Microsoft today updated Windows App Studio, its free web-based tool designed to let anyone create an app, with support for TouchDevelop, a touch-friendly programming language that includes a physics engine and a user-interface framework for composing forms. The company also added universal Web App Template (WAT) creation — but dropped support for Windows Phone 8.0.
TouchDevelop allows developers to write code directly on any device while using sensors and media via high-level APIs. The integration means you can import “hundreds of thousands” of TouchDevelop apps and games as a data source, which Microsoft hopes will in turn improve the quality and complexity of apps created with Windows App Studio. Not all apps can be imported in this release; you can test the functionality by copying your script ID into the TouchDevelop DataSource.
Developers can add single or multiple TouchDevelop sections to add richer features to their apps; with just a few clicks, TouchDevelop scripts are imported into App Studio, ready to generate an AppX package to sideload on phones, tablets, and PCs. Naturally, the resulting apps can also be published to the Windows Store and Windows Phone Store.
Next up, universal WAT creation means you can build apps that will run on phones, PCs, and tablets. Microsoft hopes website owners will package mobile-optimized versions of their sites into a universal app and publish it on its app stores.
As for Windows Phone support, creating, editing, and updating apps with Windows App Studio is now limited to universal Windows apps for devices running Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1. Windows App Studio will still let you access all of your 8.0 apps created via “My Projects” and “Last Versions” on the Generation page, but if you want to make changes to Windows Phone 8.0 apps, you will need to do so using Visual Studio 2013.
Finally, the coding workflow has been tweaked to give developers enhanced feedback about the background process that runs the code generation, compilation, building, and signing tasks. The build platform has also been updated to use the latest version of Visual Studio Community Edition 2013, which arrived last month.
Windows App Studio is still in beta, and Microsoft didn’t say when it expects to release the first stable version. By the company’s count, the tool now has over 2.3 million users, with a potential 250,000 registered TouchDevelop users that may join following today’s release.