Observations on Xamarin Evolve 2014

Last week I had the privilege of attending Xamarin’s annual Evolve conference in Atlanta. There were great talks, great toys, and great food, and I had a blast. A few random high-level thoughts and observations on the state of the platform, the community, and Miguel’s pronunciation of popular acronyms:

  • Previously, I would have characterized Xamarin’s pitch as “You’re a C# / .NET developer? Leverage your existing knowledge to write iOS and Android apps.” Now, I’m convinced they’d like to present it more along the lines of “You want to do cross-platform mobile development? Learn C# / .NET and use our platform, because it’s the best.” The ambition and the roadmap are aggressive and impressive.
  • The new announcements were all pretty great. Sketches are like Swift’s Playgrounds for C#, Insights gives you robust cross-platform analytics for very little code overhead, and the new Android simulator is so much faster than Google’s it’s embarrassing. Add in the recently-announced Test Cloud that lets you run automated tests on actual devices over the network, and the amount this team has added to their product in the last twelve months or so is downright impressive.
  • The culture of the company and the community around it occupies a unique position at the intersection of all the different platforms and communities it supports. More corporate- and enterprise-friendly than Apple, more hip and independent than Microsoft, and less nerdy and creepy than Google. There was a pretty even split of iOS and Android phones on attendees, and almost all of the presenters used Macs (though many of those Macs were running Windows.) Eclectic, independent, high-energy, and unique.
  • The production value and logistics of the conference were phenomenal, almost on the level of WWDC/io/Build. The keynote was slick and very well-produced, and the after-hours social events throughout downtown Atlanta were a blast. And did I mention how good the food was?
  • The pace with which the engineering team has to run is intense. I was told by multiple Xamarin engineers that the road to getting full coverage of the hundreds of new APIs in iOS 8 on launch day involved many new hires and many sleepless nights. When you step back and look at the effort they’re undertaking, it’s both super-brilliant and more than a little insane. I would argue this reflects the personalities of its founders, but what do I know?
  • PCL and NuGet are properly pronounced “Pickle” and “Noojay”, respectively. Miguel said so.

Fantastic conference, great people, and I’m already busy hacking away on a project using some of the new stuff here at IK. If you’re interested in cross-platform mobile development, and especially if you have any background in Microsoft developer technologies, you owe it to yourself to check out Xamarin. And if you’re an engineer who’s ready to build awesome stuff with the latest tools like these, we’re always looking for new InterKnowlogists.

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