Windows 8 App Store Submission Process

Oct 26 2012 Published by under Windows 8

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As of this writing, I’ve submitted two apps to the Windows 8 Store. The first one is Particle Art. This one took four tries to get approved. The second is a port of Falling Balls, which I just submitted for the third time and I’m pretty sure it will pass this time.

There are a few things I’ve learned in the process that I’m sure will make things go much smoother for my future submissions. And hopefully they will help anyone else going through the process.

First off…

Privacy Policy!!!!

In the current app submission flow, I feel this is not given nearly the emphasis that it should be. The wording makes it sound very conditional and almost optional. My apps do not use, store, or transmit any information from any user whatsoever, so I didn’t think I’d need this. But the truth is that it is almost certain that any app you create will need a privacy policy. This is a very good article on the subject:

http://gyorgybalassy.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/your-app-needs-a-privacy-policy-in-the-windows-store/

When I first got rejected for Particle Art, it was for lack of a privacy policy. in the online app submission process, there is a field where you enter a link to your privacy policy. I created a policy, put it on line, entered the link, and resubmitted. A few days later, rejected again. So you actually need to be able to display your privacy policy IN the app as well. There is a mechanism for this, which I discovered after a bit of digging around. Rather than go into it, I’ll link to Jesse Freeman’s article where he describes the steps:

http://jessefreeman.com/articles/windows-store-privacy-statement/

Submitted again. Rejected again. This time because the app was freezing. On the rejection report was a zipped file containing a screenshot and steps to reproduce the hang. It turns out that somehow one of the project files had somehow gotten removed from the project. It was still on the hard drive, but not referenced in the project, thus was causing a crash when it was referenced. This was another file in the settings panel and I think I had done a save-as to create the privacy policy settings, which resulted in only the new saved file being in the project, not both the original and new. Anyway, that was a simple fix – just add the file back to the project. Resubmit again, and now the app is in the store.

Lessons learned:

1. Privacy policy!!!
2. Completely test every aspect of your app just before you submit it.

Next was Falling Balls. I was still not a true believer in the privacy policy and was absolutely convinced that it did not need one. Rejected. Privacy policy added in app and online. Resubmitted again. Rejected again. Reason: crash. What??? I’ve played the thing repeatedly and done just about everything you can do with it and it never once crashed. Despair set in. Combed through code. Profiled app and found some huge inefficiencies there, which I cleaned up. But there was nothing definitive. Perhaps if the app was running on a low powered ARM device… ? Who knows??? I sadly considered resubmitting and crossing my fingers hoping that solved it. Decided to take another look at the rejection. OH… there’s a details report attached as a zip file. Missed that. What do you know… a screenshot with steps on how to reproduce the issue. Duh.

Turns out that I’d left a reference to my FPS counter in one particular spot in the app. I’d removed the FPS counter just before submission though. But if you did this one function, it would try to access it and crash. Solved and fixed within 2 minutes of seeing the detail report.

Lessons learned:

1. PRIVACY POLICY!!!!!!!
2. COMPLETELY TEST EVERY ASPECT OF YOUR APP JUST BEFORE YOU SUBMIT IT!!!

Summary

See “Lessons Learned”.

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10 responses so far. Comments will be closed after post is one year old.

  • Overall it actually sounds like a good experience — given you got screenshots and repro steps for crashes. But I agree that Microsoft should make it much clearer that you need to include a privacy policy no matter what and have it linked to in your settings charm. I would go so far as to say it should bar submission if you haven’t checked a checkbox indicating those features are present.

  • Shawn says:

    It’s kinda unfortunate that they handle RTE’s so abrubtly. We had a similar crash bug that was caused by trying to show a dialog while another dialog is open “Access is Denied!”.

    In browser, it would just spit the RTE into the console and move along. In Windows, the entire app just freezes up.

  • [...] policy example I used here. You can read about his own submission issues and how he resolved them here. var dd_offset_from_content = 40; var dd_top_offset_from_content = [...]

  • heiko says:

    My submission went through without any issues (and without a privacy policy) because I was lucky enough to uncheck the “internet access” flag in the manifest without knowing that this would have implications otherwise.

    So my overall experience with the submission process was positive, even though I’m not happy with the browsing experience in the store (from a consumer’s perspective). I hope Microsoft is more willing to iterate on store features than Apple.

    For the record, I just built a simple Memory game to support my girlfriend’s etsy site:
    http://apps.microsoft.com/webpdp/en-us/app/freaks/2146dcb0-7a50-4d45-bec5-d9cbd22ba944

  • Roark says:

    The process is fairly new to me and not a comfortable one. It’s not pleasant being at the whim of someone who is only there from 10 am to 8 pm weekdays. Thus, my app which I’ve worked on for months just sits there for days, losing more marketing potential.

    In their defense, they did find a small bug but it was mostly by being somewhat sadistic in their testing. My app is a music player and when there are no songs present, it warns the person with a nice dialog box that is quite helpful as to how to correct the situation.

    With zero songs loaded or available, the tester clicked the PLAY button and of course the app immediately crashed and was returned to me after I’d waited for 3 days for my tax profile to be approved.

    Ugly, ugly process. I think Microsoft should have taken a different approach. Let the market be the judge just like it is in the real world. If you have to scan my app for profanity or nudity or potential viruses, for a day, fine, but why subject me to what can become a sit-on-it-and-wait for days scenario, repeatedly each time?

    Roark

    • keith says:

      Have you ever dealt with the iOS app store? I’ve submitted many apps there and several to the the Windows store. In my experience, the Windows store is vastly superior from a developer viewpoint. Your app crashed when the tester hit play? I’d hardly call that sadistic testing. Any store is going to have a review process. It’s not just your app on the line, but the store’s reputation as well. They let in lots of untested apps and the store gets a rep for selling apps that crash. You don’t like it, but nobody is forcing you into any particular store.

      • Roark says:

        I’m sure the iOS store is frustrating. That’s part of the reason I chose not to go with them and took the Mac Mini back to BestBuy.

        I wasn’t really looking for a rebuttle to my comment. Just wanted to add my 2 cents worth because I didn’t see many comments about submitting apps.

        Well so far the store’s reputation seems to be a little sketchy already. They say they need more apps but from what I’ve heard many are just “crap apps” anyway.

        I said sadistic because the app already warns the person if they have no songs. I’ve had many apps crash in Windows 8 like IE. I prefer to use IE on the desktop.

        In fact, there aren’t really any Modern apps I use regularly since the desktop provides me with tons of great apps, many from Adobe.

        Bottom line, the Windows store is only now starting to amass some apps and it’s no surprise to me seeing as how inefficient their app approval process is.

        I figured I would comment in the hopes that someone would take some of it to heart and consider improving their process.