TechSoftwareWHS Phone: Add-In Developer Interview

WHS Phone: Add-In Developer Interview


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We recently caught up with Paul Juenger, lead developer for the add-in WHS Phone.  Paul’s add-in allows you to connect with your windows home server using your phone.  Read on for details!


Here is how Paul described his add-in:

WHS Phone is a phone application for Windows Home Server. Connect to your server and browse files, stream music, view photos, and much more.

Paul wrote an add-in that is loaded on the server and then started to develop handset-side client software to interact with the add-in.  Windows Phone 7 was the first handset operating system that he enabled, and an Android version was released to the Android Market tonight.  I’ll have an interview with the Android developer soon.  For now, let’s catch up with Paul.

● Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a software engineer, husband, scratch golfer, snowboarder, woodworker, and tech geek with a strong passion for software development.

● What is WHS Phone for those who have never tried it before? Key features, capabilities, etc.

WHS Phone is a Windows Home Server Add-in that lets you manage your Windows Home Server from your phone. It has a very strong set of features that can be grouped into two categories, File Access and WHS Management.

Here are some of the key features:

File Access

  • Build custom playlists and stream your music to your phone
  • Stream your videos to your phone (WHS Phone 1.3)
  • View, download, and upload photos
  • View documents from your Home Server on your phone
  • Quickly search your shares for files (WHS Phone 1.3)

WHS Management

  • View server statistics and hard drive usage
  • Manage Users (create, edit, delete, change passwords)
  • View client computers with backup and online statuses
  • Manage File Shares
  • View and suppress Windows Home Server Notifications
  • Shut down and restart your Home Server (WHS Phone 1.3)

● What is the price point for the application?

WHS Phone is $4.99

● What are the key draws that you think will excite potential users about this application?

There are lots of features in WHS Phone, but based on the feedback there are three major draws: Music streaming, Photo access, and document access.

● What was the inspiration for WHS Phone? Can you tell me why you set out to deliver the application?

Phones have a limited amount of resources. I have always had to pick and choose the photos and music that I want to take with me on my phone. I no longer have to do that with WHS Phone. I have my own private little cloud where I can access all of my data anytime.

● Who is the target audience for WHS Phone?

The target audience for WHS Phone is anyone who has access to a Windows Home Server. Not just the WHS Administrator, but all users. My wife uses WHS Phone just to manage her photos. And, as the Administrator I can limit her WHS Phone access to just the features that I want her to have.

● Why did you start with Windows Phone 7?

Windows Phone 7 is a very appealing platform to develop on. .NET, Silverlight, no fragmentation, and a supportive developer community. Oh, and did I mention that I am a .NET developer? 🙂

● What features would you like to bring in addition to those already delivered?

I have been open with the direction that I am taking WHS Phone. I keep my product backlog posted in the forums so users know what new features are coming. Push notifications will be in an upcoming release. Also, support for Windows Home Server 2011 will be coming soon. WHS Phone for Android is currently in beta and an iOS version is in the works.

● How about video streaming?

Video streaming is in WHS Phone 1.3.

● Microsoft beta’d an application for Windows Phone 7 at CES. How do you think that application would impact yours?

There hasn’t been much information about the beta application for WP7. What was shown at CES looked like an early beta with a core feature set based around streaming and notifications. I do hope they add some of the WHS Management features. Truthfully, I’m glad they are writing it. I kept going back and forth whether to write a different application for WHS 2011 or make WHS Phone support both 2003 and 2011. If I wrote a new application then I could take advantage of some of the new features of WHS 2011 like IIS 7 and SmoothStreaming. Microsoft’s decision to only support 2011 helped push me in the right direction and that was to make WHS Phone support both 2003 and 2011 with one application. Users will be able to buy WHS Phone and use it for either version of WHS. As for how it will impact WHS Phone, it is hard to say at this time. There are lot of users that will not move to WHS 2011 because of some missing features. Also, the number of WHS 2011/Windows Phone 7 users is quite small compared to Android and iOS market, which we are preparing to move into. My guess is that it will not have much of an effect on WHS Phone. I will say this is a nights and weekends gig for me and I have to spend half of that time answering emails and forum posts. I’m not sure what kind of man power they are allocating to the project, but I will be disappointed if they do not add more functionality to the application that was shown at CES as it has a lot of potential.

Jim McCarthy
Jim McCarthy
My tech interests include WHS, media streaming, and gaming, among others!


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