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Windows Azure Mobile Services "Rent a Home" Sample, Part 1: Introduction

For my Visual Studio Live! talk on Windows Azure Mobile Services, I decided to go beyond the "todolist" quick start samples and implement an application that illustrates more framework-specific and platform-specific features. The application is called "Rent a Home", and helps users share apartments for rent and view apartments for rent on a map around their location. Although this is not a production quality application -- for one thing, there is no way to contact the apartment owner! -- it's a more realistic illustration of why you would want a shared backend for your mobile application on all four major mobile platforms: Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and Windows 8.

In this post, we'll look at the feature list and some screenshots from the four platforms. In Part 2 we'll look at the user interface implementation and how it is connected to the backing Mobile Service. We will also see how server-side scripts enrich the user experience by providing geocoding of user-specified apartment addresses. In Part 3 we will explore authentication support (with Twitter), and obtain the user's name from the Twitter API. Finally, in Part 4 we'll look at push notifications on the four platforms, and see what's necessary on the server side to send push notifications whenever a new apartment listing is added. You might want to follow along by looking at the code, which is available on GitHub.

The Rent a Home application has the following features on all four platforms:

  • Users can add an apartment listing by providing a street address and the number of bedrooms
  • Users can unpublish an apartment listing that they previously published
  • Users can view the apartment listings in a table or on a map
  • Users can sign in with Twitter to associate apartment listings with their identity
  • Users can receive push notifications whenever a new apartment listing is added

Android screenshots

iOS screenshots

Windows Phone screenshots

Windows 8 screenshot

In the next part, we'll look at the implementation of the application's UI on all platforms, and how server scripts enrich this implementation with location information for the maps to work properly.

I am posting short links and updates on Twitter as well as on this blog. You can follow me: @goldshtn

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