Xamarin Evolve 2016
Xamarin's third conference was held this week in Orlando - with a similar format to 2013 (Austin, Texas) and 2014 (Atlanta, Georgia). Two days of training were followed by the main conference.
The main conference had excellent opening and closing keynotes, which bracketed two days of sessions covering both technical and soft skills. And of course, the opportunity to meet the Xamarin team and Xamarin developers from around the world.
Here I give my thoughts on what Evolve 2016 meant for Microsec and our customers. I've tried to keep terminology non-technical as much as possible!
The opening keynote was - of course - full of razmatazz, hooplah and 'exciting announcements'. With the growth of the product over the last 4 years, I think the features announced here were not quite the advances of previous years, but were still significant for developers and end customers.
Full details have been blogged by Xamarin themselves here. There's no point in me reiterating them one by one here, but the highlights for me are:
- Continued affirmation of the Microsoft relationship. The acquisition of Xamarin by Microsoft is very important - it means that we and our customers can be absolutely sure that Xamarin are here to stay, and now have the resources of Microsoft behind them.
- The whole Software Development Kit (SDK) is to be open-sourced. This means that Xamarin developers can contribute improvements and bug-fixes themselves. Thus massively increasing (that's an understatement) the workforce avaiable to take Xamarin forward.
- Live preview of screen layouts when using Xamarin.Forms. This means that we will be much more productive when using Xamarin.Forms - which is evolving (forgive the pun) to be the go-to product for Enterprise and Line-Of-Business mobile applications.
- Theming in Xamarin.Forms. We can now customise the colours of a Xamarin.Forms app to match a customer's branding much more easily.
- A full development lifecycle. This means that we can develop applications, test them against multiple devices, deploy them to our customers, and monitor the applications 'out in the wild' much more easily. The developer-speak for this is 'Deliver, Monitor, Iterate'. It's now got a lot easier.
There were may other detailed improvements announced, which you can view using the above link.
As a Premier Consulting Partner with Xamarin, we were given insights into where Xamarin are going.
The most important theme was that Xamarin are committed to ensuring that the relationship with our customers does not end when we deliver a project. With a mobile application, delivery is just the start of the journey - the app needs to be monitored, usage and problems analysed, and upgrades planned.
This was on top of Xamarin's commitment to be there to help us engage with customers - helping them understand the Xamarin product, and giving us superb technical support when we need it.
The closing keynote was like no other. We were treated to 'Steve Wozniak in conversation with Miguel de Icaza'. Except the conversation was pretty one-sided as 'Woz' held forth on every subject with hardly a pause for breath.
One great comment Woz made, when asked which was the most important app on his mobile phone was "Every app is the most important, at the time I'm using it".
There was so much to take away from the conference. One-on-one knowledge of Xamrin's culture and plans, technical refreshes which I can pass on to our development team, refreshed relationships with Xamarin and other developers.
However, the three things which stick with me are:
- Xamarin and Microsoft are definitely a good thing for us and our customers.
- With Xamarin we have the tools to deliver and support our customers after delivery.
- When developing an app, bear in mind that when a customer is using it, it is the most important app on his phone.