Next up on our developer interview schedule is Waheed Bhatti, Software Architect at Irtiqa. They are the team behind the London Travel (previously London Tube) app on the Windows Phone Marketplace, which is a must have for all who go about their business on the TFL (Transport for London) network.
Ride on past the break for the interview.
Tell us about yourself, what you do, background around programming etc.
I am Waheed, 22 years old and a Microsoft fanboy. About a year ago, after completing my undergraduate course in Software Engineering I got together with a few friends and started Irtiqa (which means evolution). It continues to be a very small company that heavily relies on outsourcing. At the moment I am a Software Architect at the company and have helped design apps such as Nucleus, ContactPic and most recently London Travel.
My first encounter with code was back in 2002 through Microsoft Access' VBA (Visual Basic for Applications). It came along with documentation and I can remember reading about "Array" and thinking programming was too complicated for me. Shortly afterwards I learned about Visual Basic 6 and thinking Windows and all other software was developed with that I dedicated hours to learning it.
Two years on I started learning C++ and in late 2006 I discovered C# through a friend. Ever since I have spent most of my time coding in C#. I've always been interested in network coding and I have some very exciting memories to share but to keep this brief I'll do that some other day.
What path(s) led you to develop for Windows Phone?
I was developing software for Windows Mobile 6 (.NET Compact Framework) prior to the launch of Windows Phone 7 so the natural path was to upgrade. Coming from a .NET background and having done some Silverlight programming I found it relatively easy to start developing for the new platform. Microsoft was kind enough to send me a developer device and that really gave me an advantage over most other developers who could only test their apps through the emulator. London Travel (then London Tube) was my first WP7 project.
Why do you continue to develop for Windows Phone?
Microsoft has, without a doubt, the best development tools in the world. There is nothing like Visual Studio, and C# is a very beautiful language (thank you Anders Hejlsberg) and .NET a very powerful framework - as a developer what else could you want. Visual Studio, C# and .NET allow me to rapidly develop apps with evolved experiences and that is why I continue to develop for Windows Phone.
Do you develop for other platforms, and if so how does your Windows Phone experience compare?
I also PM an Android project and although I hardly code in it I hate whatever time I have to spend doing so. The IDE (Eclipse) is absolutely horrible, I have noticed it crashes more often on rainy days - oh and I still can't get breakpoints to work. The Android SDK documentation is nothing like Windows Phone, where Microsoft would provide indepth information on an API, Google is happy to just tell you it exists.
In short, if the development experience index (DEI) for Windows Phone is 7, that of Android is 2.
What’s your take on the current state of Windows Phone development?
I am very happy with what Microsoft has provided for Windows Phone developers. I believe this will be reflected in the number of apps available for the platform and the experience that these apps provide. Windows Phone 7 development can very easily overtake any other platform if Microsoft sells more phones.
Where do you see Windows Phone development going in the future, and will Irtiqa be creating future projects?
Windows Phone development, like Windows development, has immense potential. With the upcoming Mango release Microsoft has done a good job in opening up access to a lot of areas that were previously restricted to first-party apps. Developers will appreciate this and I am sure it will also attract a lot of new developers.
We have some very exciting projects on the drawing board that make use of our network development library, Flames and we are hoping to have both the library and apps available by winter.
Given the opportunity, what’s the one thing you’d change about the Windows Phone development process?
My only complain is that there is no easy way to implement page transition animations. There are lots of methods on the internet but none of them has worked very well for us and the one we use feels very much like a hack.
I also had another complaint about the absence of sockets but Mango has them - good job Microsoft!
Thank you so much for your time. Any parting thoughts for the Windows Phone community?
Be passionate about what you do, it's the only way you'll beat your competition.
Wise words from Waheed. To find out more about Irtiqa and the projects they're currently working on, check out their website. If you're a developer, be sure to keep an eye on Flames.