Windows App Studio Beta Improves with App Side-loading, More

Windows App Studio Beta Improves with App Side-loading, More

An amazing tool gets more amazinger

Microsoft's amazing web-based app creator tool received a major update this week. Windows App Studio now supports Windows Phone app side-loading, 9 new languages, new page layouts for PCs and tablets, and much more.

"Since launching 14 months ago the response to Windows App Studio Beta has been nothing short of incredible," Microsoft's Emilio Salvador Prieto writes in a new post to the Building Apps for Windows blog. "From small business owners to skilled developers learning the basics of our platform, our more than two million users have created just under 1 million app projects, and published almost 50,000 apps to the Windows Store and Windows Phone Store. And, App Studio is being used in schools around the world to teach the basics of app building and coding, and with many small businesses to build out their app presence."

Why Windows App Studio is still in beta well over a year after the initial beta release is unclear. But this great tool, which lets you create Windows Store (Windows 8) and Windows Phone apps on the web, has received many updates since that initial release. In November 2013, it picked up support for actions, external data store caching, and more. A major update in February added many new features and better code creation capabilities. And then Microsoft added Windows Store app support in July; the tool was previously Windows Phone-only.

Here's what's new in this week's update.

Windows Phone 8.1 side-loading. If you create Universal apps with Windows App Studio Beta, you can test the new app you've created and share it with other App Studio members.

9 new languages. Windows App Studio Beta now supports Chinese (simplified and traditional), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish, in addition to English.

New page layouts for tablets and PCs. Previously, Windows App Studio Beta only supported single page app layouts like those that are typical on a phone. But with this release, the tool can create multi-column layouts that are ideal for tablets and PCs.

Static collections and HTML. If you're using offline data sources (HTML and Static Collection types) those static resources are now stored as JSON or HTML files in the Shared/Assets/Data folder in your app. This allows them to be more easily modified.

Design-time data binding. Using the XAML capabilities that Visual Studio users rely on, Windows App Studio Beta can now bind data at design time so you don't need to run the app to see how it will look with live data loaded.

PCL improvements. Working towards full compatibility with Xamarin's cross-platform tools, Microsoft has been refactoring the code generated by Windows App Studio Beta to make it easier to build using the Xamarin PCL profile.

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