Windows Phone "Mango" Hackathon (7/18)

The Portland Windows Phone User Group will be having our July meeting on Monday the 18th. For our next meeting we’re using a hack-a-thon format.  It will be a full afternoon of creating, hacking, and helping you with your apps for Windows Phone “Mango”. Details are below, look forward to seeing you there!

FYI, I have three devices which have “Mango” installed to help you test your apps.

WHAT: PWPUG - July 2011 Meeting

WHEN: Monday, 7/18/2011
11:30 a.m. Lunch / Networking
12:00 p.m. Presentation on new “Mango” Features
1:00 p.m. Hackathon, Demos, Help with Apps
4:30 p.m. Wrap up & giveaways

WHERE: Microsoft PacWest Office (map)
1414 NW Northrup St
Portland, OR 97209-2798

WHO: Kelly White
Kelly White is a Windows Phone Development MVP and has a passion for startups and ideas that can change the world. Kelly co-founded both the Portland Silverlight User Group and Portland Windows Phone User Group with Erik Mork. Kelly presents regularly at User Groups and Code Camps throughout the Pacific Northwest on Silverlight and Windows Phone 7 Development.

TOPIC: Windows Phone 7 Hack-a-thon
This event is follow-on from the Windows Phone 7 Unleashed Events that were held last fall.  The format is less structured, and more hands-on.  Whether you need help developing, architecting, pricing, integrating ads, or are just getting started, this is the place to be.  Our primary goal is to help you get ready for when “Mango” apps can be published to the marketplace later this fall.  We’re happy to share lessons learned from our own experiences (e.g. Alchemy, RunPee).  If you find yourself to have been inspired by MIX and just want to get together and hack a cool app, we’re more than happy to jump in and help you with that as well.

NOTE: Devices will be available for testing your apps.

If you are new and want to learn, then this is the place to be.

Sponsors: While you are at it, consider visiting our premium sponsors that make these meetings possible:

tags: WP7 | Silverlight | wp7dev | PWPUG | XNA

Why Attend Microsoft Gamefest 2011

In about a month our summer vacations will be starting to wind down and the kids will be getting ready to go back to school.  At that point we'll also be a month away from the BUILD conference and yet still have no word from Microsoft on how Silverlight fits into Windows 8.  While Microsoft's silence is discouraging, I'm super excited right now.  Why?  Because in just over a month I'll be driving up the Seattle to attend Microsoft Gamefest for the very first time.  Woohoo!

Gamefest has been a conference that I've always wanted to attend and yet never been able to schedule time for.  This year is different.  I absolutely will not miss Gamefest this year.  I registered and booked my hotel last month (staying at the Sheraton).  I'm even taking the family with me, and why shouldn't I?  The conference is only two days long, and Seattle is such a short drive from Portland.

Perhaps you're  wondering why I'm making such a big deal out of what has typically been an Xbox focused conference.  If you know me then you know that I'm very focused on Windows Phone and lonst interest in Xbox Live Indie game development.  This year Microsoft Gamefest has a very large focus on Windows Phone.  Just check out the conference details and see for your self.

If you are thinking of building games for the Windows Phone then you really need to attend Gamefest this year.  I'm not going to try and convince you why you should attend.  Either you see the opportunity in front of you or you don't.  I will say that the early bird registration ends July 29th ($450 vs $550).

If you are a Windows Phone developer who uses Silverlight for all your games then you should still consider attending Gamefest.  You'll benefit immensely as a game developer by attending this conference, and eventually you will be adding XNA to your skillset (don't try to fight it).  Considering how the mobile markets are positioned right now, you've actually got a once in a lifetime opportunity placed in front of you.  What are you going to do with it?

tags: WP7 | wp7dev | XNA

WP7 Mango Beta 2 - Get it now

This is the update you've been waiting for...

  1. Read Brandon Watson's blog post - all of it
  2. Download the Windows Phone Developer Tools Beta 2

You'll notice that with this update you now have the chance to update your retail phone to Mango. I'm in the process of doing this myself. Listed below are the high-level steps you'll need to follow (as suggested by Brandon Watson).

  • Read the instructions before updating, there are important steps you need to follow to the letter.
  • Update your retail phone to Mango.
  • Rub it in your friends' faces that you have Mango and they don't.
  • Build Mango apps.

So go get the bits, get registered for AppHub if you haven't already, get Mango on your phone, and then have a blast building new and exciting apps for Mango.

tags: WP7 | Windows Phone | mango

Time to Stop Whining About Silverlight vs HTML5

People who know me know that I love Silverlight.  Just ask my wife or my 10 year-old daughter.  Ask any of my previous employers whom I consistently begged to let me use the technology to solve their problems.  I was there at MIX07 when Silverlight was first announced and I changed my life and bet big on this technology.  I started the PDXUX.Net User Group right after MIX07.  In 2009 Erik Mork helped me migrate that group into the Portland Silverlight User Group.  We worked with Microsoft and got a busload of 40+ user group members up to the Silverlight Firestarter event last December.  Like others, I started my own Silverlight consulting company.  I aspired to one day be awarded as a Microsoft MVP in Silverlight (yeah, that never happened).  I now create apps and games for the Windows Phone using Silverlight.  I have absolutely no regrets with how I've integrated Silverlight into my life.  Why should I?  Silverlight will continue to be a big part of my life.

Now, before you read any further you need to go watch this video where Mike Angiulo shows off Windows 8 and talks about what's coming in hardware (majority of the video) and hints at what is available for apps (29:40 in video).

I don't know about you, but after watching that video I am super excited about the opportunities coming in Windows 8.  I mean, seriously, how can you watch that video and not be excited?  Did you watch the video?  GO WATCH THE VIDEO!  Please.  :)

Let's be clear here, I'm aware that Microsoft's favorite new catchphrase is "hardware accelerated HTML".  They aren't mentioning Silverlight very much when it comes to Windows 8.  Meh, whatever.  I'm assuming Microsoft is trying to speak to non-Microsoft devs and get their attention.  Good for them.  That doesn't alienate me as a Silverlight developer.  However, this change in language is starting to pique my interest.  I mean, what if they are actually trying to speak to me?  Are they hinting at something new that I could benefit from?

Now I'm intrigued.  I rode the crest of the wave with Silverlight.  Now that I know there will be a Windows 8 app store, I want to make sure I'm at the forefront of whatever is Windows 8.  If that means learning HTML5 and CSS3, then I'm totally willing to invest that time.  I've already picked up a couple books and am reading those now.  I'm encouraging you to do the same.  Don't whine to me about having too much to learn (e.g. what's new in Mango, as well as XNA).  We're all smart people here and we studied multiple subjects while in college.  If you want to take advantage of all the opportunities in Windows 8 then you'll need to invest the time in HTML5/CSS3/Javascript now.

Also, don't whine to me and say "I did HTML+Javascript 'X' number of years ago and it didn't work then so why should I go back?"  Horse shit.  You haven't done HTML+Javascript with the tools/standards/language support/browser support that we have now, not to mention the tooling that will be announced at BUILD.  That–my friend–is a total game changer.

Honestly, it's time to stop whining and start learning.  You remember all the cynics back when Silverlight was first announced?  You remember how hard it was to get your boss to let you do a project in Silverlight back then?  You remember how it seemed they would say anything to fight this new technology?  Do you realize that is exactly who you have turned into?

Opportunity, my friends, it's all about opportunity.  That's exactly why I am attending BUILD, and exactly why you also need to attend.  If you decide to stay home and remain ignorant then you will be increasing my odds of success (I'll have fewer competitors).  But I'm a community guy and I run user groups and I try to help those around me.  All I'm saying is you need to take a hard and honest look at this and think about what this could mean to your future.  When .NET came on the scene there were plenty of VB6 developers who chose to pass on the opportunity before them and were slower in their adoption.  There's nothing wrong with that.  Just be honest with yourself about realize what this could potentially mean to you.

I know I'm going to be doing Silverlight development for a long time.  It will take a while for Windows 8 to ship, and even after it does ship, Silverlight will still be a large part of how we do application development.  Sure there will be HTML5/Javascript apps, but if you think that Silverlight doesn't play any part in the future of Windows 8, or with the Windows 8 app store, then YOU ARE INSANE.  I don't have any secret information, no one does yet.  However I'm continuing to bet heavily on the future of Silverlight, and I'm learning HTML5/CSS3 to expand my opportunities with whatever is announced at BUILD.

My recommendation for you is to do exactly the same.

tags: Silverlight | HTML5 | BUILD

Making Money with WP7

I gave a presentation at Portland Code Camp on my Alchemy game for Windows Phone 7.  The game has been live for about 2 months.  I was very transparent with my numbers and my experience in trying out different pricing strategies.  I talked about the challenges of maintaining a mobile app, and what process I went through when I found I needed to do an immediate rollback.  I've also made the slide decks used in this presentation available for download (presentation, alchemy case study).  Hopefully you find this interesting.

Making Money With WP7 from Silvertail Software on Vimeo.

tags: WP7 | Silverlight | wp7dev | Portland Code Camp | Alchemy

Portland Code Camp 2011 - Recap

Earlier this month I participated in the Portland Code Camp.  Talk about an awesome event, over 500 attendees showed up and participated on what turned out to be the first non-rainy Saturday in months.  While many of them could have instead been partying at the beach they instead choose to focus on their professional lives in both teaching and learning from others.  Each year I am completely amazed by the dedication of the technical and professional communities here in Portland, Oregon.

Originally I was scheduled for just 2 sessions, but I did finally end up speaking in 3.  I wound up filling in at the last minute for a speaker who became sick.

In the first session I had about 30 people and we talked about the importance of UX in your mobile applications.  None of the crowd had really seen Windows Phone 7, so I spent a lot of time talking about it and what is new in Mango.  I then talked about some of the UX paradigms and how those can be translated over to over platforms (e.g. Live Tiles -> Widgets in Android).  We spent a while talking about the importance of push notifications and why you need them.  While I had a slant of what works in Windows Phone 7, really the discussion was about the general UX paradigms and how you can build a more engaging mobile experience regardless of what platform you choose.

My second session was on Making Money with Windows Phone 7.  That session was recorded and the slide decks are also available for you to download (see my other post).

My last session of the day was sitting in on a panel with Walt Ritscher, Bill Moore, and Joe McBride.  We had a blast talking about how UI/UX is changing because of mobile, kinect, and html5.  It was a very well rounded crowd, with most people coming from a background of using a non-Microsoft web stack.

Final Thoughts

One observation I took away from code camp is that really we're all in this together regardless of what our technological background is, and what unites and excites all of us is creating these engaging and immersive user experiences.  At the end of the day it's all about UX, as that's the language that each of us speaks and understands.  With this perspective it really makes the "silverlight vs html5 / silverlight is dead" discussions seem like trivial, petty, and entirely useless conversations.  The technology isn't what matters, it's the human element or what we commonly refer to as the User Experience (UX).

tags: WP7 | Silverlight | wp7dev | Portland Code Camp | mango

Speaking at Mobile Portland - Recap

During the end of April I was able to share a 10 minute presentation for Mobile Portland on my Alchemy game.  I did a small demo and spent most of my time sharing actual numbers from the success I was seeing.  You can watch the presentation below.  I was the 4th of 5 speakers and start at 46:20.  My goal was to create a “successful” game in Silverlight and be able to use that as a case study for why developers should consider writing apps for the Windows Phone platform.

Mobile Demolicious, April Mobile Portland from Mobile Portland on Vimeo.

tags: WP7 | Silverlight | wp7dev | Alchemy | Mobile Portland

Get Free Advertising for your WP7 App

Here’s the deal:

  • Any developer that publishes 5 new apps between April 1 and June 30, 2011 gets FREE advertising for 1 of their 5 apps.
  • Impressions will run across MSN, Windows Live and Fox Sports mobile browser ad network for Windows Phone 7 devices.
  • There is a limit of up to 4 offers per developer  (no gaming with multiple emails, multiple mailing addresses or variations of name)
  • There is a limit of 200 offers in total
  • This is open to all US based developers (that meet the legalese: 18+ years old,…); contest rules are at

Each developer that has at least one new app published and submitted will get a status email weekly so they know how they are doing.

After June 30, 2011, you’ll receive a confirmation email with instructions on how to redeem your offer. You will be able to choose which one of your five apps you would like to have advertised for free across the Windows Phone 7 Mobile Ad browser network. Your app will receive 25,000 impressions, which is about 60 days of promotion.

Like I mentioned above, prizes are limited to the first 200 winners so don’t delay!

FYI, for everyone that attended one of my code camp sessions (or watches the online recording) please use the event code of K9AIP and the date of 6/4/2011 when you submit your entries.  Hopefully I'll also see you at the next Portland Windows Phone User Group meeting.

tags: WP7 | wp7dev | PWPUG | Portland Code Camp

Portland Code Camp 2011

The Portland Code Camp for 2011 is tomorrow (6/4).  I'm assuming that most of you knew about it already and had already pre-registered.  If not then don't fret, you can still show up tomorrow morning and they'll take care of you at the door.

This is a code camp that you want to make sure you don't miss.  Lots of sessions on HTML5, Android, Windows Phone, WCF, and Azure.  Scott Hanselman will be giving the keynote during lunch on Lego, Open Source and Sucking Less: An Overview of the MS Web Stack of Love.

I'll be presenting two sessions:


Making Money with Windows Phone 7

Striking it rich in a mobile marketplace is a very intriguing and yet intimidating idea. Here's some of the questions I faced when first getting started:

  • How many hours does it really take?
  • Do I have to have a device?
  • What if I don't think I have a good idea?
  • Is a designer really necessary?
  • How can I compete against an Xbox Live title?

In this session I break down my experience with Alchemy, a relatively successful Silverlight game. I talk about the approach I took which has allowed the majority of my revenue to come from sales and not advertisements. I'll be sharing hard numbers and analytics, and tips that I believe are best practices for building an engaging and compelling app.


Windows Phone "Mango"

Windows Phone 7 turned a lot of heads last year when it entered the mobile ecosystem. Last week the new features for Mango were announced and now the platform stands on its own as a serious competitor and a great strategic play. In this 2.5 hour “hands-on” session we’ll be diving into the newly released beta tools for Mango and building apps that showcase how to take advantage of these new features. If you’ve been waiting to jump on the Windows Phone bandwagon and are now thinking about testing the waters, this is the session for you to get your questions answered.

tags: WP7 | wp7dev | Portland Code Camp | mango

Windows Phone 7 Unleashed Portland - (5/6)

All Day (10 hours) of Hands on Programming, B.Y.O. Laptop!

Windows Phone 7 is HOT! Come check out Windows Phone 7 Unleashed for everything you need to know to develop for WP7. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or you’re just starting with .NET development, there’s something in it for you.

The first half of this deep dive event is lecture and hands on lab. At the half point mark of the day, you’ll have a solid foundation for building WP7 applications.

The second half of the day is going straight to code.

Build the best app and win a $500 (1st place), $200 (2nd place) or $100 (3rd place) American Express gift card!

Free MarketPlace tokens for those putting their application into the marketplace (a limited supply of these, organizers of each event will collect names and we will distribute)

Telerik is sponsoring a $5,000.00 Grand Prize for the best application over all of the WP7 Unleashed events that are submitted to marketplace. The top 25 will be selected and then one of the top 25 will be randomly picked for the prize (So get your app into the marketplace after the event). They are also giving EVERY attendee a free set of their $99.00 WP7 Controls.

PDSA, Inc. is pleased to sponsor the WP7 Unleashed Events. They will be giving 2 lucky winners from each event a chance to win four 1 hour long videos on Silverlight. In addition 1 lucky person will win our Haystack Code Generator for .NET at each event that allows you to create the business and data classes and the WCF services that can be consumed by Windows Phone 7 applications!

O’Reilly will be giving away a free ebook to every attendee (Many WP7 titles) and will also donate a few books to raffle at each event.

Food and Drink (Water, Sodas) will be provided.

In order to deliver the best possible experience for attendees, seating at these events is VERY limited. Register now!

tags: WP7 | Silverlight | wp7dev | XNA