When I was at university my life mainly revolved around sleeping, watching TV and waiting in line for the microwave to heat up some sausage rolls.
Thankfully, today’s student population seems to have rather more enterprise and a stronger work ethic.
For example, take Rob Crocombe, 19, who is in the second year of a Computer Science degree at Hull University in England. When he is not studying he is also trying to establish himself as an app developer.
While he’s created a brilliant Windows Phone app called Flashdeck, Rob has also had another app rejected by Microsoft. So it’s not all been plain sailing.
Rob spoke to Conversations about being a Windows Phone developer, getting your app through the certification process and what he has learnt from his experiences.
When did your interest in developing apps begin?
Before university I was already quite intent on developing games. A lecturer at university was very keen on Windows Phone development and introduced us to XNA and Silverlight.
I love the modern user interface of Windows and Microsoft makes their student developers feel very welcome.
I made a Windows Phone 7 app for a video game deals website called ‘Cheap Ass Gamer’ in June of last year. It featured an audio player for the site’s podcast ‘CAGcast’ and Twitter feeds of the show’s three presenters. I just finished a Windows 8 version, which has big improvements to the code side of the app.
What do you like best about developing for Windows Phone?
The development tools that are available for Windows Phone are great, it doesn’t feel like you’re fighting to get your code working like with some other platforms and programming languages.
I like how Windows Phones have the same basic specifications; you know your app will run on all makes and models of Windows Phone so you can just focus on the user experience.
How excited are you about Windows Phone 8?
Very. WP8 phones are more powerful than WP7; this is great for both users and developers. I love the new Start screen too; I’m looking forward to customising it with the different tile sizes.
I think Flashdeck is a great app. What inspired you to create that?
Thanks! I was looking for a summer project to work on last year. It was just after the exams and I thought I’d make a flashcard app.
I had used real flashcards for my A-Levels and they really helped.
I did some research and found the current range of flashcard apps on the Store weren’t very good. I wanted to create an app that had lots of features and looked great in the Metro style.
You recently had an app turned down for the Windows Phone Store? Tell us about that app and why it was turned down.
That was the Cheap Ass Gamer WP8 app I talked about. It failed certification because I had a link to my other Windows and Windows Phone apps in the Store. Microsoft doesn’t allow this because it’s advertising, even if it’s for their own platform.
I’ve learned it’s a good idea to read the certification requirements more thoroughly; they differ for every platform.
What advice would you give to other people hoping to start developing apps for Windows Phone?
There are some fantastic resources available on the Internet to help you get started.
If you are a university student, Microsoft have a website calledDreamSpark where you can download a lot of their paid development software for free.
I would recommend having previous knowledge of the programming languages before you start. If you’re planning on using C#, try making a WPF program before starting Windows Phone, they are very similar.
What can you tell us about what you are currently working?
I’m in the early stages of developing a Windows 8 app that usesAdobe Kuler. I think it will be the first Kuler app in the Store. It will hopefully allow the user to view the latest and greatest community created colour schemes from Kuler and make their own.
I also eventually want to update my Windows Phone 7 apps to take advantage of Windows Phone 8, especially the new screen sizes. I’m not sure when I’ll have the time to do this though.