Developer creates UWP app to help mom with medication, writes about his experience

Pillbox App on Windows 10

A new app has just gone live in the Windows Store that should prove useful for a range of Windows 10 device owners. Named, Pillbox, the app provides a basic and easy-to-understand feature that allows users to keep track of their medication, dosage, and set reminders for specific dosage times.

Here’s the app’s official description:

Pillbox is a simple and easy-to-use alarm app to remind you to take your medicine! Based on user testing, Pillbox’s notification will ring louder and louder to let you alert you to take your pills. It also doubles as the perfect list to show your physician should they ask you what medicines you are currently taking.

Features:

  • ADD new medicine reminder for any day and time

  • EDIT medicine schedules if they change

  • BACKUP and restore your data using OneDrive

  • TOGGLE the alarm for each medicine. Taking a break from a some pills? This will let you turn their alarms off!

  • VIEW all your medicines in an alphabetically ordered list

  • GLANCE what medicines are scheduled today under “Today’s pillbox”

  • CONFIRM what medicines to take by clicking on toast notification and seeing the list of medicines to take

The app creator, who goes by the alias kidjenius, has written a bit about his experience designing an app in the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) format in a post on Reddit. In it, he talks about how his mother was actually the inspiration for Pillbox (she needed an app that did what it now does) and also reveals some of the difficulties he had during development such as getting Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud service to work properly. “OneDrive backup/restore was a crap shoot to implement. Reason is that they recently upgraded their API to version 2.0,” he explains. “Lots of changes came with this, which meant that nearly all the available stackoverflow solutions were not applicable to the new API. Moreover, the C# SDK was not that well documented. So I had no clue what certain class objects/methods were doing. I ended up reading through the API documentation (which was written for HTTP I think? It wasn’t c#) and doing trial & error on the c# SDK to see what worked.”

He also had difficulty getting notifications working properly, but did eventually after some trial and error and web searching. “I didn’t know there was a built-in toast notification manager that would pop your toast automatically,” the developer admits. “I thought I had to have a background task for EACH toast that I wanted to pop. I attempted to implement my own toast notification manager which didn’t end up working properly. Luckily I stumbled upon a random blog that used ScheduledToastNotification (the built-in API). I scrapped my own implementation and used that API and it was smooth sailing since then.”

A functionality he had to cut though was Windows 10’s Live Tiles which are notoriously glitchy, even for the average user. “Live tile was also difficult to debug. In Visual Studio, the tile updates fine. But in real world scenarios, the tile doesn’t update every 30 minutes, which is how I scheduled the background task. So I had to cut out this feature from the initial public release until I figure it out.”

Microsoft has offered numerous tools to large companies and individual developers like kidjenius in an attempt to lower the level of entry into the world of UWP app development. They also post regular blog post and video tutorials to assist developers in learning all of the ecosystem’s new features.

Have you tried building a UWP app yet? Which program or service did you use? Let us know in the comments below.

Pillbox
Pillbox
Developer: kidjenius
Price: Free+
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