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Exploring Windows 8 Development

Published on November 11th, 2012

Recently, I updated a number of my Apps for iOS 5. Anyone that knows me in real life knows that I purchased a house this summer, so I’ve been busy with non-development tasks, and as such, I hadn’t touched App programming for months. It took a few hours to get back into the swing of things, and read up on all the latest developments since mid-June or so. For one, PhoneGap had been re-branded Cordova, and with it, a ton of headaches and issues. In fact, now that I have been exploring Windows 8 development, it really shows where a number of development issues exist with the current iOS rollout cycle.

To illustrate what I mean, let’s start by talking about the number of supported languages. In iOS, you pretty much need to know Objective C to code native Apps. I have a strong background in C++, so Objective C, while different, isn’t a huge leap for me. Regardless, it is a painful language to code in, where many lines of code are needed to accomplish small things. Over the years, I’ve grown used to web languages, notably PHP and Javascript, where the rules aren’t as strict, and coding is all about getting things done quickly, not necessarily efficiently. On the flip side, in the Windows 8 development environment, I have my choice of a few flavors of C and most importantly JAVASCRIPT! Native Javascript? Well, not exactly.

With the Javascript environment, Microsoft has introduced WinJS. WinJS is much like PhoneGap; it’s a layer between the native code that runs a browser window to interpret all your javascript into another projected language (probably a version of C). So what makes WinJS and the Windows 8 environment better than the PhoneGap and iOS programming environment? Well, Microsoft controls both WinJS and Internet Explorer! This is a huge benefit over the developers of PhoneGap, who have to constantly work around issues in Safari. Imagine if the PhoneGap team had control over Safari? We wouldn’t have to code so many workarounds, and while things wouldn’t be as good as a native App coded in Objective C, they would be a lot better.

So with the release of Windows 8, and the upcoming Surface Pro tablet that I have my eye on, I’ve decided to jump over to the Microsoft side of things to explore App creation. If nothing else, there is a lot less competition for the Windows Store. And let’s face it, Microsoft Windows ain’t going anywhere anytime soon!

About the Author: Sprawl

Stephen Russell is a Mobile App developer and all around IT geek that spends his days running data centers and his nights coding. This site is the go to place for all of zSprawl's work and the infamous development blog. In his free time, he enjoys tinkering with web code, playing video games, and otherwise plotting to take over the Internets.


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