As a Windows Phone developer, I can share that one of the best things that can happen to a developer is when any of its applications are in the spotlight in the Windows Phone Store. It's a honor to be selected by Microsoft. It also skyrockets the downloads during the period that an application is in spotlight.
However, there is no human way to know when an application is in the spotlight. There is currently 127 markets, so I don't image anyone checking 127 webpages everyday.
Can we fix that?
Of course, we can fix that. On April 9th 2013, I released App Spotlights for Windows Phone.
It is available now at: http://www.windowsphone.com/s?appid=33695cc5-1f28-40f1-b5d3-e7f06f74820e
<img src="Screenshot 1.jpg">
Thousands of developers and users are using the application. The developers can now follow the download statistic more precisely.
I started the project at the end of January. The Windows Phone application is in C# with XAML. The back-end is powered by Windows Azure. My solution uses Windows Azure Mobile Services, SQL on Azure and a Virtual Machine.
Despite the fact that the application is already released, the challenge accepts updates to an existing version of an application. This challenge will permit to enhance the application and bring more features.
Disclamer: Before I started with the project, I had no knowledge about using Windows Azure Mobiles Services, SQL on Azure and Virtual Machine.
Benefits of Windows Azure
- Going with Windows Azure, it highly reduces the cost of building and doing the maintenance of your own server (hardware and software).
- Windows Azure duplicates the data internally, it gives you an high confidence on the security of your data.
- Offload the processing to Windows Azure for the front-end applications in order to provide a fast response to the users especially in mobile applications.
Advantages of using Windows Azure
- I am a C# developer for so many years, so choosing Windows Azure was an easy decision because all Windows Azure services can be used with C#.
- Depending of the demand, Windows Azure permits to scale any services in few clicks without impacting the users.
- By definition, any cloud uses resources and resources cost money. Fortunately, Windows Azure gives a lot of free services to the developers even after the 90-day trial expired. By example, you can have up to 9 free websites. Also, with any Windows Azure services, you can choose a monthly payment or the pay as you go option. The developers have more freedom and he can save a lot going with Windows Azure.
- The previous points were technical aspects. The last point, I consider it the most important: technical support. As a newbie of Windows Azure in January, I had a lot of questions on many aspects since my solution used 3 services. I had a pleasant surprise that the technical support was really fast. I didn't have to fill ticket support or fill a form then wait 2-3 days. No, you can get access to an email and get answer within few hours. By example, to write to the Windows Azure Mobile Services team, you can use this email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Windows Azure Mobile Services team is a relatively new service at Microsoft. It has the big advantage that the team listens to the customers. I welcome you to visit their User Voice page at http://mobileservices.uservoice.com/forums/182281-feature-requests. They already implemented suggestions from developers.
What's coming up
I will not unveil all the upcoming features now. For the Build a website challenge, I intend to create my first website with Windows Azure. I would like to display statistics that are not displayed in the application.
My expertise is developing Windows / Windows Phone application front-ends. I never played with back-end before this project. Luckily, Windows Azure was really easy to learn and it accomplished all my technical desires to bring up the solution.