Feeds

Microsoft slaps fresh paint on code-free Windows Phone dev tool

Now with support for Windows 8.1 apps, too – sort of

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Microsoft has given a significant overhaul to Windows Phone App Studio Beta, its web-based tool for building simple apps for Windows Phone 8.

Redmond has pitched the tool as a way for "hobbyists, enthusiasts and new developers" to build apps without programming. Specifically, it suggests App Studio is good for making "content-based apps" – a polite way of describing the kind of simple "brochureware" apps that are more about presenting information than doing work.

"To date 350,000 developers of all skill levels have used Windows Phone App Studio Beta, resulting in 300,000 projects and 20,000 apps published to Windows Phone Store," Microsoft's Emilio Salvador Prieto said in a blog post.

For the new version released on Thursday, Microsoft has given the UI a major scrubbing so that the workflow is faster and easier to use. The controls have also been redesigned so that they're more touch-friendly – perhaps for those who want to try their hands at designing phone apps on their phones.

Screenshot of Windows Phone App Studio

Out with the old, in with the new ... the reworked App Studio (below) is designed to be more touch-friendly

Windows Phone App Studio Beta update

A new version of the built-in phone emulator supports dynamic text updates, so the emulated output changes on the fly with each change to the project files.

A few new app templates for businesses have been added to the catalog, bringing the total number of preconfigured designs to 21. App Studio can also now convert JPEG images into PNG.

Microsoft says the new version of App Studio outputs higher-quality code in terms of structure, readability, and performance. Generated apps are now based on the Model View ViewModel (MVVM) architectural pattern, a style developed by Microsoft that's largely derived from the better-known model-view-controller (MVC) pattern.

Perhaps most interesting, however, is a new experimental feature that allows developers to output their projects both as a prebuilt app package for Windows Phone 8 and as a Visual Studio solution.

The latter potentially allows developers to use Visual Studio to build versions of their Windows Phone apps as Windows Store apps for Windows 8.1. (Curiously, Windows 8 is not mentioned as a target.) But the fact that Microsoft is not doing the builds itself yet, as it does for Windows Phone, suggests the process may not be as straightforward as it seems.

Still, adding this feature to App Studio is yet another example of Microsoft trying to unify the developer experience for Windows and Windows Phone. In November, Redmond made it possible to sign up for both developer programs simultaneously, and rumors say it plans to combine the online stores for both platforms sometime this year.

Windows Phone App Studio is currently still in beta, but it's open to anyone who logs in with a Microsoft account. Actually publishing apps created with the tool to the Windows Phone Store, on the other hand, requires a developer account, which currently costs $19 per year for individuals or $99 per year for companies. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft boots 1,500 dodgy apps from the Windows Store
DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! Naughty, misleading developers!
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?