Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 Development Event Video

Nokia Developer Ambassador Jan Hannemann speaks on how to best develop for both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 focusing on code reuse and sharing, optimal architecture and adding other mobile platforms in to the mix in this Vancouver mobile development event hosted by OptimusMobility.

At the end of the video is information on the Nokia Premium Developer Program, a program to help developers of all sorts get started developing on Windows Phone.

Related Resources

Some of the resources mentioned in the talk or recommended by the speaker.

DVLUP: Nokia Windows phone developer community.

Xamarin: Used for porting .Net MVVM code to native iOS and Android.

MvvmCross: List of resources on MvvmCross which lets you use the MVVM model on Android.

Channel 9: The Channel 9 talk on the same topic.

Original Event Details

jan-hannemann Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 Development Event VideoOn Saturday, March 9, 2013 from 3-5 PM, OptimusMobility hosts a talk about Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 Development by  Jan Hannemann at the at 217-755 Burrard Street, Vancouver

Hannemann will be speaking on developing for Windows Phone 8 with specific emphasis on sharing code between Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 apps.

About Jan Hannemann

Hannemann is a Research Associate at the University of Victoria and a Nokia Developer Ambassador providing support and service to help developers design, develop, distribute and monetize apps on Nokia handsets running Windows Phone.

The post Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 Development Event Video appeared first on OptimusMobility.

Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 Development Event Video

Nokia Developer Ambassador Jan Hannemann speaks on how to best develop for both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 focusing on code reuse and sharing, optimal architecture and adding other mobile platforms in to the mix in this Vancouver mobile development event hosted by OptimusMobility.

At the end of the video is information on the Nokia Premium Developer Program, a program to help developers of all sorts get started developing on Windows Phone.

Related Resources

Some of the resources mentioned in the talk or recommended by the speaker.

DVLUP: Nokia Windows phone developer community.

Xamarin: Used for porting .Net MVVM code to native iOS and Android.

MvvmCross: List of resources on MvvmCross which lets you use the MVVM model on Android.

Channel 9: The Channel 9 talk on the same topic.

Original Event Details

jan-hannemann Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 Development Event VideoOn Saturday, March 9, 2013 from 3-5 PM, OptimusMobility hosts a talk about Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 Development by  Jan Hannemann at the at 217-755 Burrard Street, Vancouver

Hannemann will be speaking on developing for Windows Phone 8 with specific emphasis on sharing code between Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 apps.

About Jan Hannemann

Hannemann is a Research Associate at the University of Victoria and a Nokia Developer Ambassador providing support and service to help developers design, develop, distribute and monetize apps on Nokia handsets running Windows Phone.

The Enterprise Case for Windows Phone 8

We’re hearing a good number of clients and business contacts asking about the Windows Phone 8 platform. While there isn’t an enterprise rush to the Windows Phone 8 platform, there is definitely a compelling case to be made for it in an enterprise setting and companies are taking note.

Here are some of the reasons that businesses give for their interest in Windows Phone.

Microsoft Business Apps

Microsoft has integrated their most widely-adopted business applications with Windows Phone 8. If you are already using Microsoft Office, Exchange and SharePoint, then you will appreciate the tight integration with Windows Phone 8.

You can get any of these apps to work with other platforms, but the native integrations across Microsoft products are simply superior both in terms of performance as well as important details like document synchronisation.

Windows Phone is a first-class member of Microsoft’s many integrated product lines.

IT Control

As much as Google and Apple would like you to believe otherwise, Microsoft understands business better than its competitors and Windows Phone 8 is designed with the needs of enterprise IT in focus.

It has all of the security features that you would expect from a modern operating system. IT departments will appreciate the ability to require passwords, to set password policies through Exchange Active Sync, remote wiping and the Information Rights Management system.

In addition to the security features, Windows Phone 8 gives IT departments all of the control that they are used to on Windows systems with regard to device management using the same tools that they use to manage other Windows devices.

Sharing Code with Windows 8

Perhaps the most compelling reason to adopt Windows Phone 8 is that you can share code between Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 apps greatly reducing development and maintenance time.

The two platforms share many native and runtime APIs and they run on the same .NET engine.

Interacting with phones is different from interacting with computers in a number of ways too obvious for me to go over here. In order to make it as easy as possible to reuse code, Microsoft has tailored the core UI guidelines to map between Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 as closely as possible while preserving the user experience on each platform.

It is still too early to say whether Microsoft has succeeded in balancing consistency across platforms with user experience. But the effort should be applauded and we should expect for the balance to improve from this first step.

Check out Microsoft’s documents on sharing code between Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 for more information.

windows-phone-event The Enterprise Case for Windows Phone 8

We are also hosting Windows Phone 8 evangelist Jan Hannemann on March 9 for a talk on developing for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.

The event is by invitation  only, but if you are interested in going you should definitely try asking nicely either through any of the contact methods listed on our contact page, in person or through any of OptimusMobility’s social accounts.

Choosing Between iOS, Android and Windows Phone for Business Apps

If you’re planning some kind of business app for your company, like a field services app or an app that replaces paper forms with tablets and servers, then you need to pick a platform for your app. And that’s where things get a little messy.

Each platform has different advantages and the right choice ultimately depends on your IT department and your needs.

Issues like security, IT management tools and IT skills already in-house all play a role in deciding which platform to pick.

Here are some of advantages of iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

iOS

Chances are most of your executives are already own Apple devices and, if they are going to be using the app, there is going to be some pressure to standardize on iOS so they can keep their favourite device.

If you are a premium brand, it makes some sense to build your app on iOS. You can certainly find nice hardware to go with other OSes, but Apple products set the design standard and that may be an association that is important to your business.

Your IT department can remotely wipe iOS devices that go missing using mobile device management and the native security features on iOS devices are excellent.

The remote management features on iOS devices also allows your IT team to configure devices remotely and control which apps can be used.

Android

If your company is using Google Apps for Business, then Android makes a lot of sense since it integrates well with Google’s cloud products.

If you want to deploy a device that can only run your business app, then open-source Android is your best choice. The other OSes let you hide and disable features, but only Android lets you remove everything you don’t want or need.

Android runs on Java which is a popular language. A large company likely has a number of Java developers already on staff, it is fairly easy to find Java development skills, there are a lot of Java APIs that you can use and there are a lot of mature development environments for any operating system. Java will likely integrate well with whatever Enterprise systems that you are using.

Android also supports J2EE letting Android phones integrate with a large number enterprise backend services.

Windows Phone

Microsoft is betting that letting you code once and run on Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 is going to drive adoption of Windows Phone. It is not a bad bet to take and if you are on Windows 8, then Windows Phone 8 apps make a lot of sense.

If your company is using Office, then Windows Phone makes sense thanks to its tight integration with the Office platform.

Microsoft has done an excellent job of ensuring that their business products integrate well. If you’ve standardized on the Microsoft enterprise stack (Dynamics, SharePoint etc…), then Windows Phone makes sense.

Microsoft’s enterprise DNA can also be seen with the Windows Phone 8 security features. IT departments get all of the control over the device that they have come to expect from a Windows product along with excellent standard security features like code signing, sandboxing and encryption.

IT departments will also love that they can manage Windows Phone with the same tools that they use to manage Windows desktops.

Using Azure as the Back-end of your Mobile App

When building a mobile app chances are you’ll need some sort of server in the back-end to manage security, data, and likely to integrate with another system. We see a lot of potential in using Windows Azure for this purpose.

What is Windows Azure?

Azure is Microsoft’s answer to the cloud. It’s a scalable, pay-as-you-go service that developers can connect their apps to in order to provide a robust back-end without having to buy hardware and manage back-end infrastructure. And the best part? In addition to supporting Windows Phone, it supports iOS and Android enabling you to create a platform agnostic back-end.

windows-azure-mobile-services Using Azure as the Back-end of your Mobile App

A conceptual diagram of Windows Azure Mobile Services.

 

What can you do with Azure?

As illustrated in the diagram above, Azure provides a flexible back-end that can be used to build in some very common requirements. By using Azure (or similar services), developers can quickly produce a prototype that has the ability to scale to a production system – without having the upfront investment typically required for hardware.

Security

Azure offers the three levels of security required by most apps: Authentication, Authorization, and Encryption. This essentially covers the requirement of having a mobile user log onto the system, access only data they’re allowed to access, and have that data encrypted along the way.

Notifications

Azure has a robust notification service built in through their partnerships with SendGrid (for email) and Twilio (for SMS). By partnering with these two providers, Azure gives developers a single platform to access both. If you’re looking to build an app that requires push notifications, email, and SMS, a back-end like Azure will be required to support it.

Scalability

One of the major promises of “the cloud” is scalability. By building on the platforms provided by vendors like Microsoft’s Azure, Amazon’s AWS, and Google’s Cloud Platform, your app can be designed to grow with your needs. The pay-as-you-go or usage-based models means that upfront investment is minimized and you only pay for what you use.

Data Sync

Not clearly mentioned in the diagram above, but a very important aspect of Azure, is the built in data synchronization frameworks – Microsoft Sync Framework Toolkit which supports Windows Phone, iOS, and Android. This framework will make it easier for developers to create an interface between the mobile app and the database through a REST/JSON based API. The sync framework then will then perform synchronization over OData to make it easier to keep both the mobile device’s storage and the back-end’s in sync. iOS has a built in solution to this called iCloud; however, iCloud is iOS only so if you’re planning on building a multi-platform solution, iCloud may not be worth the time.

Microsoft has a great video on using Azure as the back-end of your mobile app. It is a must-see for anyone considering Azure and wanting to know its capabilities.

Image credit: MSDN

UI and UX the OptimusMobility Way

Process is critical to the success of any OptimusMobility project. It helps us scale coding with a large number of developers while maintaining code quality. It helps us keep onshore and offshore teams in sync with clients. And, before the offshore team even hears of a new project, it helps us deliver apps with a great user experience (UX).

Delivering on UX begins with understanding your business, your stakeholders and what is it that you need from your mobile application. Our business analysts spend time with you to understand all the functional and non-functional requirements. These requirements are then documented both in writing as user stories and visually through wireframes.

Wireframes are extremely important in our process. Using tools such as Balsamiq, we create a high-level functional prototype that gives you a good idea of what the application will do, how it will do it and a rough idea of how the application will look.

Once you are happy with how the high level prototype, its functionalities and the overall end-user experience, the process then shifts to the User Interface (UI) team.

The UI team makes the application look and feel amazing using tools like Photoshop and Vector. They work on color schemes, the look of the application and they finalize the user experience. You set the direction and then see it evolve through images (.psd, .png, .jpg) and high fidelity mobile prototypes showing the app as it will look in a mobile device of your choice through tools like Invision. You get the feel for how the app will look in a mobile device before writing a single line of code.

Because communication is critical to business analysis, UI and UX, the entire process is handled onshore out of our Vancouver office letting you communicate with key personnel regularly during business hours.

Communication is critical to the process of developing a satisfying mobile user experience at OptimusMobility. If you have any questions about how we can help you, contact us we will gladly sit with you and go over your needs and options.

The post UI and UX the OptimusMobility Way appeared first on OptimusMobility.

UI and UX the OptimusMobility Way

Process is critical to the success of any OptimusMobility project. It helps us scale coding with a large number of developers while maintaining code quality. It helps us keep onshore and offshore teams in sync with clients. And, before the offshore team even hears of a new project, it helps us deliver apps with a great user experience (UX).

Delivering on UX begins with understanding your business, your stakeholders and what is it that you need from your mobile application. Our business analysts spend time with you to understand all the functional and non-functional requirements. These requirements are then documented both in writing as user stories and visually through wireframes.

Wireframes are extremely important in our process. Using tools such as Balsamiq, we create a high-level functional prototype that gives you a good idea of what the application will do, how it will do it and a rough idea of how the application will look.

Once you are happy with how the high level prototype, its functionalities and the overall end-user experience, the process then shifts to the User Interface (UI) team.

The UI team makes the application look and feel amazing using tools like Photoshop and Vector. They work on color schemes, the look of the application and they finalize the user experience. You set the direction and then see it evolve through images (.psd, .png, .jpg) and high fidelity mobile prototypes showing the app as it will look in a mobile device of your choice through tools like Invision. You get the feel for how the app will look in a mobile device before writing a single line of code.

Because communication is critical to business analysis, UI and UX, the entire process is handled onshore out of our Vancouver office letting you communicate with key personnel regularly during business hours.

Communication is critical to the process of developing a satisfying mobile user experience at OptimusMobility. If you have any questions about how we can help you, contact us we will gladly sit with you and go over your needs and options or check out our mobile UI and UX design page.

Keep your Wireframing Agile with Balsamiq Symbol Libraries

balsamiq Keep your Wireframing Agile with Balsamiq Symbol Libraries

When making wireframes in an agile process, everything is always changing. It might be that the project lead changes her mind, it might be that your customer changes his mind, or the scope of the project increases or decreases. It takes a lot of time to make these changes and keep the wireframes up to date.

However, if you take the time to identify reusable elements at the start of a project, then Balsamiq Symbol Libraries can reduce the amount of time spent updating wireframes.

Using Balsamiq Symbol Libraries

Symbol Libraries can be anything; from a piece of text to a menu bar, anything that you can create using the Balsamiq items can become as a whole a new item.

The great thing about these Symbol libraries is the fact that every change you make to them through the Symbol Libraries view is also shown in the Mockup view.

symbol-libraries Keep your Wireframing Agile with Balsamiq Symbol Libraries

Pictured above, we combine a show/hide menu button with a menu background and a list of independent menu icons to create a full menu in the Symbol Libraries view and then, regardless of where we place the menu, we only need to change the original in the Symbol Library.

This saves you a lot of time. For example in a project we are working right now, we have around 96 mockups out of which half of them have a menu bar. If we were not using the menu bar as a Symbol Library, we would have to make the same change around 45 times, instead of that, we only make the change once and update the menu across the project.

Good candidates for symbol libraries include headers, footers, symbol libraries, share buttons, share screens, alerts or anything else that recurs.

As time has passed by, here at OptimusMobility we have created a good process in order to make the creation and updating of the wireframes more efficient. By taking time to analyze the project, identify those recurring items and making them as Symbol Libraries we have been able to reduce the time we take creating and changing the wireframes.

The post Keep your Wireframing Agile with Balsamiq Symbol Libraries appeared first on OptimusMobility.

Keep your Wireframing Agile with Balsamiq Symbol Libraries

balsamiq Keep your Wireframing Agile with Balsamiq Symbol Libraries

When making wireframes in an agile process, everything is always changing. It might be that the project lead changes her mind, it might be that your customer changes his mind, or the scope of the project increases or decreases. It takes a lot of time to make these changes and keep the wireframes up to date.

However, if you take the time to identify reusable elements at the start of a project, then Balsamiq Symbol Libraries can reduce the amount of time spent updating wireframes.

Using Balsamiq Symbol Libraries

Symbol Libraries can be anything; from a piece of text to a menu bar, anything that you can create using the Balsamiq items can become as a whole a new item.

The great thing about these Symbol libraries is the fact that every change you make to them through the Symbol Libraries view is also shown in the Mockup view.

balsamiq1 Keep your Wireframing Agile with Balsamiq Symbol Libraries

Pictured above, we combine a show/hide menu button with a menu background and a list of independent menu icons to create a full menu in the Symbol Libraries view and then, regardless of where we place the menu, we only need to change the original in the Symbol Library.

This saves you a lot of time. For example in a project we are working right now, we have around 96 mockups out of which half of them have a menu bar. If we were not using the menu bar as a Symbol Library, we would have to make the same change around 45 times, instead of that, we only make the change once and update the menu across the project.

Good candidates for symbol libraries include headers, footers, symbol libraries, share buttons, share screens, alerts or anything else that recurs.

As time has passed by, here at OptimusMobility we have created a good process in order to make the creation and updating of the wireframes more efficient. By taking time to analyze the project, identify those recurring items and making them as Symbol Libraries we have been able to reduce the time we take creating and changing the wireframes.

5 Interesting Windows Phone 8 Features

Windows8 5 Interesting Windows Phone 8 Features

In my last post, I talked about how the introduction of Windows Phone 8  reasserts Microsoft as a player in the future of computing.

To see who will win and who will lose will take some time, years maybe, but for now we’ll look at 5 new features that I find interesting.

The first 3 features are things which I believe are not 100% needed but they show how much thought about the users Microsoft put in to Windows 8:

Kids’ Corner:

This feature allows parents to limit what their kids can do when they lend them their phone like deleting all of your contacts.

This feature is configurable and you can allow them to do as much or as little as you want.

People Hub and Rooms:

The People Hub and Rooms are, in Joe Belfiore’s (Manager of the Windows Phone Program) words, “the contact list reinvented.” With this feature you can group your contacts in hubs or rooms and share calendars and documents among other things within the group. If you ever used a BlackBerry, this was a feature that was available through BBM.

Data Sense:

This is more of a background feature and one that you will only really notice if you are really keen in comparing your previous data consumption with your new one. According to Microsoft this new feature will allow you to use up to 45% less data. They will achieve this by compressing every single webpage you visit, something that Microsoft states won’t change the user experience.

The 4th feature is something that I believe is something they had to have and it is their biggest obstacle while taking on its two biggest competitors.

Apps:

Microsoft announced yesterday many cool apps that will be native to the Windows Phone 8 Platform such as Skype, Paypal and Pandora among others. They also expect that soon the platform will have 46 of the top 50 apps in the market.

The 5th feature was for me the most important and the one that will change how we interact with our Microsoft products.

Integration with Windows 8 PCs and Tablets:

Through the use of Microsoft’s cloud computing function, SkyDrive, you will be able to have “all your content: office documents, photos and music wherever you are.” Through SkyDrive you will be able to access any of your document from any of your devices, including Xbox, without re-formatting and regardless of where a document was created.

It will be interesting to see reviews as they surface in the coming months. But I give a cheer to Microsoft. They were brave enough to really innovate and come out with something new.

We believe this will be a successful product that is why our developers are already experimenting with this new SDK and learning what features Windows Phone 8 offers. If you are in the need of an enterprise-grade mobile application development in the Windows 8 platform (or any other ) please contact us, we will be happy to work with you understanding you problem and proposing a viable solution.

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