Developer Interview: Alexey Strakh of gMaps

This week we've had the pleasure in interviewing Alexey Strakh, developer of gMaps, a Google Maps client for Windows Phone. Head on past the break for the Q&As. 

Tell us about yourself, what you do, background around programming etc.?

My Name is Alexey Strakh and I’m working as software developer at one of the biggest Russian outsource company in Moscow. Most of my experience is connected with Microsoft and .NET. 

What path(s) led you to develop for Windows Phone?

I think Microsoft makes a great thing allowing Silverlight and WPF developers to transfer their knowledge to Windows Phone 7 platform. I guess it was decisive influence in WP7 development. 

Your apps on the Marketplace are popular and successful, what's your secret?

 Actually if I knew the secret I would not tell you J But I’m not sure. I think the main secret is that we created apps for ourselves and only then for others. It is also important to listen other users what they want to improve. And don’t try just to copy successful application from another platform – it will not work!

How did gMaps come to be? What's planned for the future of the app? 

One day I need some free mapping application (because in our country I could not pay with my card for app in marketplace) for internal use and I with my friend Alex Sorokoletov created 1st version of gMaps. First day it has about 3k downloads and we were crazy about it.

Some another day I plan my bicycle ride and I needed to find route to certain places. We added this feature also for one day I believe… and so on. Until we collect huge number of feedback. It allows us to improve the application and make it useful for everyone and quite popular!

In future version we plan 3 major features:

  1. Latitude support
  2. Offline maps support
  3. Turn by turn navigation

All this features we want to release before mango for known reasons.

Do you develop for other platforms, and if so how does your Windows Phone experience compare?

No. We develop only for WP7.

What’s your take on the current state of Windows Phone development?

As for me WP7 platform has great future. Microsoft made a big bet on it. MS doesn’t afraid to enter this market quite late (not taking into account WM6) where iPhone and Android have already dominated. I believe new Metro design, huge developers community, contract with Nokia and great Microsoft support will make this platform one of the most popular all over the world.

How do you find the development process of Microsoft's platform?

Development process is quite clear, API is easy to understand and developers can concentrate on theirs ideas. There are some issues with marketplace and submit process but I understand that platform is young enough and all that issues will be solved.

Where do you see WP7 going in the future, and what future apps/projects do you have lined up?

WP7 will definitely go to WP8.

We have several ideas for some games/tools. One of the ideas is to develop mass multiplayer game. We already tried to implement multiplayer games (Naval Battle X) and even migrate this game to Facebook ( This allowed users play from phone with opponents from Facebook. It was 1st stage prove of multiplayer concept for wp7->desktop mass multiplayer games. We will continue with this idea. 

Given the opportunity, what’s the one thing you’d change about the Windows Phone development process?

Developers need more opened API to write more convenient tools and games and make user’s life easier!

Thank you so much for your time. Any parting thoughts for the Windows Phone community?

I believe that thank to this community Microsoft has ability to develop WP7 so fast. Thank you!

You can get in touch and follow Alexey on Twitter and his blog.

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.