An Interview with WP7 Indie Developer Ronny Gydar

We have done interview’s with more than 35 WP7 Developers so far.But this one is pretty interesting.Thanks Ronny for sharing your experience in more detailed manner.

1)Have you developed Apps for any other platforms before? If Yes What are they?

The only mobile platform I have developed for is Windows Mobile (3 years), and now Windows Phone 7. In my professional job I have developed web, Windows, server and database applications.

2)Why did you choose WP7 as a platform of your choice?

You know, strangely enough, it was in a way my ex-girlfriend, Trine, who made that choice. Early 2007 she had some sync issues with her Samsung i600 phone, and had duplicates of all her contacts, appointments and tasks. I made a small app that fixed this (TrineFix which is a free application), and she was so incredibly enthusiastic about every update I made, and had lots of new suggestions and ideas, that I got very motivated myself.  The last 3 years I have really spent every weekend, even the 3 last summer vacations on making apps for WM, actually the last summer vacation was spent on learning WP7.
The move to WP7 was really a no-brainer for me, it has an excellent development SDK and tools, and it also is for me a chance the be ready with a couple of applications at the birth of a brand new mobile OS.  I have gotten a lot of faith in both WP7 and Microsoft after all I have seen the last 6-12 months, I truly believe WP7 will do well.
I might also add that I have been a PPC user “forever”, even had the HP 95LX ( which was DOS based, and moved on through all the WinCE handhelds before the first PPCs arrived. Even though I many times thought for myself; “I should make some applications for this”…I just never had the energy and motivation to really sit down and learn all that was needed.  Until Trine had her sync problems.
During the last two years I have naturally also been considering both iPhone and Android development (especially before I got the first real look at WP7).  But for me right now, I see it like this; I am tiny company (“a team of one”), having limited resources and time available, so I believe it much smarter of me to focus and dedicate me to one platform.  Learning to use that platform to its limits, and make really good apps on that platform, instead of covering several platforms and thereby never being able to be “among the best” on each.
Today I actually work 2 days a week fulltime with WP7, and 3 days a week in a regular job, since I need to have some money for paying my bills 🙂

3)Which one do you think as the single most feature you liked in WP7?

The SDK and development tools.
Currently I have barely scraped the surface of what I can do, and already now I am totally blown away of what you can do.  I know that we will see some truly amazing and good looking apps on WP7.

4)Are you satisfied with WP7 Platform development tools?

Absolutely, the tools and SDK are great.  
Now, that does not mean that there is a lot I am missing, like a lot more controls (UI elements), ability to schedule startup of my app, but it still is in BETA, and as long as I see Microsoft so dedicated to deliver more and better as we go along, this does not bother me.  Actually the 3 controls I miss the most (panorama, pivot and Bing maps) are on the SDK version released 16. September.

5)What are the Apps you are developing now in WP7?

I have a really long list actually, well over 20 apps(!), but I will of course not have 20 apps at launch, I prioritze quality before quantity.  I had planned 6 apps at launch, but due to not having a developer phone available, and got a “request” from the Norwegian armed forces to spend one week in the army, I will only have 3 apps ready for launch.

The two that are almost finished today are:
Trine’s Lightning Timer, which quite simply told, is an app that measures how far away a lightning strike is. It will however do this very precisely, and “look good while doing it”, it is also planned to show on a map where the lightning struck.
Trine’s Hangman, which is the classic game of Hangman, but also here I am putting a lot of effort into making it a great experience.  It is not just about doing Hangman, but it is how you do it, it should feel fun and good to play the game and navigate the application. Things like making you play being able to play it sporadic, and still feel engaged and wanting to push yourself, customizing the look and feel of the app to you liking, and so forth.
The two other apps I am working on, are a tip calculator, that I believe will be the fastest and easiest to use “ever”, and a WP7 version my WM5-6 application for realtime flightinfo “Trine-i-Lufta”.

6)In what way Microsoft can improve their WP7 or What does WP7 lacks from?

I think the WP7 devices (not talking as a developer here), really need some form of mechanism for seeing the last used applications.
My apps (and hopefully from most other developers) handle “jumping in and out of the app” very well, for the user, they seem to multitask.  But it is a bit cumbersome in WP7 now to “jump between the last used apps”…you can only go “back” to the last used. We need a “show me last X used apps” so we can quickly switch between the apps.
As a developer I would also like to be able to schedule a startup of my application, or do it though a push-notification (is a lot of apps types that are hard or impossible without this, like alarm clocks).
I also really would like to be able to interface with the PIM data, so I can make TrineFix-on-steroids on WP7 🙂
But honestly, WP7 SDK is more than good enough for me now, I just changed which of all the apps on my list I make first, depending on what the SDK has available right now.   And I have at least 10 more apps on my list that can be made with what the SDK has now…so if they just fix scheduling, access to PIM-data, and background tasks before summer it works fine by me 🙂

7)Future Plans of you?

I really have only two priorities for the next 12-18 months, and that is mastering WP7 to its limits, and making some damn good apps. If all goes well, then I naturally have plans on expanding, but for next 12-18 months, I’ll stay as a “team-of-one” 🙂
I really hope I get a developer phone soon though. I need to verify that my apps are running fast and responsively on a device.
Earlier this year I got info that I would get a phone early on, but it seems Microsoft Norway are struggling to get hold of developer phones. I actually have only heard of one company in Norway having a developer phone.
So if anyone could help me there, I would be super grateful 😉

8)Apart from these questions, Other things you want to share with the community?

Many have complained about the few apps in Marketplace for Windows Phone. It seems everybody think this was only due to it being so difficult to develop for Windows Mobile (different devices++), and Microsoft’s pricing for developers on Marketplace (99 USD per app, and 10 USD per country in the start) was to high.
And yes, those are two important factors, but I believe there is a 3. important factor that has not been mentioned, and that is that the whole developers experience on Marketplace is/was an utter pain.
The dashboard and Marketplace has lots of small bugs, and bad design/usability. Dashboard is the Microsoft website that developers use to publish apps to Marketplace.
One small example of “unfortunate design” in Dashboard, is that there is a link for a developer to contact support, which is great. It opens a pop up windows, and you fill out you problem. Problem is that there is zero feedback, meaning, when you click “Send”, the pop up window closes…and that is it.
It does not say anywhere in the web page that your message was sent/received, and you get no E-mail confirming that Microsoft has received your message.  So you really do not know if your message have been sent, or failed, until some days later when hopefully someone at supports contacts you by Email about your support case.
Another example is that to send in one application world wide, you had to fill out 2 applications (one for Smartphone and one for Professional) for each country, giving you around 60 applications to send in, and you have to upload 5 screenshots, 4 icons, fill out several texts, and select 30 prices/currencies for each of these…you are looking at a days work, just to send in an app or update.
One example of bugs (I can list many more though), is that sometimes an app never appears in Marketplace, this happens very seldom, but I have experienced it at least once.  The last app I published, never appeared in Germany. It got approved, but when I sent it to German marketplace after being approved, it did not appear in German Marketplace, we actually had to send in an update without really changing the application to get it out.
Knowing about all these snags and bugs, I am actually amazed at how MANY apps there are in Marketplace, cause it really is a tough job to get them out there 🙂
I could mention more of such “issues”, but there is really no point in that. WP7 is coming, and I am sure that all this will be forgotten and forgiven soon.  
I also know for sure that Microsoft \ has a totally different focus on WP7 than they did on WM, so problems we might find after WP7 launch (and nothing is perfect from day one), will be fixed and fixed fast, that I am sure of.

I will update the webpages with WP7 pages in october (focus at the moment is 100% at MAKING the apps now:)