An Introduction to the Windows Phone 7 Development Platform

Need a brief introduction to the WP7 development platform?

Check out my article published today on DZone.

I like to call it a re-introduction because developers on .NET, Silverlight and Web services already have a significant leg up on this platform.

20100921 article

Enjoy Smile

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Get extra WP7 controls with the Silverlight Toolkit for Windows Phone 7

Today saw the RTW/RTM of the Windows Phone 7 developer tools – you can check out the highlights.

In addition, Microsoft Silverlight toolkit team has also added a Silverlight Toolkit for Windows Phone 7 on codeplex.

Check out the details at Tim Heuer’s blog.

You’ll get these controls along with their code and samples on how to use them…

ToggleSwitch

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Content Menu (which zooms the the rest of the screen back a little and support ICommand !!)

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Date/Time Picker

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Wrap Panel

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Gesture Helper (that you simply embed inside other XAML elements and write event handlers for)

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Highlights of What’s new in the Windows Phone 7 Developer Tools RTM/RTW

It’s a big day for Microsoft and I’ve had a great ride to this point.

The RTM of the Windows Phone 7 Developer Tools have now been released.

See the update MSDN documentation.

Get the toolsBe sure to correctly uninstall previously installed versions of the tools (see the release notes) before installing.

Read the release notes.

Let’s take a look at the highlights of what’s new in RTM of the WP7 Developer Tools, largely from a Silverlight application development point of view.

Panorama Control

There have been a few 3rd party open source goes at a Panorama Control (and no-one can blame them for getting a little impatient – it’s like the Office ribbon), but now there’s an official one (which was explain recently in a blog entry by Jeff Wilcox).  You can include one by starting with the new dedicate Visual Studio template (under File->New Project), use the one in the toolbox, or add it via XAML.  See the documentation.  Use it to get UI like this:

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Pivot Control

The new official Pivot control is just as easy to use.  See the documentation to produce things like this:

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Bing Maps Silverlight Control for Windows Phone

While the previously available control worked on the phone, it was not optimized for the phone.  This new version rocks!  Check out the docs.  You’ll also want to get yourself a developer key.

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Other changes:

The tools and emulator have performance improvements.  Check out Microsoft’s paper on creating high performing Silverlight apps.

The documentation has been updated.

Be sure to read the release notes.

What’s missing to round out the platform? 

I’ll do another post on this topic soon.

My ride with Windows Phone 7

Today is the official day for the RTM of the Windows Phone 7 Developer Tools.

It’s a big day for Microsoft.

It’s been a big few weeks for me too recently.  I’ve just finished training dozens of developers in the first WP7 professional training event across North America.  I’ve recorded a few Dot Net Rocks TV episodes, presented and attended WP7 events with Microsoft (and more to come), and have been asked to author various articles. 

I’ve had the luxury (and support from Microsoft Canada) of having a developer device in my hands for a week or two and continue to have access to devices on occasion.  I’ve seen the device app-deployment unlock process and seen the RTM tools for a little while pre-release.  I did see quality, performance and personal preference differences between devices from a couple of phone manufacturers, but I can’t detail those as they were all prototype devices.  I’m looking forward to seeing the retail devices, and I think most of you will be quite satisfied.

I’m now quite familiar with the phone UI and interactions – it really doesn’t take long to get used to it.

I’m enjoying the ride.  I’ve been fortunate.

By the way, I’ve also had a go on a Kinect device and then pre-ordered mine right away – it’s worth it for the exercise alone!

I’d like to thank a few people at Microsoft Canada:

  • Joey deVilla – Microsoft blogger extraordinaire, go-to man for help getting your WP7 apps to marketplace, promoter of my boot camps and generous ring master of devices
  • Christian Beauclair – his mastery of the Microsoft way made it possible for he and I to have device access and enjoy a couple of trips to Montreal sharing the experience with developers there
  • Rick Claus – his generosity ensured I could keep my word with boot camp trainees
  • John Bristowe – pointing some great opportunities my way
  • John Oxley – for having my back and approving all the best parts

I’d also like to thank Carl Franklin at dnrTV and Nitin Bharti at DZone.

I’ll be giving back over the next few months by continuing to share what I’ve learnt at public events and on this blog.

A Big Day for Windows Phone 7

It’s a big day today for Microsoft with the RTM of the Windows Phone 7 developer tools – potentially the last kick at the can for raising a successful mobile platform, at least amongst the current market competitors.

Update: The tools are not available – get the highlights.  A CodePlex-hosted toolkit of additional controls is also available.

There has been a lot of buzz and packed-out WP7 events, but success will likely – rightly or wrongly -  be measured publically in terms of how many phones are sold, how many applications are published and how many applications are bought; and all against what iPhone has achieved.

Microsoft has a lot of money to spend on this launch, though my sense is that the spend will occur closer to device launch (late Oct/early Nov) and during H1 2011.  The compressed catch-up timescale has created the sense of a developer-device shortage. 

Microsoft’s OS development track has been very short, and there would not normally be an abundance of devices at this stage.  The problem is that the absolute timing is very close to the festive season and Microsoft has been rallying developers since February this year, creating an expectation of device access.  Also, one cannot discount the ‘have-to-hold-one’ feeling that people have, though my experience having one in hand to show people is that they are not that quick to have a go. 

The WP7 emulator (available for some time!) is an amazing thing (more adept than Virtual PC in some ways) and is likely sufficient for 90% of Silverlight applications and some XNA games (single-touch).  The emulator’s usefulness wanes when developing applications with multi-touch input unless the developer has a multi-touch display.  Also, anything with high performance animation or intense XNA games requires a real device to get a true sense of real-world performance. 

I’ll sum up device timing issues by saying, that if you are willing to invest in a application development track at the same speed that Microsoft is going (which is a new standard for Microsoft), then they’ll likely work with you to get you what you need to publish on time.

If you haven’t been involved with the WP7 euphoria yet, then you may easily fall into it.  The way I see it, most people out there are well on their way to being 100% WP7 developers and I now tend to break it down like this:

  • 25% if you are a .NET developer already
  • 25% if you are a Silverlight/WPF developer
  • 25% if you develop web services
  • 25% left over that is unique to the phone

There’s quite a lot in that last 25% and you’ll need to get up to speed on two major pieces to really work well on the platform:

  • Application Life Cycle – your application will fail miserably in the user’s eyes if you don’t support the necessary events
  • Push Notification Services – to keep data updated and get events from elsewhere you need to understand the mechanisms

Of course, having already training dozen of developers in the first professional WP7 boot camp across North America, I’m available for children’s birthday parties private training (which are the same thing once you’ve seen super hero training at a birthday party Smile) – see the about page – if your company needs to get up to speed quickly.

The developer tools are FREE – go and get them when they are released later today at http://developer.windowsphone.com.