April 16, 2015

More Material Design for Your Android Apps

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fab iconAndroid developers have been flocking to Material Design since its introduction with the release of Android Lollipop. With the recent update to the Support v7 AppCompat library it has never been easier to add Material Design to target older Android operating systems.

Material Design is much more than just the core theming and styling that you are able to add to your application — it’s animations, layouts, and of course controls. While many controls are available out of the box, there are many custom controls that can spice up your application with even more Material Design. Many of these controls are now available in the Xamarin Component store so you can instantly add them to your Xamarin.Android application. Let’s take a look at a few.

Floating Action Button

Floating Action ButtonWhen developing applications, you often have a main action that your users can perform on a page such as add, edit, delete. The floating action button (FAB) was introduced to enable you to promote your main action with a beautiful and distinguished circled icon floating on the user interface. The floating action button is great because it helps bring context and awareness to the action that you want your users to perform, and you can add it to your Android app with the new Floating Action Button component.

Once you have the component installed, you can add a FAB to any layout by referencing the custom control.

<com.refractored.fab.FloatingActionButton
            android:id="@+id/fab"
            android:layout_width="wrap_content"
            android:layout_height="wrap_content"
            android:layout_gravity="bottom|right"
            android:layout_margin="16dp"
            android:src="@drawable/ic_action_content_new" />

Now you can find the FAB and add a click handler just like any other button.

var fab = root.FindViewById<FloatingActionButton>(Resource.Id.fab);
fab.Click += (sender, args) =>
{
  Toast.MakeText(Activity, "FAB Clicked!", ToastLength.Short).Show();
};

Be sure to read through the getting started guide to see how you can show and hide the FAB with a few simple calls or even attach it to a ListView to have it automatically hide when the list is scrolled.

fab_demo

Pager Sliding Tab Strip

If you are an Android user, you may have noticed the beautiful Tabs that are part of the Google Play Store when browsing. The Material theme provides an updated look and feel to tabs, but it doesn’t introduce an updated View Pager Indicator. This is where the Material Pager Sliding Tab Strip component comes in to enable you to easily add highly customizable and beautiful tabs to your Android app.

After downloading the component, simply add the PagerSlidingTabStrip on top of your ViewPager in your layout.

<com.refractored.PagerSlidingTabStrip
        android:id="@+id/tabs"
        android:layout_width="match_parent"
        android:layout_height="?attr/actionBarSize"
        android:background="?attr/colorPrimary"
        app:pstsPaddingMiddle="true"/>
<!--Set pstsPaddingMiddle to false to start tabs on left-->
<android.support.v4.view.ViewPager
        android:id="@+id/pager"
        android:layout_width="match_parent"
        android:layout_height="0dp"
        android:layout_weight="1"
        tools:context=".MainActivity" />

Then find your ViewPager and PagerSlidingTabStrip and connect them together with any FragmentPagerAdapter.

// Initialize the ViewPager and set an adapter
var pager =  FindViewById<ViewPager>(Resource.Id.pager);
pager.Adapter = new TestAdapter(SupportFragmentManager);
// Bind the tabs to the ViewPager
var tabs = FindViewById<PagerSlidingTabStrip>(Resource.Id.tabs);
tabs.SetViewPager(pager);

material_tabs demo

For a full sample and to see how to customize the pager sliding tab strip even further, be sure to dive through the documentation and getting started guide for the component.

More Material!

Material Design integration into your Android apps doesn’t stop here. Be sure to read through our Introduction to Material Design, Support v7 AppCompat Library, and the new Android Toolbar. Another great resource are the two presentations that Jérémie Laval and I gave at Xamarin Evolve 2014, Android Material Design from Concept to Implementation Part 1 and Part 2.

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April 15, 2015

Crédito Agrícola Banks on Xamarin Platform, Test Cloud, and Insights

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Credito Agricola LogoCrédito Agrícola, one of the largest banks in Portugal, serves more than 1.2 million customers across 700 locations. In order to better support their increasingly mobile customer base, the bank created consumer banking apps for three mobile operating systems in the platform-specific languages.

The costs of maintaining three separate teams and code bases quickly added up, driving Crédito Agrícola to seek out a cross-platform mobile development solution for their next app. Designed for enterprise banking customers, it was imperative that the app deliver a high-quality, fully native experience on iOS, Android, and Windows.
 
“We analyzed tools from the cross-platform development market, looking at factors including code reuse and compatibility of the final code, and ensuring the end-user experience was equal to that from native development—without compromising performance,” says Jorge Correia, Applications Development Director at Crédito Agrícola. “None of the solutions we looked at met our needs, until we found Xamarin.”
 
Impressed by the PoC that Xamarin Premier Consulting Partner Xpand IT produced, the bank engaged them to produce the app. Crédito Agrícola has gone all in with Xamarin, building the app with Xamarin Platform and maintaining quality with Xamarin Test Cloud and Xamarin Insights.
 
Credito Agricola app on an iPhoneXamarin Platform allowed the Xpand IT team to create the seamless user experience across platforms that was so important to the bank, while Xamarin Test Cloud enabled them to move away from manual testing to accelerate release cycles and find critical bugs before the app went live. Higher quality was further achieved by using Xamarin Insights, an intelligent analytics and crash reporting system that helps the team be proactive by spotting potential problems early to enhance the user experience.
 
 
“Xamarin Insights is especially important because when users encounter problems with mobile apps, rather than reporting them they may simply stop using the app,” Viana says. “With Xamarin Insights we can become aware of problems even if the users don’t complain.”
 
Download the full case study to learn more about the benefits that Crédito Agrícola has found from using Xamarin, including faster development through 75% code reuse and enhanced quality through Xamarin Test Cloud and Xamarin Insights.

View the Case Study
 

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April 14, 2015

Join Xamarin at Build 2015

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Microsoft Build 2015 is just two weeks away, and we have several ways for you to meet the team and learn more about the latest from Xamarin on mobile development in C# and Visual Studio. We’ve got a lot of events around the conference, and we’d love to see you at one or more of the following:

Build 2015 Kick Off Party

Xamarin Build 2015First, join us on Tuesday, April 28th, 2015 at Jillian’s Sports Bar & Billiards Hall, right across the street from the Moscone Center at 175 4th Street from 7:00-10:00pm. Nat, Miguel, and myself, along with the rest of the Xamarin crew, will help you kick off Build 2015 with a bang!

  • Charles Petzold will be there to sign his Creating Mobile Apps with Xamarin.Forms book.
  • You’ll also be the first in the world to don our brand new Xamarin t-shirt, and if you wear it to Day 1 of Build, you’ll even have a chance to win one of three developer rigs valued at $10,000! Additional details and RSVP here.

Speaking Sessions

Xamarin CTO Miguel de Icaza on stage at Microsoft Build 2014We have two official sessions featuring Xamarin this year. Be sure to check the final Build schedule for exact times and locations of these talks.
 
 
 

  1. Go Mobile with C#, Visual Studio, and Xamarin with co-founder and CTO Miguel de Icaza and Developer Evangelist James Montemagno
  2. Building Multi-Device Applications with Xamarin and Office 365 APIs with Developer Evangelist James Montemagno

Xamarin Booth

As an official sponsor of Build 2015, we’ll be at booth #317 in the Visual Studio Partner Pavilion. We’ll have demos, swag, and we’ll be giving away copies of Charles Petzold’s book, Creating Mobile Apps with Xamarin.Forms with scheduled signings. Stop by to say hello and get your book signed!

Remember to RSVP for the party now, and we’ll see you soon in San Francisco!

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April 13, 2015

Xamarin Dev Days is Coming to Your Town

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We’re working with our partners and community to bring full day mobile development events to a town near you with Xamarin Dev Days.
 
DevDays

What are Dev Days?

Xamarin Dev Days are an intense, hands-on learning experience. More than just your average hackathon, they are free, day-long community events focused around learning how to build native iOS, Android, and Windows apps with C# and Xamarin through valuable sessions from Xamarin, our partners, and your local developer community.

After a morning of learning how to build beautiful mobile apps with Xamarin, you’ll get a chance to put your new knowledge into practice with hands-on labs, mini-hacks, and an opportunity to interact with Xamarin experts in your community. We will be there to help you get up and running, debug code, and have fun building mobile apps and experimenting with the latest mobile technology.
 
Xamarin Dev Days Map

Xamarin Dev Days Near You

Today, we are announcing the first round of Xamarin Dev Days including:

This is just the start for Xamarin Dev Days — we’re adding more cities and want to know where you want us to come next, so head over to the Xamarin Dev Days site to see a list of our planned stops and to request your city if you don’t see it on the list!

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April 10, 2015

Join Xamarin at Mobile Dev + Test in San Diego, CA

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Join Xamarin at our first Mobile Dev + Test conference in San Diego, CA from April 14-16, 2015. Key members from the Xamarin team will be available to answer your questions, discuss your apps and projects, and show you what’s new in Xamarin Test Cloud.

San Diego, CA

James Montemagno, Xamarin Developer Evangelist, will talk about mobile’s impact on development and testing on Thursday, April 16, 2015 at 11:00am.

Charles Wang, from our Xamarin Test Cloud team, and I will also be presenting on using Xamarin Test Cloud to perform automated UI tests on hundreds of real devices on Thursday, April 16, 2015 at 11:00am.

Stop by our table and say hello — we look forward to seeing you in sunny San Diego!

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Beggin’ for a Beacon Xamarin Contest Winner!

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Beacons, small pieces of Bluetooth-transmitting hardware, have simplified the ability to create context-aware apps for mobile devices. Given the powerful potential beacons have for impacting the world, we wanted to hear how the Xamarin community would use beacons to improve their lives in fun, creative, and practical ways.

After much deliberation, we are pleased to announce the final “Beggin’ for a Beacon” winner, who will receive a Xamarin + Beacons swag extravaganza:

The Fire Beacon Safety Package by Matthew Kallechy

Matthew’s idea will provide homeowners, office safety managers, and school teachers with a simple, effective way to prepare for emergencies using test fire emergency safety plans, smartphones, and beacons. Matt, we loved the blog post and good luck with the Hackathon!

The response to this contest has been amazing, and we thank you all for your wonderfully creative and real-world applicable submissions. Our contest is just the tip of the iceberg; beacon potential is everywhere. We encourage you to experiment and build your beacon-enabled Xamarin app today.

Search @XamarinHQ and #BeaconPotential for even more ideas that are just begging for a beacon.

And, as we mentioned in the contest rules, a few lucky submissions will also be receiving 1:1 mentorship and help building their apps from our beacons partners, BKON, Estimote, and MobStac. We’ll be reaching out to all winners via Twitter, so keep your eyes peeled for a DM!

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April 9, 2015

Xamarin’s Got Game (Development)

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If you’re new to game development, you may be wondering what framework is right for you. Luckily for C# and F# developers, Xamarin supports a wide range of powerful options like SceneKit and SpriteKit on iOS, as well as cross-platform frameworks including OpenTK, CocosSharp, and MonoGame.

For developers just getting started, we recently published several articles that provide an Introduction to Game Development with Xamarin based on CocosSharp and MonoGame.
 

Bastion

Bastion, the chart-topping iOS and Mac app, was built with MonoGame

If you’re not familiar with MonoGame, it’s a game development framework based on Microsoft’s XNA. As opposed to a full game engine, using MonoGame may require setup code to perform some simple tasks, as well as an understanding of computer graphics theory. MonoGame is a good choice if:

  • You’re familiar with the Microsoft XNA framework
  • You’re interested in 3D graphics, lighting, or shaders (custom code that is executed by the graphics card for advanced visual effects)
  • You’re extending or porting an existing XNA game to additional platforms
  • You’re interested in learning about graphics programming – MonoGame shares rendering concepts with other rendering APIs like DirectX and OpenGL

 

Angry Ninjas

Source for Angry Ninjas, a complete game written with CocosSharp, is available on GitHub

Alternatively, CocosSharp is a full game engine that provides classes and methods for performing the most common game development tasks. It’s the preferred approach if:

  • You’re interested in creating 2D games
  • You’re familiar with the native Cocos2D game engine
  • You’re looking for the shortest path to a working game

If you’d like to learn more about developing cross-platform 2D games with CocosSharp and Xamarin, check out the video below from Channel 9 and Xamarin Developer Evangelist James Montemagno:


If you’ve ever wanted to make games, either professionally or as a hobbyist, our game development guides are a great place to get started today.

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April 8, 2015

Six Great Tools for Better App Quality

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Build Better Software with Xamarin

Xamarin is proud to be one of six services taking part in the App Quality Bundle, a limited-time package for developers who are serious about improving software quality. The App Quality Bundle allows you to equip your team with the ultimate toolset for building better apps, so you can find and fix bugs quickly, increase developer productivity, and deploy with confidence.

The bundle includes:

  • Xamarin Test Cloud: Automated Mobile App Testing
  • Runscope: API Monitoring and Testing
  • Sentry: Modern Exception Tracking
  • CircleCI: Continuous Deployment
  • Code Climate: Automate Code Review
  • Ghost Inspector: Automated Web Testing

The bundle is available now through April 15, 2015 for $999 (89% off the total bundle value). To find out more and to purchase the App Quality Bundle, visit https://buildbetter.software.

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April 7, 2015

Xamarin for Students Gets Even Better with Expansion to Visual Studio

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Today, we are incredibly excited to announce the expansion of our Xamarin for Students program to include support for Visual Studio, furthering our mission to make it fast, easy, and fun to build great mobile apps.

xamarin_student_expansion

Now, students get free access to everything they need to become mobile app developers virtually overnight, creating native iOS and Android apps with Xamarin and Visual Studio. In the competitive job market, Xamarin for Students enables students to acquire highly in demand mobile skills free of charge.

Since launching last fall, Xamarin for Students has been a massive global success. We’ve responded to your feedback, and are now offering even more powerful solutions to students worldwide. As of today, Xamarin for Students includes:

  • Support for building, deploying, and debugging iOS, Android, and Windows apps from Visual Studio as well as Xamarin Studio
  • Xamarin availability in Microsoft Imagine through the DreamSpark catalog. Students can easily discover Xamarin from the Microsoft DreamSpark portal and get started with their Xamarin subscription quickly
  • Xamarin for Educators with Xamarin subscriptions, teaching materials, and complimentary Xamarin Test Cloud hours for instructors currently teaching courses related to mobile development

We are committed to developing the next generation of C# developers, giving more students the ability to publish amazing mobile experiences, and to bringing high-quality, high-performance consumer and enterprise apps to the masses. We also have a burgeoning Student Ambassadors program, which provides additional benefits to students who are leading their campus’ mobile developer community, such as the ability to become Xamarin Certified Mobile Developers. With dozens of representatives across nearly 30 countries, Xamarin Student Ambassadors not only get free subscriptions to the Xamarin platform and Xamarin University, but also access to Xamarin mobile development experts, opportunities to speak at events, and complimentary Xamarin Test Cloud hours to become automated testing pros.

The bottom line: Xamarin loves students. All currently enrolled students in a degree or diploma granting course of study at an accredited college, university, or high school are encouraged to apply.

ApplyNowButton

Visit our student page to learn more and apply now – and get started building and publishing your own amazing, native mobile apps with Xamarin.

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April 3, 2015

Xamarin Community Speaker Program

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With demand for Xamarin speakers at an all-time high, we have stepped up our efforts to work directly with our community to help user groups and event organizers find great developers who are willing and able to deliver entertaining and informative presentations on Xamarin. Today, I’m am very excited to share with you the details of our Xamarin Community Speaker Program!

Joining the program is easy:

  • Do you love Xamarin?
  • Do you enjoy presenting on mobile development in C# or F#?
  • Have you given a presentation before?

If this sounds like you, and you’re excited at the opportunity to deliver a session covering Xamarin-related topics in your area, please complete this registration form to apply to our list of Xamarin Community Speakers.

The program is simple:

  1. Let us know your availability to give short (45 minute – 1 hour long) presentations on Xamarin related topics where you have relevant knowledge and experience.
  2. If Xamarin learns about an event in your area where the organizers are looking for a speaker, we will reach out to see if a connection can be made.
  3. There is no obligation to speak if the timing or topic don’t work for you.

In need of a Xamarin speaker?

There’s a community speaker near you! Request a Speaker and we’ll help you find someone in your area.
xamarin-speaker-map

Have questions or comments about the program? Please feel free to post your thoughts in this community forum thread or email our team directly.

Additionally, if you know a few Xamarin enthusiasts in your neighborhood but don’t have a developer group, look to this Tips & Tricks Guide on starting up a local group.

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