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Paul Juenger on WHS Phone WP7 Application

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Joined Nov 03, 2008
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1 comments   /   posted on Nov 30, 2010
Tags:   windows-phone-7 , whs-phone , paul-juenger
Categories:   White Papers , Interviews

Next in our series of featured WP7 applications comes WHS Phone – an app that lets you connect to your Windows Home Server and stream music, view photos, and much more. We talk to its author Paul Juenger on why this application will have a shelf life of more than a couple of weeks.



Q1. Paul - please introduce yourself briefly (experience, interests, key projects, etc) and tell us more about the application you created - what are the key functionalities, major differences from other similar applications on the market, why do you think people would want to install this app on their WP7?

A. My name is Paul Juenger. I am a software engineer for a defense contractor and specialize in ASP.NET. When I’m not working, spending time with family, or golfing, I research and develop applications with Microsoft technologies that I do not get use at work; i.e. Silverlight, WPF, MVC, WCF, etc. Around July of this year I became really interested in Windows Phone 7.

My first application is WHS Phone. WHS Phone is a WP7 Silverlight application that lets you connect to your Windows Home Server and stream music, access photos, and manage your server. You no longer need to pick and choose the music, podcasts, and photos that you want to sync with your phone because of limited space. WHS Phone integrates with the photo library allowing you to select photos from your phone’s library and upload them to your Windows Home Server. You can also download photos from your server to the phone’s library to view them offline. WHS Phone allows you to view server disk space and usage, manage users and shares, and view computers that are connected to your Windows Home Server. If you have a Windows Phone 7 and a Windows Home Server then you will really enjoy WHS Phone.


Q2. What was the motivation behind creating this application? How did you get the idea?

A. When I was brainstorming for application ideas I started by examining my IPhone. It was full of applications that were mostly games that I would play for a week or two and then quickly go into a folder never to be seen again. This helped me come up with three requirements: it must be something that I personally would use, something that users would want to pin to their start screen, and something that would have a shelf life of more than a couple of weeks. The idea came to me when I was reading an article about Skydrive integration with Windows Phone 7. Skydrive is a nice feature, but why would I want to limit myself to 25 gigabytes when I have over three terabytes of storage in my own private little cloud (my Windows Home Server). That’s when I decided to write WHS Phone.


Q3. What were the challenges you faced when moving from Silverlight in/out of the browser to the phone environment?

A. I had very little Silverlight exposure when I started writing WHS Phone. I wrote a client/server chat application when Silverlight 2 was released and that was about it. The biggest hurdle for me was learning xaml. I have a strong working knowledge of how things work in Win Forms and ASP.NET, but Silverlight is different. I had to take a couple days off from developing WHS Phone and just learn xaml, Expression Blend, and how to use templates.

Q4. Could you reveal some tip, some solution you used to work around a specific problem faced during the development of your application?

A. The Silverlight Toolkit for Windows Phone is an open source project hosted at CodePlex. It provides some controls missing from the WP7 SDK such as the wrap panel, list picker, and context menu, to name a few. It saved me a lot of time during development. Telerik also has a set of controls for WP7 that provides these controls as well (free download available here).

Q5. Have you faced any performance challenges with WHS Phone? Was it hard to optimize your app so it may run smooth on the device?

A. One performance issue that I came across in WHS Phone is a listbox with a couple hundred items in it that uses images in the data template. It is fine with static images, but the photo browser in WHS Phone displays thumbnails. I found that making a call to return the list of photos and then use a background thread to get the thumbnails worked well. I also only load the thumbnails that are visible to lower the amount of data transferred.

Q6. What is the target audience of WHS Phone?

A. The target audience is anyone who has access to a Windows Home Server. It is not just for administrators of the Home Server. You can configure the permissions for each user on the server through the WHS Phone add in. For instance, my wife can stream music and access photos, but I have the server management features turned off for her account. She loves it.


Q7. Technologically speaking, how do you enable music streaming directly from your server to the phone?

A. Music Streaming was a challenge, but is not something I would like to disclose at this time. :)

Q8. What other ideas for next WP7 applications do you have?

A. A friend and I have a prototype application that brings WHS Phone functionality to Windows 7.

Q9. How do you see the future of WP7, and applications for WP7?

A. WP7 is a very promising platform. I hear a lot of people say that it is too late in the game to release a new phone operating system. I say why? Is “the phone” going away and Microsoft does not have enough time to catch and surpass the Android and IPhone market? Of course not. Only time will tell the impact of Windows Phone 7. I would have liked to have seen it release a year or two ago, but think about the integration features of WP7. It connects to xBox Live, Skydrive, Zune, integrates SharePoin, has a Silverlight front end, and runs the full XNA 4.0 framework. It wasn’t just a matter of building a new operating system. Microsoft had to improve all of these technologies so they could integrate into the operating system. After using my WP7 for a couple weeks now I think it is a winner. I have had a number of loyal IPhone and Android users ask to see my phone and immediately say “Wow, that’s fast and smooth, does my carrier have phones with WP7?”

As for application development, Microsoft knows how to produce good developer tools. WP7 development is a dream compared to IPhone and Android development. The WP7 emulator is fast and debugging directly on the phone is very easy. Since Microsoft is requiring minimum phone hardware specs and are controlling OS updates I think we will have to deal with far less fragmentation than Android developers. Building a game that can be run on WP7, xBox, and Windows is very compelling. It really is an enjoyable and powerful platform to develop for.

Q10. What is your opinion on the recent announcement by Microsoft on the future of Silverlight and HTML5?

A. I know my view might not be what your typical reader wants to here, but I am an ASP.NET developer, sorry.

My initial reaction was shock. Silverlight has had good market penetration and a lot of big companies, such as Netflix, use it. But, after the announcement sunk in, I have to say I agree with Microsoft’s choice to back HTML 5. As an ASP.NET developer I look forward to working with HTML 5. Have you seen the hardware accelerated HTML capabilities of IE 9? I feel it is a step in the right direction and I applaud Microsoft for their decision to back an open standard over their own product. That said, I do not think it is the end of Silverlight. It is just too good of a product to let it just go away.

Thanks, Paul, for your accurate answers. Looking forward to your new projects.

More information about this application can be found at http://www.whsphone.com/



  • -_-

    RE: Paul Juenger on WHS Phone WP7 Application

    posted by J. PERCH on Dec 18, 2010 07:57

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