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November 7, 2014

Developing Stories: Get politically educated with Hassan Rage

Hassan Rage is an independent developer who has two published apps in the Windows Phone Store devoted..

Hassan Rage is an independent developer who has two published apps in the Windows Phone Store devoted to American politics — yet he admits that he doesn’t like politics all that much.


That may seem strange, but that’s because he considers himself more educator than activist. It’s clear that Hassan (pictured at right) is passionate about his apps and believes that an educated populace is important.

“People have the right and responsibility to know what is going on in their governments and how they are represented,” he said. “I think knowledge drives me more than politics.”

Hassan’s two apps are ideal companions for anyone even remotely interested in the political scene. Informed American covers political financing and Election Essential features in-depth information about federal and state candidates vying for office as well as local ballot measures.

Election Essential — which we featured here earlier in the week — also includes Cortana support so you can find your local polling place with the app. Check out this video tutorial:

Initially a Silverlight developer, Colorado Springs-based Hassan began developing for Windows Phone in 2010.

That’s when he realized that he had “all the tools and most of the knowledge to develop Windows Phone apps, plus my employer had a few projects that needed developing. After completing the projects, developing for Windows Phone became a hobby of mine.”

That hobby resulted in two sophisticated and highly detailed universal Windows apps that pull data from multiple online resources. Both of the apps are free, and Hassan made it clear he did not develop these apps with a financial goal in mind.

“I didn’t have business plans or other ambitions,” he said. “I just wanted to put together one cool application that [would] benefit Windows Phone users.”

We caught up with Hassan last week to give us more background about his work in Windows Phone app development, and how he created the Election Essential app.

How long have you been developing apps for Windows Phone? 

I started developing for Windows Phone right after Windows Phone 7 was announced at the MIX 2010 event, where I was an attendee in Las Vegas. My Silverlight experience made the transition extremely easy.

Your apps in the Windows Phone Store are tied to politics. Is that a personal interest? 

I went with politics out of necessity. Since I didn’t want to create a one-page application, I had to find reliable and useful data for the application. I started by looking for APIs on the web using Bing, Google and even asking other developers.

Finally I settled on Programmable Web. This website has a huge list of APIs, some paid, some free and some in-between. I found first. After playing with their API, I decided to pay and use their data.


How long did it take you to create Election Essential? And can you tell us more about the sources of information that are used within the context of the app itself? 

I have no idea how long, because I work on my apps when I have time in the evenings or the weekends. If I have to guess, I would say a few months.

The application uses information from Vote Smart, the Sunlight Foundation, GovTrack, Open Secrets, MapLight and the Federal Election Commission, if you include the Windows 8 app.

Right now, Election Essential focuses on elections at the federal and state levels. Do you have plans to make data available for local municipal elections, too? 

I would love to include information from local governments, but it is difficult to get the data. If the data becomes available and it is somewhat standardized, I will add that information into the app.

Do you see a place for voting via mobile app in our future?  

Yes, I think in the near future, people will use their mobile devices to vote, but it will not be easy to convince the politicians because it will not be helpful to them.

Do you have plans in the works for other apps, or will you continue to refine what you’ve already published? 

I am always looking for ways to improve my existing apps and sources that will inspire me to create new apps.

To learn more about Election Essential, please have a look at the Sway website that Hassan created to promote his app.

To read the complete interview with Hassan, please visit the DVLUP blog.