26 Aug 2011

Windows Phone 7 Submission: Where are my stats!?!

imageAs I have been submitting a number of Windows Phone 7 apps and in the market place is a nice dashboard which shows downloads, crashes etc…

The problem is that I have been very frustrated that my stats for my applications aren’t there!

In the screenshot my cricket run rate tool is missing!

So I contacted the marketplace support, who are BRILLIANT, to see if they could help and they told me it is BY DESIGN Sad smile Here is what they sent me:

The details you are trying to view in App Hub reflect a delay, by design. Newly published apps will not appear on the download report for 10 days, and of that data there will be a 6 day lag.

I don’t understand the reason for this but at least there is a cause and I just need to be patient and eventually my states will appear Smile

Thankfully I can augment these stats with Rudi Grobler’s excellent Keep An Eye app which lets me from my Windows Phone see the status of my apps!

25 Aug 2011

Windows Phone 7: Professional Tips - Drop the splash screen

The guidelines for WP7 state your application must start within 3 seconds – so many applications include a splash screen to show the user while the rest of the application loads. The splash screen is included by default so you may think you MUST to include it (I did think this too), but the truth is you don’t need to.

If you can (i.e. your application loads under 3 seconds) then you should drop it as it will allow your application to start quicker (about 2 seconds faster in fact), this means your users can get into your application quicker and that will make them happier!

25 Aug 2011

Important Windows Phone News

Coming Soon, an awesome WP7 event!

Update: Details of the event are up at now & Registration is open - GO!

Microsoft is planning in the next few weeks a series of WP7 training events kicking off with a one day event! This event will have a presentation track where you will see a number of topics (see proposed list below) and a lab track where you can build your apps with expert guidance! This is the perfect chance to take that idea to reality and it is possible (I challenged myself to build two apps in 6 hours a few weeks back, and succeeded!).

Keep an eye on my blog or Microsoft South Africa DPE team blog!


  •  Introduction to Windows Phone
  •  Building a Silverlight Application
  •  Silverlight Controls for the Phone
  •  Advanced Silverlight topics
  •  Windows Phone Hardware
  •  Services
  •  Performance
  •  Getting your app onto the Marketplace
  •  Building Windows Phone XNA Applications
  •  Advanced XNA Topics

Following that event will be a series evening classes where there will be a presentation, a real WP7 dev talking about their app and a Q&A session! So lots of good things coming!

Welcome to Mzanzi!

(for non-South Africans Mzanzi is a townshup slang word for ‘South’ or ‘South Africa’)

With the upcoming Mango release, South Africa will be supported with the Marketplace (finally!). Microsoft have summarised this very nicely below. Before you get to that, take a look at a recent post from Rudi Grobler, where he talks about South African relevant apps that exist today!

Johannesburg, South Africa – 24 August 2011 – Microsoft has announced a series of brand-new enhancements to its App Hub developer portal as part of the highly anticipated ‘Mango’ release. Windows Phone 7 developers can now publish their apps to consumers in 19 new countries, including South Africa. In addition to the 16 countries where Marketplace is already supported, developers can now broaden their opportunity for global distribution and competitive app prices.

Clifford de Wit, developer platform lead at Microsoft South Africa, is calling on all Windows Phone developers to submit Mango apps in August, ahead of the Mango release to market. The new App Hub developer portal allows developers to manage their account, change settings, submit applications and stay up-to-date on Windows Phone.

“The updated App Hub features enhancements such as greater geographic markets for developers, consumers and advertising coverage; new private distribution options; and enhanced application and account management capabilities. We’re making great strides in expanding overall demand for Windows Phone applications.”

Microsoft is offering developers two new private distribution options: beta and targeted distribution. Apps distributed through these private distribution methods can only be downloaded by users using a deep-link and the apps cannot be discovered via browsing or searching in Windows Phone Marketplace. Beta distribution enables developers to distribute pre-certified apps to a group of up to 100 access-controlled beta testers for up to 90 days. The targeted distribution enables developers to distribute applications through Marketplace in a hidden state, where they are not discoverable via browsing or searching Marketplace.

De Wit says he has no doubt that local developers are in a position to create compelling mobile content for the Windows Phone platform. “We want to attract a new wave of Windows Phone developers ahead of the ‘Mango’ release.”

Other enhancements to the Mango App Hub include better application management, an enhanced developer dashboard, more detailed reporting, a new “Crash Count” report, a streamlined application submission process and new application categories – education, kids & family, and government and politics.

For more information, visit the official Windows Phone Blog and the App Hub.

24 Aug 2011

Windows Phone 7: Professional Tips - Storing your settings

In Windows Phone 7 there are two ways to store values State & IsolatedStorageSettings which have their various pro’s and con’s. I prefer to use the IsolatedStorageSettings for most scenarios but this tip will apply to both, so when you see the code referring to one it will work on both.

Very simply the first setting you should store is one called version (or similar) and should have a version indicator. In short it tells you what version of the settings you are working with!

IsolatedStorageSettings.ApplicationSettings["version"] = "1";

Having this field has two advantages for you, first it gives you a very simple way to check if you have settings available & if it is not, then your app is running for the first time.:

if (IsolatedStorageSettings.ApplicationSettings.Contains("version"))
    // do something with settings

The other advantage is that when you update your application you can upgrade settings easily. 

if (IsolatedStorageSettings.ApplicationSettings.Contains("version"))
    switch ((int)IsolatedStorageSettings.ApplicationSettings["version"])
        case 1:
            // upgrade version setting and add missing settings or change existing settings
        case 2:
            // normal reading of settings
Even if you never use it for upgrades, at least it is there for a simple check and if one day you need it - you are ready to go!
23 Aug 2011

Cricket Run Rate Tools for Windows Phone 7

icon-200In my ever growing list of Windows Phone 7 apps I introduce you to the latest one, a cricket run rate toolset!

This is another calculator type that allows you to work out cricket run rates, projected scores at the current run rate and also projected scores if the run rate changes to 4, 5 or 6 runs per over!

The second screen is the compete screen which allows you to put in the score of the first batting side and then see if the chasing team is at, above or below the run rate needed to catch them and what run rate is needed!

It’s a very nice and simple tool to have in your toolbox for cricket fans!



22 Aug 2011

Game development in South Africa and dealing with the Film and Publications Board

imageIf you walk into any store to buy a game or movie you will find a little blue triangle sticker which contains the age restriction from the Film and Publications Board who review and rate content.

Since I created a game recently I decided to see what the process is for classification of a game is and learnt some very interesting things for developers.

Put simply only games/films that are sold or hired require to be classified – so if you are developing a game/films that will be available for FREE then you do not require classification! Below is the email from the head of the classification unit confirming that!


GREAT NEWS for hobbyist developers!

If you do plan to sell your game then you need to complete the forms on the website (game submission form), provide a disc with screenshots and videos of your game, a game synopsis and pay the registration fee (currently R1 508.64) and then wait for the classification.

Microsoft have confirmed & I have tested that the forced requirement for the FPB certification in the marketplace no longer exists. You can submit a certification but you are not forced to. Only downside at the moment is Window Phone 7 – when you submit a game for the South African market regardless of price they require the certification which is incorrect. I have submitted a request to Microsoft for details on this and will update you as soon as I have any information.

22 Aug 2011

Community night in September 2011 - IMPORTANT INFO

Community Night, the best way to meet, mingle and learn (if you don’t know about it – read here) happens on the second Tuesday of the month… except in September due to an event at the venue on the Tuesday which can’t be moved.

So for September it will take place the Monday before, in other words Monday the 12th September. Please help get the word out to the various user groups and communities!

See you there!

11 Aug 2011

South African ID Number Tools for Windows Phone 7

16 November 2011: This application has had a major update, see the details in this post

app tileFollowing the same idea as my AA Rate WP7 app, another very popular spreadsheet I built is one that verifies South African ID Numbers so I also decided to build a Windows Phone 7 app to do that.

This does a little more than the spreadsheet could, so it has lots of info about what in an ID number does not verify which is very useful.

In addition it includes a awesome new feature a South African ID Number GENERATOR! With this you put in a few required details, hit a button and BOOM! An ID number that will validate.

Important to remember that validation of a number doesn’t mean it actually exists, just the math works. So please don’t use this for anything except interest or development!


(btw screenshots are from 1.1, which is soon to be out – so if you download and it looks different then give it a day or two)