Tag Archives: windows app studio

Windows App Studio being sunset

We want to directly thank each of the users of Windows App Studio and we want to be sure you have a smooth transition off when Windows App Studio service ends on December 1, 2017. What will happen to App Studio afterwards? Windows Template Studio is the evolution of Windows App Studio. We took our learnings from the code generation engine and the existing wizard to provide a strong foundation for our code generation and developer experience in Windows Template Studio. Best of all, it is open source over at http://aka.ms/wts.

Details on the transition

Windows App Studio has been a free, online app creation tool that allowed enthusiasts and developers to quickly build complete Windows Universal Apps. Applications using Windows App Studio then could also be downloaded, extended and compiled with Visual Studio and submitted to the Windows Dev Center.

Any user of Windows App Studio will need to download your projects and data prior to December 1, 2017.

We’ll provide multiple email communications with users between now and December 1, 2017, but we want to be upfront and clear that you have a path forward to continue building great apps for Windows 10. We’re doing a phased approach with the sun setting process. Here are the three critical dates:

  • July 15, 2017
    • Only existing users can sign in
    • Finished application projects can be downloaded
    • No new dynamic collections data sources allowed to be created
    • Dynamic data will be allowed to be downloaded with a migration path provided
  • September 15, 2017
    • Application editor will stop working
    • Dynamic collections API will stop providing data to your existing applications
  • December 1, 2017
    • Windows App Studio will be shut down

Once again, we want to thank each of the users of Windows App Studio, and we view the smooth transition for users critical.

Windows App Studio July ’16 release: Introducing a community-driven API gallery

Hope everyone is having an awesome summer now that we’re kicking into those late July days. We just released a very fun and impactful update to Windows App Studio that will allow you to incorporate a much broader range of information into your apps. So let’s jump right in.

New Features:

  • API Gallery
  • Custom API Sharing
  • Collections limit increase
  • Favorites in pivot apps

This update includes some of your most requested improvements. The collections limit increase was one of the most-voted items on the User Voice, so we’re very happy to deliver it in this release. Another minor new feature is the ability to define favorites when using the Pivot App template.

The major new features in this release, however, are definitely the API Gallery and the Custom API Sharing that powers it.

The new API Gallery

So everyone loves new data sources in Windows App Studio releases, but what’s even better is a data source that packs nearly unlimited data sources within it, and one that is totally customizable by you.

The last release contained a new data source for generic REST API support. It is very powerful, but a little in-depth if you’re not already familiar with some developer concepts. In this release, we’re including the API Gallery, a new data source that builds upon the REST API Data Source while decreasing the complexity of implementing a REST API.

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The API Gallery aggregates and collects implementations of the REST API data source (now renamed to Custom API data source) that users want to share, and makes it easy for anyone to consume them. So let’s say you implement a API that lists events by region and type, and has links to purchase tickets. You can now implement the API in the Custom API data source; once it’s created, tested, and working, you can share that implementation with the community by submitting it to the API Gallery.

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When you submit it, you can specify which elements are customizable by the user (things like choosing the location or type of events), provide a description, and add a link to API docs. When you’re finished and click “Send to Validate”, someone on our team will see the new submission, verify it, and then release it to the API Gallery.

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Once it’s validated and accepted into the library, anyone can use that API implementation to easily put it in their apps, specifying just a couple of criteria that were listed as customizable by the user. This is incredibly powerful and will only get more comprehensive and robust over time as new APIs are added to the gallery.

Needless to say, we’re pretty excited about this new feature and think it will have a huge impact on Windows App Studio-created apps going forward. The REST API features have been so much fun to play with that they’re already inspiring several new ideas about how Windows App Studio can become even better.

We’re currently planning the next 12 months of Windows App Studio and have some exciting things in the works. Our goals are to expand the capabilities of the service and introduce new and improved experiences for bringing content to Windows apps.

If you have any suggestions, please let us know on the User Voice and Forums. There’s nothing better than delivering new features requested by you, so keep those ideas coming! We hope you enjoy the new features (especially the API Gallery) and have fun building apps!

Head over to Windows App Studio to get started.

Kickstart UWP app creation with Windows App Studio’s open source UWP libraries and Samples App

Windows App Studio is all about making it as easy as possible to build apps for Windows.  The online tool helps you build apps with no coding required, so you can either start your project there and extend it in Visual Studio, or you can create and build the app completely in the tool.  Today, we want to talk about another way we’re helping to make it easier to develop for Windows 10: Our Windows App Studio UWP Samples app, which is powered by our open source UWP Controls and Data Sources libraries.  Open source libraries are incredibly useful in software development, but one of the tougher things for developers is to find good documentation and examples of code in those libraries without firing up an IDE.  The UWP Samples app aims to solve this problem and showcase the contents of the libraries beautifully and in an interactive way.

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A bit of background. As we build out and add new features to Windows App Studio, we need to create controls and data sources that are standardized in a way that makes them work for the tool.  This standardization of the controls also makes it easy to package them in a library, so that’s exactly what we did.  There are two main libraries:

Each of these are open source with the MIT license and are available as NuGet packages and these are the libraries that power the UWP Samples app.  You are free to use anything in these libraries for any project and you don’t even need to assign attribution/credit.  Since they’re open source, you are enthusiastically invited to contribute new controls, data sources, and whatever else you think is great.

Windows App Studio UWP Samples app

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The Windows App Studio UWP Samples app is now available in the Windows Store. What is unique about the app is that it lets you browse through all of the controls and data sources included in the libraries, without needing to write one line of code.  You can even adjust the attributes of the controls to mimic how they would look in your app before opening Visual Studio.  Furthermore, the app has the code and descriptions for each of the controls and data sources in the libraries, so you can even copy and paste directly from there.

Windows App Studio UWP Controls

As hinted before, this library is used in the Windows 10 apps generated with Windows App Studio.  The library implements common patterns used in UWP apps, and provides some user interface controls that help you create responsive apps that adapt to different form factors.  Examples of the controls are Variable Sized Grid, Pivorama, Carousel, Animation effect, and more.

Windows App Studio Data Providers

Within the Data Providers library is the code that enables apps generated by Windows App Studio to access data from different providers.  The library includes code to make easy integrations with the data sources used in the tool, such as WordPress and YouTube.  Since the library is open source, feel free to contribute back with a pull request and submit your own coded integrations to services.  Please note that some data sources will need you to sign up for keys in order for the APIs to work properly.

We hope these libraries and UWP Samples app will make it as easy as possible to develop for the Universal Windows Platform (UWP).  Feedback is welcome, so please share your thoughts on the forums or User Voice. If you’re interested, visit the GitHub page and share your contributions to the library.  Feel free to fork the repository, submit pull requests, and contribute to the world of Windows development.

Written by the Windows App Studio team

Windows App Studio Update: Installer companion app

If you’ve used Windows App Studio before, you know that it’s an easy-to-use tool for building Windows apps. You also know that the sideloading and installation process has been a bit complex by comparison, since it required running PowerShell scripts and deploying a certificate in a somewhat manual way.  Since you told us that it was a bit of a pain point, we spent some time to solve the problem.

Today, the Windows App Studio team is excited to deliver on your requests by officially announcing a brand new companion app designed to make the sideloading and installation process easier: the Windows App Studio Installer app.

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The Windows App Studio Installer app is currently available in the store for Windows 10 devices. The installation process is now as simple as two mouse clicks.  Behind the scenes, the app checks to see if the necessary certificate is installed, and if it’s not, the app installs it automatically.  If necessary, it will then guide the user through enabling sideloading mode in Windows 10 and open the proper settings page.  Once those things are in place, it installs the appx on the local computer.

Here is how it works:

Installing Apps

  • Generate your app in Windows App Studio and build an installable package.
  • Click the link to install the app.

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  • The link will open up the Installer app, and from there, all you need to do is click the install button. Note: If you are not already in sideloading or developer mode for Windows 10, this tool will also prompt you to make that change and automatically open the correct settings page.
  • Once you click “Install,” the app deploys the certificate (if necessary) and installs the app. Once the installation process completes you can open it from the Installer app, or however you normally prefer to open programs, like with the Win key + app name shortcut.

Sharing Apps

With the Installer app, it’s now much easier to share apps with your friends and family, regardless of their level of expertise with Windows.

  • When you generate installable package, look for links just below the install button for sharing via email, Twitter, and Facebook.

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  • Click one of those links to share your app through email, Facebook, and/or Twitter.
  • Whoever you shared it with will get a link to a page about your app and will have the link to download it with the Installer app.

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  • Once they click “Install App” on the page, it will open up the Installer app. It’s just one more click from there to install the app.

We hope that this tool makes it a lot easier to install and share all the great apps you’ve been building with Windows App Studio.  This is the first version of this companion app, so we’d love to hear your thoughts on what works well and what can be improved—let us know on the Forums or on User Voice.  We’re looking forward to adding more features to this tool in coming release and would love to incorporate your feedback.

Written by the Windows App Studio Team

Building Hosted Web Apps with Windows App Studio

If you have a web app that’s currently available publicly via URL, you can easily bring it to Windows 10 using Windows App Studio’s Hosted Web App template. Windows App Studio is an online service that makes it easy to build an app for Windows with no coding required.  This blog post will walk you through how to create your own Hosted Web App.

With Windows App Studio, you create a native Windows 10 app in a browser by starting with a template or a blank canvas, then add information, data, services, and styling.  Once you’re finished, you generate the app as a Visual Studio solution, a sideloading package, or a publishing package that lets you reach the users of 200+ million Windows 10 devices in the Windows Store.

One of these templates is the Hosted Web App (HWA) template, which brings publicly accessible websites and web apps to Windows. It will ask you to enter the URL of your web app, add an app icon, enter settings, and get it ready to publish on the Windows Store. The process takes an absurdly short amount of time.

Things that take more time than building a Hosted Web App with Windows App Studio:

  • Checking the mail
  • Microwaving a bag of popcorn
  • Checking out at a grocery
  • Brushing your teeth (hopefully)
  • Watching an ad break during a TV show (perfect time for to make a HWA!)

So if you have 3 minutes to learn, let’s get started!

The process of creating a Hosted Web App using Windows App Studio can be broken down into four steps.

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Step One: Creating the project

If you haven’t already, sign up for Windows App Studio using your Microsoft account. It’s a completely free service. Once you’re signed up, navigate to the Start New Page, where you will see the option to create a Hosted Web App.

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Once you click Hosted Web App, a pop-out will appear. Enter the name you want to use for your Windows app and click Start with this one!  The device previews are simply to show approximately how the app might look on different screens.

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Step Two: Configuring the app

Once you have created the project, you’ll be taken to the Content Editing screen. On this page you will enter the URL for the site you’re converting. And that’s all you really need to do.

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You then have the option to upload a Manifest, which is a JSON document containing information like application defaults and start-up parameters. You can also define additional URI rules and the rotation preference, but those are optional.

The preview on the right hand side of the screen shows what your Hosted Web App looks like on that type of device. If your preview doesn’t work, don’t worry. It usually just means the site doesn’t allow embedding in an iframe but should work when you generate the app.

After you enter in the URL and other information, you’re likely going to want to update the app’s icon from the default,  which is merely a placeholder. To do this, click the app icon on the navigation bar (to the right of the Content tab, highlighted below in green) to open the icon editor.

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On the screen shown above, click the logo under the App logo heading (highlighted in purple above). That will open a file picker where you can select the icon you want to use. The tool will automatically generate the various icon sizes you need.

After you’ve done that, there is only one more configuration step. Click the Settings tab to edit your Store listing details such as your app’s description, language, Store association details, privacy policy, and other similar information. To publish to the Store, you must fill out the Store Association info here. For detailed instructions on publishing, please see the documentation.

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Once you enter the information, click Save. Then you’re ready to finish and generate the app.

Step Three: Generating the app

When you’ve finished configuring settings, click the gray Finish button at the top. You’ll then be taken to a page where you can preview the app on different device form factors. The only thing you need to do on this page is click the big Generate button at the top. That will open a pop-out where you select the type of packages you want to generate. (The Visual Studio solution is always generated by default).

Note that in order to generate Publish packages, you’ll need to enter the Store Association details in the previous screen.

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After everything is ready to go, click Generate. It should take under a minute to run the generation. After that, you will have the app ready to go with the package type(s) you selected.

Conclusion

That’s everything you need to do to create a Hosted Web App in Windows App Studio.

We’d love to hear your feedback as you use the tool, so please let us know your thoughts on our User Voice and the Windows App Studio forums. Happy app building!

Windows App Studio February 2016 update – agenda layout, searching in apps, and other new features

The Windows App Studio team is excited to announce a new update to the service that went live this morning, and this update is packed with robust new features.  This update is the first of 2016 and contains new features, some bug fixes, and improvements in the user experience and documentation. With over 200 million Windows 10 devices out in the wild, Windows App Studio provides a great way to reach them directly with your content.

One of the major themes that we’ve been focusing on lately is providing great solutions for small businesses, creatives, and content producers that want to showcase their work.  With that goal in mind, many of the new features are designed to help showcase information and provide more advanced user-focused features so you can better engage with your customers and audience.

New feature highlights:

Grouped layout – Windows App Studio now supports grouping data based on a data point.  This feature lets users represent their in groups based on certain criteria.  This could be used when displaying a list of products grouped by brand or other data point.  It can also be used to group things based on date or time.  For example when used for the events template, this lets the user create an agenda or schedule.  This feature introduces a lot more flexibility into how you can display your data.

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Date & Date/Time data type – We introduced two new data types for our collections: Date and Date/Time (Date + Time w/ minutes precision).  This allows you to append date and time info to any collection entry, which in turn enables a lot more experiences such as organizing information by time.  To support this feature, there is a new date/time picker, new calendar formatting options, and new calendar actions so the end user can add events to their personal calendars. In addition to the collections data source, Date and DateTime data types can be used among all the data sources of Windows App Studio that have date times fields (RSS, WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), allowing you to take advantage of the DateTime formats and use these data sources with the new Grouped Layout.

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Search within app –With this release, we’re delivering a long-requested feature: enabling search within an app generated in Windows App Studio.  This lets users search through an app to find specific content, which is particularly helpful when there is a lot of data.

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Collection favorites –Now your end users can have the option to save any data from your collections as their favorites into a favorites section.  If you enable this for their users, as they browse your collections they can mark certain entries as their favorites to save for easy browsing later.

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Service improvements – In this release cycle, we also improved the back end of the App Studio service to make your experience smoother.  This included updating the app generation model to use VS2015 Update 1 (which means developers can target more devices) and improved and updated how-to documentation.

We also are excited to announce that later this month we will kick off a contest to showcase the great Windows 10 apps you are creating with Windows App Studio.  For the contest, we will select the best Windows 10 apps that are published to the store, and 6 of them will be featured on the Windows App Studio homepage!  We are still finalizing some of the details on the contest and will post official rules and details in the next two weeks, so check back for it soon!

There are a ton of great features packed into this release and we only touched on the surface of everything these new features enable.  We’ll be going through some deep dives into each of these over the coming weeks.  As always, we’d love to hear your feedback on the new features.  So please let us know your thoughts on the forums or User Voice.

Windows App Studio December 2015 Update

It’s the end of the year and the holiday season in many parts of the world, so we have one more release this year to celebrate all the App Studio enhancements in 2015, such as the launch of Windows 10 and the November Update. Today’s Windows App Studio Beta update brings some exciting new features that we can’t wait for you to use. There are a couple of big new features, some significant design related improvements, and fun and useful new templates.

The new features in this release focus on things that help empower small businesses, professionals, and organizations to create great apps for Windows and better connect with their customers.

  • WordPress Data Source – We introduced a new WordPress data source that lets you connect your app to your WordPress blog. It pulls in content and displays it beautifully in your app so you can free your blog from the web and get it in front of 110+ million Windows 10 users by publishing it to the Store.
  • Related Content – Did you ever want to show related content in a section (such as speaker information for an event listing in a Convention app, or comments from a blog post)? Now it can be easily done in Windows App Studio Beta. This feature opens up new use cases and we will show them off in new templates in the future.
  • Microsoft Advertising – It’s great to have people using and enjoying your app, but it’s even better when those eyeballs translate into revenue! Now included is the Microsoft Ad control, which means you can now place advertising in your app to make money from people using it.

Recognizing that great design is core to quality user experience, we also put time into building features that customize of the look and feel of the apps created in Windows App Studio. These features let you set the look and feel you want for each section of your app, taking advantage of media-rich designs. :

  • New Carousel Control – Sometimes you want to showcase a selection of images in your app. The Carousel lets you display a number of hero images in a single section that behave like a slideshow.
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  • Improved Section Design Features – We added a few more features to help make your apps look great. Now you can change the background and adjust the hero image for each section individually and choose how each section appears on the default/home section of your app.

What’s the best way to get started with these features? With the new templates we’re releasing! These templates show off the new features and make it easy for you to become familiar with and use them.

  • WordPress Template – Showcases the new WordPress data source and is an excellent way for you to break out of the web and bring your WordPress blog to the Windows platform and Store
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  • Events – This template uses the new Related Content feature to help you build an informative app for all of your event attendees.
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  • My Shop – Leverage our new design features in this template and show off your catalog of products. This template also adapts nicely to portfolio situations for photographers, artists, designers, and anyone who creates or sells content.
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We would love to hear your feedback on these new features and see the great ways you take advantage of them for the apps you build. As always, you can find us on the forums and User Voice. Also, if you have a great story to tell about your experience using App Studio, please tell us. Have a great rest of 2015 and we look forward to an exciting 2016.

Let’s build some apps!

-Windows App Studio Team