Mo Calc “clone” detected

I was checking up on Mo Calc over at Windows Phone 7 marketplace today and I came across an interesting finance app.

It’s called Loanster. Check out these screenshots below:

Loanster - cheap Mo Calc clone Loanster - cheap Mo Calc clone Loanster - cheap Mo Calc clone Loanster - cheap Mo Calc clone

Despite drawing inspiration from Mo Calc, I am assured that Loanster is a completly legit and independently written app. Its author Tony was nice enough and agreed to tweak the UI in the next version in order to differentiate Loanster from Mo Calc a bit more.

Mo Calc 1.2 released

I finally had some time to release a much-needed update to my free mortgage calculator for Window Phone 7. Mo Calc 1.2 sports a new payment summary page with pie charts to better visualize payments structure.

I also revamped the comparison page. I decided to hide the detailed numbers and only display the monthly and total payments, in order to fit more items on the screen. The details are still available – just click “show details” to expand them.

Mortgage payment charts Side-by-side mortgage comparison New About page

I felt that the amortization table was pretty useless in the previous version. Who wants to scroll through 360 months of rows to see just a bunch of numbers? My plan is to gradually start improving it and making it more user-friendly. Version 1.2 has a “quick jump” capability (alike the people hub in Windows Phone 7) allowing quick hop to a designated year. Click on the year header to activate it.

Amortization table Quickly jump to amortization years Splash screen image

There were also other miscellaneous improvements that made it to this version. Here is the list:

Version 1.2

  • Improved payment summary page
  • Added pie charts
  • Improved amortization table
  • Using large numeric keyboard for number input
  • Added collapsible details for mortgage comparisons
  • Performance improvements and bug fixes
  • New icon and splash screen
  • New About page
Update: Looks like I made a simple “copy and paste” error and both charts are the same. Thank you TheManOfSteel27 for pointing that out. I already submitted an update to the Marketplace. Now just waiting for Microsoft to approve it.

 

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

Mobile project, cont.

Something I just thought of for my new mobile project:

I also want to reuse as much code as I can between the WP7 and Android solutions. The code sharing part is what in my opinion will be most complicated. It seems like the two “camps” couldn’t be further apart, and that there are no common tools available. It would be great if there was something like MonoTouch but for Android (MonoDroid, are you here yet?) so that I can code in C#…

Hopefully, with Brad Abrams working for Google, we will see a more .NET friendly Android. Time will tell. In the meantime, I need to figure something out.

Mobile project

Long time, no blog. My life has been pretty busy, which is why I’ve been neglecting the blog. It’s easier to just send a few tweets to share my thoughts. Tonight I have a few spare moments, so I decided to write.

In the past few weeks I attended many local coding events. Last Saturday was the Chicago Code Camp, then Silverlight design training with Adam Kinney on Friday, and the Chicago Android workshop yesterday. Needles to say, I feel overwhelmed by all the cool technologies out there. I wish I had the time to learn them all. I am especially thorn between the upcoming Windows Phone 7 and Google’s Android.
I really like the .NET Framework and the flexibility of Silverlight (for once Microsoft did a good job designing something), but I also like the openness and possibilities that come with the Android platform. Plus my phone runs Android, so it would be cool to know how to program for it.

I am thinking of doing a small app that would let me explore the two platforms a little bit more. I want to start with something simple, just to get my feet wet, before I move to something more ambitious. For my first app the plan is to explore transitions between screens and different list layouts. I will be sharing my experiences on this blog. If you have any comments or suggestions, please leave me a line.