or less.

Now for the JavaScript.

Make sure you embed jQuery (I did from Google)

Then hide all open content containers:

If the element does not have the ‘current’ class then we need to first remove the ‘old’ ‘current’, close the ‘old’ ‘current’ and open and set the new ‘current’.

Done.

Here is the final:

Depending on how you format the code and what you count as a ‘line’ it can be about 8 lines 🙂

Updated GitHub Repository

Demo here – View in Mobile Browser.  Desktop browser will work as well.  Works on iOS, Android, BlackBerry.