20+ Tools for Windows Phone 7 Developers

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If you want to develop apps for Windows Phone 7, I collected a list of tools and sites both Microsoft’s and external you might be interested in to make apps for Windows Phone. For the latest information on Microsoft tools, check out MSDN.

* Visual Studio 2010

 Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone is FREE and has everything you need to start developing Windows Phone apps. You can develop two types of apps for Windows Phones: Silverlight or game apps. For game apps Microsoft includes XNA Game Studio 4.0. Naturally, the kit also contains Windows Phone Emulator, .NET Framework 4.0 and Silverlight.

Where to Get

* Expression Blend 4.0

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Expression Blend is a totally tool for rapid developing and designing Silverlight apps. It’s especially great if you need to develop apps that contain animations, transitions and storyboarding. Expression Blend is a new kid on the block, but it totally rocks. Think Flash apps development, only on steroids of .NET Framework 4.0, C# and XAML.

I think of Visual Studio and Expression Blend as a “light tool” vs “dark tool”. You got it: dark themes are usually used by video, photo and design apps. Light themes are for pure development work. I think visually that’s what Microsoft meant when creating Expression Blend.

The best part: you can open the same project in Visual Studio and Expression Blend. I usually use Expression Blend for all type of animations, transitions and layouts.

 

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Windows Phone 7 for Designers

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You know you’re a graphic designer when you see CMYK and RGB like Neo sees the Matrix.

Disclaimer: I’m not a professional graphic designer, but I always had a passion about design. If you glance at my portfolio, past and current ventures as well as this blog, you’ll find numerous examples of design elements and ideas. This post is for developers as well as designers, I’ll try to analyze my perception of what is so cool about Windows Phone UI.

The Revolution of Metro UI: Typography

If I just had one word to define Windows Phone UI design: Typography would be it.

typoTypography is the cornerstone of modern design, but it was sadly missing from the UI of mobile devices. Small screens with traditional small print UI is what mobile devices inherited from Palm, iPhone and Android. The modern UI design tends to use large print, and TV-like appearances and animations. It’s interesting to see many HTML 5 sites using simple clean and large layouts.

With Metro UI, Microsoft dared to change all that. Typography is now the main component of the Windows Phone experience.

Quote from Mike Kruzeniski, Windows Phone Design Team:

Our design inspiration is very typographic, and it felt like it was time for User Interfaces to be uncompromising about type as well. Type is information, type is beautiful.

The best example of modern controls taking advantage of typography in Windows Phone UI is Panorama. All of a sudden cramming text into one screen looks old. I believe Microsoft should be credited with this innovative approach to mobile user experience.

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Connect Windows Phone 7 Apps to WordPress using XMLRPC

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This is Part 1 of my Windows Phone connectivity series. Check out Part 2 on how to connect to WordPress using JSON.

Many of us use WordPress: it’s an excellent platform for bloggers. Every time I start a new Web project, before deciding to build it from scratch, I try to consider WordPress or other CMS to save time and effort. WordPress plugins fills many gaps, including eCommerce, Membership, CMS and hundreds of other use cases. If you are used to building everything from scratch, you probably smell danger in this lego mentality. Well, it makes sense, considering that 60% of software projects fail on time and on the budget. The paradigm of “standing on the shoulders of the giants” suddenly makes sense in the risky business of building software!

As a Windows Phone app developer you probably wonder how can you connect your Windows Phone 7 app to your WordPress blog? WordPress’ standard built-in mechanism is XMLRPC. If you care to read my next post I’ll show you how you can use another popular mechanism: JSON to communicate with your favorite blog engine.

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The Big Bang

The Universe had to begin with something. Something big and exciting, like a Big Bang. Beginning a new blog is never a Big Bang! It’s really a painful slow process: where’s the success, where are my readers? But the funny thing about the blogs: post after post they shape themselves into something. So, let this blog shape into something too. Something totally unexpected.

I’d say it’s exciting to start a new blog anyway. Just for the sake of it. There’s a good reason I start this blog though: just recently I joined a team of Microsoft Technology Evangelists, and the purpose of this blog (at least for me): is to keep a technical diary of thoughts about my favorite subject: Technology.

As my t-shirt says: Love IT, Hate IT, IT happens. IT just happens, believe it or not: do you get angry when talking to an automated answering customer service? Same thing with technology. IT happens.

So without further ado, let’s launch this baby into the Universe. I wish this blog many happy readers and smash a bottle of champagne against the boat.