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-Sketchapp – Painting with Code

Two great tools I like to use are React.js and Sketch.app now just got better together with AirBnB’s new open source library React-Sketchapp. It can render your React components to a Sketch design file.

The basic setup example React-Sketchapp
The basic setup example React-Sketchapp

Traditionally your application is designed in a UI design tool like Sketch. From the mockups the developers/designers create the React components based on these designs. Over time these move away from the original Sketch file with revisions over the life of the project/product. The design files need to be updated manually and this can be very time consuming.

But now you can use React-Sketchapp to generate the design files from the actual React components that are used in your application.

When you need to create a new design or modification of a component your Sketch files will be up to date with the latest version of your existing components.

Another cool side effect is you can use data in your designs.

Check out Jon Gold’s article on “Painting with Code” and then jump in to the quick start guide on github.