Making an App for WP7


I’ve been developing an app for Windows Phone 7. It’s an app for scoring cricket matches. I had the idea since last Summer when we played cricket and often had to make up random scores mid-game due to our forgetfulness. It took about a week to develop the app, and I’m quite happy with the result.

My app is named CricketScore (rather uninspired, I know). Basically you can save teams and score matches between any two teams. In the future I’ll have the app save the matches so that scorecards can be generated and viewed on demand, perhaps shared online as well.

There seems to be only one app in competition to mine, at least in the UK marketplace, most likely because WP7 is a junior platform compared to iOS and Android. The competition is a paid app and is a lot more advanced (online sharing, scorecards, etc). My app is free and ad-supported. In addition, the competition seems directly derived from an iOS/Android version, which means the interface is just buttons and text. My app uses Panoramas and Pivots, the fancy, fluid graphics that are uniquely WP7.

So far, my app is still in certification and has yet to be made available to the public. Microsoft has a proper, in-depth certification process to ensure that the apps submitted won’t crash on load, act unusually or reincarnate GLaDOS. My first submission was rejected in 3 days due to some errors in how the app processes Back button presses. Microsoft’s certification team provides detailed descriptions of how to find the errors, so it’s quite easy to debug them since you know where to look. The descriptions showed that the person certifying the app actually knew something about cricket and hence knew how to use the app correctly. With the problems fixed, I resubmitted the app, but it’s still stuck in the red tape.

This morning I noted that 9 app crashes were logged on AppHub (the website where app submissions are made and app statuses can be viewed). Apparently they’re errors related to entering the wrong format of input (i.e. a text input for the number of users) and trying to read more items than which exists in a list. Unfortunately, since the app itself hasn’t been rejected, no details have been provided apart from the type of exception, so I have no clue what the actual problems are. I’m hoping that the testers did something ridiculous in the context of cricket, and so the end users wouldn’t actually come across those problems, and the app would still pass certifications. As far as I know, I’ve filled in all the gaps (made it impossible to put more than 11 players in a team, provided error messages for even the impossible errors).

I’m quite pleased to find that most of my initial fears have been alleviated. I expected to find it a bit difficult to program for these new fancy words like ‘Silverlight’ and ‘WPF’. But I caught up to XAML quite quickly. I’m also happy to find that iOS and Android development works quite similarly (using forms of XML for UI design), although the languages are difference. Still, I’ve done Java before, and how hard can Objective C be?

Hopefully there will be some certification result by tomorrow morning. And then I can put in some improvements, and maybe move to Android development. I doubt I’ll do iOS though, since I’ll have to reinstall OS X for that. Can’t be that bothered…

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