As Windows Phone users go, there are many out there that are not that involved, even though they have chosen the OS, and made their phones their own, they are some how distant from the ecosystem.
Quite often apps available for an OS are make or break, when people decide to go with a new phone, and it has been the bane of Windows Phone growth, not to mention any names or apps that people want.
These large services that are missing though often are highly financially backed, but what of a lot of the apps that you use every day, do you ever think were they come from?
There are a lot of passionate independent developers out there making apps that are on the store now, and inadvertently you are probably using quite a few apps, developed by these individuals, because they suit your needs. People often have no idea how all these apps, are developed and tested, and the emotional investment made by these developers, or the effect an un-thought out store review from a user affects them.
One such developer is Srikanth Nair, and his app, Page Manager for Windows Phone. Rather than a review of what will be the latest update for Page Manager, although I will give some of the new features away, this is a story of how the app got from, My first look at the app till now, , observations, history and some of Srikanth’s thoughts on the process.
As I said a story, and I really need to give you a bit of history to set it up. Sri [Srikanth] contacted me via my site on the recommendation of another developer I know, quite a while ago now. We communicated online and I took a look at his app, Page Manager, and was quite impressed with what he had done. Since then I have participated in all Beta testing of the app, and have become firm friends with Sri, for many reasons other than professional interest.
From the outside looking in, a lot of people use apps and a grateful for updates, but really do not have any idea of the process and energy that it takes to get those updates out. The Windows Phone Store, the way it is set up allows developers to invite people to take part in private beta testing of new and updates for apps. It’s exciting and you get to see features that you suggested actually implemented. How though does the process affect the developer? To that end I asked Sri a few questions
What does the beta process mean to you?
The beta process has been, and will continue to be, a very important part of my app development journey. To be able to test Page Manager bug fixes and new features with existing users, has made a massive difference in the overall improvement of the app. Page Manager wouldn’t be where it is today if it wasn’t for the beta process and the amazing beta testers who have graciously helped me.
Going from 2.0 to 2.3, what were the hurdles? What were the features that testers appreciated?
2.0 was a major release, with massive changes to the UI and the backend code. Unfortunately, with major changes comes a major risk of new issues cropping up and in the case of Page Manager, one issue surfaced that affected picture upload. So, the first priority was to resolve this issue. Once that was addressed, I began to add new features. Testers were glad to see the Page Viewer, as well the ability to pin Page profile images to the Home screen.
How did the beta process challenge you?
The beta process is about fixing bugs and adding new features, which always stretches the limit of what I know, uncovers what I don’t know and challenges me to quickly learn new things and push myself to new heights. These challenges teaches me to be humble, but also makes me stronger and better, both as a developer and as a human being.
How do the reviews affect your motivation when working on the beta/update, knowing that you have addressed a lot of the issues that people are picking up on, making sure you are ready to release?
I’ll be honest and admit that the reviews do impact me. Quite often, I wonder if users would leave the reviews they do, if there were to meet me in person and see the amount of effort I put into the app. When the reviews are negative, it’s very disheartening, but I don’t let it drag me down to the pit. Rather, I use that as fuel to push me to make Page Manager better in every way I can. While it feels great to address issues that users raise and I put Page Manager through a rigorous beta testing process to ensure that it is ready for release, the harsh reality is that many users have already passed verdict on the app, left a bad review and will not give the app a second chance.
Why work so hard to get the app right?
I work as hard as I do because I want to deliver a great experience to the user. It has never been about the money, so whether the user is trialling my app or has purchased it, they are important to me and it is my strong desire that they enjoy using Page Manager and that the app meets their needs.
Would you prefer to release an app and then fix it in retrospect, or is it important to get out something that does exactly what you tell people it does?
As a developer, I would love to release the perfect app every time, feature complete and without any errors or issues. However, reality is far from it. So, I choose to make a list of the most ideal feature for the first release and work hard on perfecting them and getting the app out to market. Then, I would listen to user feedback, fix any errors and add the remaining features, releasing updates on a regular basis. In my opinion, any developer who insists on releasing the perfect app in the first release, could run the risk of losing their window of opportunity and never getting the app out the door.
Since becoming a Nokia Developer champion, how has it affected you as a Windows Phone developer? Has it caused you to change your priorities?
Being elected as a Nokia Developer Champion was a wonderful surprise and a totally unexpected honour. I have always given my 100% to everything I set out to do, be it developing apps or helping out the community. If anything, being chosen as a Nokia Developer Champion has given me even greater motivation to do everything I have been doing so far.
What if any new projects would you like to share?
There are a number of ideas I am working on, each one at various stages. Time is always the enemy. There’s one in particular that is very dear to my heart, that I believe Windows Phone fans everywhere will appreciate. I am afraid I cannot share anything more than that
SO there is more to come from Sri, and I am allowed to share that version 2.3 of Page Manager has been submitted to the store for approval, some great new features, and the app is smoother than ever.
Version 2.3 Changelog
* NEW: Implemented “Page Viewer” allowing you to view the touch enabled version of your Page
* NEW: New metrics have been added under insights and helpful hints have been added for each metric
* NEW: Implemented “App Bulletin” under “all pages”, which informs users of the latest news and updates concerning Page Manager
* NEW: Page profile image can now be pinned as Dashboard tile
* NEW: Online help and faq section
* FIX: Fixed major bug affecting how insights are displayed
* FIX: Update Status and Upload Picture now supports portrait and landscape mode
* FIX: Addressed bugs related to uploading pictures
* FIX: Disable app bar when uploading picture
The thing is so many people use apps like page manager, and do not bother to review, or feel that they can contribute. All apps usually have a way to give feedback, get in contact with the developer, it’s worth taking the leap. You might find that app that you like but wish did a little more gets that little more that you want.