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An Insight into Xamarin with an Xamarin Expert

Posted on September 2016 By Michael Collins

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​At iO Associates we are fully committed to being part of the wider development community and immersing ourselves in the market, therefore we are proud to announce that we are co-sponsoring the ‘Xamarin Dev Day’ which is coming to Bristol on the 30th September. It is the first of its kind in the UK and we are very excited to be involved!

The ‘Xamarin Dev Days’ are held across the globe, with Bristol being the only one in the UK this year. They provide attendees with a hands-on learning experience, spending the morning exploring mobile development with sessions from Xamarin, technology partners, and then rolling up your sleeves for an afternoon dedicated to getting your hands dirty with the code. (https://www.xamarin.com/dev-days)

To get a better insight into the world of Xamarin, our Software Development Recruitment Specialist, Michael Collins caught up with one of the experts who is taking part on the day, Garry Whitaker (@garrywma), to ask a few questions around his experiences with Xamarin.

What is your background and what made you get into software development?

I’ve been in the industry for a long time. My first experience was using a teletype terminal at my school to talk to the ICL mainframe at the local college. I knew from then I wanted to be a programmer. I’ve often wondered how many reels of paper tape it would take to program something like Windows. My initial mobile experience involved a phone that had to be pulled on a trolley. I do think that my experience in working with low memory low speed devices set me in good stead for dealing with the restrictions still present in today’s mobile platforms. Currently I spend most of my time mentoring people starting up (and those getting stuck) in Xamarin.

How have you seen the IT industry over the past few years?

Back in the mid 90s, when talking about a predicted device that would be seen now as a Smart-Phone, I coined the term Convenience computing. I think we have moved to that a convenience of experience. No matter what device you are on you can get to the information that is important to you. In terms of mobile apps one of the biggest changes in the last year or so has been a huge growth in Line of business as opposed to consumer apps.

What does the purchase of Xamarin by Microsoft mean for the App industry?

It certainly has opened up Xamarin to a much wider audience. Perhaps more important than the purchase is the effect it has had on pricing. Free is always going to be enticing.

What is the benefit of Xamarin over other Cross-Platform tools?

Reusability and performance. A Xamarin app is usually indistinguishable from a native app in performance and might even be quicker. The fact that it is C# means that a whole load of skills and code already possessed by desktop and web teams become reusable. It also means there are a wealth of plug-ins and packages available.

Can any code developed by a team using Xamarin be shared or reused with teams using any other tooling for iOS and Android?

One way to allow other tools to share Xamarin code is to slightly reverse the process. It is pretty easy to use native code in Xamarin. For example you can link to a native dll created in Code. So you could have a Xamarin project encapsulating native code.

 

What is happening with Xamarin insights ?

Good question. Earlier this year Microsoft announced Insights was closing down and being merged with HockeyApp. At the time they said @The former Insights team is currently busy improving HockeyApp’s crash reporting framework to be on-par with what our customers have come to expect from Xamarin Insights. Once that happens, we’ll encourage our customers to transition their apps over to HockeyApp over the next 3-6 month. Well that was about 6 months ago so hopefully we will hear soon. My opinion is whilst improving HockeyApp is still not anywhere near where Insights was.

What is next for Xamarin?

I see a much greater emphasis on Xamarin.Forms. You only have to look at how the course required for Xamarin University Certification now to realise that Xamarin have really shifted to a Forms first approach. Obviously there is a question around Microsoft having so many flavours of XAML in their locker and I suspect we will see some coming together of these but I definitely don’t see Forms going away.
 

Garry Whitaker (@garrywma) is Director of App Development at AppXib Ltd (www.appxib.com) so if you are starting a new app development and need expert advice or just need an app written for you, AppXib can help. They are also experts in apps for events and conferences and specialise in Xamarin Cross Platform Development so they are perfectly placed to provide insight at our event taking place on Friday September 30th 2016.

We'd like to thank Garry for a very insightful view into Xamarin and we're looking forward to meeting you at the event in Bristol in a couple of weeks’ time.

 

If you are looking for a role in Xamarin or require anyone with Xamarin on a permanent or short term basis, please do not hesitate to get in touch with one of our recruitment experts, Michael Collins at iO Associates on 0117 332 8100 or via LinkedIn https://uk.linkedin.com/in/michaelcollinsbristol