I was lucky enough to attend the Microsoft Winter of Xamarin 2017 event in Auckland on Saturday the 17th of June. It was held in Beca House Auditorium, a very nice venue located in Pitt Street, Auckland.
The day was a great learning experience were throughout the day we made a cross platform app of iOS, Android and Windows UWP using Xamarin and Xamarin Forms.
The finished app[/caption]The venue was packed with close to 100 people all giving up their Saturday to learn about Xamarin. There where people of all ages, some just trying to get their first development job, students and veteran software developers all keen to give cross platform development a go. We had great catered food & coffee, enthusiastic presenters, swag and prizes all for free.
I was impressed with the new Visual Studio for Mac, it didn't feel like a gross cross platform IDE. In fact I'd see say it's on par with Xcode and Android Studio. Throughout the day I felt very much at home developing cross platform with C#, the API's for Android and iOS felt very familiar wrapped in a C# way. The concepts of Xamarin and Xamarin Forms were easy to pick up, you had a lot of control to do specific UI overrides when you needed to for specific platforms.
Xamarin development experience felt much easier than React Native the only cross platform tool I've used heavily in the past. Being able to spin up an iOS or Android emulator straight from the debug menu of Visual Studio was great. It felt as natural as working in Xcode or Android Studio, but you have the benefit of code sharing (including the UI) all in the same project.
Another highlight was a look at Visual Studio Mobile Center (currently in Preview), which bundles up a lot of the boring bits of app development like CI, cloud building and ad-hoc distribution into one easy to use web portal.
I came away from the event enthusiastic to learn more and build an app for the competition using Xamarin.