First Simple App for Windows Phone 8

Having had my Windows Phone for a couple of months now, and having set up a Windows 8 virtual machine to do some app development, I finally decided to sit down and bang out a simple app, to see how easy it is.

To be honest if your skill set follows the form of C#, WPF/Silverlight you won’t have many problems at all. You will need to have Visual Studio 2012 and the Windows Phone 8 SDK installed, but thats a fairly easy (but somewhat lengthy!) process to complete.

As I do a fair amount of driving and tutor Advanced Driving, for my first app I decided to put together a Stopping Distance calculator. I’ve done these for Android and BlackBerry, so thought I would do it for Windows Phone as I have all the calculations to hand.

The idea of the calculator is a simple one. Supply your speed in Miles per Hour or Kilometres per Hour and it will calculate the Braking Distance, Thinking Distance and the overall Stopping Distance (Thinking+Braking). I’ve added a couple of screen shots below of the app running in the emulator. It certainly seems to run fine, and the whole process of developing it from start to finish was about 2 hours. Not bad for a first app.

Screen 1 – Inputs

The inputs into the app are very simple, your speed and from the list, select your unit of measure (MPH or KPH). This is a list picker and will expand when you want to make your selection and then contract when you have made the selection. Simply then tap the Calculate button and you are taken to the results page showing the calculation results.

App Screen 1Screen 2 – Results

The Thinking Distance, Braking Distance and overall Stopping Distance is then displayed with the results in metres and feet. You can then tap another button to take you back to the input screen to allow you to calculate using another speed/unit of measure.

app screen 2

A far from complicated app, but someone going through a driving test, or Advanced driving test does need to know stopping distances. A simple little app that can aid revision of stopping distances.

I think I’ll tidy up the screens, make them a little more visually appealing and then upload to the Windows Phone App Store.

Running Windows Phone 8 Emulator Outside of Visual Studio 2012

Sometimes it is useful to be able to run the Windows Phone 8 emulator without having to create a solution within Visual Studio 2012. Most of the time I am testing apps that I am writing, so launch through Visual Studio, but I have had the need to not do this. After a bit of Googling, the answer became quite clear on how to do this. Never one to keep useful snippets of information to myself, I’ve given the steps below on how to do it.

1. As an administrator, open a command prompt window
2. Navigate to the folder C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft XDE\8.0 (CD Program Files (x86)\Microsoft XDE\8.0)
3. Execute the following command: xde -vhd “c:\program files (x86)\Microsoft SDKs\Windows Phone\v8.0\Emulation\Images\Flash.vhd”

The emulator should then execute as expected. If you have installed the SDK to a different location, you will need to modify the folders/drive specified above, but if you have a default installation, the above should work fine.