Development, Students, Windows, Windows 8, Windows Azure Mobile Services, WP7, WP8

Code to Win!

Our team at Microsoft is excited to announce the return of the Windows 8 Student App Madness Challenge! Create and publish a Windows 8 app by April 14th, 2014 and you could win* a $50 gift card. Promote your app and receive 100 downloads for the chance to win* an additional $50 gift card. Microsoft will provide you with all the software, resources and support you need to get started, build your app, and publish it to the Windows Store. This is a great opportunity for you to get some app building experience, and win prizes while doing it!

There are two ways you can win:

What could be easier!  There are a lot of helpful tools to get you started including some great app templates, like the SUPER-AMAZING Cross-platform Cloud Kit, advice on building great app logos for your new apps, and great training available online to help you build out the next great app.

As always, reach out to me if you have any question about building apps for Windows 8 and Windows Phone, or if you’re interested in learning more about Windows Azure. Our team is here to help you whenever you need us!

Azure, Cloud, Development, Featured, ITPro, Open Source, Silverlight, Students, USCloud, Web, Windows, Windows 8, WP7, WP8

BizSpark for Startups

My good friend and colleague Taylor Cowan has begun working on a blog post series entitled “25 Ways Software Startups can use BizSpark”.  Even if you haven’t already formed a company around your latest great idea, Taylor’s series will help you understand how startups can take the best advantage of all the amazing features that BizSpark has to offer. Today was Day 6 (I know, I’m a little behind) but there are still 19 more days to come!

Tune into 25 Ways Software Startups can use BizSpark at

BizSpark, for those that don’t know, Microsoft® BizSpark® is a global program that helps software startups succeed by giving them access to software development tools, connecting them with key industry players, and providing marketing visibility.  The program also includes access to Windows Azure, a flexible, comprehensive, and powerful cloud platform for the creation of web applications and services.  In addition, BizSpark offers technical support, business training and a network of over 2,000 partners to connect members with incubators, investors, advisors, government agencies and hosters.  Since it was established in 2008, more than 45,000 companies in over 100 countries have joined BizSpark.

Here is the BizSpark membership critera:

  1. Privately-held company
  2. Less than 5 years old
  3. Earns less than $1M US per year
  4. In the business of developing software (on any platform, with any language, for any type of device)

That means, if you are building a Windows 8 or Windows Phone 8 application that you intend to sell on in their respective marketplaces, you qualify for BizSpark and can get access to ALL of those amazing benefits!  Contact Taylor today via his blog at to find out more about joining the BizSpark family today!

Azure, Cloud, Development, MVVM, Open Source, Silverlight, USCloud, Windows, Windows 8, WP7, WP8

Scaling Collaborative Applications

One of our local MVPs, Michael Perry, has written a great article about scaling collaborative Windows 8 applications with Correspondence and Windows Azure.

Azure is a great way to quickly deploy and scale your web sites. Correspondence is a rich framework for bringing collaborative experiences to multiple platforms. When these two come together, amazing things can happen.

For those that don’t know, Correspondence is Michael’s innovative collaboration framework for occasionally connected smart clients and web applications. Correspondence is hosted on CodePlex at and samples can be found on Michaels blog at

Azure, Cloud, Dallas, Development, Events, Featured, Open Source, Students, Texas, Training, user group, Windows 8, WP7

Upcoming User Group Meetings

There are a couple of great-sounding User Group meetings coming up this week that I thought you all might be interested in:

Windows Phone App Developer Group – DFW Dallas TexasSeptember AT&T Mobile App Hackathon Education (Dallas)Friday, 5:00 PM Sep 14
Dallas PHPAn Illustrated Git PrimerTuesday, 7:00 PM Sep 11
DFW C++ User Group, meeting at NCR’s officeLeak Free C++Tuesday, 6:00 PM Sep 11

If you a new to Git, I highly recommend attending the PHP User Group’s presentation. The speaker and I have had numerous conversations about Git, and he does a really good job of explaining the basics. I was going to go and try to ask some of my newer questions about different workflow strategies, branching and such, but a prior family obligation is going to keep me from attending any groups on Tuesday night.

If you’re a Windows Phone or Windows 8 developer, I’ll also recommend the AT&T Mobile Hackathon. I’ve participated in these before and they are very well run by the gang over at AT&T and I know you’ll have an amazing time participating. The prizes are usually pretty good too, so bring your great idea and be ready to crank out some code!

These are just a couple that popped into my Inbox this morning, but there are plenty of other amazing activities to be found around TX, OK, AR and LA – just check and for more details.

Development, Open Source, Windows, Windows 8, WP7, WP8

Starter Kit News

Couple of quick announcements about the Starter Kits I’ve been working on over the past year:

First, I just made an update tonight to the Windows Phone Starter Kit for Schools (a.k.a. the Windows Phone Starter Kits for Schools, Organizations, Teams, Clubs, and Just About Everything Else). Since Google recently decided to discontinue their Weather API, I needed to find another source. I was using Bing originally, but the Bing API requires developers to pay a subscription fee to access the API after the first 5,000 transactions. Instead, today I switched over to a free Weather API from World Weather Online allows for developers to get a free account providing current conditions as well as (up to) a 5-day forecast.  For this starter kit, that would fit perfectly! I made the updates tonight in both the GitHub repository as well as the MSDN Code Gallery so you can get it from either place.

Second, I’ve been getting a LOT of questions about Starter Kits for Windows 8. Many people have asked if there are any plans to create Win8 versions of all the existing Starter Kits. So far, there has not been any plans, but I think I might be persuaded to start working on some, if I could find some interested community members to work with me.  The primary ones to move over would be the Starter Kit for Schools and the Starter Kit for RSS, as those are the 2 most popular Starter Kits of the bunch. There are quite a few bits that would need to change considering the new UX with Windows 8 Store Apps, but I think it’s perfectly manageable in a relatively short period of time. After all – these are starter kits/sample code – not completed applications. There is every expectation that people will need to make additional customizations as well as UI updates before submitting the applications for publication. If you are interested in helping out with this, please let me know and we can get to work straight away! There might even be a prize in it for you for getting the code completed and published 🙂

Dallas, Development, Events, Featured, Texas, Training, WP7

Learn Windows Phone at Big (D)


Want to learn what it takes to build a Windows Phone application?

The Windows Phone Bootcamp and Hackathon at Big(D) 2012 is a completely free, two-day event chock-full of everything you need to know to develop a Windows Phone application followed by an application building competition. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or just getting started with .NET development this event is for you! Although we are affiliated with Big (D), a Big (D) conference pass is NOT REQUIRED to attend the Bootcamp or Hackathon.

Windows Phone Bootcamp

In this workshop you’ll learn what it takes to build a native Windows Phone application. We’ll talk about what the Windows Metro design language means to Windows Phone developers, discuss the basics of Silverlight development, a work together to build a complete Windows Phone app from the ground up from File > New Project all the way through app submission in the marketplace.

We’ll also talk about some of the very popular Windows Phone Starter Kits and how you can utilize those to jump-start your application development and start building your application profile in the marketplace. You’ll leave with at least one fully functional app that you can start customizing with your own data and submit to the marketplace for instant global reach.

Windows Phone Hackathon

Now that you know what goes into building a Windows Phone app, and have built your first application along with us, we’re going to turn you loose on the Marketplace in a Hackathon competition. At the end of the hackathon, we’ll award two sets of prizes:

  • A $500 CASH PRIZE will be awarded to the applications voted HIGHEST QUALITY APPLICATION byall participants at the Hackathon.
  • We’ll also draw for a STAR WARS XBOX + KINECT BUNDLE among every participant in the Hackathon, with extra prize tickets awarded for every Windows Phone application submitted to the marketplace during the event.

Additionally, we’ll have periodic drawings throughout the event for various Xbox and PC games just to keep things hopping all weekend!

Register Today

Seating is limited, so you will want to register right away at:

Development, Featured, General, Windows, Windows 8, WP7

Windows 8 App Excellence Labs

Windows 8 with Metro-style applications offers one of the biggest opportunities for developers in a very long time. As a Windows Phone developer, you are uniquely positioned to be able to get in on the ground floor of this exciting new platform!

If you have built a Windows Phone 7 application, you already have most of the needed knowledge to bring the app to Windows 8.  Get your app ready and attend one of the 100s of free Application Excellence Labs that DPE and Windows are holding around the world so you can be among the first  developers who get to submit to the store early!

Our store services are ramping up as planned–and of course the plan includes ramping up developer registrations to enable app submissions to the Windows store. Today, you need an invite “token” to register. This begs the question – How can YOU get a token?

Register TODAY!

Follow these steps to get invited to an App Excellence lab:

  1. Contact me at for instructions on how I can nominate your app for an Excellence Lab.
  2. Create a really great Windows 8 Metro style app (or game) immediately. Get it as ready as if you were submitting it to the store.

Resources to help bring your Windows Phone app to Windows 8

Microsoft has already provided some great resources that you may want to look to learn how you can move your Windows Phone applications to the Windows 8 platform:

Additionally, there will be two online workshops to give the additional knowledge to move you app over.

FREE Online Workshops

These FREE half-day ONLINE workshops will provide you an overview getting from Windows Phone to Windows 8.  Leveraging your XAML and .NET skills, these workshops will introduce the fundamentals of developing Windows 8 Metro-style applications, tips for migrating your Windows Phone applications, and guidance on Metro UX. Technical experts will be on hand to address your questions, discuss your existing Windows Phone applications, and help get you started on developing your applications on Windows 8 and getting them into the Windows Store.

Option One
Date May 16th, 2012

Events run from 8:30am to 12:30pm CST

Option Two
Date May 18th, 2012

Events run from 8:30am to 12:30pm CST

Questions? Let me know and I’ll do what I can to help.

Now go out there and build some amazing apps!

Development, MVVM, Product Announcements, WP7

P&P Windows Phone Guidance Released

A couple of new Patterns & Practices guidance papers have been released for Windows Phone. I haven’t read them yet, but they look really interesting. Here are some links for your enjoyment:


Development, Featured, Product Announcements, WP7

Windows Phone Starter Kit for Schools v2.0 Released!

I’m pleased to announce the release of Version 2 for the Windows Phone Starter Kit for Schools!

Thanks to some AWESOME help and source code changes submitted by Rudy Hyun, I was able to incorporate a bunch of new stuff into a new version of the Starter Kit.

  • added localization support (fr and en included)
  • switched to Google Weather service (previous service was US only)
  • merged map panorama items
  • added a popup to select contact method on the contact pano (previous was hard to select)
  • added a campus view to navigate to the image (pinch/zoom/translate, etc)
  • improved the MVVM implementation
  • some refactoring of the data files and codebase
  • added club tab (item data + subtitle – can be removed if unwanted)
  • various code and performance tweaks

You can download the starter kit at or and let us know what you think.

I’ve also just created a new User Voice website to track ideas for future starter kits – you can find this at Feel free to add your own ideas, and vote on other ideas. As of this writing there is only 1 idea in the list, so be sure to add some new ones!