I have a confession to make: I have never built a Windows Phone 7 application. As a Blend and WPF guy who dabbles more and more in Silverlight, this may shock you, but time and work (not enough of the former and too much of the latter) have thus far prevented me from doing more than Hello World. Of course it does not help that stinkin’ Verizon does not yet have WP7, but hopefully that issue will work itself out soon.
Since I’ve committed to writing an Appendix for Blend in Action that focuses on Blend for WP7, I figure it’s about time I got on the bandwagon and did some WP7 development.
Where I’m starting from
Since I already have Visual Studio and Expression Blend installed, all I needed to begin developing was to download and install the Windows Phone Developer Tools. This includes the Emulator and necessary WP7 project types. If you do not have Visual Studio or Blend on your machine, the free tools are part of this install.
Create an App Hub account
Since I plan to create and publish real applications I went ahead and created an AppHub account. There are a few things you should know before you get started. First, it costs $99 up front, so be prepared to pay it when you create your account. Second, you must have a Live ID. Third, you cannot create the account without a website URL. While this may seem trivial, it threw me off because I have not set up the website I intend to use for my Phone Apps yet. I went ahead and used this site with the expectation that I can change it later.
The next thing that I did not expect was the requirement for a Gamer tag. I am not a gamer, I do not own an XBox, and I’m not entirely sure what a Gamer tag is, so naturally I did not have one to supply. I got stuck on the required gamer tag screen for a little while until I found one I wanted that wasn’t taken (theblendguy).
The last thing that threw me for a loop was that as you are filling in the forms, all the copy is heavily XBox Live oriented. Once I got past the start screen, everything I read about the App Hub account was about XBox: there was no mention of Windows Phone 7. I thought about cancelling to make sure I had made the right selections but decided to stick to my guns, especially once I saw the price was correct. Sure enough, when all was said and done I had the proper account.
I received a confirmation email and completed the account. As I understand it, the next step is for Geotrust to contact me and verify I am who I say I am. I love the fact that Microsoft is putting so much effort into verifying accounts and applications: in the long run it should mean a stable of quality apps, which the platform needs if it is going to thrive.
The next step
The next thing will be application development. I have a couple in mind already. I plan to write about my experiences as I go along, so keep watching this space.
UPDATE, 13 Apr 2011:
The day after I created my account I received an email from Geotrust directing me to another site where I had to confirm my identity. Right off the bat, be prepared for some seemingly intrusive questions. I had to give them my social security number and optionally my driver’s license number as well as some lesser info such as birth date and address. Also, if you have been at your current address for less than two years you must supply the previous address.
This information is the first step. Once you pass this stage, a second page comes up with a set of specific financial questions that theoretically only you should be able to answer. I received questions about my mortgage and car payment, including a couple of trick questions. The answers are multiple choice, so you are not providing them any specifics, and it doesn’t matter because it seems they know it all already anyway.
Naturally, this was all done over HTTPS, so I wasn’t any more worried about security than I am when I use my credit card online. I was pretty amazed though at the BI that must be in place to develop the trick questions I mentioned. (And no, I’m not going to be any more specific). Overall the process was not onerous: I passed the verification and at this point I’m just waiting for my AppHub developer ID. I’ll keep you all posted.
UPDATE 2, 13 Apr 2011:
Well, that didn’t take too long: waiting in my inbox after lunch was the following email:
Now that I’m official I can start developing and submitting apps. Stay tuned!