Fun Snowflakes

Another weekend, another project. My parents asked me for help getting their website up and running. They finally decided to share our tradition of making paper snowflake cut-outs with the world. It was a neat little project.

My sister digitized all snowflake patterns in SVG format using Inkscape. I wrote a simple script that “stitches” pages together and outputs PDFs. Pretty soon we created several awesome-looking eBooks. Then it was just a matter of putting together a website with a simple store. I used ASP.NET MVC along with a cloud-based eCommerce basket called Cashie. It was super easy – basically a copy-and-paste of a few HTML lines. Cashie still needs to add some features (for example, there is still no way to know that the purchase has been completed), but overall it was a good experience.

FunSnowflakes

But enough about technology. Let’s talk about snowflakes. Making cut-outs is really a great passtime, especially for those cold winter evenings. It’s also easy to get the kids involved. Snowflakes make neat holiday decorations and gifts.

Try it yourself – Visit http://FunSnowflakes.com and download a free sample.

Microsoft’s redemption

Yesterday Microsoft finally reactivated my App Hub account so I was able to publish a long overdue Mo Calc update. It did take them a whole week and I still don’t know what the issue was in the first place. I guess at this point I don’t really care. To sweeten the deal Microsoft reimbursed my money and pre-paid the $99 for a yearly App Hub membership. That, plus my app was approved after only a few hours. Call me satisfied.

Cool

WP7 App Search via Bing

Bing offers a nice way of searching for Windows Phone 7 apps, called “Visual Search”. I have noticed that the results are a little bit outdated compared to the Zune client but, nonetheless it’s a cool tool for browsing.

Here’s a link to the Finance apps.

Note: The problem is that Marketplace search only includes titles! The descriptions and metadata are not searched. Sounds like another glitch to me.

First Windows Phone 7 App

As you undoubtedly heard from my posts on Twitter, I have published my very first Windows Phone 7 app. Yes, you guessed it right – it’s a mortgage calculator called Mo Calc.

Dev Experience

I wanted to see if Microsoft’s promise of reusing existing Silverlight code on the phone was true. Indeed it was, but mainly for the business logic. The unique space constrains of a phone screen pretty much required a brand new UI. I was glad my old code followed the MVVM pattern – I was able to quickly use databinding and get the new UI of the ground.

I really enjoyed styling the interface in Blend. Microsoft did an awesome job on this front. Visual design makes writing apps much quicker, even quicker than on Android. You don’t have to deploy to the device/emulator to see how your UI will look like.

The APIs feel fine as well – every .NET dev will be at home. That said, I must say I personally like the “intent” model of Android better that Silverlight’s web-like “navigation” model. But that’s just my personal opinion. I’m still giving WP7 dev experience very high marks.

Cool Cool Cool

Below are some screenshots from version 1.0.0.0 of Mo Calc.

Home screen with multiple mortgages Screen for adding or editing mortgages. The estimated payment is auto-updated with each change. Mortgage comparison - graph showing monthly payments

Marketplace Experience

Unlink Apple, Microsoft has published clear guidelines of what is allowed and what is not. It was nice to be able to read a document outlining all the things that are considered during the certification process. I chose to make my Mo Calc free and make money from ads. Microsoft allows 5 free app submissions.
Publishing Mo Calc through the website was very easy; a typical “wizard” experience. I was told the approval may take as long as five days, but my app got into the market just after 18 hours. Nice! 

Cool Cool Cool

The Bad and Ugly

While the quick submission turnaround time was certainly impressive, Microsoft managed to frustrate the heck out of me.

Right after my app made it to the market, I received a confirmation email stating that my marketplace account had been cancelled. Wait, what?
You read it right. The money was refunded to me, and I can no longer log in. Why did this happen? Nobody knows.

I have been calling MS tech support every day since, but was told that it may take more than a week to get my account reinstated. Very, very frustrating!

Meanwhile, my app is available in the marketplace. I have since found a few bugs and issues (ex. the ads are not showing, so I am not making any money) that I would like to fix, but I cannot access my account. Thanks Microsoft. I just hope that no one gives my app negative feedback for the glitches.

I’m really hoping my account gets reinstated soon…

Surprised Yell Cry