How-To: Create Your Own App


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Apr 27, 2011
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Have you ever just wished that your favorite blog site had a Windows Phone app, so that you could access it quickly, and read the latest blog posts? Well, I'm going to show you just how simple it can be. Microsoft has created App Studio, a program that lets you create your own app, either using predefined templates, or starting from a blank slate. Even better, you can do this completely in your web browser without even knowing the first thing about how to write software. And as simple as this app will be, you can do it in less than ten minutes - I'm sure of it.

First go to Windows Phone App Studio | Microsoft. You'll need to log in with your Microsoft Account. Once logged in, click the Start Building button - the big white one on the left. :wink:

This will bring you to the page with the list of your apps. If you're reading this, you're probably like me, and don't have any yet!

On this page, you can select from several different templates, depending on what kind of app you want to create. Or, if you're doing what I'm doing here, you can create an empty app. Go ahead and click the button to create an empty app.

Fill in the title of your up-and-coming app, and fill in a description. The description will appear on the About page of your app. Yes, this method of app creation even gives you an About page. :wink:
When you're done, click next.

On this page, you're going to hover over the Add Section button, and you're going to add a section. Since I'm just creating a very simple app to show a single blog's RSS feed, I'm not going to be needing a menu. Go ahead and click the Add Section menu item.

First, name the section. Let's call it Stories, since we'll be getting stories from a blog. Since we're creating a blog reader that will get its data from an RSS feed, let's go ahead and click on the RSS button to add an RSS feed. And while we're at it, let's name the data source RSSDataSource. When you're done, click Save Changes.

On this page we need to click our RSSDataSource, so that we can edit it and add the address for our favorite RSS feed.

What is our favorite blog? WPCentral, of course! Put the address for the RSS feed into the textbox and click the refresh button. The list below will update with the latest blog posts from the feed. When you're done, click the checkmark button at the upper right of the page.

Now we're going to customize how the blog appears. It doesn't look very attractive right now in the preview emulator, does it? Click the Stories button.

Here you can see that I've chosen the third option from the right, as I liked that view the best. Click on each one and let the emulator refresh so you can see how it looks, and pick the one you like the best. When you're done, click the Save Changes button at the bottom.

Now click the Info button.

Here you can set how your articles will appear when you tap on an article in the feed. Choose whichever you want.

When you expand the Extras section and scroll down, you'll see a few more options. Would you believe that you can create an app that will read to you without writing a single line of code? Click the Save Changes button when you're done.

Now click the Next button.

Here you can customize the colors of your layout. Have at it - but don't go too crazy!

Click the Tiles tab and you can customize the tiles for your app. I didn't bother in the demo, but it's simple enough.

Here's the view if you click the Edit button for the Flip template tiles.

Click the Splash and Lock tab and you can even customize the splash screen background and add a lock screen background. The lock screen background will appear on your lock screen when your phone is locked, should you choose to use this app for your lock screen image. Click next when you're done.

We're almost ready to generate the files that will become our app. Click on the Summary Page button to see what we've put together. Odd, the Generate app button is before the Summary page button....

Here you'll see the summary of your app, any images, and even have the option to make the app public. Go ahead and click the Generate button if it all looks good to you.

You'll see this page for a minute or two, maybe more depending on the complexity of your app (ours is simple).

And once you get to this page, you can install the app, either by scanning the QR code (you can't use this one because I didn't make it public) or clicking the download link. If you know how to code, you can even download the source code so that you can open it in Visual Studio 2013, and further customize the app.

And here's what it looks like on my phone!

It's nowhere near as good as the awesome WPCentral app created by our own Jay Bennett, but he's got lots of hours invested in his app, and you can make this one in under 10 minutes (it took me about 15 minutes, including copying and pasting all of the screenshots, so surely you can beat me!). His app is WELL worth the 99 cents for the full version, but if you don't want to pay, download the free unlimited trial. You won't regret it, and you'll probably end up spending the buck anyway!

You've just created your very first Windows Phone app! Congratulations! How do you feel? Now pat yourself on the back, and get back out there and create more apps!

Take it Farther
If you want to publish your apps to the Windows Phone Store, you'll need to register for an account at There is a $9.99 charge to register, and that allows you access to both the Windows Phone Store and the Windows Store. If you're a student, you get a bonus. You can join DreamSpark, and get not only a free account to the Dev Center, but you also get some other goodies free - like Visual Studio 2013 Professional (that's a nice, expensive freebie! :wink:)! If you're starting up a business, look into BizSpark, and you can get free stuff, too.

Want to learn more about development? Go check out Pluralsight and get a free 10 day trial of their training videos. Here's a free one - you don't even have to register - for Teaching Kids C#. Also, look at Channel 9, Microsoft's video network. Specifically, there is the Windows Phone 8 Jump Start series - free and good stuff. Here's even a free course on C# for beginners - yes, free!

There are lots of good resources out there, and much of it costs nothing. You really can built Windows Phone apps without spending a penny, or for less than $10 if you are not a student.

Christian Holmstedt

New member
Aug 27, 2013
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Are there any fees that goes with this?
Some companies providing tools like this for Android & iOS charge a monthly fee.

Besides this looks pretty slick. How does it compare to TouchDevelop?

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