The WP7 Marketplace and the Enterprise

Being a windows phone developer I must say that the Mango platform update has me very excited (except a 30min and 15 second agent restriction leaves me underwhelmed – but that’s another story).

One aspect of Mango that Microsoft have announced is the inclusion of two new market distribution models those being Beta and private distribution.

The private distribution model has been signalled as a let down for enterprises. This post details the perceived shortcomings: http://blog.wpfwonderland.com/2011/04/15/mango-adds-beta-and-private-marketplaces-to-windows-phone-7-and-neglects-enterprise/

As this post mentions the idea that you can’t restrict the use of the application to a set of users rules out the private model for enterprise distribution.

In my opinion the enterprise has been supported from day one all that you have to do is consider the mechanisms that you are going to use to stop anybody from making use of your enterprise application.

If you consider the fact that your code can gain access to the devices unique identifier then you will be able to identify the device that your code is running on.

Consider this scenario that uses a workflow similar to how SSL certificates are issued to servers:

  • A phone user downloads the application.
  • The user starts the application. The application asks the user for the Key that the company has provided via email (Thankfully we now have cut/paste to copy the key to the clipboard).
  • At this point the user does not have access to the key as this is the applications 1st run, so the user is presented with another button that will generate the key request (this should always be present until the application has received a valid key)..
  • The key is generated by code it will incorporate the devices unique identifier.  This code is hashed and can be decoded by the companies systems.
  • Once the key has been generated the app launches a new email with the key included in the text. The email is addresses to the right email address.
  • The company receives the email from the phone user and verifies the email address that the request has come from.
  • A key that will unlock the application is generated and sent to the originating email address.
  • Once the user has the key they can enter it into the application and away they go.

I know this isn’t perfect and you can probably pick a million holes in it (feel free to do so by posting a comment) but it does illustrate that rather than wait for the distribution channels to be created you can always work around them.

UPDATE:

Someone did point out that marketplace certification may be a sticker here . You would have to let the Microsoft testers know about the process via adding notes into the application submission.

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Posted in Phone, WP7

From demo to featured application

FeaturedPart of the agenda for each WPUG meeting is to give time for people to demonstrate their application to the rest of the attendees. These applications can be a finished product or something that has just been started by the developer.

This I see as a valuable opportunity for the developers as they get a change to see what people think face to face rather than waiting for feedback or even the emails to their support address.

There is also one other even more important opportunity that is that could be created by the application demonstration.

An example of this is the continuing story behind the TaxiRoute application. On March 17th 2011 (St Patricks Day) the application was promoted to be the featured application within the Marketplace.

The rest of the story behind the development of TaxiRoute is one of a dogged determination of the managing director Trevor Daniel to create a database that holds the local authority hackney carriage tariff data for the whole of GB (Northern Ireland not included).

Once this information was completed Trevor built a web site www.taxiroute.co.uk and offered it out to the public. The web site now records around £1M in value of enquiries each month.

Not only does the web site approximate  the charges of the taxy ride you want to take (the web site can not take into account waiting time for metred charges and therefore only provides a best case estimate) it will also provide a list of local firms, along with their telephone numbers.

As you can image when you are out and about you a web site isn’t the best way in which to get the information an obvious progression would be a phone application. Hence TaxiRoute GB was created.

Trevor decided to put his application forward to be demonstrated at the 1st Cardiff WPUG meeting on March 2nd where we were fortunate enough to get a date that had Paul Foster and Mike Ormond attend.

Paul was impressed by the story that led to the development of the application and also impressed by the concept, so he pushed the application at the guys in the UK windows phone marketing.

The upshot of this being that the application has been considered an App Hero and has featured in a couple of ways and also be pushed within the social space.

Although the WPUG meetings (in London and Cardiff) won’t always be attended by members of the Microsoft DPE team it’s the connections that we have with these guys that make attending worth while even if you haven’t yet got that killer app to demonstrate.

The insight and understanding that you will gain along with the possible opportunity’s like the one that TaxiRoute has been given are just not worth missing.

Here is the application Listing in Zune:

image

Along with the application listing the marketing guys at Microsoft also spread the word socially via Windows Phone UK:

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2011-03-17 12h57_09

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Posted in Cardiff WPUG, Phone, WP7

Cardiff – WPUG March 2011

Getting things started at the first Cardiff WPUG The first Cardiff Windows Phone User Group

Ok so meeting Number 1 down and definite call for more! From the feedback that I have received people did find it very useful and they are also expecting more.

Some pointers to follow on from my talk:

The developer tools are available here: http://create.msdn.com

Once you have the tools installed ensure that you also install NuGet: www.nuget.org

To add a package you will find the ‘Library Package Manager’ menu item under tools from here select ‘Add library package reference…’.

When creating a new project then I suggest that you use the following packages (enter the titles below in the search box):

Anything i mentioned in my talk that I missed?

People:

We were lucky enough to get Mike Ormond and Paul Foster from the Microsoft DPE team. Both Paul and Mike are the UK evangelists for the Windows Phone platform. Also attending was Matt Lacey the founder of the WPUG event in London.

    One thing to note is that the meetings won’t always be attended by members of the Microsoft DPE team but they are very happy to support our efforts and will be attending on occasion.

Paul Foster: http://wotudo.net/ and @paulfo

Mike Ormond: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/mikeormond/ and @MikeOrmond

Matt Lacey: http://mrlacey.co.uk/ and @mrlacey

The main WPUG web site is: http://www.wpug.net/ with @wpug being the twitter account to follow.

I have also created the Cardiff WPUG account to post announcements and details of the Cardiff based events: @cdf_wpug This account will follow our members so should be worth following.

What Next:

Last thing that I want to do is lose that momentum, but I do have to decide how often the meetings can and will happen. For for this I will need to get an idea of what subject matter people would like talks on and also I would like to find volunteers to present talks.

From our registration forms there were eight people who expressed a willingness to contribute so now it the time to put your money where your mouth is.

After the meeting on the 2nd I could see some areas that can already be covered:

  • Deeper Dive into the MVVM Pattern.
  • Using the Preemptive Dotfuscator and adding analytics to applications.
  • Microsoft advertising framework.
  • Mapping and Location Service.
    Are there areas you would like covered? If you do then post a comment here. Comments are moderated so it may take a little while for your comment to appear.
    Once I have a a good idea of what we can offer our members in terms of talks and support then I can decide how often the meetings can happen.
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Posted in Cardiff WPUG, WP7

WP7 Text Boxes – OnEnter (my 1st Behaviour).

2011-01-12 13h45_15One problem I have encountered on various WP7 apps (including my own applications) is moving between text boxes on a page. The problem can present itself when the SIP is being displayed in front of the next control that requires input.

In some cases the user is forced to press an area on the page that does not include a text control to take the focus away from the text box. Once the SIP is hidden then the user can click the control they want to enter text into.

This is mainly because the controls do not support the concept of tab order because the SIP does not include a tab control to move between controls.

One solution to this is to look for the enter key to be released and move the focus on to the next control:

private void txtUsername_KeyUp(object sender, System.Windows.Input.KeyEventArgs e)
{
    if (e.Key == System.Windows.Input.Key.Enter)
        txtPassword.Focus();
}

This could prove to be a pain for developers and forces additional code within the page code file that can be said to be quite untidy.

It is because of this that I have created my own solution using a behaviour that can be attached to a control. One advantage of this is that it will be possible to set the values using Blend therefore reducing the reliance on the developer.

The OnEnter Behaviour:

The XAML below gives an example on how the behaviour can be attached to a text box

<TextBox x:Name="txtUsername">
    <i:Interaction.Behaviors>
        <mh:OnEnter NextControlName="txtPassword" />
    </i:Interaction.Behaviors>
</TextBox>

The additional namespaces that I have added to the page are:

xmlns:i="clr-namespace:

System.Windows.Interactivity;assembly=System.Windows.Interactivity"
xmlns:mh="clr-namespace:

MikeHole.WindowsPhone.Behaviors;assembly=MikeHole.WindowsPhone.Behaviors"

You can download the project from here. (if you have any problems downloading this then please send me an email at: mike [at] mikehole [dot] com and I will send it on).

If you can think of any ways that the behaviour can be improved or know of any better solutions then feel free to leave a comment.

Cheers,

Mike

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Posted in Phone, Silverlight, WP7

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 6,300 times in 2010. That’s about 15 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 14 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 35 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 3mb. That’s about 3 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was October 21st with 211 views. The most popular post that day was WP7 Don’t give false impressions..

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were reddit.com, twitter.com, mix.dj, facebook.com, and google.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for visual studio 2010 logo, mike hole, mics.com, visual studio logo, and dynamics crm silverlight.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

WP7 Don’t give false impressions. October 2010
3 comments

2

Dynamics CRM 4 with Silverlight Part 1 – The IFRAME approach. April 2010
3 comments

3

I made this … October 2010
2 comments

4

Windows Phone 7 – Starting out July 2010
8 comments and 1 Like on WordPress.com,

5

WP7 What to do before the tools are released. August 2010

Posted in Uncategorized

Where is my 3rd screen?

image_thumbWith MS using the new catch phrase ‘To the cloud’ and saying things like ‘three screens and the cloud’. You would think that they would consider their cross device support even if those devices are all Microsoft based ones.

We all can see that they have the cloud sussed with their Azure platform and services based offerings and this excites me greatly and makes me wish that I can start thinking about those three screens.

So the third screen is my TV right? How do I get to use my TV as the third screen well that would be with my Xbox surely. But do I really have to use XNA to realise this dream especially since I have all my design assets within XAML right now.

There have been all sorts of rumours regarding SL on the Xbox without any sort of foundation or demonstration from MS.

For yesterdays Future of Silverlight Keynote I was hoping that we would see some more regarding the platforms that Microsoft are targeting specifically hoping that one of those would be the xBox.

What I actually saw was how Silverlight Is concentrating on adding abilities that are mainly PC based along the lines of pInvoke and even remote control devices (surely this has been added because of a specific supplier request not because the public have asked).

It is about time they made things clear so that they can either quash or realise my hopes.

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Posted in Cloud, Silverlight, xBox

I made this too …

Well ok so I did the easy bit! Anyway say hello to Ed Hole Smile

It all started at 1am on Tuesday 26th and after a long labour that started with my partner Helen wanting a water birth in Llandough Hospital resulting in a c-section in  

University Hospital of Wales (The Heath) at 10.30pm.

Talk about making an entrance! Ed is fantastic weighing in at 7.8 has all his fingers and toes and as you can see some mousy hair.

[tweetmeme only_single=”false”]
Posted in Uncategorized

I made this …

Pathfinder has finally hit the app marketplace for the UK.  We will be posting a video of some of the features very soon.2010-10-24 17h05_10

I am quite proud to say that this app went from being a simple ‘featured’ application to being a partner showcase application and was included on review devices that were handed out to journalist for review.

What’s next

Well that would be telling but there were a couple of features that didn’t make this version that we are aiming to get into the app in the next release (which will happen soon). These will all be aimed around make the app a lot more social.

Our plan is to create a community around this application where people who contribute a lot can find themselves being featured as a Pathfinder so therefore social is key.

Thanks (the main reason I wrote this).

I am afraid that the next bit is going to sound like a bit of an Oscar award speech but there are certain people that I would like to thank for providing help during the development process.

1st off is Howard Scott for bringing the client on board and providing the idea. Then there is the client Snow+Rock for trusting us.

After the initial idea comes the designer James Bearne who created that stunning look. All of which was done in Illustrator I had to carve the XAML myself. I hope I did your designs justice.

Although I was the only developer involved in putting this app together i did have some help from twitter, it’s a great medium for finding answers a special mention to @rschu, @gcaughey and @mrlacey for provide a few pointers.

There is one person who in the scheme of things in regards to the whole windows phone 7 launch that I have a great deal of gratitude to offer, that’s Paul Foster.

I don’t know where the guy gets his energy from or how he kept himself going but Paul has been through the mill from having to put together those 50 demo devices over night to having to put up with our demands during the day then ‘corps’ demands during the night.

So thanks everyone (and to anybody I have missed). I sure can’t wait until the next project comes along.

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Posted in Phone, WP7

Launch day shopping…

IMAG0324Just had a mooch around Cardiff to see what’s out there in WP7 land and here is what I found:

Orange

Posters in the windows and the shops have had stock yay! One shop was given one -  which they had sold – the other shop has 12 (they had a couple still left so I managed to have a play with the Mozart which remains my phone of choice).

O2

They knew about the pones, no promotional material in the shop but they did check to see if they had any in … which they didn’t.

T-Mobile

The guy in the store knew about the phones, didn’t expect any in soon (they are still waiting fro the HTC desire) and he said that if you like win mob then stick with it. But he wasn’t sure about it’s viability in regards to apps.

So I gave him a quick demo of my developer mule Winking smile. I think I completely changed his mind on that one. Made his day to see one I think (he liked our app too).

In conclusion I would say that like AT&T in the states Microsoft have a great ally in Orange and thanks to them for jumping right on the launch bandwagon. seeing this this morning really made me smile.

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Posted in Phone, WP7

WP7 Don’t give false impressions.

Looking at our app submission I spotted that our app states that it requires access to the phones identity:

2010-10-21 08h57_58

Looking at the WMAppManifest.xml shows that the app doesn’t state that it will do this:

2010-10-21 09h22_52

So it must be my code.

As you can image this may make the end user quite jumpy. As it happens our app doesn’t really need to use the phone’s identity it’s code that I used to check if the app was running on the emulator or not.

The code looks like this:

2010-10-21 09h04_03

So I have now changed this with a handy preprocessor directive that will leave the code out for submission (as long as I remember to compile as release):

2010-10-21 09h16_03

Hopefully when I submit again I won’t give false impressions.

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Posted in C#, Phone, WP7