Everything You Need to Know About Xamarin

On Thursday, September 20th, Software Developer Patrick Graham will be leading a Lunch and Learn on Xamarin. Here’s a sneak preview of Xamarin and what to expect from his Charlotte Tech Talk!

Logical Advantage (LA): Thank you for answering a few of our questions! First, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

Patrick Graham (PG): Hi, my name is Patrick Graham, and I’m a Software Developer for Logical Advantage here in Charlotte, North Carolina. I started working as a programmer in 2012 after a brief career in chemistry research and development. I’ve always enjoyed working on my own projects outside of work. I’ve coded an XBox playing bot that used computer vision to earn me a high score in the game Bejeweled, re-programmed a 3D printer to play chess, and wrote an application for interfacing a digital scale with a Raspberry Pi. Now I’m playing around with Xamarin at home and hope to have a working mobile application to demo at the Lunch and Learn.

LA: Now, give us a brief introduction on Xamarin. What is it?

PG: Xamarin provides everything a developer needs to deliver great native mobile applications for Android, iOS and Windows using shared code. It eliminates the need to write separate applications for different platforms using different programming languages. One alternative to using Xamarin for creating native apps for the top three platforms is to write an iOS app in Swift or Objective-C, an Android app using Java, and finally a Windows app using C#. With Xamarin, everything can be written in C#. It’s also possible to deploy an application to all three platforms using 100% shared code by using Xamarin forms.

LA: When did you start working with Xamarin? Was it for a specific project?

PG: I started working with Xamarin in June, but not for a specific project. I was intrigued by the ability to create a mobile application and target all three platforms without having to learn a different language for each. Also, I already know C# and wanted to be able to put that knowledge to good use.

LA: What do you think its greatest purpose is? What range of projects have you used it for?

PG: The greatest purpose Xamarin serves for me is as a time saver. Since I don’t have to learn several new languages, I can focus on creating the projects that interest me rather than on managing multiple projects in different languages.

LA: Does it offer any unique benefits or challenges? How does it compare to similar mobile products?

PG: One unique benefit that it offers is being able to use several of the .Net libraries that I’ve already learned. If I were to write an Android application using Java, chances are I would not be able to use the same libraries I’m already familiar with. When compared to similar mobile products like Apache Cordova (PhoneGap), Xamarin applications tend to be more performant because they compile to native code. Applications created with similar mobile development products typically run in a web browser rather than natively.

LA: What role do you think Xamarin will play in the future of app development and technology?

PG: I see it as being one of many possible ways to create cross-platform mobile applications with shared code. The other options that are out there are still just as good in many respects, but Xamarin makes more sense if you or your team is already experienced with .Net and wants to transition into cross-platform mobile application development.

LA: What are a few questions guests can expect to have answered at your September Lunch and Learn?

PG: We’re going to cover the basics of what Xamarin is and how they can get started using it. I’ll touch on a few of the pitfalls and limitations that I quickly encountered when I was getting started with the technology. Finally, we’re going to explore how Xamarin can be used to rapidly prototype projects for personal use and even its place in creating apps for the Internet of Things.

LA: Are there any activities guests can expect to participate in?

PG: I’m hoping to be able to incorporate a working demo of a Xamarin application into the presentation. We may be able to load up the demo application on our phones during the presentation, but that depends on me being able to finish it before the talk. The demo application will likely be working on Android and Windows phones, but I don’t have the hardware to prepare anything for iPhones at this time.

LA: What do you hope the greatest takeaway of your Lunch and Learn will be?

PG: I hope that the greatest takeaway of my Lunch and Learn will be that Xamarin is an awesome technology to use for cross-platform mobile development, especially if you already come from .Net background.

LA: Is there anything guests should do to prepare for the event?

PG: Get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids, and bring an appetite to learn.

LA: Is there anything you’d like to add?

PG: If you’re interested in learning more about what I’m working on next, or seeing some of my past projects in action, head over to my blog at http://graham.tech, and follow me on twitter @pabreetzio. Many thanks to Logical Advantage for giving me the opportunity to do this tech talk, and I look forward to seeing everyone there!

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Patrick Graham’s Lunch and Learn on Xamarin will be on September 20th from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM. RSVP now!

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