Publish Your App to Windows Phone Marketplace

The introduction of the Windows Phone platform last year gave app developers an entirely new environment in which to be creative. If you have ever wanted to develop apps for the Windows Phone Marketplace, now is the perfect time to begin. This tutorial will give you an overview of to how to publish your application to the Windows Phone Marketplace.

Register on the App Hub

Once you have the idea in your head that you want to develop applications for the Windows Phone platform, there is one thing that you should so immediately: register as a Windows Phone developer.  This is done via the App Hub website.  You want to complete the registration process as a Windows Phone developer first before you even begin to develop applications.  Why?  There are some tasks that will come before you that require the App Hub.  For example, if you want to install your app on an actual Windows Phone for testing, a membership to the App Hub site will be necessary.  If you go ahead and create an application and want to test it in a real life environment, you will be delayed without an App Hub membership.

You can visit the App Hub here: http://create.msdn.com/en-US/

The App Hub is home to plenty of developer tools, answers to questions about the development process, and is also where you will submit and manage your apps and games.  The App Hub also has solid community forums that will help you in the creation process.  Documentation and code samples are also packaged in the membership perks.  To begin applying for membership to the App Hub, visit this link:

http://create.msdn.com/en-us/home/membership

Membership is $99 for a year, and it grants you access to development for both the Windows Phone platform and the Xbox 360.  You can create free or paid apps.  There is a limit of up to 100 free app submissions, while the submission of paid apps to the Windows Phone Marketplace is unlimited.  

Before registering on the App Hub as a Windows Phone developer, there are a few things you want to have on hand.  First, you will need a Windows Live ID.  Don’t have one?  Do not worry, you will be directed to a page to sign up for one.  As with any registration process, have all of your contact information handy as well.  Finally, you will need to have credit card information, since that is the only accepted method of payment for the $99 annual membership fee.  The only way to work around this credit card requirement is if you have a DreamSpark registration.

After you use your existing Windows Live ID or newly created one to sign-in, the registration process will begin.  You will first be asked to choose an account type (Company, Individual, Student.)  You will then be asked to enter your personal information such as name, email address, phone number, etc.  The next step is to enter your profile information (display name, display picture, gamertag.)  Payment information is next.  As mentioned, if you register as a student, this part can be skipped.  Finally, you will be asked to confirm and verify your information.  Once completed, you will receive an email that will lead to the activation of your account.

{mospagebreak title=Develop and Test Windows Phone Applications}

After you register on the App Hub, you can take advantage of the free Windows Developer Tools to develop and test your application.  When you install the developer tools, you will get the following: Visual Studio 2010 Express, XNA Game Studio 4.0, Windows Phone Emulator, Microsoft Expression Blend for Windows Phone, Silverlight, and .NET Framework 4.  Besides these programs, Microsoft also offers code samples and several tutorials to help you in developing your app.

The Windows Phone Emulator is a great tool for testing and developing your app, and you can also use a physical Windows Phone to do so.  When you test your application, test it according to the phone capabilities it requires.  The Windows Phone Capability Detection Tool will help you determine the capabilities your app requires.

Once your app is developed and properly tested, you want to create its icons.  These icons will appear as tiles on the Start screen and in the app or game list.  Your icon files are a part of your app project and will also be a part of the .XAP file you will submit.  When designing your app icon, make sure it is white and has a transparent background.  Using this guideline will ensure that the icon will blend in well with the user’s theme color.  The icon should be in the PNG format.

Gather your prerequisites


There are two major prerequisites that you must have ready prior to submitting your application.  The first is the .XAP file.  This file is of utmost importance, since it is the only application file what will be uploaded when you submit your application.  Your .XAP file is not only composed of the executable file, but it also is the home to all of your app’s required resources.  The .XAP file is created by Visual Studio.

Your application’s artwork is the second major prerequisite for the submission process.  This artwork is a collection of images that will represent your app in the Windows Phone Marketplace.  The images are broken down into three sections.  The first is your tile artwork.  This is what user’s will view as they shop the app catalog.  The second section consists of your app screenshots.  The third section, which is optional, is your panoramic background art, which will appear on the Zune PC client.  Unlike the app icons, your app artwork should not have a transparent background.

Submit the application


App submission takes place through the App Hub.  Prior to submitting your app, you should take a look at the certification requirements.  This will enable you to ensure that you are submitting a complete package, and it will also reduce the chances that your app gets rejected.  Here is the link to the PDF file of application certification requirements for Windows Phone 7:

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=183220

After you have read over the requirements and submit your application, you will be notified of acceptance.  You can choose to publish your app automatically or manually.  This choice will be given when you submit the app for certification.  When you want to review your submissions and check status, just visit your App Hub dashboard for more information.
 

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