"Building an Office Blog app for the Windows Phone began as a weekend DIY project. Although many people are familiar with RSS readers as a way to monitor blog activity (learn more about the Office Blog RSS feeds here), I was looking for a quicker way to monitor and stay up to date on the latest news from the Office Blog.
While rummaging around MSDN for code examples, I stumbled upon Chris Koenig's Windows Phone Starter Kit for Schools, which is an easy way for anyone to create and publish a Windows Phone app for your favorite school. Chris is a Microsoft Windows Phone Evangelist based in Texas, who developed a code package so beginning developers can easily build and publish a full-featured app by adjusting just a few settings. I thought this would be a great way to develop an app for the Office blogs.
In the span of a few hours on a Saturday, I had a working app. Here's all I had to do:
- Installed the Windows Phone SDK for the first time, and loaded up the Starter Kit project.
- Created and fine-tuned the logos and color scheme so that they shared the same look and feel as the blog's design.
- Organized the app pages and blog feeds for each of the Office programs
- Removed pages and code that related to building an app for a school.
At this point, I could have declared the app done and published it to the Marketplace under my name. But I had higher ambitions: I wanted to publish the app under the Microsoft name, which would give it the Microsoft 'seal of approval' and provide broad visibility as an example for others to use and build from. We think it's cool that anyone can create a simple app for their blog using the same code that we used for the Office Blog app. So we kicked off the internal review process that all Microsoft products must undergo before they are released to the public.
I thought this story cool in how it showed Microsoft dogfooding their own projects... Also just how easy this kind of thing, turning your blog into a "real" app can be. Hum...