Impressions from Microsoft Build – day 3

This year we are three developers representing Jayway at Microsofts Build conference. This blog-post summarizes just some of the stuff we’ve seen on the third and last day of the conference.

Visual Studio Extensibility

Mads Kristensen is one of the biggest Visual Studio extension creators, and this talk was a genuine walkthrough on how to get going in creating your own extensions for Visual Studio. A surprise to no one, there is of course an extension for creating Visual Studio extensions. Using this extension it is surprisingly simple to getting started on the path to creating extensions. It’s basically a live walkthrough from writing the code, to pushing to source control (GitHub, what else), adding to the AppVeyor CI and then finally publishing to the visual studio Gallery. Using the extensibility extension, every step has become very streamlined and easy to get into.

Windows Store: Publishing Apps and Games to Desktop, Mobile and Xbox

A deep dive into the changes coming in the Windows Store and Dev Center (most of it this summer), more detailed than the Wednesday session. It started with an overview of the growing Windows Store ecosystem which gets support for new device types and packaging options. Then went on to discuss different monetization strategies.

Downloadable content (DLC) can be used to put e.g. add-ins or extensions to an app in the store. It is separate from the main app and versioned and released separately.

Lots of talk about uploading prerelease builds, “flighting” in Microsoft vocabulary. Just like in the Windows Insider program, you can create your own flights (such as the fast and slow ring) that get prereleases of different quality. These are then downloaded by clients just like any app update from the Store.

To manage these releases, you create customer groups that should get access to different flights. I believe they said there was a limit of 10 groups, and each group can have up to 10 000 customers in them (don’t worry, there is csv upload provided so you don’t have to type in all accounts manually). There’s a special beta group that Dev Center can handle invitations for.

You will be able to create a page in the store even before an app has been published. A “coming soon” type of page for example. This could also enable pre-orders of unreleased products. You can also upload videos (such as a trailer) in addition to screenshots to give a richer preview of what your app offers. There will also be much improved support for offering bundles and discounts for different apps .

You will be able to provide more detailed system requirements for your app than what’s available today.

And finally, support for A/B testing is being added. This enables you to alter the apps behavior and monitor the outcome on user behavior, without having to submit a new release of your app.

It feels like Microsoft is really investing in making the Windows Store an attractive place to sell your apps. For more details, see Microsoft’s blog post on the announcements.

Mobile DevOps with HockeyApp and Visual Studio Team Services

An overview session of how you can achieve a continuous integration or continuous delivery pipeline with VSTS and HockeyApp. Not so much new information, but it’s nice to see everything fit together. A Xamarin app was used to demo, and the HockeyApp support for Xamarin is now available from NuGet.


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