I have been using Windows App Studio since the early days. It has always helped me to do some rapid prototyping, creating a quick app or even when building a more feature-rich app. With the first update of 2106 the Windows App Studio team has introduced a ton of robust new features. This update contains new features, some bug fixes (yea software has bugs), and improvements in the user experience and documentation. With over 200 million Windows 10 devices out in the wild, Windows App Studio provides a great way to reach them directly with your content and apps.
One of the major themes that the team has been focusing on lately is providing solutions for small businesses, creatives, and content producers that want to showcase their work. With that goal in mind, many of the new features are designed to help showcase information and provide more advanced user-focused features so you can better engage with your customers and audience. I believe it’s a great step forward for the tool.
What is Windows App Studio?
For those new to Windows Apps, Windows App Studio is a free, online app creation tool that allows you to quickly build Windows and Windows Phone apps to publish, test, and share. Make changes, add content, and toggle between phone and tablet views to watch your app come alive.
The following video will give you a quick introduction. There are more available on the Windows App Studio website.
And if you want to advanced programming features, Windows App Studio generates your source code ready for Visual Studio – a feature no other app-builder tool provides.
What are some of the new features in this Update?
- Grouped layout – Windows App Studio now supports grouping data based on a data point. This feature lets users represent their in groups based on certain criteria. This could be used when displaying a list of products grouped by brand or other data point. It can also be used to group things based on date or time. For example when used for the events template, this lets the user create an agenda or schedule. This feature introduces a lot more flexibility into how you can display your data.
- Date & Date/Time data type – The Team introduced two new data types for our collections: Date and Date/Time (Date + Time w/ minutes precision). This allows you to append date and time info to any collection entry, which in turn enables a lot more experiences such as organizing information by time. To support this feature, there is a new date/time picker, new calendar formatting options, and new calendar actions so the end user can add events to their personal calendars. In addition to the collections data source, Date and DateTime data types can be used among all the data sources of Windows App Studio that have date times fields (RSS, WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), allowing you to take advantage of the DateTime formats and use these data sources with the new Grouped Layout.
- Collection favorites –Now your end users can have the option to save any data from your collections as their favorites into a favorites section. If you enable this for their users, as they browse your collections they can mark certain entries as their favorites to save for easy browsing later.
- Service improvements – In this release cycle, the Team also improved the back end of the App Studio service to make your experience smoother. This included updating the app generation model to use VS2015 Update 1 (which means developers can target more devices) and improved and updated how-to documentation.
Get your App in the Store and get bragging rights!
In March Microsoft and the Windows App Studio Team will additionally kick off a contest to showcase the Windows 10 apps you have been creating with Windows App Studio. For the contest, they will select the best Windows 10 apps that are published to the store, and 6 of them will be featured on the Windows App Studio homepage.
The rules and the contest will be posted on the blog.