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Windows on Theory
Posted by Rob Knies
If you’re a software developer—or if you follow the work of software developers—you’ve probably heard of TouchDevelop, a Microsoft Research app that enables you to write code for your phone using scripts on your phone. Its ability to bring the excitement of programming to Windows Phone 7 has reaped lots of enthusiasm from the development community over the past year or so.Now, the team behind TouchDevelop has taken things a step further, with a web app that can work on any Windows 8 device with a touchscreen. You can write Windows Store apps simply by tapping on the screen of your device. The web app also works with a keyboard and mouse, but the touchscreen capability means that the keyboard is not required. To learn more, watch this video.This reimplementation of TouchDevelop went live just in time for Build, Microsoft’s annual conference that helps developers learn how to take advantage of Windows 8. The conference is being held Oct. 30-Nov. 2 in Redmond, Wash.“Just as users could turn their scripts into Windows Phone apps,” says Nikolai Tillmann, principal research software-design engineer with the Research in Software Engineering (RiSE) team at Microsoft Research Redmond, “we will also allow our users to turn their scripts into Windows Store apps.”The TouchDevelop web app, which runs on Internet Explorer 10 and other browsers, enables developers to publish their scripts so they can be shared with others using TouchDevelop. As with the Windows Phone version, a touchdevelop.com cloud service enables scripts to be published and queried, and when you log in with the same credentials, all of your scripts are synchronized between all your platforms and devices.While in the TouchDevelop web app, users can navigate to the properties of an installed script already created. Videos describing editor operation of the TouchDevelop web app are available on the project’s webpage.TouchDevelop shipped as a Windows Phone app about a year and a half ago and has seen strong downloads and reviews in the Windows Phone Store.“Our TouchDevelop app for Windows Phone has been downloaded more than 200,000 times,” Tillmann says, “and more than 20,000 users have logged in with a Windows Live ID or via Facebook.”Since the app became available, Tillmann and his RiSE colleagues have been astounded by the creativity the user base has demonstrated. Further Windows 8 developer excitement will be on display during Build, which is being streamed to audiences worldwide.