The low-down on developing for WP7

Curious about Windows Phone 7 development?

Mark Arteaga has the answers! He was one of the first to work with the new platform to build VanGuide app for Windows Phone 7. It sounds like there is plenty to be excited about.

Tell us about your development experience.

Mark Artega: “My development experience has been great with Windows Phone 7.  I first started when the developer tools came out at MIX2010 and attended MIX2010 to get a firsthand look at what was coming.  I started building a few proof of concept applications with the first one being an EnergizeIT sample application written for Windows Mobile 6.5 and bringing that to Windows Phone 7.

“Developing VanGuide for Windows Phone 7 was simplified because we could leverage Silverlight on the phone and the existing back end services without changes to the backend services. Then it was just a matter of designing the user experience since the experience from the web to the phone is different and coding the application together.”

What do you like & dislike about WP7 development?

MA: “I’ve been developing for the Windows Mobile platform for about 7 years and the new Windows Phone 7 tools are very welcomed. Using Silverlight on the phone is very straight forward and if you have developed Silverlight applications before you should be able to get up and running fairly quickly. There are a few slight differences from Silverlight for the Web and Silverlight for the phone but nothing someone can’t learn.

“What I liked about the tools is you have Visual Studio 2010 to write the actual code and you have Expression Blend to build your user interface. Building a good looking user interface on Windows Phone has never been easier! In the past building a good user interface took a lot of effort and now using Expression Blend and Silverlight that effort is greatly reduced!

“The only thing I disliked about the tools is all the breaking changes going from CTP to various Beta builds but that’s expected when working with the latest and greatest bits.”

How long did building VanGuide take you?

MA: “This application took about 4 weeks to build with designing, developing, testing and everything else that comes in between that. We ran into some issues when we got a physical Windows Phone 7 device with push pins on the map. Going from CTP to Beta also caused a few issues as some APIs where removed. Plus the Bing Map control we used was not officially supported on the phone. We are currently fixing that with an officially supported version of the Bing Maps Silverlight control. All these things are expected when using CTP/Beta tools.”

Any tips/tricks for budding WP7 devs?

MA: “The only thing I would say is read the UI Design and Interaction Guide for Windows Phone 7 v2.0 and Windows Phone 7 Application Certification Requirements. You want to make sure your UI is consistent with the Windows Phone 7 Metro UI but of course don’t be bound to it. Also read Silverlight for Windows Phone 7 Performance white paper to make sure your apps are fast.”

The code for the VanGuide app is completely open and has been released to Codeplex. For more about VanGuide, check out why it’s cooler in Vancouver with WP7.