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.

chart (1)

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!

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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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European devs: Publish your Windows Phone app for free

Update: This offer is not valid any more because there are no tokens left. I’ve distributed more tokens than initially planned, but even that wasn’t enough! Great job, devs!

Here is a deal: you send me a working prototype of your app for Windows Phone, and you’ll get a Nokia Premium Developer Program token (priced at $99, valued at up to $1500 value) – for free.

Nokia Premium Developer Program includes:

- One year of Windows Phone Developer Center membership
- A free license for Telerik RadControls for Windows Phone
- Buddy.com Cloud API with unlimited API calls per month with 5GB of data storage
- 2 Nokia Tech Support tickets

In other words, this will enable you to publish your app for free, improve it with the cloud API and nice controls, and solve up to two technical issues you may have.

How can I build an app?
It is easier than ever. You can build your prototype with Visual Studio (including free Express version) or you can use Windows Phone App Studio (no coding needed, just updated with new features few days ago). Or you can mix both.

Restricted to Europe only
This offer is restricted to Europe. If you live in USA, check out the similar offer.

Already a developer and have apps published?
There is something for you, too. Create a brand new app and you’ll get the token, too. This will enable you to extend your Dev Center membership once it expires and use cloud, controls and support for all your apps.

Please note
- Deadline for sending me your working prototype is October 25, 2013.
- Dev Center token, Telerik license, Buddy.com API calls and support tickets are bundled with the token and can be used any time within a year from redeeming the token
- There is a limited number of tokens – first come, first served rule applies
- All tokens received part of this competition must be redeemed before October 31, 2013. I will not be able to provide you with another token if you forget to redeem yours on time!
- Every app you send me will be handled with the utmost confidentiality

How to participate?
Send an e-mail to domagoj@dizzy.hr with the following information:

- your full name
- your e-mail address
- your country (Europe only!)
- app name
- your app prototype (XAP) or direct Store link of an app (beta, private or public, published after October 1st)

Thanks to the Nokia Developer Champions program for making this possible!

Looking forward to your new apps!

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Giveaway: Three Syncfusion licenses for you

Are you developing for Windows Phone, Windows RT or with ASP.NET MVC? Well, it’s your lucky day! Syncfusion has offered to give away three licenses to – whomever Random gods prefer. Basically, it will go like this:

Random rnd = new Random();
List<Participant> participants = LoadParticipants();

foreach (var p in participants) {
p.RandomizedPoints = p.Points * rnd.Next(0, 100000);
}
var winners = (from x in participants orderby x.RandomizedPoints descending select x).Take(3);

foreach (var winner in winners) {
  winner.ChooseBetween(“ES for Windows Phone“, “ES for Windows RT“, “ES for ASP.NET MVC“);
}

Syncfusion has a wide range of high quality controls for just about anything related to .NET: ASP.NET, ASP.NET MVC, JavaScript, Mobile MVC, Silverlight, Windows Forms, Windows Phone, Windows RT and WPF; and a nice free e-book collection. But, that’s not all – I especially like their Metro Studio, a royalty-free collection of over 2.500 Metro-style icon templates. What more do you need?

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Speaking at KulenDayz and DevArena

You know that feeling when you have two kids, and someone asks you to pick a favorite. Well, nobody asked me to pick the favorite between these two conferences, so I don’t have to. That’s good, because I could not.

Kulendayz conferenceKulenDayz (September 13-15th) is organized by my peers from mscommunity.hr in Osijek, a beautiful city on the east of Croatia. It’s a community conference, and that means that networking is more intense than anywhere else. It literally feels like you have come to a family gathering (assuming that you like your family and that kind of gathering :-) ). My session is about developer opportunities in the Windows Phone world (Saturday 5pm), and it’s a chalk&talk session, without the PowerPoint, so I’ll have my dear Lumia in my hand with the notes. That’s why I’m thinking about 1520 :-)

DevArena (October 15th) is a developer oriented conference, organized by Ekobit, one of the most successful regional development companies (check out the sites linked, made by my company). I really enjoy that conference, not only as a speaker, but as a part of the audience as well. I have two sessions there How to make money with Windows Phone apps? at 10 am and Speech API: talk to your phone at 2:15pm.

Hope to see you there!

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What can you do to make your Windows Phone app more beautiful? Do you need a designer?

Screenshot_6Yes, you do.

I will not talk here about the importance of the design and platform guidelines. Let’s assume that you’re very well aware of that and how it affects the number of downloads, usage, conversion rate and overall user experience.

Hiring a designer can be expensive, especially for indie developers or startups. So you rely on your developers to “work something out”, and that seems especially easy with Windows Phone, since the “metro” design is so simple and flat. Well, from the apps we can see in the Store, it is not as easy as it looks like.

Good news – Nokia is doing something about it. I’m really happy to see this happening, because all we hear in the media is the number of apps, not how good (looking) they are. Ecosystems are playing that game as well, doing activities that vary from interesting to embarrassing, just to boost The Number Of Apps.

Bad news – all current activities are connected to Nokia’s DVLUP program, that is available only in a few countries (USA, UK, Canada, Australia, India, Indonesia, Italy, Poland and Vietnam). But, I hope this will change very soon. (Please.)

So, this is what can you do to get help from a designer for your app:

Use your XP points to get consultation that will help you improve the visual appearance of your app. You’ll need 3.125 point for one-hour consultation, 7.500 for advanced consultation and 25.000 for total visual makeover (aka pro consultation). They’re quite “expensive”, I agree, but it can boost your app popularity and sales, and teach you a lot in the process. I’ve seen a few professional reviews of apps and they were all invaluable!

Go to a live consultancy event for free (UK only) that will take place in London on Wednesday, September 25th.  All the details and registration form are here.

I hope that this is just a start – looking forward to see more activities in this area in the future!

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Move your Windows Phone app to another publisher (transfer ownership to different developer account)

Oh, yes – it can be done, although there is no button for it. You have to contact support. I’ve successfully managed to move an app to my other developer account (yes, I have two, don’t ask me why) so I’m sharing my first-hand experience.

1) Sign in to Windows Phone Dev Center with the account that currently owns the app you want to transfer
2) Submit a support ticket
3) Write that you want to move the app from one account to another, and include all relevant information (see below)
4) The process can take up to a week (officially; my app was moved in a few hours
5) That’s it – app is moved to another account: all stats, downloads and reviews are preserved!

Important notes (copy-pasting this from the support ticket)

- you cannot move apps that contain Microsoft Push Notification (MPN) or In-App Products (IAP)
- the new account will only receive a payout for any sales after the app is migration to the new account is complete
- all accounts must be with an active subscription and cleared through our vetting process
- ensure that your new accounts payout details and tax information are completed prior
- if you are a Company account or the app is moving from a Company account to either an individual or to another Company account, they will need legal proof that you own the app(s) in question and are authorized to take action to move it to another account.  The legal document may need to be notarized

The information you have to include in the ticket

Current Account (Account with apps)
- Microsoft Account Email Address (login)
- Publisher Guid (can be found in Dashboard > Account > Account summary)
foreach (var app in appsYouWantToTransfer)
{

- App Name
- App ID (can be found in Dashboard > Apps > your app > Details)
}
 
Transferring to Account
- Microsoft Account Email Address (login)
- Publisher Guid (can be found in Dashboard > Account > Account summary)

Update (8/15/2013): The process of transferring the apps can take a while and during that time you will see strange things happening – for a while, you’ll see the app in both accounts, later you will have the app in target account and reports at the old place. Don’t worry – those things are normal, just wait for the process to complete and everything will be as expected.

Hope it helps Smile

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New WP8 app: View Source with in-app purchase

ViewSourceFor all web-developers out there that use Windows Phone – I have a good news. It is not spectacular, but I have made a small utility that enables you to view source code (HTML) of any web page, with syntax highlighted and all that jazz. You can even see a generated source code (the one you get after all JavaScript code on page is executed and DOM changed).

The usage is quite simple, so I will not waste your time on describing how to push the application bar buttons. But, the last button on the right is a quite important experiment – I’ve used a in-app purchase feature to enable donations (you can buy a coffee for my wife or a burger for me). I don’t expect to get rich (or gain weight), but I am curious how will this thing work, both technically and economically. I will share the details if there will be anything to share on this.

Implementing in-app purchases are is quite easy, but testing… not so much. There are three official scenarios, but none of them is perfect: testing with beta submissions is too slow, mock in-app purchase library is not 100% inline with the real experience (e.g. events raised after the purchase) and in-app purchase mock service is difficult to set up. I’ve ended up testing with the first two approaches, but it should be easier.

Anyway, enjoy the app, it’s free – click here (ICYMI try my other apps as well).

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Giveaway: And the winners are…

Two weeks ago I’ve started a giveaway of five free Nokia Premium Developer Program tokens and today I’ll announce the winners.

- Vijaya Malla – for being first to apply
- Robert Molloy – for having a wide collection of Nokia phones
- Antti Pohjola – for working with C++ on Windows Phone
- Matija Stepanić – for being on my training six months ago
- Armar Mesić – for being a Bosnian (his own reason that I happen to like)

Congrats to the winners and a big thanks to all the participants! If the token has missed you this time, that doesn’t mean that you cannot enter a really valuable Nokia Premium Developer Program – it costs only 99 US$ and you get a lot of stuff for the same amount of money as you would pay the Dev account itself. If you’re developing for the Windows Phone, this is no brainer.

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