Building for Windows Phone 8? Don’t create a calendar: API access to key functions is a no-go

Building for Windows Phone 8? Don’t create a calendar: API access to key functions is a no-go

Windows Phone 8 is new to many developers, with its SDK becoming generally available only last week. Given that, developers probing its depths are learning both its strengths, and restrictions.

A fine example of this is out today on the MSDN forums in which a user asked the following question [Condensed, formatted: TNW]:

I first tried the new “SaveAppointmentTask” => cool, finally i can create appointments in non windows-live calendars by calling this Task. [
] There is no task for editing existing appointments or deleting existing appointments?

That query is simple enough: If we can create tasks, why can’t we mange them, including the ability to delete them? Writing to the main calendar application in only a one-way fashion is a limiting constraint on what developers can do with their applications.

Microsoft responded:

  You can create appointments by using the SaveAppointmentTask but your application cannot delete appointments. The SaveAppointmentTask passes the information provided to the native calendar application which allows the user to save the appointment to the calendar of their choice.  You’re application does not have direct access to the calendar database.

It’s a trade-off that allows apps some access while protecting the users critical data from accidental deletion.

In short, the Windows Phone 8 Calendar application is enter only, with a ban on meddling with what is in its database. You, after all, do not have “direct access” to that information.

Small quibble? Perhaps. However, this sort of thing can zing people right in the sore spot. Later down the thread, another comment weighed in:

I hope I have misunderstood something. WP has probably the worst calendar I’ve ever seen on a modern phone. If I understand this correctly, no one can produce a new calendar app to replace the built-in calendar completely?

Now, other platforms have rules against such things as reproducing extant functionality. Thus, Microsoft’s decision is hardly unique or particularly odious, but it does show how strongly the company views the issue of security, that it would restrict app capabilities over theoretical security and quality-of-life issues.

This may feel like a small issue, but how Microsoft fine tunes Windows Phone from a developer perspective is anything but. From the early days of Windows – say, before Windows 8 and RT – Microsoft was the champion of open. Now, with closed walls around Xbox, Windows 8 and RT (the Windows Store with its rules), and Windows Phone, the climate around the company is different, and far more rule based.

Thus to provide only a sliver of calendar function is an illuminating move. Still, with more than 120,000 apps in its Marketplace, Windows Phone has earned a place at the developer table. As Windows Phone 8 becomes better understood, expect more updates along these lines.

For more on the Windows Phone Store, head here. Top Image Credit: Magnus Jonasson

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