In this article we are going to see the new release of Microsoft App Studio for creating apps for Windows Phone and Windows 8 without any coding experience and for immediate move to market in simple 4 easy steps with complete customization. In mid February this year the newer version of the app studio was released in beta to early adapter customers, with the beta version in much usage now we have the final version of the app studio available to the public. To access the App studio login to http://appstudio.windows.com/ with a valid Live ID ( Outlook or Hotmail email ID) or any Microsoft ID if you are a Microsoft employee. If you are a new user you can sign up a new email address and start accessing.
With a successful login, we can see the list of templates to choose from which can be used for both Windows Phone and Windows store app development. Basically at the background these templates are the set of predefined project which has the necessary set of files required to run the project (basically to build and deploy) and to create the package that can be published to the windows store directly. These templates are for different category so based on the theme you can select the category and customize it accordingly.
If you notice there are options for the native XAML/C# projects which is the top level templates that are available, and also at the bottom we can see a template to create a web app as well. We will first see the steps on creating the native application. These templates are empty ones which will basically assign in creating a project and based on the customization in the 4 steps the project required content, resources and files are added automatically. Ok now lets select a template, my favourite template is always My City which I used to create an app for my City (Chennai, India). Selecting the template will navigate to a screen which will be a about screen which has the Windows Phone and Windows 8 view of the application template as shown below.
At this stage, you can opt to go forward or move back and select another template based on your need. Now we will proceed further, by clicking on the Create button at the bottom and we can now see the 4 necessary steps that are required to build the application for Windows phone and Windows Store. The 4 steps are Content, Theme, Tile and Publish, First step towards the start is the Content where we can design the template with the content that is required to be filled in different pages of the application. Basically this is like a container or a storage where you can fill the details which is static or dynamic and that can be loaded to the application as and then in the different section of the screen.
The data sources can be of one of the available list of options which are allowed as of now with the App Studio and the list includes the below.
- RSS: Use to get the RSS feed of a website or a source service
- HTML: Static information in the form of HTML page
- YouTube: To list a number of videos directly from youtube with specific word or from a channel
- Flickr: To get the list of images from the flickr or based on a search term.
- Bing: To fetch the news information from Bing services
- Facebook: List the feed from the facebook page or group
- Instagram: List of information from Instagram
- Menu: For navigation with in the pages and to get a list of inbuild services
You can edit each of the section and input the data that is required to be shown in the application. To edit the content, click on edit option at the section level or if you want to add a section you can do so by clicking on add section as shown below.
Once you done with the configuration of the content information, click on Theme which will navigate to the next step and dont forget to save the information for each of the section. Failing to do so, you will end up with loosing the content that is added in each of the section. In the themes option, you can see a list of available themes which you can select the Background, Foreground and Application bar colors based on your requirement as shown below.
At the left side you can see the Windows Phone Virtual view screen which loads the customization and the content as and when we change it in the steps. If the content is not updated by any chance you can click on the WIndows Preview button which will load the content and customization accordingly to have a preview before you navigate to the next step. Once the theme is selected click on Save and the next step will be configuring the tiles. Click on tiles step and where you can see the list of available tile options like Flip Tiles, Cycle tiles and Iconic Tiles. Flip tiles are basically if you have a content that should be showcased as a live tile in a informative way and flips on either side of the tile you can use this. Cycle tile is if you have a list of images more than 9 in your app and if you want to flip through those images to showcase in the live tile then you can opt for that. Final one is the Iconic Tile which is basically a small icon that is shown in the center of the tile as shown in the screen below.
Again dont forget to save the information here, in this step we have another section is the Splash and Lock Screen section where you can configure the Splash screen and the device lock screen with your app information as required as shown in the screen below.
Final Step is the publish information which shows the complete information of the application and its content and also if there is any issue in the sections which you customized. With this you can rectify the issues and provide a proper information and get the application build for the final version.
Once you confirm all the configuration click on Save and click once again on Finish button which will show how your app looks like in Windows Phone and Windows 8 as shown in the screen below.
Next step is click on Generate button at the top right and it will prompt and ask the selection of if you want to build the application for both the platforms or for single platform. Keep in mind you cant generate code for Windows 8 app, its like you can get both Windows Phone and Windows 8 app or only Windows Phone app separately as shown in the screen below.
Clicking on Generate will take a couple of minutes based on the resources and contents loaded and you can see the Source code and packages generated for both the environment as shown in the screen below.
With this you can download the source code if you are experienced developer or you can download the package and upload to the respective store. Hope this will help you in fast developing your application and pushing to market place in no time.