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Using App Center with modernized legacy VB6 or PowerBuilder

by Mauricio Rojas, on Jul 6, 2020 12:02:50 PM

 Visual Studio App Center lets you automate and manage the lifecycle of your iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS apps. Ship apps more frequently, at higher-quality, and with greater confidence.

App Center lets you track if your application had a crash and it let you get statistics about how your app is being used. It is also a great mechanism to deliver new releases to your testers.

All that sounded so wonderful to me, and due to App Center’s newly added support for Windows Forms and WPF applications I decided to give it a try and post my experience. 

So here goes:

Getting started with Visual Studio App Center

The first step is to go to the App Center website:



Before you can download App Center, you must first create an account. A lot of accounts are allowed for this service:


In my case I decided to go with my Github account.

The next steps are super easy. I loved it.

So go to Add New, and fill out the form. It is very basic information:



After that you get a window with detailed information:



NOTE: don’t worry the GUID in that screen is not my actual one. But as you can see it the steps to follow are very clear.

Adding App Center to my app

Once I had done this. I just went to my VB6 modernized app: SKS  and applied those changes.

I had also read that you can track your custom events. I created a small helper class:

using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Windows.Forms;
public static class AppCenterHelper
     public static void TrackEvent(this Form f, string eventName)
        var data = new Dictionary<string, string>();
        Microsoft.AppCenter.Analytics.Analytics.TrackEvent(eventName, data);


And added some calls on the Form_Load and Form_Closed events like this:



Running an app with App Center

After doing that, you can just compile your application and start using it. You get almost immediate feedback on your application usage.



If you added TrackEvent calls you can also see them:



You can filter your events per session, or per time, which is good because you can detect usage trends.

App Center and the release process

Another thing I really like is that I can use App Center to create and distribute releases.

On the left hand panel choose releases:


When you click on it, the new release wizard is shown:


I just created a zip file with the bin output of my app, and uploaded. And added a build number.

Click Next. The next screen allows you to insert release notes that might be important for your testers.


Click Next. In this next step you can set who will receive this new release.


Click Next. To go to the Review step:



Just press Distribute.

And after that your testers will get an email like this:



so they can install and test your new version.

This should both give me insights into my app's usage as well as save some time and trouble when I release new versions. No question about it, Visual Studio's App Center is way cool!




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