Notes about Windows Phone development

Getting started in Windows Phone development isn’t too difficult, although there are several seemingly unrelated steps so it can be a bit confusing. Before I talk about that, however, I want to say a few words about the phone I just got.

For an upcoming book, I recently had to upgrade my Windows Phone to a newer model. (I needed Windows Phone 8.1 instead of Windows Phone 7.) The price of phones has dropped a lot since I got my last phone, so this one only cost $80. Unfortunately not long ago I had to replace the battery in my older phone and that cost $40. If I had thought about it, I should have gotten the new phone then and basically gotten the new phone for only $40 (sort of).

My old phone’s camera was also pretty bad, so the new phone is a big improvement, not even counting improvements to the operating system, the hardware, and the battery (which lasts a lot longer).

The moral is, if you’re existing phone is giving you marginal performance, either because of the phone itself or the battery, you might want to look into the new phones to see if you can get a big improvement relatively cheaply.

Programming on the phone is pretty easy. You need Windows 8.1 pro or higher if you want to use the emulator. Otherwise you need to download to the phone to test your programs.

You can also test them in Windows Store style apps first. Those program’s aren’t exactly the same as Phone apps, but at least you can test the XAML and your code behind.

To get started, you need:

(Actually you can probably develop without the Dev Center account, but you can’t publish anything.)

Next you need to unlock your phone for development. To do that:

  • Plug the phone into the computer
  • Turn the phone on and unlock it (if it has a login password)
  • Use your computer’s app search tool to find and run “Windows Phone Developer Registration”
  • Click Register, sign in, and otherwise use the tool to finish the process

Now to run a program on you phone:

  • In Visual Studio, in the Standard toolbar, click the dropdown arrow next to the Run button (the green right-pointing triangle), and select Device
  • Plug the phone into the computer
  • Turn the phone on and unlock it (if it has a login password)
  • Run the program

The program will deploy to your phone and run. Later the app will still be installed on your phone, even after you disconnect your phone.

Publishing an app to the Windows Phone Store is a bit harder, partly because you need to meet the requirements set by Microsoft. When you submit an app, they test it to make sure it meets the basic requirements and to ensure that it doesn’t contain a virus or other malware. (That’s why they charge $19 for a Dev Center account–to cover the cost of that testing.)

For information on publishing apps to the store, see these links:

About RodStephens

Rod Stephens is a software consultant and author who has written more than 30 books and 250 magazine articles covering C#, Visual Basic, Visual Basic for Applications, Delphi, and Java.
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