Build an App for Windows 8.1 with the Microsoft Project Siena Beta


Microsoft just gave Windows 8.1 users who aren’t coding experts or developers a nice holiday gift. The Microsoft Project Siena beta was released yesterday as a free app in the Windows Store.

Microsoft characterizes the app as:


Siena apps are as easy as editing a document. You place some visuals on a canvas. You hook them up to your data. You customize how your app looks and works. Then, if you need special logic and intelligence, you write some Excel-like expressions. You can use your app immediately, or share it with colleagues or the world.

With Siena, you can conceptualize, validate and build your app ideas almost as fast as you can come up with them. And if your needs change tomorrow, updating your app is no problem. Open it. Change it. Share it again, and you’re off to do business.

Siena works well with corporate and web data and media content: SharePoint lists, Excel and Azure tables, RSS feeds and the gamut of RESTful services.

Siena apps are just HTML5 and JavaScript and are deployed and managed like any other Windows 8.x app. In fact, developers can open them up, see what’s there and, if needed, extend them in their favorite programming tools.


The app is visually driven and easy to use and it seems reasonably self explanatory for anyone with decent skills in constructing documents in Microsoft Word and Excel. And while the app is a beta (some things aren’t fully supported yet) – I was particularly looking to see what capabilities were there to use RSS feeds – but I’m sure more and better is on the way.

I decided to see what I could do to create a Holiday Greeting card for my Internet friends.


It was pretty easy to manipulate graphics and add audio and specify page transitions and event driven navigation.


The app generates an exe to install on the machine on which it was created and also allows you to build an installable appx hierarchy that can be distributed and used by anyone running Windows 8.1. Note that to install apps distributed in this manner, you’ll need a dev license for the computer on which you wish to install (easy, part of the install process) and need to open with powershell and follow the prompts.


So from me to you, download my 2013 holiday greeting!

Windows 10 users: Read this blog with my PWA (Progressive Web App) from the Windows Store

Read this blog with my Windows 8 App

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