Microsoft AppStart Competition for Balkans, Baltic and a few other countries

Good news! There is a competition going on and it’s targeting a lot of countries that usually cannot participate in these kind of stuff. Yes, I’m talking about Albania, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia – and the prizes (Lumias 1320) are per country!

All you have to do is develop a new Windows Phone 8.1, Windows 8.1 app OR add features and upgrade existing application to 8.1 – and you can win one of four Lumia 1320 in your country. Everyone can participate – developers, students and startups, and the contests runs for a year, in four rounds!

See all the details here. And good luck!

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WPbeta.me giveaway winners are…

Howdy, ho! As I promised, I’m giving away ten AdDuplex 50 US$ coupons. WPbeta.me service is awesome, AdDuplex is awesome, your apps are awesome and SQL’s NEWID() functions has chosen the winners:

- Tile-Generator Beta
- Project Log BETA
- S* t* S* beta
- Fake Post
- MyM*
- L*S*A*
- FB Pages Manager Beta
- Sapphire BETA
- We* Beta
- Money Lover

*Apps with stars are added as private, so I’m keeping their names private.

By the way, I’m more than happy to see my new service is used and loved by both developers and beta testers. Thank you for your support, for bug reports, feature suggestions and shares on social network. That really means a lot!

And a few numbers for the end: currently, there are 53 active apps (beta and public) and 1038 user accounts created. The most popular app has 153 beta testers, and average number of beta testers is almost 41 (40.8).

Keep those betas coming!

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WPbeta.me: a brand new service that helps you manage Windows Phone beta testers + giveaway

logoHave you ever submitted a beta app on Windows Phone Store? Well, you should have. (If you’re a Windows Phone developer, that is. If you’re just a user – jump to the end of this post – I have something for you, too.) Beta testing is really important part of app development and it’s your last chance to fine tune the application and be ready for the big day – the launch.

You can do it privately, with the help of your friends, colleagues, or a client. Or you can do it publicly – sharing a word on social networks and asking people to try out your app.

No matter what path you choose, the beta submission has the same requirement – you have to collect tester’s e-mail addresses, the ones they use as Microsoft Accounts on their phone. Otherwise they will not be able to download and install the app.

This sounds complicated. And it is. (Well, it was before WPbeta.me, but let me get to the point a bit later.) But, you get a huge benefit – you don’t have to pass or wait for the certification. Your beta app is published almost immediately – you’ll just have to wait for about two hours for it to propagate to servers around the globe.

WPbeta.me is here to make this easier. Just submit your AppID to our system, we’ll retrieve your app metadata and create a landing page for your beta with an URL of your choice (e.g. wpbeta.me/clock or wpbeta.me/topsecretXYZ). You can share that link to your closed group of testers, or publicly. The only thing testers have to do is click on a button, login with their Microsoft Account (that’s how we make sure that they give you a valid e-mail address) and you’ll have them on the list. You occasionally have to copy the list of beta testers from our site to your Dev Center account – and they’ll get an e-mail with the direct download link. You can even track who has clicked on the link and when.

Have I mentioned that it’s free? Well, it is. But not only that – to celebrate the launch of the service, I’ll be giving away 10 awesome AdDuplex coupons worth US$ 50 each that you can spend on promoting your app when it goes live. I will randomly choose ten apps from the database on August 15th, private or public. So make sure you submit your beta app (and don’t delete it before that date – when you delete your app, we delete it as well, so we don’t have any record that it has existed. That’s what I call the privacy policy!)

I’m no developer, but I wanna test new apps!

We have something for you, too! Go to http://wpbeta.me/tester and find an app or two you like and join the beta testing. Ok, the list is rather short since we’re just launching, but it will grow.

This is the first version of WPbeta.me and it’s in beta. There are a lot of ideas on the to-do list, and this service will improve and grow in features. I will be very grateful for all your feedback, bug reports and feature suggestions. You can use the contact page.

I can’t believe you’ve read the whole post! Thanks! Now take a look at WPbeta.me!

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Wall Of Silver joined the TweetBeam Twitter wall family

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As you may already know, I like to turn little ideas into small side projects. One of that project was Wall Of Silver – a simple Twitter wall solution written in Silverlight. It started as an entry in a contest that was part of MIX conference in Las Vegas back in 2010. (For more info, check out my old blog post.)

Today, more than four years later, Wall Of Silver is no longer mine. It has joined the TweetBeam Twitter Wall Family and it’s completely rewritten in HTML5. I haven’t worked on my Wall for years, and Yousef from TweetBeam made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Interestingly, Yousef had participated in the same Mix10k contest with almost the same idea. His TweetArt (don’t click, doesn’t work any more) has grown into TweetBeam (working with many events world-wide), my Wall Of Silver entry (again, don’t click) got his own domain, and now, four years later – they’re together, ready to conquer the world of Twitter walls!

I’m glad that Wall Of Silver is reborn and that TweetBeam is taking good care of it! Good luck to you both!

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Giveaway: Dear, @dvlup, please #expandDvlup to more countries!

DVLUP, a great Microsoft/Nokia’s awards program for Windows Phone developers, is available in 55 countries, but not all around the world. One of them is Croatia, where I’m from. I would like this to change, not only for Croatia, but for other countries as well (Hungary, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Macedonia… just to name a few in my neighborhood). Developers in all those unsupported countries would really appreciate this!

Will you help us?

I happen to have three (3) eighteen (18)* codes for 100 XP (DVLUP points) and I’ll randomly give them away to three lucky people that tweet anything that contains hashtag #expandDvlup and mentions official @dvlup Twitter account. You can tweet as much you like, or just retweet the existing tweets to enter. 100 XP are waiting for you. Tweet, share, help!

Do it now – the codes are expiring in a few days, so this giveaway is open for 48 hours only – until midnight (GMT), June 14th 2014.

Winners will be listed on June 15th here on the blog, as well on my Twitter account.

(Unfortunately, only people from DVLUP supported countries can redeem codes – that’s what this is all about. We want to collect points, too!)

Thanks!

Update: my friends Igor, Toni and Filip offered their codes as well, so we have 18 x 100 XP to give away! Yay!

Update 2: First of all, thank you all for supporting this small initiative. We had a bunch of retweets and tweets, but mostly from the countries that do not have DVLUP available (yet! :-)). So, we ended up with more prizes than eligible winners, so some of them got two codes and 200 XP in total. Some of them got “only” 100 XP (blame Excel’s RANDOM() function). The winners are: @skendrot, @chief7, @guy_tarded, @bbakermai, @MoaskeFoto, @giacomocusi , @Utebolatas, @rgunawans, @tomverhoeff , @kunal2383 , @JosueYeray

Update 3 (July 2nd): DVLUP is available in 192 countries worldwide, including mine and neighbouring. Woohoo!  Furthermore, according to a DVLUP blog post, “the most new people have come to us from the wider Balkans area, which we think is pretty cool.”. I don’t think that my little “action” caused this, but it proves that countries in my area have really missed DVLUP. Achievement unlocked! :-)

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Windows Phone app update error c101a006

wp_ss_20140513_0001My Analog Clock Tile app is doing great, thanks for downloading it so much. I was pushing updates like crazy last few weeks, and I just may have overdone it.

Windows Phone certification is extremely fast these days, it usually takes less than a couple of hours for the app to be certified. Then you have to wait two hours more for the app to be downloadable from the Store and available to your users.

One day, I’ve pushed two updates in a row. The second one was submitted just after the first one had passed certification, so I haven’t waited two hours for the app to propagate through Store servers – I’ve pushed another update right away.

That was a mistake.

Next few days nobody could install the update of the app or even do a reinstall – error c101a006 was popping up all the time.

The solution is simple – wait a couple of hours and push another update.

So, from now on, I’ll do one update per day. Not only you don’t get the inquiring error, you get more sleep!

This happens with beta submissions as well. I’ve learned that, the hard way, as well.

I hope this will help somebody, although this is not the only cause of this beautifully-named easy-to-google error.

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Analog Clock on a Live Tile – my new Windows Phone app

simulationI’ve been busy with a large project last few months, but now that’s over, I’ve switched to some fun stuff. First on the list – a simple little app that shows analog clock on a live tile. That sounds like a trivial task, but actually it is not. Windows Phone 8.0 restrictions says that you can update a tile once every 30 minutes, and that’s obviously not enough for updating a clock that needs to change every minute. Windows Phone 8.1 introduced a way to update a tile more often, but the things you can to there is quite limiting.

[Theoretically, you can use push notification to do whatever you like with a tile, as often as you want, but that will do awful things to phone battery and data plan, and it is not that reliable – what if a user has no Internet connectivity, or there is a battery save mode active?]

There are quite a few clocks with digital clock (e.g. showing the numbers on a tile). It’s quite easy to do that – take a look at the complete example here. This originally is a Windows 8 project, but since Windows Phone 8.1, the (almost) same technology can be used for developing Phone apps as well. Furthermore, this app is made as Universal App (my first published), so expect Windows 8 version as well.

I wanted to do an analog clock – it looks much better on a tile, and there actually is a digital clock at the top of your screen (almost) all the time, and you have one on your lock screen as well. (So, basically, this app is useless, but it looks nice on your start screen.)

The app has a transparent, Cortana-like tile, so it works perfectly with custom backgrounds you may use in Windows Phone 8.1. There is a support for small and standard tiles, as well as a wide – but that last one is a joke.

By default, the clock will not work if you have battery saver mode active. But that can be changed as well – go to Battery Saver app, find this app, and check “Allow this app to run in the background even when Battery Saver is on”. That will do the trick.

This app is very gentle to your battery. This is not something I did, that’s just the way this API is done, so all kudos go to the Windows Phone OS.

To cut the story short – click here, install the app and let me know what you think. I hope you’ll like it.

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Publish your Windows Phone app for free promotion – retrospective

One thing I did definitely wrong was not giving a name to this promotion. Referencing it as “promotion for European devs” or “publish your WP apps for free” was quite difficult and not catchy at all. I’m noting this for the future.

imageFrom your side, everything was perfect! I got a big number of shares, many retweets on Twitter (including some very popular profiles like @nokiadeveloper and @ch9), the story featured on WPcentral.com (wow, thanks!), the initiative got support from Lance McCarthy (who did this in the first place for the US market) and – the most important – prototypes you have sent were great! Ok, there were few I’ll-make-this-in-an-hour-to-get-the-token apps, but most of them were pretty good and I’m very happy that all those enthusiastic developers got a small token of appreciation through this initiative.

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The offer was valid for European countries only, and the tokens went to: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and UK. There were multiple participants from each country, of course. The initial number of tokens was not enough, so I got another batch from Nokia during the last week – that lasted almost to the end (I was one day short).

I asked each developer to send me a link to his/her app when published in the Store. I got quite a few links already, and the apps look great, so I’ll probably do a blog post with the top 10 apps from this initiative.

Once again, thanks to the Nokia Developer Champions program for making this possible!

(By the way, if you live in South Africa, hurry up – there is a similar initiative active for just a few days.)

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I’m a Nokia Developer Champion of a month

This post will be very short, but I just have to write a sentence or two about it.

I am part of Nokia Developer Champions program since mid 2012. and I have always been very proud of this– not only because of the Windows Phone platform I love so much, but because of Nokia as well. I don’t have the exact statistics, but I would say that 70-80% of all mobile phones I have ever had were Nokias, including my first and last one.

But, things can always be better! On October 15th, I was selected to be Nokia Developer Champion of a month! I think this is huge – being selected among all those hard-working Champions around the world is a real honor and I just want to say thanks – thanks for selecting me and thanks for your ongoing support for all my community activities!

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Windows Phone Week was in Zagreb, and it was great!

First things first – if you don’t know that Windows Phone Week is, you should read this article first. Long story short – Matteo Pagani, Joost van Schaik and Rodolpho Marques Do Carmo, three Windows Phone MVPs, planned to host Windows Phone events in their respective countries (Italy, Netherlands and Brazil) in the same week. Other Windows Phone MVPs joined, and there was 13 locations around the globe in no time! (And that was not the final number!)

Around that time, Matteo shared the news in Nokia Developer Champion group on Facebook, and I liked the idea so much that I wanted to bring the event to Zagreb (Croatia). It seemed to me like a long shot, but I got a green light from Matteo and Microsoft in just a few hours! I checked with local DPE team when a conference room was available and we had a date – October 4th. I was quite worried at the time, since that was Friday before a long weekend in Croatia, and a working day. And there was only 16 days left to organize the whole thing.

Thanks to a great people around me and support from Milan, Redmond and San Francisco, it was much easier than expected. In just a day I had a venue, registration site, catering and five excited speakers, eager to participate. As a cherry on the top, Andrej Radinger, our local Windows Phone MVP, joined and helped me with the next steps.

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The program officially started at noon with a few words from organizers and some housekeeping notes. Andrej Radinger was the first in line – he had a talk on Windows Phone App Studio, great web-based tool for making Windows Phone apps without coding.

Andrej

After that, we had a session on designing Windows Phone applications by Matej Huljev, a professional designer who is quite experienced and good in Microsoft design language (previously known as “metro”). Developers often have problems with the design part of app development, so he shared some very usable tips & tricks about grids, typography and whitespace.

Matej

After the lunch, Toni Petrina (C# MVP) talked about game development for Windows Phone, going through many technologies and tools available for the platform. As you may know, games are statistically the most popular apps on any platform, so it was interesting to see how we can make our own game for Windows Phone.

Toni

There was also a tips&tricks session by my colleague Igor Ralić and me. We’ve shared ideas and howtos about icons, in-app purchases, Windows Phone Power Tools, advertising, file & protocol associations and open source libraries for Windows Phone.

At the end, we had a guest from Hungary. András Velvárt (Kinect MVP & NDC) talked about his new SongArc app and shared his experience with AppCampus funding, app promotion and beta testing. (BTW, AppCampus is an excellent award program for innovative Windows Phone apps, powered by Nokia and Microsoft, make sure you check it out.)

We planned to be done by 5pm, but we have stayed a bit longer, and afterwards all the speakers went for a dinner. (I’ll skip the awesome food photos here for your own sake.)

sold out in a day

Prizes are a nice way to motivate people to come to the events and to stay until the end. But, this time, all the seats were “sold” out before we announced what kind of prizes we have! Actually, we had the event sold out before all community members in Croatia (around 2,500 people!) got the invitation in their inboxes. We have opened the registration for 100 people, and all seats were taken in 48 hours. (Actually, we didn’t have that many seats in the room, we have overbooked a bit.) At the end, more than 80 people showed up, that’s more than average for a free event (the average is 66% percent).

We had a good coverage in local media (all in Croatian): Bug, Gadgeterija and Netokracija (in alphabetical order). Thank you, guys, for your support!

WP_20131004_11_37_15_Pro

The prizes were awesome. Lucky participants took home one Nokia Lumia 920 (sponsored by Microsoft Redmond), one Nokia Lumia 820, three portable USB chargers, one wireless charger (all sponsored by Nokia Developer Champion program); a Microsoft mouse and a headset (sponsored by Microsoft Croatia). But that’s not all – there were Dev Center tokens for everyone (by Microsoft Redmond), and we have given away a bunch of Nokia eyeglasses, caps, umbrellas, bags… thanks to local Nokia folks (check out the photo). (For those who like numbers – we had a total of 149 prizes!)

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Thank you

And, at the end, we have to thank a bunch of people for making this possible. First, thanks to Matteo, Joost and Rodolpho for starting the whole thing. It is a great initiative and I’m sure you’re very proud how things turned out. Thanks to Desiree Lockwood and Sharon Hobbs from Windows Phone Division in Redmond for including us on the list and for fast and constructive support we had received. Thank you Antoine Naaman, a Nokia Developer Champions Program lead, for supporting the event (and basically every initiative I have). Of course, a big thanks to local DPE team (Tomislav Tipurić and Draško Ivanišević) – without a local support this would be much harder (if not impossible) to organize. Thanks to our local Nokians as well: Iva Carić, David Pavlinić and Dea Milovan, for goodies and ongoing support. And last, but not the least – thanks to all the speakers – Andrej, Matej, Toni, Igor and András (and me :-)) – and all the participants for making this event a rememberable one.

What next?

Windows Phone Week is not over – actually, it has become a month long. So you can check this page and find other events until the end of October 2013. There are 21 events all around the world announced at the moment!

If you’re working on a Windows Phone app, check this offer out. You can join Nokia Premium Developer program and publish your app for free (and get some other stuff, too). (My offer is valid until October 25th for Europe only. There is a similar offer for the USA as well.)

If you have missed our event, and you live in Croatia, you can join a FutureDEV user group – we talk a lot about Windows Phone so you’ll be able to join us next time.

For more info on similar activities around the world, you can follow Windows Phone Dev on Facebook or Twitter.

And of course, I’d be honored if you chose to follow me, too. I share a lot of stuff about Windows Phone, so it may be a good source of information.

Domagoj & Andrej - at the end

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