One of the keys to Windows Phone's success is developer support. As we mentioned earlier, Microsoft is sponsoring a series of developers workshops, the Windows Phone App Garage, to help promote app development at a more local level.  We had the opportunity to attend the App Garage held in Birmingham and found it to be a great opportunity to tap into Microsoft's resources.

The Garage is conducted by a Microsoft Developer with the support of established local app developers. In Birmingham, Glenn Gordon from Microsoft and local developers Todd Miranda and Daniel Powell led the charge.  The App Garage is a free workshop but, seating is limited.  We had thirty in attendance at the Innovation Depot, Birmingham's host site, and not an empty seat could be found.  If you are planning on attending, don't delay registering or you might miss out.

While the App Garage's agenda is standard throughout the events, the presentations were fairly informal. Speakers combined structured presentations with open discussions to cover everything from the development fundamentals to online resources (such as App Makr and SocialViewer).  An overview of the developer registration and app submission process was also discussed along with tips to help get your app certified and marketed.

And that was just for the first half of the workshop.

After lunch, the workshop shifted to an open lab where attendees worked on their individual apps, networked amongst themselves, and drew upon the experience of not only the speakers but also fellow attendees. The open lab was a great opportunity to bounce ideas off fellow developers, get help with difficult areas, and general brain storming.

Microsoft is planning additional App Garage's through the month of May and might extend them into June. Who should attend? Basically anyone interest in developing Windows Phone 7 apps. From the seasoned programmer to the person sitting on the fence, the App Garage will have something for everyone. In the very least, this is a great opportunity to network within your community with other Windows Phone developers.

Overall, it was a day well spent and while I did have moments where I felt like a fish out of water, I walked away with a better understanding of the development process. Who knows, you might find me on the Marketplace one day.

Again, the App Garage is a free workshop (includes a catered lunch) but seating is limited. You can find a listing of future App Garage sessions here.  And you can find out more information about registering as a developer here.