Building apps for Windows 8, our interview with Endomondo

When it comes to building an application for a new platform, the challenges to bringing the app to the market can be cumbersome. We recently sat down with Slacker who gave us their insight into building an application for Windows 8 and today we have another interview for you from the folks at EndomondoErik Schack, a software developer for the company, took time out of his day to answer our questions you see below.

Q1 - For those who have not heard of Endomondo, can you please give a little background on the company, as well as your role within the company?

A1 - As a software developer at Endomondo, I was responsible for the company’s Windows 8 app.

Launched in 2008, Endomondo makes fitness fun with its focus on the social dimension to exercise. By incorporating unique social aspects into its platform, Endomondo connects fitness fans around the globe. Users can send others real-time pep talks while they exercise, compete virtually against friends for fun, and share it all on Endomondo’s social network, as well as Facebook or Twitter.  Additionally, the highly rated Endomondo Sports Tracker app downloaded by nearly 12 million people worldwide turns GPS-enabled devices into a personal trainer and social motivator capable of tracking workouts, analyzing performance, and aids in the discovery of new exercise routes, activities and insights into fitness.

Q2 - Windows 8 is an entirely new, yet slightly familiar, platform that has changed how we traditionally interact with PCs (touch friendly vs. mouse friendly); how has this affected your development strategies for Windows 8 against say, iOS, since you have to account for mouse and finger input?

A2 - While Windows 8 intelligently embraces both touch and mouse, developing for mouse usage has not changed too much and theoretical application of touch-screen UI is not new.  Like anything else, a project like Endomondo for Windows 8 requires a developer to fully visual the endgame, work toward the vision, and be open to adaptation.  Take the pieces of the puzzle that already exist, adjust as needed, and plug them in.  From the start, we visualized a friendly, predictable user experience through Windows 8 that served the functionality of Endomondo’s webpage no matter how users interacted with our service.  Know the goals, know what you already have, employ what works, and keep an open mind.

Q3 - What has it been like to work with the Modern design language and how has it influenced your work when creating applications for Windows 8? Has the dramatically different UI posed any unique challenges?

A3 - Change is ongoing at Endomondo.  We constantly receive feedback from Endomondo users and must adapt to serve those needs.  Doing things differently is a mindset Endomondo thrives upon, so working with the Modern design language allowed Endomondo to explore the new UI not only to fit Windows 8 but to actually investigate ways of enhancing Endomondo on other platforms.  The challenges of change shouldn’t be perceived as hurdles, they should be seen as paths.

Q4 - When working with Windows 8, can you talk about some of your current struggles with the platform or challenges that you have had to overcome?

A4 - While developing the Endomondo app for Windows 8 we found it challenging to fit an infinitely scrolling social newsfeed into a horizontal page that also contains other information. As we worked through the process, we liked the semantic zoom idea and wanted to use it to get a calendar view for Endomondo’s workout history compiled by users. This element posed a challenge due to momentary technical limitations, but we found the answers.  We also experienced teething issues with some software dependencies as Endomondo was an early developer on the Windows 8 platform.

Q5 - Has Microsoft provided any assistance to Endomondo when creating your application? If so, can you talk about this interaction and how Microsoft aided your development?

A5 - Microsoft gets a grade between “awesome” and “super awesome” when it comes to assisting Endomondo.  Seriously, we received huge support from Microsoft throughout the process. Endomondo was invited to a three-day Deep Dive at Microsoft HQ in Redmond that got us started quickly on development. Then we got great technical support from Kraig Brockschmidt during the process. Whatever development issue we came across, Microsoft quickly escalated questions internally through the company’s system and help arrived fast.

Q6 - Windows 8 provides new opportunities to developers for monetization strategies; has the Microsoft Marketplace opened any new avenues for growth that you have not seen on other platforms?

A6 – Endomondo is still investigating all the options Windows 8 offers.  Obviously, Microsoft serves a mind-blowing number of people worldwide.  Monetization is part of the development equation for Endomondo, but we’d be remiss to not simply develop upon an OS such as Windows 8.  The chance to work and learn from Microsoft’s team on the development of cutting edge technology benefits any developer well beyond short-term ROI.

Q7 - How do you see your application evolving over time to fit new form factors or platforms?

A7 - Being aware of tech advancements is important, but listening to feedback from Endomondo users remains key to development.  Forcing users to adopt technology they weren’t looking for is a time consuming, expensive endeavor.  Adopting technology to serve the stated desires of users is sound.  As a software developer at Endomondo, I will continue to utilize Windows 8 as a tool to offer a top-notch experience so our fitness fans have a useful, integrated experience.

Q8 - Are there any other bits of information you want to share about Endomondo or building applications for Windows 8?

A8 - Honestly, I can talk software development all day and I’m so happy to have a chance to answer your questions and perhaps share some insight.  For the entire development team at Endomondo, we’re proud to deliver a service that electrifies fitness fans around the globe.  Microsoft Windows 8 provided us an easy opportunity to grow as a company, as developers, and as disciples of fitness.

Neowin would like to thank Endomondo for answering our questions and if you are interested to see their app in action, make sure to download their app here.

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