Winter of Xamarin 17

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
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.

Visual Studio for Mac
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.

Free swag! Xamarin beanie
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.

React.js Conf 2016 Highlights – Day 1

While I may not have attended day 1 of React.js Conf today, I did get to listen to the conference live streamed from San Francisco. Here are my short cherry picked highlights of things that I thought were cool.

Draft.js

Draft.js was announced from Facebook. It’s a rich text editor framework for React that uses Immutable.js. It’s fully customisable and should scale from a simple multiline input to a full text editor.

React Native Tools for VS Code

React Native Tools for my favourite text editor VS Code was announced today. It’s available as a preview. It supports Intellisense for React Native and debugging code.

Continuous Integration and Code Push for React Native

Microsoft have added continuous integration for React Native to Visual Studio Team Services, combined with Code Push. Now just like in web development, updates can simply be pushed live avoiding the app store/play store update process.

Oy – email template tools for React

A collection of utilities for email templates was demoed.

Nuclide React Native Tools demoed

Nuclide a package for Atom editor was “demoed” showing the packager, debugger and inspector.

Realm for React-Native

Realm the mobile database is now available for React-Native.

See my second day highlights.

Life After Cancer: How the iPhone Helped Me Achieve a Healthier Lifestyle

Federico Vitticci (@viticci) posted a great article on how the iPhone has helped him achieve a healthier lifestyle after cancer treatment. He outlines the apps that he currently uses to record his steps, calories, sleep patterns and even his coffee consumption.

I previously blogged about “self quantifying” before, and listed a few of apps I’ve used myself. It sure feels like the future when we can measure all these health stats, it will be interesting with the release of the Apple Watch what data we can gather.

Hardkour – a great runner puzzle game

My friend James has recently released his new game for mobile iOS (both iPhone & iPad), Android and Windows Mobile. Its a great endless runner with a simple puzzle mechanic and parkour influence. As your guy runs along a maze of green cubes some will have arrows pointing left and right. Make sure you have tapped the correct side, before your guy touches the arrow cubes or it’s game over.

Hardkour screenshot
Hardkour – A endless runner puzzle game with a Parkour influence

The game is extremely tough in the vein of flappy birds, but so addictive. Grab it now! The best thing is it’s free.

Long Weekend Wrap-up – 27th October 2014

It’s Labour Day Weekend here in New Zealand and I’m having a pretty laid back weekend. It was my annual cleaning of the pool yesterday turning it from emerald green to blue with the help of a lot of chemicals and cleaning. Apart from that I’ve managed to read some great articles from my Instapaper queue to share with you. So enjoy the long weekend wrap-up.

Manage your server from your iPhone – Me

Easy iPhone screenshots with OS X Yosemite – Me

Here’s why public wifi is a health hazard – Medium
You should really use a VPN if you must use wifi at the local coffee shop. I’ve been using TunnelBear myself which gives you 500mb for free and is available on all the popular platforms.

Yosemite & iOS for photography – Austin Mann

Small business owners can now easily add your business with Maps Connect for Apple maps.

The end of apps as we know them – Intercom

Manage your server from your iPhone

Prompt 2 helps you manage your server from your iPhonePrompt 2 is an update to my favourite SSH terminal app for iOS. It allows me to manage, perform maintenance and repair my VPS (which hosts this website) from my phone anywhere I have an internet connection.

One of the new features added to the app are “clips”, short snippets of commands you can create and sync between devices. This is great for saving time typing out complicated commands when your most likely under some pressure.

Screenshot of Prompt 2 showing where to activate clips menu
From the keyboard tap the green button until the red button is shown. Activate the clips menu with the button highlighted in red.

Once you’ve logged on to your session with your server tap the double dot button (shown in green in the screenshot above) until the star 5 pointed star button (highlighted in red) is shown then tap this to bring up the clips menu. You can create server specific or global clips.

Screenshot of clips used in Prompt 2
Some of the clips I use in Prompt 2

Here are a few of the clips I use to manage my own server:

top
Used to show the top processes on the server and how much resources are used/free.

shutdown -r now
Will restart the server immediately.

service apache2 restart
Will restart apache2 web server.

/etc/init.d/vsftpd restart
Will restart the FTP service.

cd /var/log/apache2/
cat error.log

Will open your error log.

cd /var/mail
cat username

Will open mail for the username provided.

Quick Tip: If you add a new line this will force a return, running the command.

If you have any others you would like to share please tweet me @andrewjamesford or email me at andrewford dot co dot nz and I’ll update the post.

Prompt 2 is well worth the upgrade for this feature alone. Combined with the Panic’s sync service your clips and servers will remain in sync across your iPhone and iPad. If your already using Prompt the import of your settings is seamless into Prompt 2.

Prompt 2 helps you manage your server from your iPhone any where you have an internet connection. It is available right now on the app store for NZ$12.99.

Copying files from iOS to OS X via FTP

Transmit for iOSFirst of all if you haven’t bought Panic‘s great new FTP client for iOS Transmit I suggest you go grab it. With the introduction of iOS 8 an app like Transmit helps become that bridge to easily transfer files to your Mac/Server and your iPad or iPhone without using a cloud service.

Panic mentions in their FAQ for Transmit for iOS you can transfer files to your mac via FTP. This is a great alternative to AirDrop if your Mac doesn’t support it.

First of all enable SSH/SFTP on your mac by going to System Preferences > Sharing and enable Remote Login.

Screenshot of Sharing in System Preferences
Enable Remote Login in System Preferences > Sharing

Add a New Server in Transmit for iOS, adding an SFTP account.

Screenshots showing adding a connection to Transmit
Add a new connection, select SFTP and enter your Macs details

Add the name from OS X of your computer “computername.local” in the address field, your user and password. You can find this on the System Preferences > Sharing pane.

Screenshot showing uploading an image to your Mac's desktop
Select your desktop folder, tap the + icon and select the file to upload. You can preview images simply by tapping the filename.

Connect to your Mac from Transmit and go to your Desktop and click the + icon. This will bring up the recent images and gives you access to iCloud Drive, Photo Library and some other options. Simply select your file to upload and it will be transferred to your mac.

File transfers are extremely quick and there are no privacy concerns as it’s direct on the same network.

You can also buy Panic’s Prompt 2 with Transmit for iOS which is as equally good, together as a bundle (saving you some money).

Scanbot named best document scanning app for iOS

Scanbot IconScanbot my favourite document scanning app has been named the best over at The Sweet Setup.

Why I like Scanbot the most of all the great scanning apps out there is it’s ability to quickly scan multiple documents with great results. You don’t even need to press the shutter button it will automatically take the shot when the positioning is correct.

I use it all the time to save receipts for work, as I can scan them right there and then. Never losing one for an expense claim.

Scanbot app on iPhone 5S
The Scanbot app scanning a recipe on sausage rolls.