Tally (App Basics)


How many times have you wanted to count something and felt that your fingers and concentration alone were not enough for the task? Perhaps you’ve needed to count for a friend who is swimming laps or lifting weights. Perhaps you’ve wanted to keep track of something over a long period of time, such as how many times your spouse annoyed you with something she constantly says or does. In the past, I haven’t been able to count how many times  my wife has asked me, “Do I look fat?” With the Tally app, now I can.

The Tally app that we’ll create in this chapter increments a counter every time you tap the screen. It has a “reset” button to clear the count. It remembers your current count indefinitely—until you either press the “reset” button or uninstall the app.

Despite my sales pitch, I must admit that Tally is not the most compelling application imaginable. However, it is simple enough to provide a good introduction to developing for Windows Phone. Compared to other chapters, this chapter is much less about the app itself and more about understanding the structure and basic features of a Windows Phone project in Visual Studio.

Why do Windows Phone apps often look so plain?

It’s an artistic choice.Windows Phone and its apps are designed to communicate relevant information quickly and clearly, much like signs in an airport, train station, bus terminal, or subway.Microsoft appropriately calls this design Metro. Proper Metro-styled apps favor whitespace over clutter and place heavy emphasis on typography with, at times, simple monochromatic icons.The main “wow” factor from Windows Phone apps usually does not come from their static visuals, but rather from rich animations that encourage exploration.

Therefore, the style of Windows Phone is definitely not meant to be like iPhone, which emphasizes shiny, gradient-filled visuals. Another subtle difference between the intended design of Windows Phone apps and iPhone apps is that iPhone encourages the use of literal real-world visuals (such as a Notes app that looks like a physical paper notepad) whereas Windows Phone encourages user interfaces that don’t mimic the real world so closely. Instead, excluding games and novelty apps, the experience should be “authentically digital.” Some of the Metro guidelines, especially around  capitalization, are nonintuitive and take getting used to, but this book reinforces the guidelines throughout.

Why do Windows Phone apps predominantly use white text on a black background?

It’s also an artistic choice. However, black is not only meant to be fashionable, but also powerconscious. Most Windows Phones use organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screens. Such screens can be great for power consumption (because they don’t require a backlight), but the amount of power consumed varies based on the color and brightness of the screen. On such screens, white text on a black background consumes significantly less power than black text on a white background!