The Devday in Stockholm yesterday was very nice. In this post, I discuss WP7 as a platform for enterprise applications, Pivot and Panorama controls and something called “Launchers and Choosers”. I very much appreciated another chance to ask questions and finally fulfill my dream to lick a Windows Phone 7.
WP7 and Enterprise Apps
I got a few chances to talk to Ben Riga and talked to him about WP7 as a viable platform for enterprise applications. What he said was that although Windows Mobile long had been focused on Enterprise Apps, it wasn’t the direction WP7 was heading in. Although it’s a phone for professionals, it’s not necessarily a phone for business apps. We discussed analytics and the viability for Business Intelligence apps but he was skeptical. Later at lunch, I talked to some other Swedish developers who had overheard our conversation and were hell bent on creating the first good analytics app for WP7. It’s great to know that the Swedish flame of innovation and defiance is burning strong.
As readers of this blog knows, I’ve been working on a Silverlight based visualization tool for analytics data. The demo of said tool has received much attention and although I can’t yet show a version of it, I’m convinced a version of it would be able to port over to WP7. As my Swedish peers, I’m confident that there will be space to bring analytics to WP7. One point which was brought up at MIX but downplayed yesterday was the possibility of a limited internal application distribution. At MIX, Microsoft said that this was a scenario they were working towards making possible. Maybe in the scope of 100 or 200 users. When asked, Ben Riga flat out said that as it stands now, all applications will go through Marketplace. As one of my peers commented later, this could certainly be a hindrance for any company who aren’t comfortable with supplying Microsoft with a detailed look at their company’s business logic. Neither would they enjoy making their application available to the public. Even though one can take security measures to prevent unwanted access, this hasn’t stopped hackers in the past.
Pivot & Panorama controls
Two controls that the community has been clamoring for are the Pivot control and the Panorama control. According to Ben and Neil (the techvengalists from Microsoft), they were actively working with codeplex contributors who were working on unofficial versions of these controls. The plan is to have these controls available to the public at release later in Q4. In my opinion, this is a bit late. Considering Microsoft’s request for similar experiences and consistency, I’m surprised that the Panorama control wasn’t a part of the initial release in march. To set the standard in an early phase with perfect ratio and measurements would’ve given Microsoft a much more consitent application portfolio and saved developers many hours of tweaking and second guessing.
Launchers & Choosers
Two concepts new to me were the launchers and choosers. The launchers are a kind of “fire-and-forget” calls to OS functions. Applications won’t be able to send text messages, make calls, send e-mail etc. etc. This is of course a security issue and as many other things a decision which in the end is supposed to benefit the end user. What we as developers can do is to use a launcher with the proper parameters, making the step between clicking on a button in your application and sending a detailed status report via email only one click wide.
Choosers are functions to retrieve contact objects, image objects or other neutral objects which applications are supposed to be able to access. These will work in a way like file pickers in Windows. A limitation here is the inability to retrieve music or calendar data.
I’m sorry Mr.Mike
One of my friends, Mr.Mike, has high flying plans for mobile applications using augmented reality. Sadly, this won’t be a possible scenario on WP7 initially. The camera launcher snaps pictures and returns the data to your application but as developers we don’t get access to the raw data streams from the camera.