Publishing the Dice Calculator to the Windows App Store

Finally!

After creating the Dice Calculator for the Windows Phone and Android, I wanted to get the application out for the Windows Store.

Design Changes

More real estate for user interaction, bigger screens, and an ever hungry desire to add more features meant I had my work cut out.  First things first…  Take advantage of the larger screen sizes typically found on computers and tablets for Windows.

Image of the Windows Store landing page for Dice Calculator

Dice Calculator in the Windows Store

This required me to scale up from the smaller layout necessary for the phones.

This screenshot shows a sample roll

This screenshot shows a sample roll

Additionally, I would now be able to have the saved formulas shown all the time.  I added those panels to the application and started it up.  Hmmm.  Not much of the screen real estate utilized.  I guess that means I need a new feature 🙂

I was always planning to add a roll history.  So, I created the third panel.  There.  That was a little better.

I had to scale many of the graphics up and make them resize to support different displays.  Fortunately, NGUI for Unity makes that relatively simple with the anchors.

Playing with it on a tablet, I also discovered that the hit region for many of the icons (i.e. close, add) were a little too small and needed to be scaled up.

New Features

Roll History – This is a feature where the last 60 rolls are preserved in a list so you can refer back to them.  Why 60? Just a place to start and not get the app bogged down with too many items.  I expect I will expand this to support a larger list and the ability to save the history or clear the history.  But, I’m a big believer in keeping it simple until someone asks for it.

Virtual Table – This is a feature I personally wanted.  A means of sharing the dice rolls with a group of friends at a gaming table.  After doing a bit of research, I decided to use Photon Unity (PUN). The interface was relatively easy to integrate, and the best part was their proven track record for supporting many different platforms.  The virtual table works a little like a chat-room. You can specify an arbitrary table name and a user name of your choosing.  There are no passwords, so anyone can join anyone’s table if they know the name.

Image of the connect dialog for the dice calculator

Dice Calculator Connect Dialog

Once connected, any rolls you make will show up in the history under your name.  The small box area under the roll history will show you others at the table.

Publishing

First Attempt – With the features in, and the basics all done, I was anxious to publish to the Windows Store, even though there was a couple of minor bugs and one semi-major bug where the on-screen keyboard will not display on a tablet when you press in an editable field.  I packaged everything up, created a large set of art assets (i.e. icons, splash screen, store graphics, etc…), created a description, link to my website, link to my privacy policy.

Wait…  Link to my privacy policy?  Yes.  It turns out that the last feature of the virtual table, requires a privacy policy since it sends information across the network.  No problem.  I’ll just go to my website and add the page…

Updating the website

This turned out to not be so easy.  While I had my page archived, I no longer had a means of rebuilding it.  The last time I did any meaningful work to http://dungeonz.com was about four or five years ago.  I’m in hurry.  I just want things to work! (welcome to my insanity).  So, I decided to blow the entire old site away and create a new one.

Awesome.  I’m thinking Visual Studio Online, Windows Azure, MVC, Unit Tests, etc…

I jump right in with both feet.  I setup my accounts, or connected them (many I already had from other experiments).  I went to Visual Studio and create a new web project with MVC and unit testing.  Blam.  A new site.  Connected it with Visual Studio Online and Azure for publishing to my site (it was already hosted there).  Build / Publish, new site up.

Well.  The template site was up.  Now I needed to learn a few things to get the site to look more like mine.

Short story… I started making progress, but I don’t have any experience with MVC and unit tests directly.  I send out a call for help and one of my friends, Missy, came to the rescue and helped me get things going.  She showed me how to add a new controller, a new view (for the Privacy page) and some basic unit tests.

Back to Publishing

Okay.  I now have the link, so I go back to the Windows Developer Dashboard and edit my application information to include the link to my Privacy Policy.  I do a quick check to make sure I have everything ready and I hit SUBMIT.

Now the waiting begins.  There are many stages an app submission goes through from validation to testing to certification to release.  This can take up to five days.

The next day (about 18 hours later), I receive a notice that my submission has FAILED!

I follow the link in the mail to find out why…  Two things it turns out.  The age appropriateness and my privacy policy.  It turns out that since it was a simple calculator, I marked the application as being appropriate for ages 3+.  That isn’t allowed if you have networking and you don’t provide parental controls.  The suggestion on the site is that I set it for 12+.  Easy…

When it came to the privacy policy, I was confused…  I put the link in the description.  Reading the error closer, it turns out that all Windows Store Applications must also have a link to their privacy policy within the application, via the settings panel.  Whoops!  I know I didn’t have that.  Additionally, I wasn’t even sure how to add it.  Time to do some searching on the web.  Fortunately, I quickly came upon an article that described how to add one in general. All I had to do was adopt it to my Unity application.

Trying to publish again

With the application updated, I spent a few minutes also fixing up a couple of bugs I had found the day before.  I rebuilt, uploaded my packages to the developer site and submitted again.

Success

Four hours later, my application was approved and published to the store.

I’m very happy to have met this milestone.

Next steps will be to publish the tablet version for the Google Play Store and then onto some new features!

4 responses to “Publishing the Dice Calculator to the Windows App Store

  1. Does it run on Windows 7? I’m not planning on upgrading to an “even numbered” Windows OS anytime soon. 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s