0-60 with a Windows Phone 7 app

With the RedGate Windows Phone 7 competition taking place this prompted us in the office to think out loud about what we’d do with the cash if we won. The question for beginners is – how do I develop a Windows Phone 7 app?

WP7 competitionSpooner are I are total novices in phone development. We’ve got no Silverlight or XNA experience. But as every journey begins with a single step we thought we’d go through the process from scratch and document the whole thing – highs, lows, frustrations and hopefully a nice shiny looking app at the end of it. The real intention here is to cut through the BS about how simple it is to get up and running with an app if you don’t have any experience – we hope by documenting the steps we’re taking we can point out some things for people to be aware of when they’re first attempting it.

The challenge: Design, develop, and set live a Windows Phone 7 app on the Marketplace in under 6 weeks.

We had to set some rules here too: With some jedis on our doorstep it would be tempting to get some bribery action going on but we decided to stand firm: that’s a nisch-nisch. Spooner used to work at an agency so I had to keep my hawk-eye on him and stand alert for anything that looked like a briefing document. We will use all the same tools and resources open to the public, and document how helpful we found them as we go along.

Andy’s idea:

I love being able to pick up a simple game when I’ve got a few minutes (like commuting), and often find myself playing Sudoko or Helicopter for a quick burn to see how I can beat my highest score. While I don’t tend to pick up celeb gossip magazines on a frequent basis, I somehow find my mind is full of very obscure celebrity facts (ie – Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez are brothers, sons of Martin Sheen, who himself changed his name for the screen. Charlie followed suit but Emilio stuck with the original) so thought some kind of quick guess the celeb game would hit the mark.

Andy SL WP7 appSo the game would go like this: You’ve got an obscured image of a celeb, and a number of hints to help you guess who the person is. With each hint, the person’s image becomes a little clearer, but you lose potential points with each hint. There’ll be a scoring board so you can check how you’re doing.

I’ve decided to use Silverlight as it doesn’t require hardcore graphics handling that XNA would provide. I’m going to need a feed of celeb images and hints so will require some incoming feeds. I may investigate using the Bing API as this would let me connect the device to a wealth of information and content on a frequent basis.

Spooner’s idea:

Balloon AnimalsI have two children and as any parent with a smartphone knows, it can often be the secret to a stress-free visit to the shops, hair dresser, doctors, dentists or even just to guarantee 5 minutes to yourself when you really need it. Whilst kids are happy to just press buttons and see things move, I thought that i’d throw in an educational element and aim to teach young kids something about animals. My idea is appropriately titled ‘Balloon Animals’. 1) Balloon floats onto screen with an animal in the basket. When the screen is touched, the balloon pops and the animal falls to the ground. 2) When the animal hits the ground, it triggers a sound. Go back to the beginning.

It’s simple, but I know that my little boy would play this for long enough for me to get his haircut and that’s the distraction level I’m after. Whilst I do have a bit of experience with Silverlight, having spoken to the phone dev experts in my team, they’ve informed me that XNA is the way forward for this type of app, we’ll get into the reasons why in our first build post. For now, I’m off to download the Windows Phone 7 developer tools (and to find myself an artist who can draw a bit better than I can).

We’ll be posting a blog every week on how we’re doing, along with a nice little video of what we’ve found challenging and exhilarating at the same time. If you’ve got any suggestions or helpful hints feel free to let us know!

Published by AndyRobb

Andy’s so into web there’s a suspicion he’s actually Peter Parker MK II. Having spent a couple of years at the Microsoft mothership in Seattle you’ll most probably hear him rambling about business opportunity, experiences that ‘pop’ but most probably just something about music.

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