UWP Community // Launch 2020
An annual event hosted by the UWP Community Discord server, where developers in the community collaborate on and Launch their new and refreshed Windows 10 apps.
2020 is our second year running, and to say that we’ve grown as a community in the last year would be a vast understatement. The reception from 2019 was extraordinary, and with it, the community grew much larger.
The Discord server has become a place where developers, enthusiasts, users, and even Microsoft employees can all connect with each other in a way that hasn’t been done before. Microsoft’s missions statement is “To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more”, and our slice of the internet lets us do just that.
As you read this article, 12 brand new (and 2 refreshed) apps are launching in the Microsoft Store. That may not sound like a lot at first, but each app has at least one developer behind it who poured hundreds of hours into their work with help from the community, for the sake of making something worth using.
Some were made in secret, some developed in the open, some are experimental, some are useful, and others are just for fun. Regardless, they were all made by devs in the community who were driven by passion and who really care about their craft.
Without any further ado, the UWP Community Discord server presents our Launch 2020 lineup.
Easily add podcast metadata to your MP3 files
- Add chapters, images, titles, comments and more.
- Chaptifier adheres to the ID3 MP3 standards to read and write file metadata
- Chapters created in Chaptifier have support for titles, URLs, start time, end time as well as image
From the developer, Matthew Peterein:
I started this project a year and a half ago when my wife was thinking about getting into podcasting and while we had really good PCs, and we were able to find working software for most of the process, there wasn’t a good enough mp3 ID3 tag editor available for Windows. So, I built one.
I have been a developer for many years but never built and released a native app, until now. It seems like most experiences nowadays are web based and while that is great most of the time; truly special experiences are more often than not, native. This was a great first foray into building this kind of project and I look forward to both improving it and using the experience I’ve gained creating it on other projects.
A modern file explorer that pushes the boundaries of the platform.
- Instance tabs
- Multiple layout modes (With more on the way)
- Modular code base to sustain rapid development
- Unrivalled file access performance
- Everything you’d expect from a file explorer (Clipboard actions, file details, quick access, etc)
From lead developer Luke Blevins:
My ambition with Files was always to provide a stable, open-source foundation for innovation in the file management space. If you look at the dozen or so competitors in the Microsoft Store, like I did back in early 2018, then you can tell they really should have worked together more to produce something better. In fact, my intention was never to produce a Fluent-designed copycat of Windows Explorer.
Although that question of “What can a UWP app do?” was how my development efforts got started, the excellent support from the community over the last year and a half really changed the trajectory towards something greater.
The app never became good until I understood the need to add things (small and large) which provide genuine value for the user. Today’s flagship community-requested features such as instance tabs, open in Terminal, and excellent performance are just the tip of the iceberg for what this app is going to become.
I want to extend an open invitation to everyone reading this. Two people cannot manage the app forever, and we desperately want to show off the best an open source app has to offer. We want to work with enthusiastic users, whether through your feedback items or pull requests on GitHub to make the app even better.
Streamline keeping in touch with your Instagram followers.
- Send and receive direct messages
- Send images to friends
- View and reply to stories.
From the developer, Tung Huynh:
The app started as an educational project as I got frustrated with the official Instagram app for Windows 10 that was barely functional. I thought to myself that even I could make a better app than that, so I started working on my own client.
I decided making the whole Instagram client from the ground up was too ambitious, so I focused on making the direct messaging module instead as it was the only feature PC users could not access (at the time). As of today, Indirect is quite capable, just like the official web client. I worked my hardest to bring the best of Windows 10 into this app.
Working on Indirect has taught me a lot about software engineering (and reverse-engineering). Even though developing the app has been extremely time consuming to say the least, it continues to prove useful as I gained invaluable experience and knowledge that I couldn’t have just from university classes.
Reactions from my friends about Indirect has been good and that makes me very happy. I hope you can find my little app useful to you too. If you like Indirect and want to contribute to its development, or just simply want to check out the source code yourself, Indirect is open source on GitHub.
Manage your non code GitHub tasks
- Access repositories, issues, labels and other ‘non-code’ management tasks from a friendly modern interface.
- Assign colours to repos and different logins.
- Open multiple GitHub accounts as tabs to have them open at the same time.
- Free, non time limited version.
- A road map for 2 major feature releases including Projects and Kanban in progress.
- Opportunity to shape future development through feedback.
From the developer, Rob from Valley Software:
I participated in the inaugural Launch event with Kanban Ink in 2019. It received awesome feedback and has progressed dramatically in that time.
One little feature however was asked many times, but troubled me: GitHub integration. The app was structured for personal or project use and not a clear fit for GitHub Projects.
For Launch 2020, I knew what I had to do.
Not just integrated with GitHub, but build specifically FOR it. I wanted to bring all the non code aspects of project and GitHub management to the user in a modern friendly manor. Long term I want to include PR process and other similar tasks but leave compare and advanced merge capabilities to the existing tooling. This focus will allow Aurora to become the must have tool for all those other parts of development.
I hope you give Aurora a spin and help steer the direction of development with your feedback.
A native Discord client for Windows 10.
For Launch 2020, Quarrel has been open sourced and completely rewritten from the ground up, as announced for Launch 2019. For the rewrite, the app has a focus on stability and usability, and will continue to regain features over time.
- Xbox support, talk while playing games!
- Connected Service (MyTube) integration
- Text channels / Channel categories
- Voice channels
- Direct Messages / Group DMs
- Server folders
- And more!
From the project owner, Adam:
Back in 2016, I used a Windows Phone. I was fairly active on some Discord communities and wanted to participate on the go. There was not a third-party client on the store at the time and I’d been using Rudy Huyn apps since 2013. As a result, I was inspired to write my own.
Initially, it was for myself to learn software development and use Discord on my phone, but people downloaded it, and not just on mobile! Now, 4 years later I’m fairly confident Quarrel is what got me into college and it has over 1.3 million users! Quarrel has shaped my life.
From co-developer, Matthew:
I first joined the Quarrel development team almost two years ago, it has been a really great experience and I am really excited to release the rewrite. Thanks so much to all our users for waiting patiently this past year, it will be well worth the wait!
The most complete Brainf*ck programming experience on any platform.
- Interactive console and memory viewer
- IDE with syntax highlight, auto completion and custom themes
- Powerful debugger with breakpoints and memory inspector
- Git diff markers to see real time changes to saved files
- Rich debugging experience with exceptions and syntax errors support
- ASCII/Unicode table viewer integrated in the app
- Code library with favorites
From the developer, Sergio Pedri:
I started working on this app back in 2015, during my bachelor’s degree, when a friend and I put together the first version of the brainf*ck interpreter. From there, I decided to build an app around that, both as a funny experiment and as a way to improve my skills in app development. The first version was for Windows Phone 8.1, and I kept updating it throughout the years as a playground to try out new ideas in an app that was small enough in scope to allow for quick iterations.
The same is true for this new version: it is a complete rewrite from scratch, featuring WinUI 2.4 and with a brand new, highly efficient interpreter and debugger, powered by the new Microsoft.Toolkit.HighPerformance package that I wrote while working on the app, experimenting here first and then extracting the useful bits for the toolkit. This new interpreter is ~30x faster than the original, and almost 30,000x (!) more memory efficient!
I just love how even a silly project such as this has actually taught me so much, and I’m so happy to be able to share part of that with all of you, through all the new features being added to the Windows Community Toolkit. And if you want to try the app out, to challenge yourself to write in this unusual language, definitely let me know how it goes! Have fun!
Transform any image into your own photo mosaic
- Generate different types of mosaics
- Easily create unique digital art
- Complete control over how the mosaic is generated
- Yugen will have new digital art effects in future release
From the developer, Emiliano Magliocca:
I have always been a fan of mosaics. For my own artistic experiments I used an old mosaic app that you cannot even find in the store. The old app technically served its purpose, but it just did not feel “modern” anymore and it was not UWP.
So, I decided to build a new one from scratch that fulfils all of the previous app’s features. It was a bit challenging because as a developer I have never worked with images in such an advanced way, but it was fun to learn something new.
Keep an eye out for future updates. I have a few more ideas in mind to spice up your art!
Retrieve images from Windows Spotlight
- Retrieve Spotlight images, from the local folder or Microsoft’s API.
- Find more info about an image on Bing (for images retrieved from Spotlight API).
- Export images, in JPG, PNG, or BMP.
- Share pictures to another app.
- Set an image as wallpaper.
- Support for Windows 10X.
From the developer, Riandika Lumaris
As I developed this app, I faced a lot of challenges. Before, I knew very little about UWP development, but this app gave me the opportunity to start learning.
The lovely people in UWP Community on Discord have given all the help and support I needed along the way. Those folks are the guys you really want to talk to when it comes to UWP, they are super helpful and will guide you through your UWP journey if you’re just starting out.
I am very excited for this app, and I believe it will shine thanks to all the new developer and user innovations from Microsoft, including Windows 10X.
Visual Asset Generator
Create all Visual Assets for your UWP app from a single file.
- Turn one image into all the assets you need for UWP manifest.
- Bicubic, average or nearest neighbour resizing.
- Supports Transparency.
- Set background asset colour.
- Free, no ads or monetizsation.
- Open source.
From the developer, Rob (Valley Software)
Back at the end of 2019, when we were all getting busy on our Launch 2020 projects, Yair mentioned to me that we should build an app to create all the manifest visual assets for UWP projects.
Visual Studio already has this, but we wanted to allow customization of padding and also differing options for keeping the resized images sharp.
We got to it and are pretty happy with the result! We collaborated on design and both learned a great deal.
Visual Asset Generator is free, open source and no ads or other monetization.
We are extremely pleased to release it as part of Launch 2020.
Byte client for Windows 10 and Xbox.
- Watch short videos you are following
- See your daily byte mix
- Comment and like videos
- Follow Users & Topics
- Search, View your profile, and see account activity
From the developer, Damien Delaire:
I always loved vine and was very sad to have it shut down. Being not alone in missing vine, a new 6-second looping video app has come out I wanted to make sure that Windows 10 users like me could also access our byte profile from our windows devices.
I am excited about this app and hope that you will like it, if you have any feedback please don’t hesitate to tell me.
An experimental and powerful web browser for Windows 10
- All the standard features you’d expect from a web browser (tabs, incognito, favorites, search suggestions, and more.
- Sync between your Windows 10 devices
- Built-in version of popular browser extensions, such as Adblocker, Dark Mode, and KeePass
- Easy access to websites with pinned live tiles, jump lists, favorites
- Save websites for offline viewing
- Screenshot, crop, and annotate web pages
- Reading mode for news sites
- And more!
From the Developer, FireCubeStudios:
When I first started learning to code, I tried to make a simple web browser as a challenge. Unfortunately, I wasn’t skilled enough to make it. So 3 years later, I tried again.
I decided to create the browser as a UWP app so I could create a beautiful modern UI, add native Windows 10 features like live tiles and inking, and keep it as touch friendly as ever (since edge switched to chromium).
In the future, I will be releasing an app for Android to sync between mobile and desktop. I will also release a UWP Chromium version of Swift Browser, but in the meantime you can try out the current app. Feedback is appreciated!
UWP Community Client
The official client for the UWP Community website
- Browse UWP Community projects
- Stay up to date with what’s new in the community
- Register your projects to showcase
- Play Llamingo, the XAML Llama’s stream game
From the developer, Joshua Askharoun:
Howdy! I’m Joshua Askharoun, the developer of “UWP Community”, a companion app to our Discord server. For Launch 2019, I designed icons for a few of the participating apps. This year, on top of designing icons, I’m participating with my own app.
Not long after Launch 2019, Arlo and Emiliano built the UWP Community website. Naturally, as the UWP Community, the next logical step was to make a UWP client for the website. This app primarily showcases other apps that prove how useful and powerful the Universal Windows Platform is, while being such an example itself.
For instance, the client includes the XAML Llama’s stream game, Llama Bingo (or “Llamingo”). This game utilizes several UWP-specific APIs, including share tasks, protocol activation, and UI element bitmap rendering. These APIs easily allow for small improvements to be made, which eventually stacks up to an overall better user experience.
I look forward to furthering this vision as both the UWP Community and its website grow.
We may have managed to launch 3–4 times as many apps this year, but not every developer was able to get that perfect timeline and be listed above.
Life gets in the way, and we don’t think that’s very fair, so here are some apps that deserve an honorable mention.
ADeltaX, the legend behind MobileShell and AudioFlyout, has been working on a new project called DynamicShell, which promises to be much more robust version of MobileShell with many additional features, such as:
- AudioFlyout (v2 soon)
- ShutUpEdgeUI: Prevent touch swipe gestures from edges of screen
- Barabam: Reposition notifications
- Detachable taskbar
This app is still in the works, and is planned for release within the next 6 months
Previously known as Spotimo, the Spotify client for Windows 10 has been re-released outside the store as Strix Music, with a new logo to boot.
From the developer:
Because I single handedly coordinated Launch 2020, I had no idea if I could re-launch the app in time, but by vote of the community, the app gets an honorable mention.
Strix Music got a lot of under-the-hood improvements during the hiatus. It now uses ~30% less memory, and is significantly more stable.
Development is only speeding up. We’re working on a lot of exciting features for 1.5, such as a Zune-esque Now Playing view, and most of the missing functionality that would bring it on par with the web app. Patreons can get early access to 1.5 features with Strix Nightly.
Project Input / Project Screen
Christopher Blackman, also known as Ryken, is the developer of MyTube. In his spare time, he experiments with various projects, all of which are quite interesting and creative.
From the developer:
You can use Project.Input to send mouse, pen and gamepad input from one device to another! Use your Surface (or any pen enabled PC) as a drawing tablet for your desktop, your phone as a trackpad, Nintendo Switch gamepads on your Xbox, etc!
I’ll be focusing more on this one after I’ve finally completed work on myTube 4.0, and will run an open beta for Project.Input (as well as a related app called Project.Screen) shortly after myTube 4.0 launches. Keep an eye out for it 🙂
This app is still in the works, and is planned for release within the next 6 months
A UWP IDE for developing .NET applications and games with a rich code editor and a 3D scene view.
From the developer, Aminator:
I have made some major improvements in the last few months and it is at a point where I can finally start building my first game with it. I realized that even now a lot of additional features would need to be implemented to truly make this happen, so I am focusing on these parts next.
Because I am offering the ability to build your code right in the editor and let you run your games inside there as well, I pushed the boundaries of what is possible with UWP, but I still managed to make it run universally across Windows 10 device families. With extra time and the advent of .NET 5, it could turn into an even more powerful tool.
This app is still in the works, and is planned for release within the next 6–12 months
This was year 2 of the annual Launch event. We had something new this year — the “Honorable mentions” section, and for a good reason.
The Launch event was created to showcase the best new apps that our community has to offer, and to generate interest around the platform. That worked (maybe even too well). As our userbase grows, more apps join the community, and next year, I imagine even more apps will register for the event. Truth be told, coordinating this many app launches while balancing everything else was incredibly difficult for a single person to pull off.
The details aren’t finalized yet, but next year, we will be shaking things up a bit. To give a rough idea:
- Every single app that is born out of our community will get featured somewhere, likely in a regular blog post like this one, periodically throughout the year.
- For the annual event, we will curate a “best of” and look for the top apps over the course of the year. It’ll be in a contest format, with judges grading you on design, usability, etc. If we can swing it, we’ll even be giving out prizes!
In January 2020, the maintainer of the Windows Community Toolkit, XAML Llama, joined the server and claimed his own channel, where he takes feedback on new and existing tools, and brainstorms new ideas for the Toolkit directly with the community.
At Build 2020, WinUI officially made the UWP Community Discord the go-to place for casual discussion and questions for their engineers. They answered countless questions, and then had a fireside chat post-build. The engineers are still engaging with the community every day.
Last week, the Uno Platform moved from using Gitter to using our Discord server as the primary home for both discussions and general feedback, causing direct dev engagement and interest in the platform to steadily climb.
Since Launch 2019, the member count has increased 16x. Developers have asked hundreds of technical and design questions and gotten an answer 85–90% of the time. Entire apps have been translated, countless bug reports filed, and hundreds of users were Beta testers.
I’ve gone to great lengths to make sure the UWP Community Discord has an environment that promotes positive behavior, encourages all forms of collaboration, and has the structure and backend to support everything we do.
Even better, there’s no sign of slowing down. Despite what you may have heard, there’s never been a better time to be UWP developer.
Join us! Users, enthusiasts, developers and engineers, everyone is welcome! Discuss the platform with other enthusiasts, get help as a developer, and interact with the devs of your favorite apps and libraries!