Xamarin Evolve 2016 re-cap — What we saw and learnt
Judo participated at Xamarin Evolve this year in Orlando. Since Microsoft’s acquisition of Xamarin, this space has gotten hotter so we decided to be in the midst of the action and leverage the hard work we have done thus far on this platform. Below I interview Janice and Luke, who represented judo at Evolve, to capture their thoughts from the event.
What did you think of the Keynote?
Luke: I really enjoyed it, I think it just shows the strength of the platform that, even with Build a month earlier lifting the veil on a lot of .NET news and Xamarin’s big bombshell for the year, they had a lot to talk about. I liked Miguel’s presentation better but that’s just cause he got to hand out all the developer goodies.
Janice: I thought it was a really well structured delivered keynote, it set the tone for the rest of the conference, strengthened the case for cross-platform native development, and addressed the implications of the recent acquisition head on. The whole theme of end-to-end DevOps lifecycle management gave context and framed the new features announcement nicely. Also, the slides were beautiful, big kudos to their design team, I was mesmerised by the color palette!
What do you think is the best new feature on the Xamarin platform?
Luke: I think a lot of the Visual Studio integration they’ve been working on recently, like the iOS emulator on windows, dodges a lot of context switching but it’s all the work they’ve been doing to their UI editors in general that I like. It’s not exactly a new feature but it makes me want to rapid prototype something for kicks.
Janice: I do agree that the Visual Studio integration stuff are really exciting. But I am personally most impressed by the concept of Workbooks. Interactive coding workbooks that help our developers experiment, train, and share codes internally or externally is a really compelling feature. I really think it has a lot of potential in terms of sharing knowledge and experimenting concepts, it’s even making us reconsider how we do our documentations.
Why develop in Xamarin?
Luke: I think .Net is one of the easiest and most pleasant languages to develop in. If you want to make software that makes waves across society, not just enterprise which is the historic domain for .net, you need to involve Android and iOS and Xamarin is the only compelling platform currently out there to facilitate .NET developers to go mobile.
Janice: Following on what Luke said above, for true native, cross-platform mobile development, Xamarin is the obvious choice. Sure, there are Cordova and PhoneGap, but they are not mobile-first nor do they offer genuine native builds. Native apps deliver smoother, higher performing results, and app users have increasingly high expectations on UX. Xamarin is currently the only .NET platform out there right now that enables you to develop native apps that meet that expectation.
Why should businesses invest in Xamarin development?
Luke: If you are a .NET house and want to move into mobile, it’s a no brainer. It could be years before Microsoft’s next push into field under the window pane flag materialises and there’s no point waiting. If you are starting from scratch and this is of course more subjective, I still think it’s a good shout. Just in terms of their backgrounds, .NET developers tend to lean more full stack, so i think you can get a lot more done end to end with this approach with less resources.
Janice: If a business is serious about developing apps that provide the best UX – go native, or go home. As Xamarin’s co-founder and CEO, Nat Friedman, shared during the keynote, 58% of enterprises chose native mobile development in 2015. Chances are, a lot of enterprises are currently .NET- centric, and Xamarin does provide these businesses the ability to build cross-platform efficiently with their existing .NET resources.
Luke, did you have a favourite session?
Luke: There was a talk on OWASP security that scratched a particular itch for me because it’s such a huge part of my day to day life at judo. But the Xamarin designer for iOS talk with Alex Corrado was an eye opener because I was kind of an Xcode purist when it comes to UI. Bonus : Wozniak sofa talk for Woz-grade stories!!
What trend did you see there?
Luke: I saw a push for a lot of the services and tertiary projects that support developers to create and deploy applications right across the pipe ‘grew up’, and become developed and seamless part of the ecosystem, either through integration into umbrella services or the IDE’s themselves. I think you’re going to hear a lot more about the ‘bitrise’ and ‘Hockey Apps’ of the industry and a lot of this is driven by how this fits into all the cloud services that are just ballooning.
Janice: I was surprised by the number of organizations attending the conference that are building native apps for internal and field use. I love that businesses are also now realising the importance of going mobile-first even for their employees and partners. They are interested in how mobile can help them reduce operational costs and improve efficiency. However, we were also approached by a good number of organizations about integrating payments into their Xamarin projects, most of them citing the pain point of PCI burden, which I found interesting.
Luke: I mean you should always feel a little apprehensive when a more agile player gets bought by one of the giants of the industry – whether they can still move and adapt at their previous pace or whether they’ll even feel the need to take the risks that are on the table. But in a lot of ways, Xamarin has been a tacit part of Microsoft for years, due to how linked they are to each other’s health, so this merger sort of felt like an open secret for just as long. It’s great to hear about the 3x uptick in engagement but as always we’ll just have to wait and see how this plays out.
Janice: Personally, I think this is quite possibly the best move on mobile technology that Microsoft has made thus far. Xamarin as a platform is a fantastic value add to Microsoft’s offering, and Xamarin’s getting amazing exposure from the acquisition. Now that Xamarin is included in Visual Studio and open source, the Xamarin community is going to grow rapidly.
What was your biggest learning from Evolve?
Luke: I learnt a lot of neat little async tricks in the training sessions and got to talk with a few Xamarin team members on some of the ins and outs and quirks of iOS binaries, but that’s more just plugging gaps in my own ignorance (not something I really want to shout from the rooftops). I was actually surprised about a lot of the big box names I just saw walking around the floor that are actively developing on the platform.
Janice: My understanding about Xamarin was admittedly limited prior to the conference, but after spending a week learning more about it, I found that it really is a fantastic platform for enterprises that want a cost-efficient way to go mobile-first and native. And for judo specifically, we are the first organization to have independently built a Xamarin in-app payment component, so it was really rewarding to be able to validate that in-app payments is increasingly something that enterprises are looking to not just integrate, but also get right, when they develop on the Xamarin platform.
How was spending a week with the Xamarin community like?
Luke: Great, I’m always going to enjoy engaging with people and talking shop about all the wild and the weird that’s going on the platform. I was pleasantly surprised about how relaxed and warm people were. I even had a conversation with a stranger on a bus, which is all but banned in London.
Janice: The Xamarin community is a really warm and supportive bunch. The developers that I interacted with are all very eager to learn and open to bouncing ideas off each other. Everyone is really encouraging to each other regardless of experience level and people are just generally very down-to-earth.
What is your favourite moment at Evolve?
Luke: Winning a bet with my friend and closing my talk in the style of an auctioneer. Going once, going twice. GONE!
Janice: It has to be that roller coaster ride during the Evolve Party at Universal Studios. We went on the same ride at least 7 times, and by the fourth round, I was challenging Luke to belt out a tune during the ride. And he did. Albeit a little out of tune.
Hope this interview prompts you to consider Xamarin for your business. You know who to reach out to when you are looking for a secure, customizable, fully PCI compliant mobile-focused SDK (endless list of adjectives) for your app on Xamarin.
About Judopay · Judopay simplifies in-app payments, enable frictionless checkouts and intelligently prevents fraud for leading companies globally. Our payments and mobile experts help guide businesses and their development partners to create best in class apps to make paying faster, easier and more secure. Founded by serial financial technology entrepreneurs in 2012, Judopay is backed by leading venture investors and supported by banking and card scheme partners to offer in-app payments that are simple, frictionless and protected.