The Undocumented API – Page 3 – Bob Familiar

Nokia Windows Phone Developer Day


What: Windows Phone Developer Day

When: Feb 1st, 12pm to 6pm

Where: Microsoft Offices, 1 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142


Mark your calendars for Saturday, Feb 1, 2014 and free up 12-6 PM to be in Cambridge, MA. The Microsoft and Nokia Evangelist are teaming up to help you publish your Windows Phone Apps!

Here is the preliminary schedule (subject to tweaking):

  • 12 PM DevCenter Submission Walkthrough (30 minutes): See just how easy it is to submit and publish an app worldwide
  • 12:30 PM Build an app in 30 minutes with App Studio (30 minutes): See how to build an app from an idea to publishable in 30 minutes, literally.
  • 1 PM – 1:30 PM Lunch: I’ll be providing food and snacks. This is when you think about what you need help with or when you should think of your app idea for App Studio.
  • 1:30-6 PM Hands-on time: The experts will be available to help during this time. They will be walking around helping and/or attending to requests for help.

By the end of the day I fully expect everyone’s apps will be ready and submitted to DevCenter and on it’s way to the global app marketplace.

What will you need to bring?

  • If you need help on an existing app, bring your laptop dev environment with your app on it.
  • If you want to build an app without any code, bring a laptop that has a modern browser (IE10-11, Chrome). You’ll only need your browser to build and submit the app to the store. If you do not have a Windows Phone, the experts will be able to help you test the app on their phone


Everyone who attends and publishes their app will be entered to win a “hero” Nokia Lumia (1020, 928, 925, 920, etc) of their choice. I’ll be saving some swag/prize surprises for the day of the event. Also, Microsoft will be bringing some prizes of their own! I will update this post with more details as we get closer to Feb 1st.

Note: If you accept a prize from Nokia, you agree to these terms.

Continuous Innovation Applied – The Fast Path to the Windows Store

The beginning is the most important part of the work – PLATO, The Republic

For many developers participating in the app economy is an exercise in learning to be a startup. You want to create a product (app), launch it into the marketplace (Windows Store), drive sales (downloads), receive feedback from customers (ratings and reviews) , make improvements and release the next version of your app. This is a cyclical process that is explained in great detail in the The Lean Startup by Eric Reis.<

One of the concepts that Eric lays out in his book is the idea of Continuous Innovation. This is a 3 step approach to creating, publishing and marketing your product.


Continuous Innovation

One of the key tenants of Continuous Innovation is to focus on what is called a Minimal Viable Product (MVP). The goal of a minimal viable product is to get through the Continuous Innovation cycle  as quickly as possible with minimal effort.

Gone are the days of yearlong development efforts followed by the big product launches. In the app economy you need to build fast, collect feedback from your customers and iterate on the next version. You need to test both the technical as well as the business hypothesis and implement features that customers want and fail fast on the things that are not driving downloads.

By starting out with a Minimal Viable App and moving through the Continuous Innovation cycle quickly, you will learn the entire process of how to launch a product, market that product, gather customer feedback and iterate on the next version. This skill set is what every developer needs to learn to be successful going forward in our industry,

Getting Started

For many developers coming up with a product idea can be daunting. The key to successful apps is typically tied to the richness of the data that you provide to your customer along with the set of features you provide for working with that dat

To help you with the process of getting an app in the store using open data API’s and learning how to apply Continuous Innovation the Technical Evangelist team here at Microsoft has created a set of Windows App Starter Kits. These starter kits are based on open data API’s which give you the rich data set you need to create a compelling application or a mashup.

To get started let me introduce you to the wonderful world of Open Data API’s.

Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going. – Jim Rohn

The Wonderful World of API’s

Using open data API’s are a great way to get started creating compelling apps. The internet it turns out is source of rich content. Who knew! You can get a sense of the vast numbers of open data API’s by visiting API Hub or Programmable Web. There are thousands of API’s covering all industry segments and topics.


Upon investigation you will soon learn that not all API’s are created equal. There are differences in quality, speed, call thresholds, authentication and so on. Spending some time to validate API’s of interest is well served. Most APIs require the developer to register and request a Developer Key. Some API’s are throttled, limited to a certain number of calls a day or second. Many are free but some are not. Here is a list of criteria that you can use to validate API’s of interest:

  • Developer Key Required
  • API protocol – REST or SOAP?
  • Authentication Required – OAuth, SessionID, etc.
  • Performance – how well does the API perform?
  • Service Level Agreement (SLA) – is the API always available?
  • Payload format – JSON, XML, other
  • Throttled – If yes what is the limit?
  • Free or Pay
  • Is the API mashable – can the data be used as input to another API?

Last but not least is to read the Terms and Conditions of the API provider. The details of how often you can call the API and other usage rules such as a requirement to display their logo and to have that logo link to their site will be documented. If you are going to use an API read the T’s and C’s thoroughly before investing hours of development.

For more detailed coverage of API Basics see Stacy Mulcahy’s post here.

Windows App Kits

In order to streamline your ability to leverage API’s to create compelling apps for Windows, the US Technical Evangelist team has created a portfolio of 22 Windows 8 and 12 Windows Phone 8 Starter Kits that you can use to create your minimal viable product.


There are kits that provide solutions for Windows 8, Windows Phone and in either C# or HTML5/JS. The Chuck Norris Starter Kit also provides a VB implementation. There is also a starter kit for those who want to learn how to leverage Azure Mobile Services.

Each Kit comes with one or more Visual Studio solutions, a README.MD and associated blog posts that document how to customize each kit. There are also several kits that have corresponding Video tutorials on Channel 9.

Here are examples of apps that have been created using these starter kits: