Last night I finally submitted Hull CS Blogs for Windows Phone 7 to the Windows Phone Marketplace. The concept started out because I wanted to make a few applications for the Windows Phone Rewards program, which rewards you with a point for each application you successfully get on the Marketplace. These points can in turn be exchanged for prizes such ranging from XBox controllers to Helicopter Lessons and Surround sound systems to track days.
Original versions of the application just showed the blog RSS stream from Hull Comp Sci Blogs, and required the user to download the entire steam each time, which saved some data compared to going to the full desktop-orientated website but not much. Building on that core feature I incrementally added more and more features, making sure each one worked correctly before moving the next. In order I added:
- Contributor blog feeds
- Contributor twitter feeds
- Image backgrounds for the pages
- Caching of the contributor blog and twitter feeds, as well as the latest blogs feed
- Featured application hub tiles
- An about page
- An “Email support” task
- Enhancements to the twitter experience
- Progress bars for everything.
After point 7 I issued a beta of the software to some of my fellow computer scientists through the Windows Phone Marketplace Beta feature. Everything worked as expect and I got lots of good feedback from little things such as “You’ve mis-spelt download in the about page” to “Sometimes the main feed doesn’t update unless you press the back button and reenter the application”, which is obviously a more serious glitch.
Some people even offered suggestions for what they’d like to see added to the app, James Czerwik-Hampshire asked for the ability to click a twitter name and go to the persons twitter profile which is implemented in this version and James Croft asked for the ability to pin a contributor to the start screen, which I’ve started work on but jumped back to version 1.1.
Issuing a beta was definitely a good experience, and made the product a much better experience for its target audience. I had particularly good experiences because I know my target audience very well, they’re my fellow students, and so could tailor it to their exact needs and get them to test it for me.
Over the last few days, since my last post, I’ve been fixing bugs and adding in features that have been requested. Last night I submitted the app for certification and hopefully it should be on the store by Monday 18th June, if everything goes to plan and the reviewers don’t find any bugs.
I shall be writing about the many, many things I’ve learnt about Windows Presentation Foundation and C# throughout the course of making this application over the next few days. So keep your eyes peeled 🙂