Steve Hall of Lucky 8 Solutions is no stranger to Windows 8. He has published 10 Windows Store apps focused on mobile data collection and digital forms, including the recently launched Table Letter Pro, and in September 2012 founded and continues to run the Boston Windows 8 App Developers and IT Group in Cambridge.
Recently I asked Steve to share his thoughts on the latest apps he’s developed (pictured above):
Most recently I launched ‘Tablet Invoice Pro’ (Windows 8/RT App). This app is optimized for Windows tablets and touch-screen usability. You can choose from professional templates or customize yourself by adding images, receipt photos, and a touch-screen signature. Stay organized with easy filter options and automatically attach invoice to emails (Word, XLS or PDF format). Taxes and totals are calculated for you.
I started Tablet Invoice Pro in July 2013 because I wanted to create a digital forms app for mobile business users that would showcase the capabilities of Windows store apps when optimized for Windows tablets. I set out with three primary objectives.
- Make it faster to fill out touch screen forms using a Windows tablet;
- Use the tablet to include photos and to get a customer signature using the touch screen;
- Be able to easily save, edit and email the invoices in Word, Excel or PDF formats right from the tablet. I wanted knew Microsoft was focused on tablets and I wanted to show other app developers what is possible.
To save time custom developing key functionality we took advantage of Syncfusion Essential Studio for WinRT/XAML. By using this tool set, we were able to save over 100 hours developing the technology that turns forms into formatted Word, Excel and PDF documents (plus functionality to include photos and digital signature).
The process of developing mobile business apps optimized for Windows 8/RT tablets has been exciting. I am not a developer, but I hired a developer in India thru Elance, which was recommended to me from Microsoft BizSpark. I understood workflows and picked up the concept of the metro design and XAML fairly quickly. The developer understood WPF, MVVM and XAML, so the coding was pretty straightforward.
We developed the entire app in C#/XAML. The hardest part was just figuring out the best way to do something new since there weren’t really many good digital forms apps in the Windows Store to look at. My local Boston Windows App Tech evangelist, Jim O’Neil gave me advice along the way and great feedback on improvements I could make based on Microsoft suggested best practices.
Over the past year my experience with Microsoft has been great. They have helped me every step of the way and as a result I have 10 apps in the store. Building Windows Store Apps is fun and easy and I would recommend it to anyone. I have created apps focused on photos, videos, drawings, Bing Maps, voice notes, text notes and SkyDrive – all with the help of Microsoft and the tools and resources they offer for app developers.
Next I plan to develop more mobile business apps showcasing digital forms and mobile data collection capabilities for Windows Tablets to help Boston Windows 8 App Developers & IT Group members understand what’s possible. Windows 8 tablet apps are better for mobile business users than iPad apps and I can prove it.