Chris Black Talks Porting to Windows 8

3/7/2013 1:45:49 PM

Chris Black is a developer here in Minneapolis that I met a few years ago.  Smart dude.  He recently ported an application he had written for iOS and Android to Windows 8.  I asked Chris to share some of his thoughts and experiences on moving his app to Windows 8.

Tell Me About Yourself and Your Company?

My name is Chris Black, I'm a mobile developer, public speaker and educator. I have a number of self published apps in the market. I use my self published apps to explore new platforms and do research in the mobile space.

What Platforms Do You Develop For and For How Long?

I have seven years of experience in the interactive field and have been doing cross platform mobile development with Adobe AIR for 3 years. Over the past 6 months I've been doing native development for iOS and Android. I'm currently focusing on native Android development but still enjoy coding for all platforms.

What Kinds of Apps Do You Develop?

Kids books, games, utilities and data driven applications. Cribbage Board has been the most successful of my personal set of published applications.

What Got You Involved in Windows 8 Development?

I've always been interested in the platform but didn't start doing development until I was contacted directly by a representative from Microsoft. I was able to get into a program and was nominated to receive a free device for doing development work. I used this device to port Cribbage Board over to the Windows 8 platform.

Tell Me About the Specific App You Ported to Windows 8?

Cribbage Board is a travel board that you can use to play cribbage. This app functions as a board replacement and still requires a deck of cards and another player. There are existing apps that let you play online or against a computer but not many apps that allow you to play against someone sitting next to you.

What Technology Do You Use to Create Your Windows 8 Apps? (HTML, XAML, C#, etc.)

I used HTML and JavaScript to build the app. By going this route I was able to leverage my existing skill set and re-use most of the ActionScript code that is very similar to JavaScript.

What Has Your Experience Been Like Creating Windows 8 Apps? 

Overall, I had a positive experience building the Windows 8 app. Windows is currently providing developers a number of resources that make the process easier. Without these resources, it would have been much more difficult. I also think there are a lot opportunities for the Window 8 market. It took a while to get used to the device but I've really started to enjoy the tablet.

How Does Your Experience with Windows 8 Dev Compare to Other iOS and/or Android?

I really like the code signing process for Windows 8, it takes a lot of the headache out of the deployment process. Android is the quickest platform to get up and running but Windows 8 was easier than getting set up with iOS. Each of the platforms has pros and cons though. For me, it's really going to come down to the volume of downloads on the platform. It's worth it to jump through some extra hoops to see a higher volume of downloads.

Three Things You Really Like When Developing for Windows 8?

The app dashboard is great. It can take a few days before statistics start showing up but when they do, there is a lot of valuable information that other markets don't provide. For example, being able to see how users discovered the app.

Being able to do development directly on the test device is very helpful and speeds up the development time.

The Microsoft team was very helpful and was available to answer questions.

Three Challenges You Faced When Developing for Windows 8?

App performance using JavaScript. The app ran great on my Intel device but required a number of optimizations to run well on the RT devices.

The overwhelming amount of information. There are plenty of resources out there but I had a difficult time finding exactly what I needed.

Initially, it was a challenge trying to develop without a physical device. Using a virtual machine was slowing down the process. After receiving my Windows 8 tablet, development went much quicker.

What Are Your Future Plans for Windows 8 Development?

I'm excited to see how many downloads the app gets in this new market. Based on the success of this app, I'll consider bringing

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Jeff Brand Jeff Brand

This is the personal web site of Jeff Brand, self-proclaimed .NET Sex Symbol and All-Around Good guy. Content from my presentations, blog, and links to other useful .NET information can all be found here.

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