Interview: We chat with the creators of Cumulo for Windows 8

Even before the official launch of Windows 8 over a week ago, app developers were working on their software creations to be published in the Windows Store. One of them is called Cumulo, which allows Windows 8 users a way to organize all of their cloud-based accounts in one place.

The three man team behind Cumulo came from Spain and made the app a couple of months ago during a Windows 8 hackathon, much like the one that Microsoft organized during this week's BUILD 2012 conference. We got to ask some questions to the Cumulo team about their work, which was collectively answered by the three team members.

First, what can you tell us about your programming background in general?

The whole group, which consists of 3 members, has always been focused on .NET programming language. Giovanni and Juan have over 10 years experience, and Rubén, the youngest, over 2 years in this fascinating “world”.

How did the idea for Cumulo come about?

Microsoft Spain with the help of many collaborators organized a three days Windows 8 programming marathon. It took place on 7, 8 and 9 September simultaneously in 13 Spanish cities. We thought it was a great opportunity and said "Why not?" We only needed an idea and after a difficult brain storming, where we considered some other possible applications, Cumulo was born. We won as best application in Madrid, and obtained the second place as best application for Spain.

When you first heard about Windows 8 and the Windows Store, what was your first reaction?

We were happy with the new ecosystem Microsoft has built, a place where every developer could show his work to a huge potential market. Windows 8 was a needed step because the user requires an operative system like this. We are totally sure it’s going to have the success it deserves.

How hard was it to develop Cumulo with the new UI in mind?

It has been quite challenging due to the fact it was our first application following the Metro guidelines and the time for it was very limited. We were not familiar with XMAL, MVVM, etc. and although we used C# (.Net) to develop, Windows 8 is not exactly .Net. Also, being WinRT, we couldn’t use most of the third party .Net libraries out there. We had to do our own OAuth library, and also had to find an alternative to REST and JSON libraries. Hopefully, most of the third party libraries will provide a WinRT version soon.

Overall, what makes Cumulo stand out from other apps?

Cumulo integrates all the storage services on a unified view. With Cumulo the user has access to her files from many cloud storages in a single place without having to install more than one app. Imagine you want to see all your documents from Dropbox, SkyDrive and Google Drive? Just open Cumulo. Moreover, if a folder is present in all your clouds, you only see one instance. This way you can search, share and download all your files by only using Cumulo.

Overall, are there any tricks to making a touch screen based Windows 8 app or game compared to making a regular PC app?

Actually, the windows API makes it very simple to program for a touch screen. For example, when you override the onClick event (on some controls) this works for both mouse and touch screen. Of course you need to be aware of some things, know your windows controls, etc. but overall it was not difficult to have the application work on touch screens.

What's the reaction been like to the Windows 8 version of Cumulo so far?

The app has achieved a great worldwide response, with positive reviews and quite a lot of downloads. In the US Market we have had some negative reviews, from which we have learned for a future version. People agree that Cumulo is a great idea, something that was missing from the Internet. There is a lot of people who want to have a more simplified view of the “online storage” We are happy to see how the downloads have raised day by day after Windows 8 launch and we will be working hard improving Cumulo to maintain this trend.

What do you have planned for future versions of the app?

We are currently working on 1.1. version where we add new functions, we weren’t able to make before Windows 8 release, like sharing files with other apps. We are also reviewing the performance of the application by implementing some caching and thus provide a greater experience We are also thinking of releasing a PRO version in which the user won’t miss anything.

How do you feel about some of the comments made by other developers that feel that the Windows Store and Windows 8 are making the PC more of a closed system?

On one side, we agree with them, Microsoft has made a bit of a closed system, but we guess that this kind of model goes along with a demand for this kind of systems. For example, Microsoft competitors seems to have been very successful on implementing this kind of system and we guess that this was the next step for Microsoft as well. We also think that Windows 8 provides both worlds, since it is still possible to write applications that are more open (they just won’t be in the Windows Store but users will be able to install them as part of the Desktop experience). On the other side, Windows 8 gives new business opportunities for developers like us, that’s why we won’t leave the chance to participate in this ecosystem.

Finally, is there anything else you wish to say about Windows 8 and its upcoming launch?

We share the idea that Windows 8 could be a worthy system for developers. On its first days has had a warm welcome and we hope it raises a huge market success.

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