Build it Beta for Windows and Windows Phone
Over the last couple of weeks we’ve done some major work to Build it Beta which will significantly improve and simplify the process of getting Build it Beta installed and setup across Windows and Windows Phone. If this is the first time you’ve heard of Build it Beta, it is a home-grown solution for the deployment of Windows platform applications. The primary scenario that Build it Beta solves, is the need for developers to deploy applications to testers so that they can provide feedback. It does this by leveraging the enterprise deployment capabilities of the Windows platform, where applications can be signed using a enterprise signing certificate and then deployed to devices that trust that certificate.
The following Windows platforms are supported by Build it Beta for the installation of test applications.
Windows Phone 8.0
Windows Phone 8.1
Windows 10 (Phone and desktop)
Supported application platforms
Applications targeting the following platforms are supported by Build it Beta
Windows Phone 7.x (XAP)*
Windows Phone 8.0 (XAP)
Windows Phone 8.1 (XAP)
Windows Phone 8.1 (APPX)
Windows 8.0 (APPX)*
Windows 8.1 (APPX)
Windows 10 UAP (APPX)
*Build it Beta supports signing and deploying applications targeting Windows Phone 7.x and Windows 8.0. However, due to lack of enterprise distribution support in Windows Phone 7.x there is no way to deploy applications to those devices. Windows Phone 7.x applications can only be tested on Windows Phone 8+ devices. The Windows version of Build it Beta targets Windows 8.1 so there is no support for deploying to Windows 8.0 devices. Windows 8.0 applications need to be tested on Windows 8.1+.
Here are some useful links for getting started with Build it Beta
Distribution of Application for the Windows Platform for Testing
Last year I wrote an article for Visual Studio Magazine entitled Enterprise Distribution of Windows Phone Applications which looks at the requirements and steps required to deploy Windows Phone applications. The process for distributing Windows desktop/slate applications is slightly different but essentially involves signing the appx with an appropriate code signing certificate that is trusted by those computers that the application will be distributed to. We’re using these same techniques with Build it Beta to help developers distribute their applications for testing. Recently we’ve done a number of bug fixes and improvements and now have support for Windows Phone 8.0, Windows Phone 8.1 (Silverlight), Windows Phone 8.1 (Appx), Windows 8.0 and 8.1, and now Windows 10 applications. There is still a bit of work to go in rounding off some of the rough edges but we’re really keen for developers to start using it.
We’ve also just created a new Build it Beta blog where we will be posting a series of post talking about distribution of applications for testing both in the generic sense (covering signing and enterprise distribution) and of course how Build it Beta works. Don’t forget you can follow Build it Beta on Twitter as well.
Windows Phone Application Testing with Build it Beta
Yesterday I announced that Build it Beta is now public for Windows Phone app developers, but what is Build it Beta? Well it’s all about Windows Phone Application Testing. There are a number of existing mechanisms available to Windows Phone application developers but none of them offer the simplicity and ease of deployment as say TestFlight. Build it Beta fills that gap, providing a mechanism to allow any Windows Phone application to be deployed for testing to any Windows Phone 8 device*.
Firstly, why the name?
Well it’s a bit of a play on words – we’re always looking to build better apps and of course during development we often release “beta” versions of the app. Hence the origin of “Build it
Next, how does it work?
Windows Phone 8 included the ability to deploy applications within the enterprise without going through the Windows Phone Store. This is referred to as enterprise deployment and involves signing an application (ie the packaged application file .xap) with an signing certificate. The same certificate needs to be distributed to the devices that the application is to be tested on. Then the signed xap can be installed on the devices either via code or by distributing the application to the device via email or via a url link. Build it Beta uses this mechanism to deliver a testing tool which eliminates the complexity for both developers and testers.
Ok, so how do I get started?
The first step is to get Build it Beta from the Windows Phone Store, but we’ve got a simple set of setup instructions that will get you up and running in no time at all. If you’re not on your Windows Phone, scan the following QR with your Windows Phone (Search button, Vision app bar button) to jump straight to the instructions.
Once you’ve completed the setup, all you need to do is to start sending your .xap files to upload @ builditbeta.com. Make sure you send them from the same email address that you registered with when setting up Build it Beta. We’ll ingest your xap and send you a confirmation email. You should also get a toast notification on your Windows Phone device letting you know that a new version of your application is available for testing. Click on the link in the email, or tap on the toast notification to download and install the signed version of your application.
* Build it Beta relies on enterprise deployment to install applications. This is a feature that was introduced with Windows Phone 8 which means Build it Beta cannot install applications to earlier versions of the Windows Phone operating system. If you need to deploy applications for testing on earlier versions of Windows Phone you can do this using the Windows Phone Store Beta process.