ZIM SMS Chat – a .NET Windows Forms App

In the next couple of days I’m going to post a beta of the app I’ve been working on.  It’s a ?chat? application that works through SMS text messaging.  I can send a message to your phone, and you can reply to it and we can chat back and forth.  If I walk away from my computer in the middle of the conversation, then messages you send to me are sent to my phone so we can keep chatting – when I come back to the computer, I just pick it up there. 

The application is a Windows Forms application, which is pretty rare for a consumer type application.  One of the challenges of this is distributing the .NET runtime, which clocks in at about 24mb.

One of the metrics we used to determine whether this was okay for a Windows desktop application is numbers provided by Microsoft at a recent MSDN ?Bigger Better Basic? (where, strangely enough, many of the presenters used C# in their examples).  Some of the metrics:

  • 35 Million framework downloads from Windows Update as of a few months ago.
  • The framework is preloaded on 60% of new computers sold.

Combine that with the fact that anyone that’s installed any .NET app has the framework already and there’s a fairly decent chance that a user downloading a new Windows app already has the framework.  And of course if the user already has the framework then the size of our application is really small since so much functionality is provided for free.

We’ll probably make the app free during a beta period, once I can post something I’ll link to it from here as well.  The app can’t be completely free to use since phone companies charge us to deliver SMS messages – the companies that offer services like this today won’t be able to do it forever.