It has been some time since I dived into the Windows App Studio and tinkered with an app idea. With the recent updates to the online development tool that were announced back at Build I figured it was time to check things out and do this app idea that has been floating in my head for some time.

Windows App Studio has made it very easy to develop either a static or dynamic app. A static app contains all of its data in the actual app and any changes to that data would necessitate an update being submitted to the app store. On the other hand a dynamic app, which is what Rocket Launches is, can have the data updated at anytime and it will be pushed out to the users automagically.

OK, so automagically is not a word but it is how this aspect of Windows App Studio works from the outside looking in. I designed the layout of my apps database and the columns of data I would be using and plugged that all in while I designed the layout of the apps user interface.

Windows App Studio creates all the plumbing between my app and the data and subsequent additions/changes to the data, in this case rocket launches, will be available to app users on their phones. I will not have to resubmit or update the app to get that info out to users.

I suspect there is a tie in between the data and Microsoft Azure and SQL but whatever the setup is it works very, very well and is all behind the scenes. Since this app only uses about 50 items on average using the database option in Windows App Studio makes a lot of sense instead of trying to build a separate SQL database and then have to program in connection strings etc.

I also love how easy it is to side load your app that has been created in Windows App Studio. Once your code is generated they send you an email with links to install the required developers certificate, which is only installed one time, and then to download your app’s XAP file. Works in a very similar manner for apps heading towards Windows 8.

So lets get the countdown running on this new app shall we?

The purpose behind Rocket Launches is to let a user know when the next rocket will launch into space off Planet Earth.

It has information on launches broken down into three main areas and each of those cover different launch complexes.

  • US
    • Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida
    • Wallops Island, Virginia
    • Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
  • Foreign
    • Baikonur Cosmodrome, Russia
    • Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia
    • Dombarovsky, Russia
    • Kourou, French Guiana
    • Sinnamary, French Guiana
    • Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota, India
    • Tanegashima Space Center, Japan
    • Taiyuan, China
  • Miscellaneous
    • Odyssey Platform, Pacific Ocean
    • Pacific Missile Range Facility, Barking Sands, Hawaii

Each launch entry includes the mission, launch window, type of rocket and last date the info was updated.

Here are some screenshots around the app:

wp_ss_20140518_0015 wp_ss_20140518_0016
wp_ss_20140518_0017 wp_ss_20140518_0018
wp_ss_20140518_0019 wp_ss_20140518_0020
wp_ss_20140518_0021 wp_ss_20140518_0022

The launch data comes from Space Flight Now – a terrific web resource for all things related to space. They have a launch tracking page which gets updated with public information related to upcoming launches. I simply monitor that page and modify anything that changes by heading into the Windows App Studio and updating the database entries. Then the data is automagically available to end users in the app on their phones.

You can download Rocket Launches from the Windows Phone Store and it is available for Windows Phone 8 and 8.1 devices.