A Complete Manual on Wechat Mini Program Development

Wechat’s recent release of Mini Program — embedded apps that require no download or install — has given businesses fresh opportunities to connect to users. The strong push towards offline-driven traffic and shortened service routes seem to announce a new era of product development, which I discussed in detail here (8 min read).

However, for developers eager to work with Wechat that boasts more than 800 million active users, there isn’t much out there in the English language to help them to enter its unique ecosystem.

Using information from the official website and Wechat’s developer community, I’m putting together here a comprehensive manual on how to develop Mini Programs for Wechat.

Overview

Let’s dive right in. Here’s a quick overview of the entire process:

  1. Registration
  2. Preparation before development
  3. Development!
  4. Code review and release

1. Registration

At the moment, UNFORTUNATELY, Mini Program registration is not open to foreigners yet. My advice is a) have a Chinese friend register on your behalf, b) I still have some quota and can help you set up an account.

So, for most of the readers, you can skim through this section.

Go to mp.weixin.qq.com and click “立即注册” (Register Now) on the upper right corner.

Choose the Mini Program icon “小程序”.

Fill in your email address; it cannot be associated with any existing Wechat official accounts. Set a password.

Activate your email address and you will get prompted to fill out the applicant information.

The first thing to determine will be the type of applicant. Here’s a detailed guide:

Assuming you don’t have a Chinese license, you likely need to choose, “媒体” or “其他组织” (Media or Other ), and fill in your organization or individual information.

With Media or Other, you will need to go through an extra step of Wechat verification before certain mini program functions can be enabled. Log in to your Mini Program Account, Click “Settings” (设置),then click “Details” (详情) within Wechat Verification (微信认证). You can complete the verification step later when you need more advanced functionalities for your mini program.

Then fill out the Admin information. In the order shown below, Admin name, Admin Chinese ID number, Admin phone number (then click for text code), Text verification code.

Confirm that once created, the applicant’s information cannot be altered.

For enterprise accounts, there might be an extra step to verify the company’s bank account. You will need to wire a specified amount from your company’s account to Tencent’s to complete this process.

Phewww. Finally done with the registration process!

2. Preparation Before Development

Go to mp.weixin.qq.com and log in.

Complete the Mini Program profile: name, icon, service description. For government, media and other accounts, make sure to finish the “Verification”(认证) as soon as possible. For enterprise accounts, you can choose to verify or not according to your business needs.

Invite developers and associate them to the Mini Program:

Log in your Mini Program account, find “User Identity” (用户身份), then click “Developers” (开发者), and choose “Add New Developers”(新增开发者)。Put in the Wechat ID of the developers to initiate the association.

Verified account can associate no more than 20 developers; unverified, no more than 10.

Acquire AppID: Go to “Settings” (设置)- “Development Setting” (开发设置).

Then, MOSTLY IMPORTANTLY, Download the Development Tool here:

windows 64windows 32mac

3. Development

Start the Development Tool and use Admin or Associated Developers’ Wechat to scan the homescreen QR code in order to log in.

Click “Create Project” (创建项目), and fill out AppID, “Project Name” (项目名称)and “Local Development Log” (本地开发目录).

Start Coding!

Within the Development Tool, you will be able to code, test, preview, upload code, etc.

Preview: go to “Project” (项目) on the left column — Click “Preview” (预览),use the admin’s Wechat to scan the QR code, then you will be able to preview the Mini Program on that phone.

Upload Code: go to “Project” (项目) on the left column — Click “Upload” (上传),put in a “Version Number” (版本号),and “Project Note” (项目备注), then use the admin’s Wechat to scan the QR code to complete the upload.

Go back to your Wechat Mini Program account, you will be able to view the uploaded code under the “Development Management” (开发管理) tab.

4. Code Review and Release

Submit for Review: go to your Wechat Mini Program account, go to “Development Management” (开发管理) tab, and click “Detail”(详情)next to the uploaded code and you will be able to submit the code for review, or delete the code.

Connect to a Testing Account (optional). A testing account is one you create purely for the purpose of trying out the mini program features. This is for Wechat technicians to log in and do the testing. So, don’t use your own or anyone’s personal account, just create a new one from scratch. On your “submission for review” page (提交审核), you can use the testing account to scan the QR code to connect to your mini program.

“Set up Functions Page” (配置功能页面): Wechat require you to fill out “Business Categories” (业务-类目)and Tags(标签) for user search purposes. You can add up to 5 Functions Pages.

Complete Submission: after submission for review, you can check the review status on your “Development Management” page. There will be an “under review” (审核中) icon next to your submitted version.

After your code is approved, the program won’t go live until the admin click the “Release” (发布) button.

Voila! These are all the steps you have to go through to create your own mini programs for Wechat. If you have an idea already, go get started!