Up until a month ago, I knew as much about programming as most non-techie people, nothing. The last time I did anything even remotely close to programming was writing HTML and copy/pasting java script snippets, about 10 years ago. But given what I heard about Windows Phone regarding it’s relative ease to learn the coding language, the greater potential for profitability over competing platforms, and the fact that I own a Windows Phone, I decided to give it a go. I didn’t make any big amazing plans to create something mind-blowing. I just wanted to dip my toe in the water. I was doing this for fun and didn’t want to get bogged down by paying for courses or paying for anything. In my search for knowledge, I discovered one great resource: MSDN. It’s free, and the videos are designed with beginners in mind, so everything is paced accordingly.
Once you get through the videos, you’re ready to start some minor programming. The biggest problem I faced was at this point. The point where you know enough to kind of do something, but will run into constant errors and questions. The help out there is usually written with intermediate and advanced users in mind. This is the hardest part as you will have to ask people more knowledgeable that you to help explain and dumb things down to your level. You will spend most of you time figuring out how to use .NET libraries and only a small fraction of your time actually writing code, but once you get the hang of it, the process will go much more smoothly. In addition, it’s the struggling that helps you learn. When it takes me several hours to figure out a simple mistake(there were LOTS of simple mistakes) ,I guarantee you I wont be making the same one again.
That being said, I think writing an actual app for Windows Phone, was extremely easy. I’ve finished writing a dedicated app for Mobility Digest, and it has been submitted for certification. It should be available to download within a week and I’ll be sure to let you guys know when you’ll be able to download it. From that experience, I can safely say that learning how to make a simple program wasn’t all that hard. I’m not saying all programming is easy. And definitely don’t think you’ll be able to make a competitor to The Harvest any time soon. I haven’t even attempted to look at XNA yet, and I think I’ll pass on that until I get a better handle on Silverlight. If anyone is interested in developing for Windows Phone, I highly encourage it. If you’re a student, don’t forget you can use DreamSpark to get yourself a developer account for free, instead of paying the $99 charge. And no, you don’t need a developer account to download the tools to start learning on your own. Visual Studio Express for Windows Phone is 100% free, but if you have DreamSpark you can download VisualStudio Premium for free as well.
Bottom line, if someone with absolutely zero knowledge about programming, like myself, can learn and write a working program in under a month, I don’t see knowledge as a serious barrier to developing for Windows Phone.
Update: My app has passed certification and can now be downloaded from the Marketplace! Leave suggestions and comments in the post about the app HERE, thanks!