Microsoft explains roaming app data and why it matters

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While the term Roaming App Data may have smartphone users familiar with carrier overages cringing at its title, Microsoft is attempting to re-engineer the connotation for developers. Now, instead of being associated with the seemingly nickel-and-dime-like charging process of carriers for the times a smartphone user goes outside of their mobile operator’s coverage area, Roaming App Data will stand for a sync status across multiple devices.

The Windows team appears to be gearing up another round of developer interest in its Universal Windows Platform. Last year, during its developer conference, the Windows team pitched Universal Windows Apps as being cross-device experiences that allow developers to code a single app that could span across Xbox, HoloLens, Windows 10 PCs, and mobile devices.

Now, the Windows team is taking the time to encourage developers to further enhance those cross-device experiences with synced data.

Roaming app data is the way in which all Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps keep data in sync across multiple devices. It allows you, the developer, to create apps that help users carry data such as user profiles or documents from one device to the next. Generally speaking, roaming app data breaks down into three main categories:

  • App data is the data your application requires to function. This information needs to be in sync across all devices.
  • User data is any data that the user initiates via the application that will synchronize across all devices. For example, if you use your Microsoft account to store Microsoft Office files in the cloud from your desktop and then open Microsoft Office on your laptop, you will be presented with a list of your recent files.
  • App settings are any configuration settings for an app that will stay in sync across all devices. Think of your profile settings in Visual Studio 2015.

Developers can find the necessary instructions, lines of code and workarounds for potential syncing conflicts at the Building Apps for Windows blog, here.

Needless to say, Microsoft’s Universal Windows App Platform is building a future that’s fast approaching as more users move their data to the cloud and pull it down when necessary. Roaming App Data appears to be a more elegant experience that should have some wanting a UWP app experience on every device across all platforms.