Last week I picked up a Nokia 520 Windows Phone for what I consider to be an absolute bargain price (well under the NZ$299 RRP) specifically as a development handset to allow me to explore the Windows Phone support offered by Oxygene.
I’ve only just started down this road but have already come across a couple of things that might help people who might be scratching their heads (as I was) when getting started.
Devices, Emulators and Senior Moments in the IDE
After installing the Windows Phone 8 SDK, the first thing I tried was to simply create a project using one of the Oxygene templates. This was straight-forward enough. Choosing New Windows Phone Project, a simple Hello World app sprang into being before my very eyes, complete with XAML UI design and, since the Windows Phone SDK is right at home in Visual Studio, the usual visual form designer for the XAML was also available to me.
But I wasn’t interested in playing too deeply just yet.
First things first: could I get an app running on an emulator or device ?
Sure enough, the Start toolbar drop down presented a selection of four different emulated devices. I chose one and off it went.
Well, emulators being what they are, it wasn’t quite as fast as that might sound (something I had anticipated and just one reason for getting an actual device to develop on). But it is worth noting that Parallels nested virtualisation does support Hyper-V to the extent required by the Windows Phone emulator, should you need it.
Encouraged by the ease with which things had gone so far, I connected up my shiny new Nokia phone, but the IDE wouldn’t recognise it as a valid device for deployment/debugging.
It turns out you have to register a device for development, which unlocks it and makes it available as a development device.
No problem. There is a tool in the Windows Phone SDK specifically for registering the device which also unlocks it.
But something else was not quite right: The emulator devices that were previously listed had also disappeared.
It appears that this is a known (though as far as I could determine not understood/explained) problem that sometimes occurs with Visual Studio and is not a problem specific to Oxygene (which I can verify since the exact same problem was very much evident in the Visual Studio Express for Windows Phone edition that I also had installed in this particular VM).
Attempts to Repair my emulator devices using the Windows Phone 8 SDK installer were fruitless.
Warning: the “Finalizing tools step” in this process had to be left running overnight on my machine, having taken well over an hour at the point at which I decided to give up waiting and see if things had finished in the morning. Fortunately they had, but still I had no emulators and my device still wasn’t being recognised.
Some additional digging then turned up what proved to be the answer:
Delete the contents of the
%LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Phone Tools\CoreCon folder.
Upon restarting the Oxygene Visual Studio shell, the emulators re-appeared in my Start options and my device was now listed by name rather than just as a generic “Device”.
And sure enough, I could now run the app on my device. Hurrah !
Which left just one question.
My God… It’s Full of Numbers…
In the visual designer I could see that the Hello World app UI consisted of a page title and sub-title:
Yet when running in the emulator, or on the device, there were some additional numbers running down the right-hand side of the display.
I had noticed them in the emulator but had thought they were some emulator diagnostic, so when they showed up on the device as well, I was a bit puzzled.
But it turns out that these are indeed performance diagnostics, enabled by default in debug builds.
Enforced Hiatus and Windows Phone Surprise
Unfortunately my fun with Oxygene is on temporary hold.
My iMac is currently “in the shop” having a potential fault with the graphics card investigated. All being well it will be only a few days – 4 at most. I hope to use the time to get started on designing an app I have in mind for Android, iOS and Windows (Phone and Surface RT).
I should also say that I have been pleasantly surprised by my little Windows Phone. Actually, it’s not so little, with a 4″ screen which is far from best in class but equally far from the worst either. It’s not only a very capable bit of hardware but Windows Phone itself has been surprisingly enjoyable to fiddle with.
On the software side, Nokia CinemaGraph is a fun little twist on image capture and the free HERE suite of apps (turn-by-turn navigation, maps and Layar-like City Lens) more than give commercial navigation apps a run for their money.
I’m looking forward to being able to create apps for this little fella with Oxygene.
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