Windows Phone 7

Getting Started With WP7 Development: Learning the WP7 Ecosystem

In my previous post I’ve listed resources to help getting started with Silverlight for WP7 developers.

This article aims to collect the most important resources developers should go through in order to learn the WP7 ecosystem and build decent Windows Phone 7 applications using Silverlight.

Tools To Get Started Developing

  • Download the free developer tools (installs Visual Studio Expression or project templates, Expression Blend for WP7 or project templates for Expression Blend 4) (you can get them from the Windows Phone 7 developer site developer home page as well). You’ll need this to get started with development.
  • Download the Windows Phone 7 Silverlight training kit – it features some very useful examples with explained source code. I suggest going through it, or at least the parts you feel are relevant to what you want to develop.
  • Download the Silverlight for Windows Phone Toolkit. This component contains some essential classes for development such as GestureService (simplifying detection of gestures), DatePicker, TimePicker, WrapPanel and ToggleSwitch.

Get a Feel for Metro, the WP7 UI

To develop good WP7 applications it’s important to get the feel of the WP7 user interface, Metro. I suggest going through the following resources to get familiar with it:
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Getting Started with WP7 Development: Learning Siverlight

This post aims to present a structured collection of resources for developers wanting to get started developing for Windows Phone 7 in Silverlight, but don’t have any Silverlight or WPF experience. I’m also aiming this post at people  who’ve started developing for WP7 without too much WPF/Silverlight experience and would like to learn more about the framework to move on.

Why Silverlight?

Developing for Windows Phone 7 can be done using two frameworks: Silverlight and XNA. XNA is a framework targeting game development. Those who are looking to develop either games or graphically intensive applications are advised to use that framework.

Silverlight, on the other hand started off as a web application framework, a “web” light version of Windows Presentation Framework (WPF), the successor of Windows Forms. Microsoft decided to support Silverlight as the other application development framework on Windows Phone 7 next to XNA, specifically version 3.0 with some extra libraries. It’s safe to say that if one’s goal isn’t game development, the obvious (and easier) choice is to develop applications in Silverlight for WP7.

What is Silverlight?

Silverlight is a similar framework to Adobe Flash, allowing the developer to create applications that manipulate media, are interactive all built on the .NET platform. .NET developers will be familiar with lots of the libraries used, however Silverlight introduces several new concepts and libraries. With Out Of Browser support and Windows Phone 7 development announced, Silverlight is no longer just a web framework, but more an application development platform.

Some useful resources on understanding what Silverlight is:

Developer tools

Silverlight development can be done with Visual Studio 2008 and upwards, I’d recommend using Visual Studio 2010 – a free, express version is available for use. Expression Blend is an additional tool that makes creating the UI much easier.

If you’re planning on doing WP7 development, download the developer tools for WP7 which will either install the expression version of Visual Studio 2010 and a phone version of Expression Blend or if VS and Expression Blend are already installed, it will just add the new supported project types and the emulator.

Understanding how Silverlight Works

There are some key areas anyone from an OO background needs to understand to be able to develop with Silverlight.
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WP7 Cocktail Application Sneak Preview: Cocktail Flow

In the past weeks I’ve been working on some Windows Phone 7 applications to have them ready for near launch. One of them is Cocktail Flow. I’m developing this application in collaboration with Distinction. These guys are the same group of people who I’ve won worldwide 3rd place and special prize on the Microsoft Imagine Cup a few years ago.

We’re working hard to create an intuitive, useful and visually stunning application for anyone who enjoys cocktails. Here are some teaser screenshots of UI of the application:


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Why You Should Get Started With WP7 Development

Two weeks ago at TechMeetup I’ve talked about why I think Windows Phone 7 is a great opportunity for developers in five minutes. The people at TechMeetup – as always – filmed it and it’s available for viewing:

TM Talks-Gergely Orosz talks about Windows Phone 7 from TechMeetup on Vimeo.

My key points on why I think it’s worth to crack on with Windows Phone 7 can be summed up in these:

  • I think Windows Phone 7 has got everything to gain a decent marketshare in the near future: it’s UI is sexy, gamers will like it and Microsoft is committed to market it any way it can
  • The development experience is as easy as it gets. The barrier of entry for mobile development hasn’t been this low: all you need is download the great tools and have some understanding of OO programming
  • Because it’s so easy to get started developing, I think we’ll se a similar trends in application numbers as we’ve seen for iPhone and Android. If you’d like to gain attention, your chances are much better if you get your application out before the market is too crowded.
  • Based on this I’d suggest you crack on developing (I would also suggest stopping by for the (free) Windows Phone 7 talk late September in Edinburgh, but unfortunately all places have gone in two days!)

Disappearing Style Setters in Silverlight 3 and WP7 – fixed in Silverlight 4

I’ve come across a really annoying bug in Silverlight 3 that seems to be fixed in Silverlight 4, but still present in WP7. When creating a Style object in runtime, then setting that as the Style of an element in the visual tree, the Value properties in the Setters of the original Style are set to null!

The problem

I’ve come across this issue because I was trying to clone styles with the following extension method:

public static Style Clone(this Style style)
{
    if (style == null)
        return null;
    Style clonedStyle = new Style(style.TargetType);
    clonedStyle.BasedOn = style.BasedOn;
    foreach (Setter setterToCopy in style.Setters)
    {
        clonedStyle.Setters.Add(new Setter()
        {
            Property = setterToCopy.Property,
            Value = setterToCopy.Value
        });
    }
    return clonedStyle;
}

As you can see, this clone method is not doing anything complicated: it is simply iterating through the Setters of the Style and creating new Setter instances with the Property and Value of the original Setters – basically deep cloning the Style itself.

The issue in Silverlight 3

When I did clone a Style that had been created on the fly and had been assigned a the Style of an element, the values of Setters magically were set to null in Silverlight 3. The problem is visualized using the following simple code:
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Windows Phone 7 and Silverlight – Details Revealed

In the opening keynote of MIX 10 Scott Guthrie confirmed the rumour spreading the past weeks: the supported development platform for the Windos 7 Phone Series is Silverlight and XNA. For those – like myself – who were prepared for this news there were still quite some surprises in the details:

  • Unlike Windws CE  where the phone CLR was a reduced version of the .NET CLR the Windows Phone 7 will support the full Silverlight framework. As Scott Guthrie said: “This isn’t Silverlight lite. This isn’t Silverlight different. This is Silverlight.
  • ScottGu demoed the development environment – it is very similar to Visual Studio with a built-in emulator that supports multi-touch
  • The development tools for Windows Phone 7 are free! Download them from here. The Windows Phone Developer Tools include Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone, Windows Phone Emulator, Silverlight for Windows Phone and XNA Game Studio 4.0 CTP
  • The Windows Phone 7 ships with an extended Silverlight 3 runtime and  supports DeepZoom as well. ScottGu also announced that Silverlight 4 ships with a Pivot control – a great data visualization tool. We’ll have to wait to use Pivot on the Windows Phone 7 though until the runtime is upgraded to Silverlight 4 unfortunately.
  • The Windows Phone 7 Marketplace will be a global application catalog, not restricted by regional content restrictions. Developers will receive 70% of the price for apps and games.
  • Partners who have had early access to the Windows Phone 7 development tools showed off their great applications. This included:
    • A news application demo (video)
    • eBay who’ve built a cool out-of-browser lister application in just 8 weeks
    • A prototype Netflix application
    • Shazam‘s Silverlight app
    • Graphic.ly‘s comic reader using DeepZoom
    • A Major League Soccer application using push notification (video)
    • A Marionette application where ScottGu made fun of Steve Ballmer (video)
    • The Seesmic Desktop application – the entire Seesmic platform has been ported to Silverlight!
    • Demo of the Foursquare application (video)

So if these details have made you interested read a more detailed summarry of the keynote or just go and download the Windows Phone 7 development toolkit!

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