On 21st June I submitted my first WP7 app Code Breaker to the Windows Phone Marketplace.
On 28th June this app finally started to appear available for download via a direct link.

Over the next couple of days it was listed in the “New” section of marketplace games and picked up significantly more users than I expected and I’ve had great fun monitoring its usage and reviewing progress. However, the main thing that has become very apparent to me is how poor the publishing platform Microsoft have provided their developers is.

AppHub Dashboard

The AppHub dashboard is dire. It’s clearly been thrown together as an afterthought or been contracted out to a third party with very little budget and/or attention to detail. I’ve heard this is being addressed for Win8/WP8 but for now I am really disappointed with the AppHub experience. By all accounts it’s gotten better in recent times too! Let’s take a quick tour:

From the home page


Happy new what? IT’S JULY!!! And who approved that date/time formatting? Good job I know to the nearest second what time that post was made back in January… There are of course more up to date items on there but if they can’t keep the home page content up to date what’s the rest of the site going to be like?

So the content is less than useful, after the first visit you pretty much don’t spend any time here again. What you will do is log into your live account where we get our daily dose of 1996 Hotmail nostalgia.
By this point we’ve also noticed things are pretty sluggish but we’ll battle on.

My Dashboard

I was logging into this place with much eagerness several times a day for the first couple of days waiting for something interesting to happen. It doesn’t. The main heading area is reserved for “My Payouts”. I would assume were I charging for my app, this is where I’d see some details about income, this could be useful but at present it’s not much use to me and takes up the first focal point of the dashboard.

I also discovered there is a 6 day delay on any of your stats showing due to that being the length of time a credit card transaction takes to finalise. Brilliant, especially considering my app is free and there are no credit card transactions involved. Even if there were I still know people are downloading my app so why the heck can’t I see them?
At this point, two weeks from first submitting the app and one week since I know it’s been available, my “App Highlights” report details to me there have been 5 downloads. This again is kind of funny as my high score table records some 1200+ unique players. I’m now very sceptical about the figures being reported but I’ll wait and see if they balance out.

There is one saving grace on the dashboard however which is the “Recent Crashes” section, from here you can download a csv file containing the stack traces of any crashes that have occurred in your apps. I was immediately able to spot a schoolboy error on my part from the first batch of these available to me and promptly sorted a bugfix release. Which is currently on it’s 3rd day of waiting for approval :(.

I’ll stop myself there. In summary, two weeks into submitting my app I’ve gone from checking AppHub on a near hourly basis to not at all. The forum folk there are pretty good but that’s more reflective of the enthusiastic developer community than the mechanism on which it is delivered.

pubCenter

“Microsoft Advertising pubCenter” as it is known, is the platform used for managing any in-app ads you may be running.
Unfortunately, this is even worse than AppHub. The poor ad revenues themselves aren’t the issue, I never expected to set the world alight with a crappy little memory game. Again however, usability is simply non-existent. When I first log in this is what I’m presented with:

So yeah, no early retirement for me. That aside however, what useful information am I getting here? Even after clicking around a bit all I can generate is some rather meaningless charts showing me the same numbers in poorly presented graphics. Even the “powered by Silverlight” charts don’t actually work, they seem to get confused with British date formats and show a “no data to be displayed” message for most selections.

Stop whinging

I could go on ALOT more. I don’t normally invest much of my time in publicly ranting about such things as I’d much rather spend my time doing something I have more control over. However, I’ve recently discovered there are a great many people committing a huge amount of time and effort into Windows Phone development both in their work and predominantly, in their own time. These are the people who are trying to stand up to represent Microsoft despite such a tiny market share. They’re taking huge risks investing their time and resources into this platform. Which to be honest, many just think is bat-shit crazy. But these people have used the devices, seen the potential and bought into the “new Microsoft”. Surface, WP8, new responsive website design; all a new better Microsoft and I’ve bought into it as well. The Windows Phone day I’m helping to organise has had an overwhelmingly positive response, people are keen to get on this stuff and it’s great!

But this AppHub and pubCenter crap they’re forcing their fiercest flag wavers through? Absolute tripe! I really, really hope this improves soon. For the meantime I’m working on a follow up game to Code Breaker which I’m also intending to port to Windows8. Unfortunately however, I’m a lot less enthusiastic about the publishing process than I was first time around.

Have some thoughts or experiences on the matter? Thinking I’m miserable old git and should be grateful for what’s there or maybe I’m not using it right? Let me know on Twitter or Google+ I’m not normally such a grumpy git honest 🙂