Monthly Archives: January 2013

ABAP: First Steps

A couple of weeks ago I published my first Windows Phone application. Other than the simple programs I wrote in the programming classes I’ve taken, it was the first somewhat useful application I’ve ever written. It’s called Connectivity Manager. It does what all of the other connection managers do, it links to the various connection settings visible to the user and the programmer, like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc. It’s basically a glorified linker. But I needed to get my feet wet.

I’m currently working on a base converter. Yep, that’s been done plenty of times before as well. But again, you have to start somewhere. Your first, second, or third programs, hell, maybe even your 100th, are not likely going to be blockbuster hits. If that happens to you, that’s absolutely incredible and I’d love to hear your story. But for most of us, it’s going to be slow going.

You need to think of your first programs as learning experiences, no different than when you took your first baby steps. Those first steps were the hardest damn thing in the world, only you didn’t know enough at the time to get frustrated and give up. You kept trying, falling, crying, trying, falling, crying, until eventually you got on your feet. At that point it was all smiles, because those cookies on the counter were that much closer. Now if mom and dad would only leave the room…

Programming is no different. It’s one step at a time. If you don’t take it one step at a time, you will quickly overwhelm yourself. There is so much to learn, so much history, so much present, and so much future that if you don’t break it down into manageable pieces you’ll likely walk away. That’s what I always did in the past. That’s likely what many of you did too. Well, let’s not do that anymore. I’m talking to myself as much as I am to you.

So, you ask, where do I start? That’s a very good question. I’m not going to get into any specifics here, I’m going to talk very generally and I’m going to try to stay away from “well, it depends”, as much as possible.

I’m going to try and keep these posts relatively short. I don’t think anyone wants to read a blog encyclopedia. So on to my next post to continue the journey…

A Beginner’s Adventures in Programming (ABAP)

If you don’t already know, I’m very, very new to programming and application development; and as of this writing I’m 41 years old. Compared to many programmers I’m probably 30+ years behind the curve. But who cares?

I didn’t always feel that way. For years, I’ve dabbled in programming, ranging from Excel macros to web development to most recently taking introductory college courses in Assembly, C, C++, and Java. But I’ve always walked away because it just seemed too daunting. There are so many languages out there and the technology moves so quickly that it just didn’t seem to make sense to start so late in life to learn something new, something that I never felt I could get good at quickly enough to keep up. Well, that was the old me.

Something happened a month or two ago, a switch flipped in my head. Perhaps my brain finally figured out how to catch the exception and handle it properly. Honestly, I don’t know what happened, and I really don’t care, because I finally found direction. Now I’m learning C#, XAML, JavaScript, and HTML/CSS. I published my first Windows Phone app a few weeks ago. As of today, it’s been downloaded 921 times. That’s 921 random people that felt compelled enough to at least check out something I created. Whether or not they continue to use it is another matter, but at this point I don’t care. To me, it’s all about the experience.

Having listened to various podcasts for the last few months, I hear lots of comments from the podcasters that many people have dipped their toes in programming, but for various reasons gave up — life got in the way, it seemed too hard, they didn’t know where to go with it, etc. If you’re one of those people (I was definitely one of those people), I’d like to share my journey with you so that you can see that no matter what your age, what your current occupation (I’ve been in finance my entire professional career), you can learn to program, you can do something useful with it, you can stretch your mental abilities and be on a never ending path of learning, and, most importantly, you can have fun doing it.

Let’s get started…

Now Available: Windows Phone SDK Update for 7.8

This is a repost from the Windows Phone Developer Blog. It’s great news for those waiting for the WP 7.8 release as well as developers interested in sprucing up their apps to take advantage of the new functionality, such as Live Tile resizing and such. Here is the original post.

“Today we are releasing the Windows Phone SDK Update for Windows Phone 7.8, an optional update that adds two new Windows Phone 7.8 emulator images to your existing SDK installation. These two emulator images should enable you to fully test how your Windows Phone 7.5 app’s Live Tiles will look and behave when they are run on a device running Windows Phone 7.8. New phones with Windows Phone 7.8 are beginning to ship, so it’s a great time to update your apps to take advantage of the new Live Tile experience and to reach the new markets that Windows Phone 7.8 makes available.

This blog post briefly covers what is included in the Windows Phone SDK update; I’d highly recommend that developers take a look at Thomas Fennel’s blog on how to ‘light up’ your 7.5 app in Windows Phone 7.8 and 8.0 for a technical overview of how to use the new emulator images.”

Windows Phone 7 for Absolute Beginners

Windows Phone 7 for Absolute Beginners is a fantastic video series from Bob Tabor, posted on Channel 9. Below is the course description:

“This video series will help aspiring Windows Phone 7 developers get started. We’ll start off with the basics and work our way up, so in a few hours you will know enough to build simple WP7 applications, such as a GPS aware note taking application. We’ll walk you through getting the tools, knowing what an if statement is, to using the GPS built into the phone and much more!”

The videos are just my speed, slow, well thought out, and Bob does a great job of explaining WHY to do something rather than just dropping in 200 lines of code from a snippet and telling you, “it’s just basic stuff, we won’t cover this”.

If you are new to programming, particularly C#, XAML, and Windows Phone, I think you’ll find this series of videos very helpful. He starts you off with the very basics and works up to developing a note application.

App Submission Tips for Windows Phone 7 and 8

There was a great post today on the Windows Phone Developer Blog regarding app submission. The highlight of the post was the added ability to associate multiple XAPs with the same app GUID. I won’t copy the entire post here, but below are a few things you need to think about when submitting your apps. This is straight from the post on WPDB. Check out the full blog post here.

“Here’s how to decide on your approach:

  1. If you already have a Windows Phone 7 app and don’t want to take advantage of the new app functionality available in Windows Phone 8, you can choose to leave your app as it is. Windows Phone 8 devices are designed to run existing Windows Phone 7 apps. Therefore, your app will be visible to all Windows Phone users, including Windows Phone 8 users. We do recommend that you test your 7.x app in the Windows Phone 8 emulator, to confirm that it works properly.
  2. If you already have a Windows Phone 7 app and want to leverage the exciting new Windows Phone 8 features, expanded markets, and languages of the Windows Phone 8 platform, you can upgrade your app to Windows Phone 8 and maintain the existing app GUID. However, please note that this will result in your app not being visible for users of Windows Phone 7 devices.
  3. The final option is to add a second XAP to the app GUID of your Windows Phone 7 app. Just make a copy of your 7.x XAP and then upgrade the copied XAP to Windows Phone 8. In Dev Center you will now see an Add new option on the Upload your XAP page. This allows you to add additional XAPs to the app that have different binaries and their own long descriptions.”