Comatose Cursor

You’re sitting in front of your PC, steaming cup of <insert favorite beverage here> next to you and your fingers are posed over the keyboard ready to strike. Visual Studio is full screen and Expression Blend is waiting to assist in the background, but your cursor is blinking steadily in the same place it was 15 minutes ago. You’re blank, the ideas aren’t flowing, the classes of objects haven’t materialized yet.

Let me help you break out of developer limbo, out from the prison of digital purgatory, by laying out some app ideas for you. Some of these ideas are almost done, with complete source code, and are vying to be published. UPDATE: Music Lab has been taken.

Let’s start with Music Lab, an app that is an awesome companion app for the Windows Phone user to run while they are listening to music. This is an app that was given to me by Travis Lowdermilk, with the hopes of bringing it to market. I was however at the end of a dev cycle and starting a new job that was taking up a lot my time. Other than exploring the code and making some initial changes to get it ready for the world, I never brought it to Marketplace readiness. So here is my offer, the first developer in my region who needs an app idea and is willing to take it to market, I will give you the source code (I already ran this idea by Travis and he is on board, we both want to see it a reality).

If I give you the app, it will then become your torch to bear. It will be your first priority. I don’t want it to fall the wayside like it did for me. Also, I’ll only be giving it to one dev, so I’ll want to make sure you’re making progress. If you can’t devote your time to it, let me give it another dev. If you’re interested, send me an email and I’ll give you the awesomeness that it is.

Now on to the next app idea, NewsBlur for Windows Phone. There is no source code for this app. Rather it is an app in high demand and people are waiting for it. I tried getting started on it but this is another case of, “I just don’t have the time” or “My wife will string me up if I spend all my free time on it”! I have links to the API and have been talking to the creator of NewsBlur. You’ll have direct access to his wisdom and knowledge. This isn’t your ordinary big corporation stonewall, “We don’t like 3rd party app developers funking up our baby”, no help type of project. This app is a “If you build it, they will come”, “Lance, where the hell is my NewsBlur” type of app. I can tell you that if you publish this, you will get immediate traction and free promotion. Email me for more details on how to get started with a NewsBlur app.

Now add the benefits of the two ideas I threw at you, plus the backing of me and Nokia when you publish it (DVLUP rewards and my free phone challenges) You will no longer be looking at a comatose cursor but rather you’ll become a savior of two great apps. Email me at nokia-dev(at)outlook(dot)com and I’ll get you what you need.

Getting Started: NAX and Windows Phone 8

[UPDATE]

NAX has been discontinued and rolled up into Inneractive accounts]

Original Post

The purpose of this post is to demonstrate how easy it is to get started using the Nokia Ad Exchange (NAX) SDK with your Windows Phone 8 (WP8) app. Although there is no specific SDK for WP8, the process is the same with only one difference. You need to manually check off the capabilities your app will use. Let’s get started.

Step One: Go to Nokia Ad Exchange and sign up. It’s free and you’ll be confirmed in a couple minutes.

Step Two: Download the SDK. Important- Make sure you unblock the binaries before unzipping the folder. To unblock the files simply right click on the compressed folder that contains the SDK, select “options”, click the button titled “Unblock” and then click OK. Now you can unzip the folder to wherever you want to the SDK to reside. I personally like having a “Downloaded SDKs” folder in my documents library.

Where do you get the SDK? Once you’ve logged into the NAX portal, you need to go to the SDK tab and click the download button underneath the Windows Phone SDK in the list. Here is what you should see under the SDKs tab:

SDK list

Step Three: Once the SDK has been downloaded, unblocked and expanded. Add the DLL to your project. To do this right click on your project’s references folder and choose “Add Reference”. You’ll be presented with the dialog window shown here (click to enlarge):

AddReference

Select “Browse” in the left column, then click the “Browse” button at the bottom. Locate the folder you expanded the NAX SDK into. You’ll find the Inneractive.Nokia.Ad.dll file under the InneractiveAdSdk folder, select that file and then click “OK”.

Step Four: Now that you have the proper reference in place, let’s go create a new ad. Go back to your NAX portal and select the “Add App” tab. You should have this form in front of you:

AddNewAd

Go ahead and fill out the boxes with the appropriate information. For now, under the “Use Location” box select NO, I will write another blog post on how to use location in your ads. Click “Create” when you’re done. It will show a busy indicator and then present you with this view (click to enlarge):

NewAdUnitID

Notice the box titled “Your AppID”. You will be using that ID in your app. With this Id the server knows who you are and knows what Ad unit to serve your app based on the values you selected when creating the App ID. Leave this page open, we will return to it shortly.

Step Five: Go back to your application and open your WMAppManifest file (find it inside the Properties folder of your project. Select the “Capabilities” tab and make sure you have checked off the ID_IDENTIFY_DEVICE checkbox (if you plan on using location, you will also need to check off the location capability as well).

CapsAvailable

Step Six: Open the page you will be using the ad in, I am placing it on the MainPage in this example. There is no need to reference the namespace in the page header, as the pointer is within the instance itself. To instantiate a new ad placement, simple use this XAML (NOTE: Make sure your namespace matches the DLL you have. It could also be Inneractive.Ad.dll).

Just ad XAML

Notice the AppID property? This is where you use the App Id you got when you finished step 4. The AdType property gives you the choice of a banner or text ad to be displayed. You also can set the ad’s reload time with the ReloadTime property.

Go ahead, build and deploy your app now. I placed my ad at the top of my page to keep it out of the user’s normal finger reach to prevent accidental launch. Here is what the finished result looks like, have fun and make some money!

Running Success

P.I. API

I did some investigating on the best APIs to help give you app ideas or to use for beefing up  an existing app.  Here is a list of some of the best ones out there. I’ve added these to the resources section of the site.

Have fun brainstorming!

To 3 or not to 3, that is the question

Huh? Unless you were one of the developers I just gave codes to join the new Nokia program DVLUP, the title of this post makes no sense. So, what am I talking about?

If you build and publish 3 Windows Phone apps for me, I will give you a Nokia Lumia 800.

If you build and publish 5 windows Phone apps for me, I will give you a Nokia Lumia 900.

There is your dilemma, “To 3 or not to 3”. So get coding and help me to help you. If you are a developer in the US or Canada, I will provide you with an invitation code for DVLUP. You will find app ideas from the challenges (why not fulfill two challenge requirements in the same app!).

There are some conditions, as this list explains:

  1. “While Supplies Last & First Come First Serve” – There are 5 Lumia 800’s and 3 Lumia 900’s available for this challenge. The devs who fulfill the challenge first get the devices first.
  2. I am making this challenge available internationally with two conditions. The app needs to be published to and be available in the U.S. Windows Phone Store. If you fulfill the requirements and want the phone(s), you are responsible for the international shipping/import duties. If you’re in the US, I will ship it to you free.
  3. This challenge is being solely run by me. You agree that by submitting your app to me for consideration in the challenge you agree not to hold me or Nokia liable for any damages your app may cause in the future. I am helping developers get published, not trying to be involved in litigation. These conditions are also separable if one rule is found to be invalid.
  4. Apps published before November 7. 2012 are not eligible for this challenge.
  5. If you choose to redeem 3 apps for the Lumia 800, your “App Counter” is reset (you can’t get a Lumia 800 for three then publish 2 more for the Lumia 900). You will need to publish 5 more to get the Lumia 900.
  6. Only one of each prize is awarded to a single developer. You can get a Lumia 800 and a Lumia 900, but not two 800’s or two 900’s.
  7. All judging decisions are final in regards to this competition.
  8. The apps will be assessed by me for quality. What does quality mean?
  • Must be published (it passed certification)
  • No “Hello World” or simple Flashlight/Fart apps (Flashlight 7 is an example of a feature rich flashlight app)
  • No more than one can be an RSS reader/Aggregator
  • No duplicate apps (a localized app for each country counts as one, and a separate real estate app for every city counts as one)
  • The app needs to be useful for something (e.g. an entertainment app makes you laugh. Even though it doesn’t do you banking it is still useful)

If you still have questions or are an Android/iOS developer who wants to participate, send me an email.To submit your app to me send an email to Nokia-Dev@outlook.com, be sure to include the app’s url (or XAP if you are just introducing it to me) and a description. Good luck and happy coding!

Good luck!

You have apps and I have phones, let’s MeetUp!

If you’re going to be in the Boston area on Thursday December 6th, come on over to Microsoft Research & Development in Cambridge (NERD). I’m doing a 90 minute group explaining how Nokia’s new developer program (DVLUP) works and what it can do for you. I’ll also be introducing you to other the new stuff Nokia is providing for developers, most of it unprecedented and groundbreaking. Nokia fully believes in the fact that if you give developers the tools and resources, they will produce amazing apps.

Right now DVLUP is in a private, invite only, beta. However, if you come to the meetup, I’ll give you a code on the spot. If you don’t have a developer account yet, I can help you there as well. If you show me a completed Windows Phone app, ready to publish, I will cover your first year’s Dev Center fee! That will let you developer unlock your phone and publish your app to the Microsoft App Store. That’s just one example of some of the amazing ways Nokia can get you started. Come to the Meetup to learn about the rest.

I will be providing food and refreshments. Oh, and one more little thing… I will be giving away a Nokia Lumia Windows Phone! Yep, I’ll be raffling off a Nokia Lumia 900 at the event and give you the chance to earn one. It’s super easy to get a free phone from me, come to the Meetup to learn how to do that.

Space is limited, so RSVP now. you’ll find all the information about the event at that link  If you have any questions in general, fell free to email me at Nokia-WpDev (at) Outllook (dot) com. I hope to see you there!

Level Up with DVLUP!

Got your developer hat on? Check. Got your gamer hat on? Check. Ready to earn awesome rewards for doing what you love? Check!

Great, then let’s get rolling! I am officially announcing the beginning of a brand new, groundbreaking program from Nokia for Windows Phone developers, DVLUP. You are formally invited to participate in this currently invite-only program where you earn points for your apps through completing challenges. Spend your XP on Xbox 360s, new Nokia Lumias and more.

Check it out:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2mPGB9k018]

How do you get to participate?

I can take care of that for you, send me an email to  ext-lance.mccarthy(at)nokia(dot)com and I will give you a code to join.

There are two things you need to know before emailing me:

  1. This is only open to the US and Canada (for now), when you email me be sure to let me know what state you’re in.
  2. You don’t need to have a Dev Center account to join or get access to WP8 devices, but need one in order to compete for rewards.

Now that is out of the way, I can do something about #2 if you don’t have an account. If you are building an app, I will help you get a Dev Center account. If you are a student, you can go through Dreamspark. If you have an app that is done and ready to go, I can hook you up with a token (common sense applies here, no Hello World apps will get a token).

Head on over to DVLUP once I give you your access token.

If you don’t qualify for a token yet, but still want to dev unlock your phone and publish to the store, you can join the Nokia Premium developer program. For the same cost as the Dev Center, we will throw in a RadControls for Windows Phone license, a million Buddy.com API calls and you still get the Dev center account! Win-Win-Win.

I want to give you a white Nokia Lumia 900!

Yep, you heard right. I really, really want to give away two Nokia Lumias (First place get a 900 and second place gets an 800). I need you to do something for me in return, build a winning app! So how do you win? There are two ways, one device for each of the following categories:

  1. Create an awesome app for Windows Phone from scratch
  2. Port your existing Android/iOS app to Windows Phone

Even if you don’t win a top prize this contest, you will be ready for my next giveaway. Bring the apps and I’ll bring the swag!

Let me provide a little guidance on the categories:

#1 Windows Phone app from scratch

Your app should take advantage of the great APIs Windows Phone exposes. I will provide you with the tools and resources to get the job done. See further down where I explain a bit deeper about what the app should provide.

#2 Porting your app from another OS

It doesn’t matter how you get the app to Windows Phone as long as you publish it. You can use a third party system like PhoneGap or build it from the ground up. This all depends on how you built the original app. I have spoken to countless developers who have ported their apps to and they all say the same thing, it took at least 20% less time to build their app for Windows Phone.

Okay, so what should your app do? The best and award winning apps take advantage of sensors and data.

  • Camera (image manipulation, video recording, etc)
  • Sensors (accelerometer, location, etc)
  • Fun and unique data manipulation (from sources like twitter, rss/atom feeds, etc)
  • Bluetooth data tranfser
  • Social Networking integration (give your users something to shout about)

Those are just some sample ideas, there is much to leverage with Windows Phone. I could sit here all day and tell you how great it is, but showing you is better. Get your hands dirty with the sample applications from the Windows Phone team.

Windows Phone 8  (27 examples)

Windows Phone 7.5  (27 examples)

Download the samples that interest you the most or will show you how to implement your idea. For example, if you have an idea for a camera app, be sure to see how its done in the example first.

To submit your application for consideration for judging, you must email me a description of what the app does, who it is intended for and the XAP file for me to run/test it. If I find that it works as expected and meets quality standards (“Hello World” apps need not apply), you can move on to the publishing phase.

This is the time for you to publish the app to the Windows Phone Store, it has to be published by Dec 14th to be eligible for this run of the contest. If you do not yet have a developer account, I will be able to provide you with a token for a year of membership for free. Once again, quality standards apply, but most likely the app would not have made it this far anyways. We will be looking for form and function. Does it feel like a Windows Phone app (some exceptions, like games)? Does it cleverly leverage sensor data?

I will pick two top apps from each category. The four finalists will then go into a public poll for the public to weigh-in their vote (American Idol Style)! The winner of the public poll for each category will get a Nokia Lumia! Of the two winners, the one with the most votes will get a Lumia 900. Second place will get a Lumia 800. To top it off, the winners will also get a license for Telerik’s RadControls for Windows Phone!

Good luck! Contact me if have any questions.

Twitter: @lancewmccarthy

Email: Nokia-Dev (at) outlook (dot) com

More contest details:  This is a contest I am running personally as a Developer Ambassador, if you choose to participate you are agreeing that I or Nokia has the right to promote your app as the winner. You also agree not to hold Nokia or I liable for any costs you may incur while developing your app. We provide you with free tools and resources and anything additional you choose to add is your responsibility. If you are not located in the US, you are responsible for taxes/duties and international shipping costs for the device. If you are in the US, I will ship you the device free of charge.  The source code you write and show me is kept completely confidential and will not be shared. If you win in this event you can participate in future event but not with the same app. Even if you don’t win one of the two phones here, you will have plenty of opportunities for success in other events. Participating here does not disqualify you in other events I hold, in fact it will give you a head start… so do not give up!  I reserve the right to change contest rules if a rule is found to be unfair or needs tweaking to make sure everyone has a fair chance to win.

Resources, Resources, Resources!

I moved this blog post into its own page. Select the “Resources” tab above, or use this link.

If you have any questions, or if you are in the Boston area (New England), send me an email at nokia-dev@outlook.com or on twitter at @lancewmccarthy

Nokia Developer Ambassadorship

I am officially announcing that I’ve joined Nokia as a Nokia Developer Ambassador! So, what does this mean for you?

If you are:

  • An experienced Windows Phone Developer (WPDev) with tons of published apps
  • Have dabbled in WPDev, but haven’t published yet
  • An experienced iOS or Android Developer with apps (published or not)
  • Just getting started on any platform and are thirsty for more
  • In school and don’t know your Int from your Long
  • You have great app ideas but don’t know a lick of code

…then you’re in luck. If you want to bring an app or an app idea to life, I am your man.

So, what exactly is a Nokia Developer Ambassador? We each cover a certain region of North America, we are part-time employees (no, I didn’t leave Telerik) who receive a salary and a budget to support the developers in our regions.  Nokia is really invested in helping their developers succeed. From start to finish, they’ll back you.

How will I help you carve your path through app kingdom?

  1. Events- I’ll be at all the relevant local hackathons, events and meetups. If there needs to be more, I’ll have a budget to host one. (I will be performing at least one Windows Phone hackathon open to all devs where we’ll focus on bringing your Android and iPhone app over to Windows Phone).
  2. Hardware- You will have access to hardware.
  3. Platform Specific- Even though windows Phone 8 will be in the wild, most likely you wont be using WP8 specific features. So we want to give you the broadest market by developing Windows Phone 7.8 apps (100% reach) first. However, I will show you how to develop for both platforms and release a version for each.
  4. Tools, Tools, Tools – The BEST tools in the industry will be at your disposal. There is no comparison, even Android and iOS developers agree on this one.
  5. Teamwork- If there is something that I can’t do for you, I will find someone who can. Nokia has brilliant talent, the community of WP development is amazingly forthcoming with their tips & tricks, and example apps for every available feature. Also, the vast history of Microsoft’s knowledge has probably seen your problem before and has a way to fix it.
  6. Incentives- TBA:

In addition to resources available as an Ambassador, I can bring one more thing to the to the table of your success… me (fair warning, this next section may contain self-horn tooting).

Experience:

My years (wow, has it been years already?) of experience with Windows Phone development and with the Windows Phone marketplace has taught me a lesson or two. Those mistakes and successes are now your asset.

Connections:

Believe it or not, sometimes it is who you know, not what you know.  Being a Windows Phone developer I’ve developed strong friendships as well as apps. This has taught me an even more important lesson than the technical problems and unhandled exceptions that get thrown in your path. I am here to be that bond for you. Give back what was so freely given to me: Knowledge, experience and friendship.

People, this is truly what it means to be a Windows Phone developer. You become part of a community that will welcome you with open arms and help you through the struggles. Come join me, I can promise that there will be times of difficulty, but in the same gesture there will be great rewards!

Thanks for reading!

Lance

Follow me on Twitter: @lancewmccarthy  and also for official announcements @NokiaWpDev

Email me: Nokia-Dev at Outlook. com