WPTrakt

Technologies used

  • C#.NET
  • Windows Phone 7
  • Windows Phone 8 / 8.1
  • Rest Sercies

The what

WPTrakt is a Windows Phone 7/8/8.1 application that makes it easier to track and rate the movies / TV-Shows that you are watching and want to watch.

Trakt.tv is an already existing service that made all of this quite easy and fun. They offer a free API that makes it easy for 3rd party software developers to make mobile / desktop applications for the website. 

It is also possible to just use the service to get information about the movies and shows 

The why

When the Windows Phone ecosystem was just 1 or 2 years old I decided to buy myself a HTC Windows Phone (the main reason being that my Android 2.3 device was annoying to work with). I was quite happy with the OS as it worked responsive on all types of hardware and the Metro design was nice.

But then the largest drawback of the OS reared its head more than once: The lack of applications. This is an issue that still exists today (2015), a lot of big companies only create applications for Android and iPhone. Trakt.tv was no exception, there were applications for Android and iPhone. But none for Windows Phone.

Frustrated about this I decided to create my own and start learning how to program for Windows Phone 7 (at the time) and for Windows Phone 8 when it was released. Since C#.NET in Visual Studio is quite similar to Java, it didn't take long to get a firm grasp of how everything worked.

The first stage

WPTrakt - Episode overview
In the first stage of the development I mainly focused on functionality rather than design. I wanted to get everything working as soon as possible about TV-Shows and Movies:
  • Viewing information
  • Ratings
  • Adding to favorites
  • Marking something as watched
  • Scrobbling
After that was all finished the first release was published to the Windows Phone store.

It had a basic design, borrowing the metro design of the video and music app that was already present native in the Windows Phone OS. 

The second stage

WPTrakt - Login screen
In the second stage of the application development I decided to improve the performance and design of the application, first impressions are imported. So I revamped the entire login page to have a more inviting login / registration page. In the end this caused a lot more users to decide to create an account.

By adding a caching layer by using user storage provided on the Windows Phone I saved the data fetched from the API to a local database.
Only to be refreshed after a certain time or action by the user. This resulted in a lot less bandwidth and calls to the trakt.tv servers giving a more fluid experience to the users of the application.

A lot of new features were added creating a new social aspect to the application. It was now possible to search for other users and view their favorite movies and shows. Since Windows Phone allowed more interaction with the contacts interface of Windows Phone in version 8.1 those users were also linked (if wanted) to their existing contact list.

The third and final stage

In the last stage Analytics was added to the application and error tracing was implemented better. This way it was possible to see exceptions happening in the application real time, this makes it a lot easier to trace bugs to specific version of the app and which data was the cause.

In the end of 2014 trakt.tv made drastic changes to the API and the way the site worked, since I did not have the time anymore to make drastic changes to the application itself, I decided it was best to take the application offline permanently and leave the source code online for other people to continue development.