Developing for Windows 8 lets you build quickly for phone, PC and cloud platforms — and the forthcoming #Appfest event in Sydney from Friday 15 February to Sunday 17 February will help you super-charge your app ambitions. We chatted to Vaughan Knight, developer relations manager for Nokia Australia, for his perspective on how #Appfest can help developers build a successful future.
Knight sees multiple benefits in an event like #Appfest. "You get to be surrounded for three days by experts — people who understand not just the technical aspects of app development but the logistical elements you need to make the apps a success." Presenters include Microsoft's chief experience evangelist Chris Bernard and Shane Morris from Automatic Studios.
Outside the presentations, the focus is on hacking and designing prototypes. "There's a huge benefit to setting aside and really dedicating that time," Knight said. "You have no distractions so you can go head down and really give yourself that focus. By setting that challenge, it throws the gauntlet down. You've got a weekend. Prove what you can do. Giving that confidence to the developer community is great."
Knight also highlighted the networking benefit of spending time with like-minded developers. "That community aspect of a group of like-minded people is so important. You often meet other people working on similar projects. Twitter and forums just don't help build that community in the same way. Appfest is a great place to get motivated."
"A lot of the time developers tend to work in their own little shell They don't always collaborate with a diverse group of people. That cross-pollination is always helpful."
"You can often hit a barrier and it can be demotivating. What you want to be able to do is be in an environment where keep that momentum. For every app that's built and submitted, there are probably 20 that are created but not submitted. It's about getting over that last hurdle.""
One huge advantage of Windows 8 development is the ability to target Windows 8 Phone devices such as the Nokia Lumia 920, Windows 8 PCs and tablets and Windows Azure cloud services with the same well-established Microsoft developer tools. "I've worked on a lot of platforms, and the Windows 8 family has the strongest developer story," Knight said. "You can build and prototype so quickly, which allows you to iterate your prototypes effectively over short periods of time. We're seeing developers preferring to start in Windows Phone 8. While they're iterating, the costs are low and the time frames are short. You can turn around prototypes in a couple of hours versus a couple of weeks. The tools are rich and the development platform is very mature."
The ultimate goal for all attendees is creating a successful app. "It's not just about coding and building apps, it's about making apps that succeed. Developers need to understand that this can be the future for them. You don't need to be Rovio to be successful. You can have your own indie games studio and being successful. You need to define what success looks like. Is success working full time or having 100,000 downloads?"
"Windows Phone is really making it easy for developers to build apps, but it also allows Nokia to reach out to the vast audience of Microsoft developers. There's this army of developers who have been waiting for a phone they can develop for. When you start seeing projects that have 90% reuse between different platforms, you start seeing very impressive ROI."
Knight's focus for #Appfest will be in helping developers move quickly from concept to a shipping product. "We've seen one day events where people have built apps and submitted to store on that day. In a three-day event, they'll be able to build everything. My challenge to developers is going to be: you can submit to store."
Register for Microsoft's #Appfest Sydney now!