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Beginner’s Guide to Using AppStudio for Building Windows 8 Applications

  • June 2, 2014
  • By Vipul Patel
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Introduction

Building applications isn’t easy, especially if you are not a developer and do not know how to. To help boost the number of apps on its ecosystem, Microsoft has provided a very way to build applications that can target Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1. In an earlier article (Speeding up Windows Phone Application Development Using App Studio) we saw how easy it was to create applications for Windows Phone 8 using AppStudio from Microsoft.

At Build 2014, Microsoft announced Universal apps (apps built once that can run on multiple Windows devices). At the same time, AppStudio updated their tools to support building Universal Apps, which can run on both Windows Phone 8.1 as well as Windows 8.1

In this article, we will explore how we can use AppStudio to easily build Windows 8.1 applications (which can also run on Windows Phone 8.1)

Hands On

To get started building applications using AppStudio, visit http://appstudio.windows.com/ and sign in.

Live.com Login
Live.com Login

Once you are signed in, click “Start New” and choose your template.

Choose Your Template
Choose Your Template

You can see various templates already available. Browse around and choose the template you want to use.

For our walkthrough, I am selecting the Catalog template.

Upon selecting the template, you will be presented with a preview of how the application will look.

Preview of the Application
Preview of the Application

If this matches your expectations, click “Create”. Otherwise, you can click “Cancel” and select another template.

Once you click Create, you will be directed to the next step – selecting the sections of your application. Based on the template you selected, there might be a few preselected sections for the application. In our walkthrough case, we have five sections already provided as default by the template.

Template Sections
Template Sections

We can choose the remove any of the preselected sections or choose to add one of the available sections. We can also have a few advanced sections which are shown below. On this page, we can also arrange the sections in any order we want by dragging the sections around.

We will add the Bing section to the application. When we click the Bing Section, we get prompted to provide a few details.

Add Bing Section
Add Bing Section

After providing the details, click Confirm. We will be back on the Content section. Click “Save” to save your selection.

Click Save
Click Save

At any time, we can click on the Green link on the screen to see the preview on Windows devices (not phone).

Next, we will click “Theme” and determine the right theme for the application.

Select the Theme
Select the Theme

If we do not like the default theme, we have the option to change the theme. For the purpose of walkthrough, we will not change the theme.

Next, we will click on the Tiles link and determine the tiles layout for the application.

Select the Tiles Layout
Select the Tiles Layout

We will be presented with the defaults associated with the template. We can choose from the following tiles – Flip, Cycle and Iconic. Choose the one that you feel makes the best aesthetic sense for your application.

We can even choose how the application splash screen and lock screen background will look.

Select Splash and Lock Screens
Select Splash and Lock Screens

If you make any changes, please be sure to click Save to persist your changes.

Finally, we arrive at the Publish Info screen where we will provide the application title, description and languages in which it is offered.

Title, Description, and Language
Title, Description, and Language

We can also choose if we want to include an about page for the application, which allows people to share the application.

Additionally, we can choose if we want to enable ads in the application. If you choose yes, click on the Microsoft pubCenter data link and provide the following information to enable ads in your application.

Microsoft pubCenter Data
Microsoft pubCenter Data

For the purpose of the demo, I am not enabling advertisements.

Click Save.

We are now ready to publish our application. Click Finish.

We will be presented with a Summary page where we can check out how the application will look.

 Summary Page
Summary Page

If you are satisfied with the experience, we can now proceed with generating the application by clicking the Generate button.

When we click Generate button, we will be presented with a screen to choose the target platform.

Generate App
Generate App

Choose Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1. This will create a Universal Windows Project, which can run on both the platforms.

Choose Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1
Choose Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1

Click Generate.

You will notice a progress bar on the screen showing the progress of the application generation.

Progress Bar
Progress Bar

When the application is completed, the page will be updated to include more sections

Application Complete
Application Complete

If you scroll down, you will see links to Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 packages.

Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 packages
Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 packages

At this stage, we have a few choices.

1. Check out the application on our devices before we publish to the respective app stores.

a. For this, we will need to install certificates (which are linked under the prerequisites section).

b. Use the Installable packages to install the application on the device.

2. We can also publish the application directly to the app stores. If we want to do that, we will have to associate our application publishing profile with AppStudio.

3. We also can download the source code of the application, to add other features that are not provided by default.

As we can see, application developer for Microsoft’s new ecosystem isn’t very hard when we use AppStudio. Happy building.

Summary

In this article, we saw how easy it was to create applications for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1. I hope you have found the information useful.

About the Author

Vipul Patel is a Program Manager currently working at Amazon Corporation. He has formerly worked at Microsoft in the Lync team and in the .NET team (in the Base Class libraries and the Debugging and Profiling team). He can be reached at vipul.patel@hotmail.com


Tags: developer, Windows 8, Windows 8 Apps




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