Windows Phone Resources
My name is Luan Quoc Tran. I’m a Vietnamese student at Michigan State University. I have developed Windows Phone apps for a few months. That’s not a long time, but I hope my experiences are helpful and inspire fellow students.
What inspired you to start developing? What age were you when you started?
Since smartphones weren’t really popular in my country (at least when I was in high school), I didn’t get a smartphone until I went to college in the U.S. After only a few days of using my Android phone, I was really impressed by the amazing way that it assisted me with my studies and work.
As a Computer Science student, I desired to manage my phone with apps developed by myself, thus I started to learn how to make smartphone apps. However, everything hasn’t been as easy as I expected; I had a hard time dealing with Android SDK and Java which were a little complicated to me at that time. And then my route was completely changed when I saw the Big App on Campus Contest poster and went to the info session. I received wonderful help from Microsoft’s DreamSpark program with App Hub, which was really helpful and loved the Windows Phone SDK. With all of this, I was convinced to develop with Windows Phone wholeheartedly.
Tell us about your experience with Windows Phone.
My experience with Windows Phone has been great so far. I think Microsoft has a thorough support system for developers, especially students. I was really impressed with the documents on MSDN Library and the tutorial on App Hub. Everything you need to begin developing is in there. I still remember one of the best tutorials - the Catapult Wars Lab – the great detailed labs lead me to XNA Framework. The convenience of Windows Phone SDK is also a plus, which made me become fond of this OS.
Talk about the app(s) that you have built.
One of my Windows Phone apps is _25cents, which is a type of a quiz about the U.S. quarters. I want to share the features of each state and the beauty of the U.S. with everyone.
Once, when waiting for the bus, I noticed that on the other side of one of my coins, it depicted the outline of Michigan, where I was staying at. This attracted me and I looked at elements on all remaining coins. One of them was Mount Rushmore and one was a boat with a crew on it, which I knew later is a part of an oil-on-canvas painting “Washington Crossing the Delaware”. I believed that studying these quarters is one of the most interesting ways for me to learn about the U.S. This idea prompted me to develop an application to tell interesting stories behind these small quarters. This app gave me a lot of experience with elements in Window Phone and I think it’s a great combination of metro design, Panorama control and animations.
Is there anything you have had to overcome while developing? Did you ever hit a bump, what/how did you learn from it.
When developing a game, graphics are an important part. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for anyone to be good at programming and drawing. Thus the graphic of my first game was really poor. This problem was solved when I had one of my friends to deal with this part. We formed a team and combined efforts, some took programming and others worked on the graphics and sound, which turned out to be a good recipe for our app.
Another difficulty is that I don’t have a Windows Phone to test my apps. Microsoft Phone Emulator is good, but testing with a physical device is necessary, especially with apps that use phone sensors. Once again, I have to get help from my friends. I hope I’ll have a Windows Phone device for my own soon.
Do you have any advice for your fellow students?
From my experience, the best way to start is learning from simple sample codes. You should study the function of any blocks of codes and then you can know what elements you need for your project. Once you understand the general structure of an app, you can prepare for your own one. When you work on details, MSDN Library should be the first things you think about when you need help. Make use of this great library!
What are your future plans?
I am going to learn more about XNA Framework and then I can work on my new project, a strategy game with a pirate theme. I hope I can share with you soon.
My goal for the next year is to buy a computer for my younger sister with my earnings, when I return to my country next summer.
your goal is so much inspirational :) love it.