Getting Started with Windows 8 Apps

When O’Reilly gave me an opportunity to review this book I was excited.  It gave me a reason to finally put some time into this new platform and what developers will need to learn in order to be successful.

This book by Ben Dewey is only 92 pages long, so if you were looking for an in-depth treatment of Windows 8 development you will need supplemental materials.  It is also due for an update from the perspective of recent changes made by Microsoft prior to the final release of the OS and tools.  This causes a few issues if you try to run the code samples because of namespace changes.

I was encouraged by the fact that the author didn’t do the typical “hello world” app.  He uses a lot of pattern based development techniques and hits many of the main topics including:

  • Application lifecycle
  • Charms integration
  • Tiles
  • Sensors

The lifecycle is critical for anyone who hasn’t done mobile development before.  Limited resources on these devices mean that the OS can suspend or kill your app altogether if it decides it needs to.  He covers tombstoning which is the key to Windows 8 and Windows Phone lifecycle management.

He also dedicates a chapter to marketing and distributing the application you build.  From my experience with Windows Phone development this is crucial information.  You need to know how to test your application so that it is going to pass certification and present your app so that it is going to get noticed amongst thousands of other apps.

The main things that I wish had been in the book explanations of more of the common controls and more complete explanation of patterns that were implemented.

In the end this book is a good foundation getting exposure to the concepts that underlie this new version of the Windows platform and how it effects developers.  It isn’t a book that I would suggest for someone just getting into development with no understanding of pattern based development.