Windows App Studio: free tool makes appdev easy

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It’s not news today that apps are taking over the world thanks to the power of affordable smartphones. Yet to create an app, you still need to know how to code and a bunch of some other pieces of technical knowledge.  Thanks to the power of the internet, things are getting easier.

Say hello to the Windows App Studio, folks

At appstudio.windows.com is a FREE (yes, we repeat: it’s free!) web based tool that allows you to create apps for Windows Phone and Windows 8.1, WITHOUT typing a single line of code or knowing any technical knowledge at all.

If you’re a Windows Phone user that updated to Windows Phone 8.1, then chances are you’ve heard of it already. For those of you that haven’t, think of it as Dreamweaver for Windows Apps and you’ll get an idea how it works.

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So how easy is it in practice?? Here’s a video by Microsoft’s Bryan Tomlinson answering that question:

The user interface is friendly enough for you to grasp 95% of how things work in App Studio: there’s a How-to-guide for the rest.

App Studio isn’t a utopian solution, though.

If you watched the entire video to the end however, then you can see the catch with App Studio. While you can build many nice apps with Windows App Studio, the content and features you can add to it are pretty basic. If you want to add more advanced features then you’ll have to download the source code and edit it in Visual Studio.

Furthermore, as seasoned web developers like my colleagues Andrew and Ahamed know: when something goes wrong you’ll need to understand the code. So while Windows App Studio simplifies the process of creating apps, the process of maintenance will require some coding and technical knowledge in particular C# and XAML. For that knowledge feel free to  check out the C# Fundamentals and Windows Phone 8.1 Development videos by the folks at LearnVisualStudio.NET for absolute beginners.

Once you’ve built your app in Windows App Studio, finished making any modifications in Visual Studio and most importantly TESTING everything to ensure it works smoothly, you can publish it either on the Windows Phone Store or on the Windows Store if it’s a universal Windows 8.1 app as well (apparently there still are people who use those “Metro” apps).

How viable is a Windows app today?

Considering how Windows Phone has taken 3rd place in the mobile OS market and is rising quickly we’d say Windows Phone is a very viable platform. But yes, it has a long way ahead to get to where Android and iOS are, so despite the sudden influx of Lumia 525’s in the hands of the Colombo populace, you might want to consider your chances. On the plus side, the Windows Phone app store is a small pond in which you can make a big splash.

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Windows 8.1 seems to be a different story. Nobody likes the Start Screen, unless you count my colleague Yudhanjaya, who uses it mostly as a zen distraction tool.

At the end of the day, Windows App Studio was designed to simplify the process of developing apps for non-techies and it does this job amazingly well. Head over and see if you like it – it’s free!

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