I’ve noticed recently a lot of apps in the Windows 8 Store have the default grey as their background/accent colours. It’s been annoying me looking at the Store and just seeing loads of grey. The colour helps differentiate your app from others and makes the app detail page look much more interesting. The only reason to have the default grey is if you don’t know how to change it or you actually think it is the right look for your app (hah). This is why I’m showing you the solution to the former:
Open your Visual Studio solution. In the ‘Package.appxmanifest’ file look for the Visual Assets page and here is ‘Background color’. Choose a hex value that suits your app. This value is also the background colour of transparent logos, the colour of the app tile in the Start menu teaser when you hover over the left corner of the screen, and the colour of the background in semantic view on the Start menu. I hope this helps get some diversity into the Store.
Happy new year! It’s the end of the first year of this blog, I hope it has been fun to read. WordPress has generated a nice page looking back at the stats for this year so I thought I’d share it.
Woke up this morning to find the CAG app had failed certification, aaaw :( The tester at Microsoft stated that ‘The app bar, and/or Windows Settings charm appear to be advertising to our reviewers’ and this picture was provided. To be fair, it is a very good report, telling me exactly what was wrong. All very good. I’m not too happy with the actual reason it failed though. I have a link to the Windows Phone version of the app on the charms bar, just to increase awareness that this app is also available in that platform. Advertising a Windows Phone app, a Microsoft product, is against their rules?
It’s an annoying setback. I will re-release the app without the link to Microsoft’s site. I will also update to version 1.1. I hope they don’t take issue with my ‘Buy Microsoft Products Now’ app :P
Something I want to touch on is custom theme colours in Windows 8 apps. For the CAG app I restyled the app bar buttons, ListView item and slider colours. Most of the colours aren’t available in the properties of these controls. Strangely, you have to change them in the App.xaml page. Here’s an example:
<Application.Resources> <ResourceDictionary> <SolidColorBrush x:Key="ListViewItemSelectedBackgroundThemeBrush" Color="#bf7022"/> <SolidColorBrush x:Key="ListViewItemPointerOverBackgroundThemeBrush" Color="#3c3c3c"/> <SolidColorBrush x:Key="ListViewItemSelectedPointerOverBackgroundThemeBrush" Color="#bf7022"/> <SolidColorBrush x:Key="ListViewItemSelectedPointerOverBorderThemeBrush" Color="#FFEF8D2A"/> </ResourceDictionary> </Application.Resources>
Adding a SolidColorBrush to the Application Resources with the same key as an inbuilt brush will override it. This means you can change the colours of things that aren’t available in the controls properties. The above code changes the ListView’s colours, even specifically the colour of the selected item’s border when the mouse hovers over it.
I think you can put the code in a page xaml but putting it in the App.xaml means all the control’s colours change. This can be useful if you’re creating a colour scheme for your app. I found that you might also need to fiddle with colours in the properties box of the control too. I also found this page that has a full list of system brushes you can modify, very useful.
On Monday and Tuesday this week I was invited down to Modern Jago in London for Microsoft’s Appy Christmas event. It was a relaxed workshop to hear some presentations about Windows 8 app design and develop your own apps to submit to the Store. I had a lot of fun, even though it was tiring having early starts and we walked around London a lot on the second day. The event was well catered with lots of crisps, coke and pizza – and some alcamahol on Monday night :D
I suppose this post is also an announcement for the Cheap Ass Gamer app I’m making for Windows 8. This is the app I was developing at Appy Christmas. Development is going well, I made great progress at the event and also got to deploy it on a Microsoft Surface RT (the very first time I’ve seen one).
The Surface is a lovely device. It’s very well built and very nice to use. My only dislike is that the touch cover isn’t so good. It is made of a fabric which is not to my taste and typing without any feedback is weird and a bit disconcerting. The type cover (pictured above) is great, I would definitely recommend that one. The other thing is the power of the Surface RT is a bit low as it lagged on Jetpack Joyride.
Visual Studio has a fantastic feature where you can debug your app wirelessly from your computer to the Surface, including all the debugging tools you would get when running locally or in the simulator. It means you get real world tests of how your app would run on an ARM-based version of Windows and what the app feels like when using a touch screen. Remote debugging turned out to be very useful indeed as I found a bug where the whole app could be scaled and moved around with pinch to zoom. This is very bad as it takes away how the developer meant the app to be controlled. The bug would not have been found if I hadn’t used the app on the Surface.
Back to the app, it will hopefully have all the features of the Windows Phone version, including background audio for the podcasts. I have a much better feeling that this will be finished compared to Flashdeck; the app is simpler and more focused. I’ll try and keep the blog updated with my progress.
Below are some blurry photos of the rest of my trip to London. Big thanks to Microsoft for hosting the event :)
During development I tried removing the background from the program so the images of rotating planets remain on screen after they have been drawn. This causes a cool psychedelic effect and I’ve made a few screenshots to show you. Maybe I should start selling them as art? :P
As you may know, Flashdeck for Windows 8 was supposed to in the Win8 Store before general availability, however I had a setback. Your account must be verified before any apps can be submitted for verification. When ever I tried to do this it gave me an error “We can’t connect to the service. Please try again later”. I have been onto Microsoft support about the issue and I can say they were very helpful and responses were quick (unlike other support services… EA I’m looking at you ಠ_ಠ ).
Apparently it was a known fault and was being fixed. It took them a few weeks (seems a long time to me) but it has finally been addressed and I can now submit apps to the Windows 8 Store. I have canceled the previous submission of Flashdeck as I wasn’t happy with the file system in-place. I believe I have found a solution and will try to implement it in the coming days but I have a lot of Uni work to do as well still.