Microsoft's 'Project Siena': A Metro-Style app for creating Windows 8 apps

Microsoft's 'Project Siena': A Metro-Style app for creating Windows 8 apps

Summary: Microsoft has added another tool to its Windows-development arsenal with the just-released beta of 'Project Siena.'


Microsoft made available on December 19 yet another tool to help non-professional progammers to build Windows apps.


Codenamed "Project Siena,' the "Metro app that creates apps" (as the folks at dubbed it) is available in the Windows Store as a free download.

According to the description, Siena's main target audience is "business experts, business analysts, consultants and other app imagineers."

Examples of the kinds of Metro-Style/Windows Store/modern apps that can be built using Siena include apps for navigating "media-rich product catalogs," apps for resolving customer-service issues, and apps that make use of photos, videos, pen and voice notes, tied back in to an "asset database."

"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," Microsoft's app-description notes.

Siena apps are built using HTML5 and JavaScript, but can be extended using one's "favorite programming tools."

Internally, Project Siena may have been known as "AppMagic." (It's not clear if that will be the final name of the app, but a quick search makes it clear a few others seem to have claims on the names "AppMagic" and "App Magic.")

Microsoft launched a beta of App Studio earlier this year in an attempt to get non-programmers to build Windows Phone apps. Microsoft also has a tool known as "LightSwitch" that targets non-professional programmers. (LightSwitch is part of Visual Studio these days.)

Seemingly in keeping with Microsoft's tradition of using place names as codenames, Siena is a city in Tuscany, Italy.

Topics: Software Development, Microsoft, Windows 8, Windows Phone


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Toscana, Italy?

    Or is it Tuscany, Italia? Can you rent a Sienna there?
    Producto Endorsair
  • Technically interesting

    How does a metro app with such low privilege create another metro app and install it on a users machine?
  • Javascript should go to hell!

    so should Java!
  • Excellent Idea, but here's the rub...

    I installed and have used the Project Siena app. What a great idea, but it's not yet ready for prime time IMHO. Here's why:

    1. although it's a brand new product, the documentation on their website does not match the product
    2. the product is currently labeled as "beta". Microsoft only allows themselves and "high value" apps to enter the Windows Store in beta form. Small, no-name, developers (like me) get no such special treatment. My products are not allowed into the Windows Store until the product is labeled as a Product, rather than a Beta least not for general distribution.
    3. the product documentation talks about features that are not currently in the Beta product, which is another violation of the Windows Store certification rules.
    4. The Image Gallery Control in the app does not support the importation of a directory of images. Rather, you must add images, one at a time and then try to assign the images to the gallery, which I could not get to work correctly...maybe I did something wrong, but I think this is a big bug.
    5. And here's where it got interesting for me. I rated the app with a 2 out of 5. There were only 8 reviews of the app at the time that I submitted my review. All other reviews gave the app a 5 out of 5. Within a couple of hours of my review, the number of reviews had jumped to 30, with the top reviewer being a Microsoft employee named Rob Dendtler. Amazingly to me, his review stated, "Super Slick!...", and over 20 people had found his review useful, with only a couple of us finding his review to be a cheap trick to boost the app's rating in the Windows Store.
    6. My negative rating, and the other 9 negative ratings (ratings of 3 or less) have magically moved off of the Windows Store Project Siena display page, and have been replaced by very simple positive ratings that have been found "useful". Now, who do you think is voting "up" these positive ratings, so that only positive ratings are viewable on the product page?
    7. I registered a complaint with Microsoft about their unfair treatment of this app, and received the following reply: "Hi, We are committed to making the Windows Store experience a pleasant one and greatly appreciate your feedback on the app, Microsoft "Project Siena". Rating and reviewing an app is the best way to share your experience with other users. Have you been able to rate or review the app? I will check back with you within the next 2-3 business days if I do not hear back from you before then. In the meantime, should you have any additional questions or concerns, please feel free to let me know. Kind Regards, Mary"

    Mary Jo, would you have any interest in following up with the Windows Store Certification folks to see what "rules" they apply to "favored apps"?

    Rick Dancer
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