Build an app in 5 minutes or less… coding skills optional

app studio


Today I taught around 60 students from Minneapolis area high schools how to build a Windows Phone application in 5 minutes or less.  My goal was to show them how easy it was to get started building applications for mobile devices.  I did stress to them that leaning programming is a valuable skill to have and that it teaches you many problem solving skills however, I didn’t want them to feel discouraged by this roadblock.  I wanted them to see that sometimes programming is just a means to an end.  Sure, I like programming and I think it is fun however, sometimes this can be a barrier to entry.  This barrier might just block the next big thing.  Today I tried to help remove that barrier using App Studio from Microsoft.  Here’s how we built an app for Windows Phone and Windows 8 in less than 5 minutes, without writing a single line of code.

Let’s Get Started

Here are the requirements for the application:

  • Personal
  • Connected to the internet
    • Plays videos
    • News feed
    • Flickr image gallery
  • Installs on my phone
  • No coding required
  • Finish in 5 minutes or less

We headed over to App Studio

Clicked on Start new project > Empty App

create app



We set the App title and icon.  We called ours “Nintendo News” and the the icon to a 1-up.

app title


Main Sections


We added an about section to welcome our app users.  Added HTML section called “about”

We added the text:

Hi. This is our application about Nintendo. Did you really think we could build this in 5 minutes?

We also turned on the text-to-speech option and bound our text to this speech control.

page extras



Next we added an RSS feed (to pull in news)

We called the section “news” and pasted the Nintendo news URL


We added a YouTube section called “videos” and chose the user “Nintendo”.


Added a Flikr section and called it “images”.  Searched for the term “super mario”.

Saved our application.

Here is what it looked like so far.

main sections



Clicked on the themes tab.  From the custom Style we chose a background image and chose to color the app bar red.  Here is what our theme looks like:




We chose the same icon for each tile, just to keep it simple.  Here is what our tiles look like:

select your tiles


Splash & Lock

We also set a Splash & Lock screen:

lock and splash


Publish Info

We updated the publish info, however we didn’t need to.  I had a minute to spare.

update publish info


Generate the app

I generated the app and chose to build it for both Windows Phone and Windows 8.

generate app


Don’t forget to install the certificate that is emailed to you.  You will need to do this before scanning the QR code to install your app.

build your app


We scanned the QR code using the built in scanner in Bing Search.

scan the code


Beam my screen to the TV

All done! From here I duplicated my phone’s screen using Nokia Beamer to show them the application we just built on the TV screen.   Nokia Beamer is an awesome way to share your screen with anyone using only a web browser.   Here’s our app, beamed from my phone to a web browser on a TV so all of the students could see.

beam the app


 One minute to spare…

There you have it.  We built an application from start to finish with one minute to spare.  Most of the students were impressed, as was I since I didn’t think it was possible when I first had the idea for the presentation. It wasn’t until I timed it that I knew that this was possible.  Remember that although this is just a simple example using Nintendo, you can choose any subject you like to create your application.  There are many starter templates to get you going in App Studio.

If you want to check out this application, you can download it below.  I might even post this app in the Windows App Store so you can check it out. This application is open source.  I have posted the code contents to GitHub.  You can find the repository here:


You can download the app for Windows Phone here:

As an added bonus, this app also runs on Windows 8 using the same solution file.  Enjoy!


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