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Preface

Preface

I have never owned a PalmPilot. But I have owned palmtops and smartphones. I dived into writing software for a plethora of different devices but never got very far. My problem was that the story of getting software onto the phones was chaotic and I didn’t see how the marketing of software for phones would lead to a successful product. In the intervening years, I got distracted by Silverlight and Web development. I didn’t pay attention as the smartphone revolution happened. I was happily neck-deep in data binding, business application development, and teaching XAML.

The smartphone revolution clearly started with the iPhone. What I find interesting is that the iPhone is really about the App Store, not the phone. It’s a great device, but the App Store is what changed everything, providing a simple way to publish, market, and monetize applications for these handheld powerhouses that everyone wanted. Of course, Apple didn’t mean to do it. When the original iPhone shipped, Apple clearly said that Safari (its Web browser) was the development environment. With the pressure of its OS X developer community, Apple relented and somewhat accidentally created the app revolution.

When it was clear that I had missed something, I dived headlong into looking at development for phones again. I had an Android phone at the time, so that is where I started. Getting up to speed with Eclipse and Java wasn’t too hard, but developing for the phone was still a bit of a chore. The development tools just didn’t seem to be as easy as the development I was used to with Visual Studio and Blend. In this same time frame, I grabbed a Mac and tried my hand at Objective-C and Xcode to write something simple for the iPhone. That experience left me bloodied and bandaged. I wanted to write apps, but since it was a side effort, the friction of the tool sets for Android and iPhone left me wanting, and I put them aside.

Soon after my experience with iPhone and Android, Microsoft took the covers off its new phone platform: Windows Phone 7. For me, the real excitement was the development experience. At that point I’d been teaching and writing about Silverlight since it was called WPF/E, so the ability to marry my interest in mobile development to my Silverlight knowledge seemed like a perfect match.

I’ve enjoyed taking the desktop/Web Silverlight experience I have and applying the same concepts to the phone. By being able to use Visual Studio and Blend to craft beautiful user interface designs and quickly go from prototype to finished application, I have found that the workflow of using these tools and XAML makes the path of building my own applications much easier than on other platforms.

In the middle of this learning process Microsoft continued to mature the platform by announcing and releasing Windows Phone 7.5 (code-named Mango). I was left questioning whether to finish my Windows Phone 7 book or rush forward and mold all the new features of Windows Phone 7.5 into a book for this next version of the phone. Obviously you know the answer to that question.

It has been a long road to get the right story for this book, and to help both beginners and existing Silverlight developers to learn from the book. My goal was always to allow readers to get started writing apps quickly, while also including the information that leads to great apps. Because of the relative size of these minicomputers we keep in our pockets, knowing when to pull back is often the key to a great application. As you will see throughout this book, my goal has been to help you build great apps, not rich applications. This means I will try to hold your hand as you read the book, but I will also challenge your assumptions about how you approach the process of building applications for the phone.

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