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Marketplace Updates Galore! More Free Apps, No need for Support in your app

February 24th, 2011 Oren No comments

Woo! All registered Marketplace should have gotten their regular newsletter which this time comes packed with goodies:

  1. Free app submissions ramped from 5 to 100! The assumption here is that this is submissions and not actual apps (so if you fail an initial submission you lose a token), but updates are still unlimited.
  2. You’ll no longer fail certification if you don’t include support contact information. I honestly think this is a bad move (how hard is it to setup an email?) but there if you have it – at least people will no longer fail certification because of it!
  3. We’ve partnered with Zones.com to get phones that don’t require a contract. Visit: http://www.zones.com/windowsphonedeveloperpurchase for more information
  4. If you’re part of a user group you’re going to want to check out this competition that nets you $100 for your UG for every submitted app: http://www.telerik.com/products/windows-phone/getting-started/user-groups.aspx

Now – let’s hope that every newsletter brings these kinds of updates!

Categories: Marketplace, Windows Phone Tags:

Marketplace FAQ: What do the different app statuses mean?

February 1st, 2011 Oren No comments
Now that we’re out of the woods with the unlimited free app updates policy being clarified, it’s time to go back to our Marketplace roots and clear up some misconceptions around the different statuses that your app can have as it passes through certification.
 
 
“Submission In Progress” – this is an app that you’ve started the submission progress for, but have not completed, so the app will not be ready to submit until you go through the full submission form. To do this, click “View details” (under “action” on your dashboard), then click “Edit Submission” (again, under “Action”) and run through form. Note that you may encounter a stage where the current form is complete but the “Next” button is not activated (I get this a lot on the screenshot page), simply refill on of the fields (for example, add a dummy screenshot and then remove it).
 
“Ready for Testing” – You’ve successfully passed the first hurdle in getting your app onto the Marketplace, your XAP has been submitted and is (duh!) “Ready for Testing”. It will soon be picked up and your status will move to…
 
“Testing in Progress” – Your XAP has moved along and is currently being tested. The amount of time it takes to have an app go through will vary depending on the app. I have found that it will tend to come back to you quicker when failing (i.e. as soon as there is a problem) otherwise it usually finishes certification within a couple of days to a week.
 
“Ready for Signing” – Congratulations! You’ve passed testing, your app is certified. It’s now going to go through the last technical stage where the XAP is signed and prepared for the Marketplace. This is largely automatic and should be finished within a few hours.
 
“Published to Marketplace” – Break out the champagne! Your app is in the marketplace and you’re now ready to move on to vNext or appNext. Note that it can take up to 12 hours for your application to show up in the search index, so don’t fret if it takes a while.
 
“Certification Failed” – oh oh, an issue was found in your app while running through the certification process. On the submission details page you’ll find a testing report in the drop under “action” which will detail exactly what was wrong, and the steps to repro the problem. I’ll admit that I was impressed with the reason for one of my failures (clicking multiple times, very quickly, on a button caused the app to crash) and with the way the report detailed the exact problem so that I could find it, fix it and resubmit asap. That said, sometimes there are mistakes made or unclear reports and in this case the support team are your friends.
 
 
How long does certification usually take?
Certification shouldn’t take more than 7 days, with the average being a lot lower than that. My record is currently 13 hours (submitted at 2am, on the marketplace by 3pm), though the average that I see reported is 3-4 days.
What should I do if it’s taking more than 7 days?
First, DON’T PANIC. That said, if you’re app is taking more than 10 days, log a support request to find out what’s happened. There’s a possibility that there was a problem with the file upload which will require you to resubmit your xap, but at least you’ll know that things are moving!
 
Logging a Support Request
To log a support request login to create.msdn.com -> My dashboard -> Windows Phone and then hit the “Support” link on the left menu. You should get an initial response within 24 hours (if you haven’t gotten a response after 48 hours, log another request).
 
Run into any marketplace tips / tricks? How about some annoyances? Drop me a comment and I’ll see if I can address them in a future blog post (before I head back to writing about perf!).
Categories: Marketplace, Windows Phone Tags:

WP7 Marketplace Tip: Submitted a support request and never heard back?

January 26th, 2011 Oren No comments

If you submitted a request via AppHub, to either the “Device Unlock” or “Account Management” categories and never heard back then your request has most likely gotten stuck somewhere.

So What Do I Do?

The problem has been found and will be fixed by Friday – so resubmit your request any time after Friday and you should hear back from the team within approximately 24 hours.

Do I need to resubmit, or will my old, unanswered, requests suddenly be answered?

You will need to resubmit – existing, unanswered, requests (only in those two categories) will not be processed.

Good Luck!

Categories: Marketplace, Windows Phone Tags:

WP Marketplace FAQ: What happens to my apps if I don’t renew my subscription

January 20th, 2011 Oren No comments

The Question

I’ve signed up for the Windows Phone marketplace and submitted my apps. They’re selling well – but I’m not actually planning on doing any more development, so I don’t think I need to renew my subscription. What happens if I don’t pay the Marketplace renewal fee at the end of the year?

The Answer

You’ll get a couple of warning emails at the end of the year, but after those if you choose not to renew your subscription your apps will be removed from the Marketplace.

Will people still be able to use my apps?

Sure. Microsoft won’t revoke the apps from people’s phones, but they will remove it from the Marketplace – so no one new will be able to purchase the app (and, obviously, no more revenue for you if it was a paid app).

Categories: Marketplace, Windows Phone Tags:

WP7 Marketplace FAQ: Do my free app submissions reset every year?

January 17th, 2011 Oren 4 comments

Summary

Yes.

Seriously?

Yup, you get 5 free submission credits a year, so every year you could potentially submit another 5 free applications to the marketplace (not to mention the unlimited free updates to existing free applications).

Can I see how many submission credits I have left?

Not at this point, though I hope to see this soon. For now, if you can’t remember where you’re up to, submit a support request and the team will get back to you asap (usually within 24 hours) with an answer.

Is your head spinning with all the free yet?

Categories: Marketplace, Windows Phone Tags:

WP7 Silverlight Gotcha: Using the ListPicker from the Toolkit may cause you to fail certification

January 9th, 2011 Oren No comments

Applies To: Anyone using the current iteration of the Silverlight Tookit from Nov 2010

Toolkit Link: http://silverlight.codeplex.com/releases

Quick Bits

A Toolkit ListPicker control that has less than 5 items in it will display inline (expands) but will not collapse when you press the back button (like the native control does). This can cause you to fail certification due to an erroneous interpretation of the certification guide.

The Fine Print

According to section 5.2.4c the following applies to the use of the Back Button:

If the current page displays a context menu or a dialog, the pressing of the Back button must close the menu or dialog and cancel the backward navigation to the previous page.

The Setup

You have a ListPicker with less than 5 items in it, using the standard Silverlight Toolkit library.

The Sting

The Toolkit ListPicker doesn’t listen for the back button when the ListPicker is in mini mode (i.e. it doesn’t pop up the full screen list picker), so when you press back normal navigation occurs.

The Solution

There will be an update to the Toolkit coming out sometime this month that will address the issue, but if you want a fix now you basically need to either fix the Toolkit or listen in on the navigation event (and then check if a ListPicker is expanded and if so collapse it). I prefer the first option, since it’s easy and you don’t need to write redundant code if you have heaps of ListPickers.

To this end, you can download a patched ListPicker.cs file (replace this within your Toolkit Source project), or a built Toolkit DLL (unzip and replace your Toolkit installation under C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SDKs\Windows Phone\v7.0\Toolkit\Nov10\Bin), with one change – the ListPicker will now respect the back button.

Does It Really Matter for Certification?

Actually, no. My reading of the certification guide doesn’t indicate in any way that this is the expected behaviour, not to mention that I (and a bunch of other people) have other apps that were approved with the same control!

So, I fought the good fight, and lodged a support request (complaint) and got the following response:

Dear Oren,

I am sorry for the inconveniences you experienced! It seems that there was a little misunderstanding during certification testing. Dropdown list or list control does not need to be collapsed at Back button press and instead its previous screen can come up or if the back button was pressed from the application’s first page, it can exit the application. Please add a short tester note while submitting it explaining that the list control is not dialog and does not need to be closed.
We will also instruct our test team to correctly apply different expectations for list controls.
Thanks,
Windows Phone Marketplace Certification

I was impressed (I don’t think they even knew I was from within Microsoft)!

WP7 Marketplace Tip #3: Free app updates are free, even if they fail!

January 8th, 2011 Oren No comments

This has finally been clarified by the Marketplace team as the most current, up to date, lore on the subject of free app updates – they’re free, they don’t count towards your 5 free submissions, even if they fail. Here’s the word for word story straight from a Marketplace PM:

Paid Developer (USD$99):

1.     Unlimited number of paid applications.   You cannot change the price on a paid app to be free.

2.     Updates to paid apps that have been published are no charge.

3.     5 submission credits for free apps

4.     Updates to free apps that have been published are no charge.

DreamSpark (free):

1.     Unlimited number of paid applications.   You cannot change the price on a paid app to be free.

2.     Updates to paid apps that have been published are no charge.

3.     5 submission credits for free apps

4.     Updates to free apps that have been published are no charge.

* the failed updates for free apps are not  accounted against the developer quota

What do I do if I get charged for an update to a free app?

Submit a support request via the portal and you should get a response within 24 hours. Feel free to reference this blog post if needed.

Categories: Marketplace, Windows Phone Tags:

WP7 Marketplace Reporting Outage

January 5th, 2011 Oren No comments

Hot on the heels of the previous post (but, unfortunately, not related) the Marketplace team have sent out a notice that there will be a reporting outage affecting Trial and Free download numbers for the next couple of days:

Details:

  • Starting tomorrow (1/6), developers will see a drop in the 12/31 download numbers for their apps – (remember there is a 6-day delay in reporting)
  • This only affects Trial and Free download numbers – no impact to Paid downloads
  • All download numbers prior to 12/31 will continue to be accurate
Categories: Marketplace, Windows Phone Tags:

New Year, New WP7 Marketplace Clarifications

January 5th, 2011 Oren No comments

Check out the final word: http://www.nachmore.com/2011/marketplace-tip-3-free-app-updates-are-free-even-if-they-fail/

I’m starting the year off a couple of days late so there’s plenty to catch up on…

We’ve got some new policy clarifications incoming from the Windows Phone Marketplace team – though as usual there is still some confusion around free apps. For now this is what I have:

Paid Developer (USD$99):

  • Unlimited number of paid applications.
    • You cannot change the price on a paid app to be free.
    • Updates to paid apps that have been published are no charge.
  • 5 submission credits for free apps
    • Updates to free apps that have been published are no charge. (see below)
    • USD$20 for each additional submission
    • Failed app submissions will count against your credits

The same seems to be mirrored for Dreamspark accounts (students with free accounts).
The big “but”

Unfortunately it seems that we’re still ironing out the kinks - In reality I am seeing updates to accepted free apps counting towards the 5 credits and then (once you run out of credits) being charged the $20 fee, even for already accepted apps. I’m still trying to get final word on this, but it seems to be the current policy…

Got any good Marketplace stories to share?

Categories: Marketplace, Windows Phone Tags:

WP7 Silverlight Gotcha: Setting the Source on a MediaElement will stop background music playback

December 2nd, 2010 Oren No comments

Applies To: Silverlight (the restriction applies to XNA, but the MediaElement is only Silverlight)

Quick Bits

Simply setting the Source of a MediaElement to a valid source will stop any current background playback, causing you to fail Marketplace certification, according to section 6.5.1 from the certification guide.

The Fine Print

From the certification guide:

6.5.1  Initial Launch Functionality

When the user is already playing music on the phone when the application is launched, the application must not pause, resume, or stop the active music in the phone MediaQueue by calling the Microsoft.Xna.Framework.Media.MediaPlayer class. If the application plays its own background music or adjusts background music volume, it must ask the user for consent to stop playing/adjust the background music (e.g. message dialog or settings menu).

Note: This requirement does not apply to applications that play sound effects through the Microsoft.Xna.Framework.Audio.SoundEffect class, as sound effects will be mixed with the MediaPlayer. The SoundEffect class should not be used to play background music.

Note: This requirement does not apply to Music + Videos Hub applications that are described in Section 6.4

The Setup

You have a MediaElement which only used to play back one file, so you set the Source in your XAML.

The Sting

The user starts playing some music in Zune, then launches your XAP. As soon as your XAML loads and the MediaElement‘s Source is set, the background music stops playing, even if the MediaElement is not playing. That’s right, even if you set AutoPlay = "False", the background music will still be stopped.

Since you must ask the user for consent, you will have failed certification.

The Solution

  1. Never set a MediaElement‘s Source in XAML, unless that XAML is on a page that you navigate to after asking the user for consent.
  2. Check to see if background music is playing and then set the source (in code).
    Note: If you set the source and then immediately call Play(), the Play() will have no affect since the MediaElement will still be in the "Opening" state, instead set "AutoPlay = true" (works from code)