January 22, 2013 by Natalia Urbanska

Windows 8 desktop

Windows 8 desktop

PGS starts developing applications for Windows 8 – and our team has already been through a professional training. See what we have learned and how it is going to change the development process.

Following the latest trends, PGS Software tries to facilitate its employees with all that’s necessary to stay abreast of the emerging technologies and prepare them for any upcoming programming challenges. And that’s why we’ve invited a professional Microsoft Evangelist, Tomasz Wiśniewski, to conduct a training for our team leaders, introducing them into the new Windows 8. What happened during an all-day meeting?

After a short presentation of the platform’s general workings, three major chapters were rolled out. PGS attendees were given a detailed and highly useful advice as regards designing Modern UI applications, based both on empirical data coming from Microsoft’s extensive research and on real-life examples. Then the mechanics of publication and promotion of applications via Windows Store were explained. Finally, the biggest chunk – application development in Windows 8. A series of examples covering AXML/C#, AXML/C++ and HTML5/JS/CSS were accompanied by an exhausting comparisons of pros and cons in each case, as well as elaboration on Modern UI architecture. Last but not least, the crucial element differing Modern UI apps from the previous Windows version – App Life Cycle – was discussed, together with Windows 8 Contracts and notification systems that keep the app alive even when it’s turned off.

This “livelihood” being one of the Windows 8’s distinctive features, together with mobile-like look&feel, constitute a brand new environment that awaits to be populated with tailored apps, which we at PGS are looking forward to. And although the new OS has been received reluctantly by some part of the programming public, after the training we feel prepared to handle it. Windows 8 Software Development Kit is characterized by flexibility, as it supports several popular programming languages, so anyone familiar with Windows and Web apps, as well as C++, C# and JavaScript should have a smooth transfer to 8.

While some still stay apprehensive, there’s a steady growth in positive feedback as to the easy and fast transition to Windows 8 SDK and our developers seem to be pretty convinced, too, despite some reservations:

Windows 8 has big potential, predominantly because of its reach. When programming in 8, one has to bear in mind that all these apps will be available via smartphones, tablets and, of course, on a desktop – these are exactly the same apps. Which is a big plus – because it’s enough to develop them once and for all, but also a minus – because we’ve got to deal with the same restrictions as regards all the clientssays Pawel, Team Leader.

He then adds:

It’s great that Microsoft meets the programmers’ expectations and makes it possible to write apps in C/C++, C# and JavaScript/HTML. One considerable disadvantage, though, is that only one app can work at a time. Also the way the threads are managed could be solved better.

Another asset is a transparent and extensive support infrastructure of Visual Studio 2012, as well as other particular features that are attractive for some of our developers. As Szymon, Software Developer and one of our Windows enthusiasts, admitted:

In my opinion, the Windows 8 platform concept, including the Modern UI Apps, is something really interesting and needed. I like the idea of making Windows 8 Contracts part of standard system components – it’s  very useful  even if it won’t catch on among users. On the developer front everything looks really good. VS 2012 seems to be working as fine as the previous version but looks much better. Windows 8 SDK gives a huge spectrum of possibilities to create apps: we can simply cobble together something in HTML 5 and JavaScript based on an existing Web app or we can create a professional project with different layers and segments in C# or C++. However, in Modern UI Apps developers face a lot of limitations, so they have to put a lot of cleverness to resolve many issues which are not a problem in standard .NET apps. What’s interesting, though, is that I didn’t like working on the UI part until Windows 8 SDK / Windows Phone came out – now this is a piece of cake.

Truth to be said, switching to the new 8 might constitute somewhat of an obstacle for iOS ad Android’s Java programmers, but it’s still nothing compared to the original difficulties that the development world had to face when the current mobile giants were first introduced to the market. Whether we want it or not, Windows 8 is not just a temporary revelation. Instead, it shows a future direction of the world’s IT giant, and needs to be tamed and made use of. The sooner we get down to business, the better.

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