How the hell did the Ancient Romans deal with decimals?
Anyway, trying to jump into a programming language like I have is like playing a Bethesda game, but your only resource is a web forum. You have no idea where to go or what to do, you have a vague idea of where you want to go, and on your way to that objective you are just bombarded with overwhelming amounts of bullshit that are available for insane people so they can do insane things. The first time I played a Bethesda game (Fallout 3) I ran around picking up every fork, knife, plate, basket, and food item I found because there wasn’t anything to tell me what was important and what was something I would never need to touch. This is pretty much what is going on with me and this app. I do what the internet tells me to do and every time I try to type something into VisualStudio I’m bombarded with 2,000 properties of some function (seriously what are those called) that all have different little icons next to them and they scare me to death.
I think that the #1 place I went wrong was in rushing. Literally the first thing that the amazing Bob Tabor tells you in the very first lesson on Windows Phone app development is DO NOT RUSH and I think I did that
a little a lot. I have been struggling with whether or not my main issue was trying to make an app first thing, but honestly if I’d put a lot of time into this then I think I would have been fine. The way that most of the tutorials work is to basically walk you through creating a sample app, but I didn’t bother to actually follow along and create those apps; I basically had them on while I worked on my own app in the background. This whole program is more of something that should be done over a long period of time rather than trying to get an app written, perfected, submitted, and published in two weeks. Like, a month.
I also kind of screwed the pooch because I chose to make a flashlight. I should have realized that there was a reason I didn’t like any of the flashlights that I’d tried on the marketplace; it really sucks to try to use it. Especially for somebody that has never really coded in C# and has hazy at best memories of C++. Microsoft literally lets you drag a web browser from a toolbox onto the designer and presto you have a fully functional web browser; I had to go to some website I’ve never heard of in order to figure out how to make a flashlight, and had to abandon WP7 support in the process. These are my PRINCIPLES we’re talking about here.
To be honest, I think that Microsoft has a pretty good thing going on with their developer support. I think that they could have done a little bit better in explaining the ABSOLUTE FIRST place I should have started, which I still think is the C# tutorials, but their videos regardless are very, very good. And oh my God are there a lot of them. I’ve never gotten any real training with Microsoft software at school (The CPSC department pretty much revolves exclusively around UNIX), so this was really, really surprising. I could probably spend an entire year going through all of the videos relevant to what I’m trying to do, and that actually sounds like something I would be willing to do.
Visual Studio was really cool to use; the immediate gratification of being able to see what I was doing in the editor windows was helpful, and the fact that you could presumably write an entire app using only that window and property values blows my mind a little bit (but only a little). I appreciated that VS would give me suggestions while I was typing (there’s a name that MS uses for that that I am totally blanking on right now), but I’m not sure if I’m learning as quickly without typing everything out.
I honestly feel like I spent too much time on this as far as the project goes, but to be honest the project aspect is just secondary to me trying to build real skills. This is something that I plan on continuing, and so I don’t really mind having done this much work. I would estimate that I’ve probably put about 30 hours into this project so far, with many many more to come in the future.
I guess that, as a class project, this adventure was in some ways a personal review of Microsoft’s developer support for beginners like me, and besides the aforementioned trailhead problem, I honestly think that they do an excellent job of helping me out. I’m not entirely sure why it seems like the flashlight features are hidden (there are also no guides on MSDN on making a flashlight; do they not want people making them?), and the fact that I needed to download the Toolkit in order to get a ToggleSwitch is ridiculous, but beyond those things I am pretty impressed with how much stuff Microsoft put out there. Now, if only I’d actually used it like I was supposed to.
Also I am hilariously bad at graphic design.