Xamarin Evolve Keynote

This week (6-10 October 2014), Linknode are in attendance at Altanta for the Xamarin Evolve conference. After two days of training, the conference proper is under way with sessions on the new features and services of what is coming up from Xamarin, now and over the next few months.

WP_20141008_005I thought I’d capture some of the my thoughts about the keynote talk and some of the products that I am looking forward to trying out.

Atmosphere

Firstly the atmosphere of the keynote: being from the UK, we don’t get many big developer conferences. I get all my previous experience from watching online (usually distracted while doing something else). It felt good to see Xamarin promoting the geeks up on stage, not just the executives talking up their products. It was polished and smooth, but you could feel the excitement as they took you through the new features.

Key Message

The key take home message for me was summed up by Nat when he said:

“Your app, even if it’s an enterprise app, is next to the best apps in the world on someone’s phone.”

And he’s right. User experience and how people interact with your app is crucial. We looked closely at our user experience in the VentusAR 2.0 release, but its something we have to continually work on to evolve and get right.

Xamarin Platform Line-up

A quick note on the tools that Xamarin introduced, and what they mean for VentusAR development:

Android Player

It is well known by developers that the Google-provided android emulators are really slow to use. So slow, that you give up with the task you were trying emulate and resort to finding an actual hardware device. Xamarin released their own android player to provide a decent emulator. This will mean that we can test our apps against more virtual devices and screen resolutions to improve the quality of the android apps in general. One question I’d be interested to know the answer to is how does the performance stack up against the GenyMotion emulator? More information from the Emulator page.

Android Profiler

There are many reasons why tracking memory usage and performance on android is really hard: virtual machines and limited native tools to name two. Today Miguel De Icaza unveiled his fourth attempt at an android profiler – and this one looks good. For anyone who gets an OutOfMemoryException in android and has no idea where to turn, this looks like it will be a great help and benefit. More information from the Profiler page.

Sketches

The last feature I want to highlight is Xamarin Sketches. This is a live, interactive coding environment which allows you to experiment by typing in commands in the sketches window. As a long time user of the Visual Studio Immediate window and LINQPad, it will be very useful to be able to run commands on an android or iOS device quickly and directly without having to recompile. See more on the sketches documentation page.

Xammy Awards

In other news, the entries for the Xammy Awards have opened and I was pleased (and slightly surprised) to see the quality of the entries. Specifically have a look at the Honeywell Total Comform Connect app (built by our friends and neighbours Screenmedia). Have a look at all the entries and see just what can be done with Xamarin technology.

Conclusion

That was three big features unveiled at the keynote, and I didn’t even mention the Xamarin Insights analytics and error tracking product or Xamarin Test Cloud Enhancements. Congratulations to the whole Xamarin team for getting all this released!

Anyway, tonight’s reception is in the Georgia Aquarium, so I’ll be spending the evening with geeks and sharks (both never sleep, so the myth says).

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