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One step closer to affordable mobile development with Siena (and why we’re excited)

Microsoft’s Project Siena Beta 2 has been released, allowing business users to create apps connected to enterprise services, web and social.

In December last year, Microsoft launched Project Siena, a “Windows 8 app for building Windows 8 app,” no code required. Today Beta 2 was released, bringing with it a bunch of new functionality – the most important of which now gives the ability to for Siena creators to connect to enterprise services, web and social – a “big stride” forward in what can be achieved – by just about anyone – with Siena.    

Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Developer Division, S. Somasegar, yesterday announced the Beta 2 release, along with an update on Project Siena’s progress in hands of business users over the past three months. He says Microsoft’s “mission is to make consuming services as easy as an Excel function,” where bringing together multiple services within mobile apps is as simple as “linking two Excel functions”. Siena signifies the beginning of a step change in mobile application development in the business space.

Intergenites have been tinkering with Project Siena since late last year, and I first talked about it here on the Intergen blog in January, announcing a competition – Under the Tuscan Sun – for all keen Intergenites – techs and non-techs alike – to get stuck in to some mobile app development. I know I promised to update you with results – and we now, finally, have winners to report… but more on that in a minute.

Before I do the big reveal on our winning Intergenite entries, why are we so excited about Project Siena and what it stands for?

In a nutshell: the guiding force behind Siena’s existence is a desire to make mobile development affordable.

That’s the bit that’s most exciting for us: being able to bring affordable mobile apps to our customers. The increasing consumption of technology through mobile devices is indisputable; but the cost of developing for these devices can be prohibitive. Organisations know that their customers are increasingly interacting with them – or expecting to interact with them – on numerous devices, in varying contexts, whenever they need to and from wherever they happen to be; and yet the reality is that, while there is some truly fantastic mobile development out there, for most organisations the price tag attached to this sort of development makes it untenable.

And that’s where Siena comes in. Rather than spending hefty amounts of money on intricate mobile development, Siena allows us to deliver mobile solutions at a vastly different price point. The proviso here is that, by virtue of this vastly different price point, these solutions won’t be as customised or finely-tuned as a mobile app you spend a huge chunk of your development budget on. But if you’re happy with a mobile app that delivers you 70 to 80% of the functionality and polish of your dream app (but for a fraction of the price), then it’s excellent news: with Siena Microsoft has created the technology to make this possible. 

And now, drumroll please… The results of the Under the Tuscan Sun competition are in.

We had a great response, and our winners produced some really thoughtful – and good looking – apps. And to prove that rapid application design with Siena isn’t just for developers, two of our winners were a sales person and an 11-year old (admittedly with some help from his dad).

Congratulations to Ben Cho and 11 year-old Benson – in first place – for a real estate app to help their wife/mum in showing properties to prospective buyers.

Project Siena Intergen competition winner 

Second place goes to Sudeep Ghatak with another real estate browsing app, this time designed to help people with the challenging task of finding a rental property in Christchurch.

Project Siena Intergen competition runner-up

And our third place winners are Linda Pettigrew and Bruce Pollock with a browser build for Intergenites based on their skillset and location.

Project Siena Intergen competition runner-up 

We were impressed! And now with Beta 2 available, even more is possible.

Try it for yourselves…

All you need to get started is install the app from the Windows Store and check out some handy tips, examples and a tutorial here, and you’re away. And if you’d like to talk to us more about mobile development of the rapid – or any other – variety, we’d love to chat.

Posted by: Chris Auld, Chief Technology Officer, Executive Director | 26 March 2014

Tags: Mobile applications, Developers, Modern User Interface, mobility, design

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