Learn how to develop Windows Store apps - free ebook

Learn how to develop Windows Store apps - free ebook

If someone asked me about the best free resources for learning Windows Store development, I'd recommend two books which are available online in PDF format. The first one is for developers who wish to learn Windows Store development using HTML, CSS and JavaScript. The other targets XAML and C#.

The first book that's for HTML, CSS and JavaScript devs is available from Microsoft Press here in PDF, EPUB and MOBI format. If you are more like this guy

XAML meme

and like XAML and C#, this blog post and Windows Phone Store Apps Succinctly book is for you!

Windows Store Apps Succinctly

Syncfusion, company most popular for it's software components and tools for the Microsoft .NET platform (if you're building apps for Windows Phone or Windows 8 you've probably heard of Metro Studio (download here) which gives you a lot of professional free icons), has created a series of Succinctly books (download here) for a lot of different technologies and programming languages. Those books are usually relatively short (around 100 pages) with clear, concise examples, and free in Kindle and PDF format. I've downloaded more than 5 of those books already and added them to my to-read list, and I finished reading the most exciting one to me - Windows Store Apps Succinctly.

Windows Store Apps Succinctly cover

Windows Store Apps Succinctly is a free book. It's around 180 pages long and covers Windows 8 Store development from beginning to end . Starting with project templates and beginning of Windows Store development to deploying an app to the store. It's written by John Garland and available for free download here. If you have ever developed apps using XAML and C#, it will be a breeze for you to read this book. However if you haven't, the book does explain some basic stuff to make it easier for you to follow. If you're interested in starting C# development, read the free Yellow book by Rob Miles before you start with this one!

Download free Windows Store Apps Succinctly ebook here

So, what does the book exactly cover? Here are the chapters:

  1. Core Concepts
  2. XAML, Controls, and Pages
  3. Application Life Cycle and Storage
  4. Contracts and Extensions
  5. Tiles, Toasts, and Notifications
  6. Hardware and Sensors
  7. Deployment

I have already developed/published/worked on a few of Windows Store apps so I must say that it was really easy to follow the topics and finish it in a really short time. But I did find out one or two new things, so even if you're not a complete beginner, it's a great book to read. What's hidden in those chapters?

1. Core concepts

Core concepts covers the introduction to Windows Store apps - what are those, how and where to begin developing, what's WinRT? It explains how WinRT relates to existing technologies from Microsoft, what are the default project types - goes in depth with WinRT really. It goes on with creating a first, simple Windows Store app, analyzing the project anatomy, and ending with a typical Hello World app. It's a nice introductory chapter which can get you started in no time.

2. XAML, Controls, and Pages

This is quite a long chapter which covers all you need to know about declaring the user interface with XAML. This includes almost everything - what are class and namespace specifications,  resource dictionaries, properties, events, animations, transitions, styles, visual states, data binding, layout panels, semantic zoom, page structure, etc. It ends with going into details of some of the most popular controls and types of controls that developers use. The chapter is full of examples and I suggest you go through all of them if you're a beginner. The only thing I miss here are pictures/screenshots of different controls - it would be great to be able to see the results of the samples. That way things would be much clearer. Unfortunately, that would probably make the book almost 300 pages long, which would seem like it defeats the purpose of the Succinctly series. So, I guess it was a necessary compromise.

3. Application Life Cycle and Storage

Application lifecycle is very important for development of Windows 8 apps. The whole concept of lifecycles in mobile apps (both Windows Phone and Windows 8) takes some time to really understand. And it's important because it's a lot different than in desktop apps because the system manages a lot for you. It covers all the important events such as app launching, activation, suspension, resuming, extended splash screen if initial app loading is quite long etc. Data storage is important for strategically saving and retrieving data for the application during the important lifecycle events. That includes working with application data (local, roaming, temp), working with user data and files etc. Again, a lot of examples are included and even commented for better understanding. This time with more pictures, too! Also, a couple of important links are added for extending the knowledge on the topic even further.

4. Contracts and Extensions

You'll probably be using these in your app! The chapter covers the concept of Windows 8 charms and then explains it's parts. The author writes about searching, sharing (whether your app is a source or a target for sharing) and sharing lifecycle (nicely illustrated), print contract and settings flyouts, again including extensive examples. The chapter ends with file open/save pickers and handling file types and protocols.

5. Tiles, Toasts, and Notifications

Tiles are very popular ever since Microsoft released Windows Phone and "Metro" guidelines. The idea of having more than just dummy icons was very appealing to me. Tiles are equally important in Windows 8, too. This chapter covers live tiles and how to create and update them (even the secondary live tiles) from your app. It also covers other types of notifications such as Toast and how to raise and schedule them, Push notifications and how to send them etc. This is slightly more advanced topic - the examples are slightly more difficult but are again very well commented.

6. Hardware and Sensors

There's much more in your device today than you might expect. Devices come with a lot of sensors, most popular being compass, gyroscope and accelerometer. You can create compelling scenarios by accessing those in your app. Have you heard of augmented reality? This chapter goes into details of interacting with sensors, determining device's location, using the simulator in testing apps that use device's location etc. You can even access camera(s) and microphones to create multimedia scenarios!

7. Deployment

You are probably building an app so you can deploy it after it's finished. This chapter explains you how to go through with that process. It explains Windows Store and pricing intervals, Windows Store developer accounts, registering and submitting an app, using WACK (Windows Application Certification Kit), certification process etc. Trial mode is an interesting feature for Windows (Phone) Store apps - it makes it possible for users to try an app without buying it and then deciding whether they want to spend money on it. In-app purchases is another feature and possibility for you as a developer to monetize! And so are the ads. All nicely covered in this chapter!

In conclusion, the book is really a great introduction to Windows Store app development. It's not a reference book with 1000+ pages, and it's not aiming to be that. It's the best free book for Windows Store development beginners (XAML+C#) out there, and a great read for people who are already developing Windows Store apps. It's full of great, commented examples, and includes pro tips and notes that can really help you avoid scratching your head over certain issues.

Igor Ralic

igor ralic

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Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer: Windows Store Apps in C#