Interview: We chat with the creator of the unofficial Neowin Windows 8 app

Earlier this month, we did an interview with Bill Hast, a Neowin community member who created an unofficial app for our website for Windows Phone 8. As is turns out, another programmer and Neowin member, Daan Lenaerts, released his own unofficial app for the site, made for Windows 8. We decided to chat with Lenaerts about how he came up with the app and his plans to add more features in future editions.

First, how long have you been a reader and community member for Neowin?

I am a Neowin reader and community member since 2011 or so.

How did you come up with the idea of creating a Neowin news reader app for Windows 8?

When I was searching in the Windows 8 store, looking for a Neowin app I noticed there was no Neowin app available. And because it’s a bit clumsy to browse a website on a touchscreen I thought it would be very handy to have a Neowin app available. Then the choice was easy, I would build a Neowin App. Did you have any prior programming knowledge before making the app? Yes, I have been programming since I was about 13 years old. First I developed with but pretty soon I started trying and using other languages, first HTML, CSS, subsequently PHP, MySQL and JavaScript.

How hard was it to make the app?

I already made some similar applications, first I searched MSDN for some samples, how data retrieval was handled in Windows 8, next I tried to put this all together to create the foundation of the app. When the base of the app was ready I started to design and try some backgrounds and logos, then I applied this style to the app. The last big step was to combine all this.

What sort of features have you put in the Neowin Windows 8 app?

Till now, I have only included some basic futures like reading articles and opening the selected article in Internet Explorer. But yesterday I submitted an update to the Windows Store that makes it possible to read the full article without opening the article as a web page. This update will become available this week.

What's the response been like since you released the app?

As Neowin for Windows is just online a few days, I don’t have much to say here.

What new features do you plan to make to the app in future editions?

The most important features I plan to make to the app are the ones I think are the most wanted by users like making it possible to share articles, search through the news, settings, live tiles and so on. Of course I also plan to add some small changes and bug fixes. With Windows 8.1 in view I will also try to optimize ‘Neowin for Windows’ for Windows 8.1.

Finally is there anything else you wish to say about the Neowin Windows 8 app?

I would like if users would give feedback about possible features, bugs and comments. I will try to add those features but I can’t promise anything. Last but not least, Neowin for Windows 8 is free and it will remain so.

We would like to thank Daan for answering our questions!

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My question: What does a plain ol' news web site structured like a million others need an app for?

I haven't installed the app, I've only read the responses in the "article" that had to do with features (current and future)--and I see absolutely nothing compelling to me.

This is not a knock on the developer personally--but a general observation. There's tons of site-specific "apps" out there that are little more than an RSS reader that--as basic as those are to begin with--only work with one site.

For that Problem a created a Win8 app "News Revolution" which lets you add as many rss feeds as you want and it can also parse the website behind the sites to create "full" feeds from shortened feeds (those that give you the first sentence and a link to the original article). It also downloads everything including images and youtube videos for offline viewing. However my ab still hase a couple of bugs and crashes from time to time but most of the time it is working fine for me

Seeing how IPB doesn't work at all with IE11 yet, I'd really love to see features that would allow me to access Neowin from my Surface RT. Maybe add in support for the boards as well?

I use the Neowin app on Android frequently - it too is pretty much an RSS reader with a Neowin/Android theme.

Edited by 68k, Oct 18 2013, 7:05am :

Sorry to turn you down, but for this kind of rss reader you do not need any programming skills. Just take one of the samples, alter the url, the Background and some colors and you are done. However: nice to see a Neowin app.