Planet Xamarin: Follow Your Favorite Community Bloggers

PlanetXWhiteTransparentThe Xamarin development community is expanding and flourishing, with the Xamarin blog and Xamarin MVPs offering a plethora of knowledge for developers to soak up. As the community has continued to grow, so has the number of amazing developers blogging, recording, and podcasting about their libraries, apps, and experiences with Xamarin. In light of this, we’ve worked with community members to create a community blog aggregation platform that anyone can subscribe to via RSS. We call it Planet Xamarin and it’s launching today!

Follow Planet Xamarin

Head to our home page planetxamarin.com, where you can browse the current list of authors, preview the feed, and, of course, subscribe. In addition to a main RSS feed, Planet Xamarin also has active Twitter and Facebook pages that automatically post when any of the community bloggers do.

PlanetXamarin2

If you’re an active Xamarin developer blogging about Xamarin development, we invite you to read through the quick guide on the Planet Xamarin GitHub page on how to add your own content to the Planet Xamarin feed.

PlanetXamarin3

Open Source

Planet Xamarin was created by the community and for the community. Thanks to Geoffrey Huntley, who maintains an active weekly Xamarin community newsletter, who worked with Readify to open source their RSS aggregation tool, which acts as the base of Planet Xamarin. You can find the source code and help contribute over on the project’s GitHub page.

The post Planet Xamarin: Follow Your Favorite Community Bloggers appeared first on Xamarin Blog.

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New Feature in MailButler: Email Templates Inside Your Apple Mail

Thanks to MailButler for sponsoring BrettTerpstra.com this week!

Email work is a routine, which too often involves repeating the same words over and over again. Writing identical texts to different recipients results in a tremendous time consumption and productivity decrease, and makes you miss on more important tasks.

How to avoid this and keep your productivity up? The answer is: reusable email templates, which you compose for various situations beforehand, and, if needed, adjust to different conversations.

Now, if you are an Apple Mail user, you are probably missing email templates, as well as the number of other email tools. Luckily, you can find them all in MailButler, the mail plugin, which adds a variety of great features to your Apple Mail, helping you get total control over your Inbox.

Use MailButler Message Templates to send emails, which include information that you frequently share with different recipients. Compose and save emails as templates to use them again in future. New details can always be added before the template message is sent.

Also, with MailButler you can easily schedule your emails to be sent later, get detailed information about when, where, and with which device your outgoing email has been viewed, and pause your inbox any time you want. Besides, MailButler has a lot of amazing signature templates, and can be integrated with the leading cloud and management services.

MailButler is certainly something that saves you time from the very moment you start using it, so don’t hesitate to try it right now!

Sponsored via Syndicate


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Ship Better Apps Faster with the Mobile Center Webinar Series 

Since launching Visual Studio Mobile Center (Preview) last November, we’ve been listening to user feedback and adding new features and services. Now, we’re making it even easier to get started and to learn how Mobile Center helps developers build better apps.

Throughout February, join us for a series of seven webinars, with topics including individual mobile lifecycle services, specific development languages, and more. If you haven’t signed up yet, we’ll show you how to get started in minutes. If you’re already a Mobile Center customer, get step-by-step guidance and best practices from Mobile Center’s expert Product Managers.

Register

 

  • Wednesday, February 1, 2017 | Ship Mobile Apps Faster with Mobile Center: Learn how Mobile Center brings together the cloud and lifecycle services that developers need to deliver high quality mobile apps faster. Walk through features and learn how to automatically build, test, distribute, and monitor apps and add backend cloud services to scale to millions of users. Presenters: Thomas Dohmke and Piyush Joshi
  • Tuesday, February 7, 2017 | Mobile Center | Give Your Apps an Instant Cloud Backend: Mobile Center makes it easy to add powerful, essential cloud services – including authentication, offline sync, and more. You’ll get step-by-step guidance on how to set up social and enterprise authentication services and use Easy Tables to connect to cloud or on-premises data, plus a preview of our roadmap. Presenters: Adrian Hall and Joe Mellin
  • Tuesday, February 14, 2017 | Mobile Center for Xamarin Developers: Get a Xamarin-developer specific walk through of Mobile Center, and learn how to use your C# skills to fully automate your Android and iOS release pipeline. James will demo automated builds, tests, and beta distribution, as well as integrate the Mobile Center SDK into Xamarin apps to track how apps and users behave in the wild. Presenter: James Montemagno
  • Wednesday, February 15, 2017 | Continuous Delivery | Building a Development Pipeline in Mobile Center: Mobile Center simplifies Continuous Delivery, updating team members with every build and pull request, distributing passing builds to your beta groups for testing and fast feedback, andmaking sure that your production users get the latest versions as soon as possible. You’ll learn how to automate your entire development pipeline, iterating and continuously improving your apps. Presenters: Simina Pasat and Joshua Weber
  • Tuesday, February 21, 2017 | Mobile Center Analytics | Insights Your Users Won’t Tell You: Mobile Center’s Crashes and Analytics give you the immediate crash reports and user behavior data you need to understand user behavior in real-time, triage production issues, prioritize your next sprint, and adjust long-term goals. Learn to win (and keep) your mobile users’ loyalty, constantly improving your apps and shipping new features they’ll love. Presenters: Ela Malani and Karl Piteira
  • Wednesday, February 22, 2017 | Get More from Your App Testing with Mobile Center: Learn how Mobile Center helps you test your apps at scale—not just on a few popular models—to deliver better apps on your users’ choice of device. You’ll step through connecting apps to Mobile Center, instrumenting Espresso tests, and using robust reports to debug and fix issues quickly. Presenter: Justin Raczak
  • Tuesday, February 28, 2017 | Next Generation CodePush and More | Mobile Center for React Native Developers: See how Mobile Center combines the power of CodePush with all of the lifecycle and cloud services you need to ship high quality React Native apps faster. Learn to automate builds and testing, add cloud services, and preview Live Update, the next generation of CodePush, to deploy new features and fixes to users. Presenters: Ryan J. Salva and Parashuram N

Sign up for one or all of the webinars to learn how Mobile Center gives developers faster release cycles, higher quality apps, and the time and data to focus on what users want.

If you haven’t signed up for Mobile Center yet, get started now. Learn more about Mobile Center here.

The post Ship Better Apps Faster with the Mobile Center Webinar Series  appeared first on Xamarin Blog.

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Video: Migrating from Parse to Arrow Cloud

Parse to ArrowWith the Parse shutdown only days away on January 28, 2017, Jason Kneen demonstrates how to migrate an application from Parse to Arrow Cloud in four easy-to-follow steps: Migrate the Parse data to mlab Download and configure an Arrow Cloud ready Parse Server instance from GitHub Connect your mobile app to the new instance Publish […]

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Mobile Composer Transforms Products, People, and Processes with Xamarin Apps

Mobile Composer on Microsoft SurfaceOur customers use the power of .NET to deliver amazing consumer, business, and partner-facing apps for thousands of organizations across the world. Mobile Composer was an early Xamarin adopter, building their first app with Xamarin.iOS and Azure in 2013, and has helped make enterprise mobility a reality for businesses everywhere. Orchestrate, their flagship product, allows users to share knowledge across the enterprise, customize dynamic presentations in minutes, and capture robust analytics. Orchestrate visualizes data, creating actionable dashboards that help teams improve sales effectiveness, onboarding, and more.

Today, we’ve invited Mobile Composer CEO Loren Horsager to talk about how Mobile Composer uses C# and mobile DevOps to simplify development, allowing the team to focus on listening to customer feedback and continuously improving their apps.

Tell us a little bit about Mobile Composer and your background.

As Mobile Composer’s CEO, I lead our product development and sales efforts, but I got into software development years ago. I was working as a commodity trader, and my firm needed to automate our accounting processes. After the project, I spent a year reading development books (before the internet!) and learning everything I could. I began working as a consultant, focusing on data analytics, websites, and mobile apps. Over the last eight years, I’ve helped organizations of all sizes create over 65 mobile apps, and my experiences with client projects led me to co-found Mobile Composer.

I saw the same challenges over and over. Non-technical teams were driving and managing mobile projects – often with the same features and functions, just in a different organization or business unit. We were seeing healthcare organizations build apps and deploy iPads to staff, but then ask: “What’s next? What does enterprise mobility look like long-term?”

In 2013, we founded Mobile Composer to solve this problem and simplify development processes for organizations of all sizes. Our platform gives businesses access to mobile frameworks that include enterprise mobile architecture best practices, the things I noticed I was creating again and again as a consultant—like authentication, on/offline data access, security controls, and integration with systems of record.

As we evolved, we realized there were a few core scenarios where mobile has huge business impacts, primarily (1) improving field sales and marketing teams’ presentations and customer interactions and (2) increasing field service staff efficiency. We created Orchestrate, our flagship product, to give our customers a concrete, out-of-the box example of what mobile makes possible.

Tell us about your app. What problems does it solve?

Orchestrate allows teams to prepare, share, and present the best-quality content anytime, anywhere. Instead of spending hours preparing presentations, sales reps can easily create, share, and present the best-performing, most recent content from across the organization, track what’s most effective, and continuously improve.

We help our customers better engage prospects, increase brand consistency, and ensure knowledge and best practices are shared throughout the organization, not stored in pockets or lost as people move on.

Why did you choose Xamarin?

I’ve worked on many mobile apps, and I’ve tried a lot of different approaches. When Xamarin was released, it seemed like a no-brainer way to simplify development and quickly deliver mobile apps. With Xamarin.iOS, we got Orchestrate 1.0 to market in six months – including the time we spent working through our customers’ feature requests. We’ve since migrated to Xamarin.Forms and added UWP support—sharing 95% across platforms!

We also use Azure, so we develop the front end and backend in the same language. Reusing models and logic makes initial development and ongoing maintenance much easier.

Since I have a .NET background and have previous experience with mobile development, it was easy to get up to speed. A few key things are critical to building an enterprise solution, like working with files, syncing offline data, and connecting to REST APIs. Once you understand them, developing business apps is much easier. I’m also heavily involved in the Xamarin community, including our local Minneapolis Xamarin meetup. I’ve found it’s the best forum to hear how other developers solve issues and to learn about new things they’re trying.

What is the most compelling or exciting aspect of your app? Why?

Orchestrate has four core features, but “Present,” is my favorite, since it allows users to adapt to moment-in-time scenarios and needs. While traditional, linear presentations may work in a group setting, one-on-one walking meetings require a different approach.

Within Present, users can:

  • Select different story lines and alter materials in real time, based on what they learn over the course of the conversation.
  • Use embedded calculators to customize presentations as they learn about the customers’ business, including ROI models, cost comparisons, and more.
  • Generate and seamlessly email branded PDFs, complete with the information they’ve just presented, including any on-the-fly adjustments.

At an enterprise level, organizations can lock down presentation content to specific roles or geographies, audit users’ activity, and learn what’s working best in the field. This level of security is critical in regulated industries, like healthcare and financial services.
Our platform includes robust analytics that measure content, process, and individual effectiveness, but we can also correlate to financial impacts, including time saved, increased productivity, and much more. For example, we’re tracking service call center metrics for one of our customers, and their cost savings are staggering.

What do you think about when you hear “native app”? How did Xamarin help you accomplish your definition of “native”?

For me, performance is key. In all the apps I’ve developed and the technologies I’ve used, there are pros and cons. When I chose Xamarin, I knew we would have to build out some controls to get the effects we wanted—but I also knew that we’d get the most flexibility. We’re able to build native, but also to get to platform-specific code when necessary (namely for our video playback, tracking, and management).

How are you using Microsoft Azure?

We use Azure SQL Server for our database backend and App Services for our content management system and API. In conjunction with Azure Storage Queues and Blobs, we also use Azure App Services and WebJobs for a lot of backend processing, such as converting videos and processing files and images. This is my favorite feature of Azure, and, because it’s so easy to add new ones, we continue to expand on jobs, especially for our video processing scripts and enabling offline access.

Describe your development process.

Mobile DevOps is a big priority for us, and we’ve started exploring Mobile Center. We’re just getting started, but we’re excited about the possibilities – especially around simplifying our deployment process.

We currently use Visual Studio Team Services to host our projects, and we run basic Xamarin Test Cloud smoke tests on every build, as well as more in-depth tests to better validate a build across multiple platforms and devices. We have bigger plans to better utilize Xamarin Test Cloud, but so far the best part of using it has been seeing screenshots of different devices while designing so that we can get layouts right up front. We then tend to use it as a system test to validate that everything has been built correctly.

We have crash reporting with Xamarin Insights and are moving this to Hockey App. Our team does a lot of unique deployments to different environments, and we’ve scripted all of these processes: when a new build is ready, it creates many instances of the app and pushes them to the public app stores or our customers’ internal app stores for enterprise deployments.

What have your users said about your app?

Our users love the ability to share knowledge across the enterprise anytime, anywhere. In particular, Present, since it dramatically reduces the time it takes to create new presentations and frees them to focus on high value activities that drive revenue.

Enterprise leaders value the ability to approve and audit content, as well as set up enterprise controls. They also love the extremely detailed reporting, including which slides customers viewed, how long users watched individual videos, really every aspect of every piece of content, as it helps continuously improve their internal and external business processes.

What’s your team planning to build next?

We have big plans, including creating mobile apps for field service training, activity tracking, and task execution.

What advice do you have for mobile developers who are just starting out?

I’m constantly recommending Xamarin; the ability to leverage existing .NET skills, build for all platforms, and use your existing infrastructure makes the jump from other development to mobile straight-forward.

Xamarin University is fantastic; it takes a developer from start to a solid expertise level in a short amount of time. Community groups, like our local Xamarin Meetup, are also great ways to talk to people and get ideas from other developers on how to approach or solve a problem.

And, if you really want to learn something fast, commit to presenting on it! Every week our interns, who are working on our content management system, present what they’ve learned and completed, and it’s really pushed them to learn and better understand things.
 
 
Visit xamarin.com/download to get started, and explore xamarin.com/customers to get inspired.

The post Mobile Composer Transforms Products, People, and Processes with Xamarin Apps appeared first on Xamarin Blog.

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The One About Pens

I’ve started a podcast.

Each episode, I find a smart person somewhere on the planet, and we talk about The Important Thing. I suspect we’re going to wander a bit, but wandering is usually the best part.

I’m just delighted to kick off the first episode1 with Tiff Arment where The Important Thing is pens2. In this first episode, we talk pen origin stories, we dive deep on fountain pens, and, uh, we talk video games, too.

Enjoy it now or download for later:


  1. Wow. There are a lot of moving parts in setting up a podcast. This is a beta release and I continue to tinker with all the things. Special thanks to Marco Arment for saving my ass no less than three times during this process. I’m working on getting The Important Thing feed posted to all the usual places. If you’ve done such a thing within WordPress, please join the #theimportantthing channel on the Rands Leadership Slack and let’s chat. There’s a proper RSS feed coming soon. 
  2. Tiff provided this amazing shot of the pens we discuss. 

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Lightweight Ads for Android Apps

play-services-ads-lite_128x128The easiest way to start monetizing your mobile apps is to connect with advertisers and show relevant ads within them. It’s as simple as displaying an ad, your users click on it, and you make money. The main staple in the industry is AdMob from Google, which offers SDKs for both iOS and Android applications and can be integrated in minutes. However, one drawback to the Android library is that it’s part of Google Play services, which can increase the size of your app. Today we’re going to look at a new SDK for Android, Ads Lite, that gives us a lightweight new version to help reduce app size and decrease the number of dependencies required. This can be extremely useful if you’re running into the 64K reference limit and have to multidex your application.

Monetize App in AdMob

Before we can integrate the SDK, we’ll need to set up our app in AdMob. If you haven’t signed up for an AdMob account, you’ll want to do so at this time to start the monetization process. Once you’ve created an account, we can simply click on the Monetize App button to find our app in the app store or add it manually. Select the Manual process if you haven’t launched your app in Google Play.

addappadmob

The next step is to select the ad format that we want to integrate in the app. The easiest format to integrate is a Banner, which is placed throughout the apps. We have control overe different refresh rates along with the type of ads we want to display. We can then link to Firebase for advanced analytics, or skip over this process.

We can add additional ad units or get setup instructions at this point. If we wanted to add ad banners to multiple Activities, it’s best practice to create an ad unit for each. Back on the main app screen, we’ll want to write down our App ID and Ad unit ID to integrate in our code:

appid

adunitid

Getting Started with Ads Lite SDK

Ads Lite is a brand new SDK that was introduced with Google Play services 9.6.1. It has far fewer dependencies than the standard Ads SDK, but still requires a minimum version of 24.2.1 of the Android Support Libraries. This means that, as of this blog, Ads Lite is currently not compatible with Xamarin.Forms applications (see my blog on adding Ads to Xamarin.Forms apps), but can be added to traditional Xamarin.Android applications easily through the NuGet package.

adnuget

Add Permissions and Ads Activity

Once the SDK has been added, we must update our Android Manifest with a few permissions and a default Ads activity that can be launched.

The Google Mobile Ads Lite SDK requires the Internet and Access Network State permissions to work correctly. We can add these with the following assembly level attributes:

[assembly: UsesPermission (Android.Manifest.Permission.Internet)]
[assembly: UsesPermission (Android.Manifest.Permission.AccessNetworkState)]

Or, we can add them directly inside the Android Manifest manually. We can find our Android Manifest source under the Properties folder in Visual Studio or Xamarin Studio.

Inside of the application tag we will add this very specific activity node:

Integrate AdView

We can now start to add the AdViews throughout our application. Simply open the layout file where the ad will live, and in the root node we’ll add a custom xmlns for our ad under the xmlns:android attribute:

xmlns:ads="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res-auto"

Next, we can add the AdView control:

Note that we’re using the SMART_BANNER keyword for the adSize to dynamically fill the width and height and by referencing @string/banner_ad_unit_id for the adUnitId, which we get from AdMob. The ID should be placed in the strings.xml resources folder. This ID starts with ca-app-pub and has a / in it.

YOUR_AD_UNIT_ID

Initialize the Ads SDK

Our AdView is ready to start displaying ads, but we must ensure that the SDK has been initialized with our publisher app ID. It’s recommended to initialize at app launch, such as inside the OnCreate of our MainActivity. This ID starts with ca-app-pub and has a ~ in it.

var id = "YOUR_ADMOB_APP_ID";
Android.Gms.Ads.MobileAds.Initialize(ApplicationContext, id);

Finally, we must send a request for the ad in the code behind where the layout is loaded:

var adView = FindViewById(Resource.Id.adView);
var adRequest = new AdRequest.Builder().Build();
adView.LoadAd(adRequest);

See it in Action

At this point, we’re ready to launch and run our application. We must use a Google Android emulator with Google Play services or a physical device.

screenshot_1484006501

This should look very similar to standard AdMob test ads if you have used the standard Ads SDK in your app. In fact, you could simply replace the standard Ads SDK with Ads Lite SDK with absolutely no code changes!

Limitations

Ads Lite has a reduced footprint because it is unlike the standard Ads SDK, which includes the Google Play services client libraries. Ads Lite strips away the implementation and leaves only an interface for us to develop against. This means that Google Play services must be installed and updated on the device that your app is running on. It’s only recommended to use the Lite SDK if distributing through the Google Play store. If a device doesn’t have Google Play services, it will log an error and an ad will not be displayed.

Learn More

To learn more about the Ads Lite SDK, be sure to read through the Firebase documentation and the full Ads SDK documentation on integrating ads. You can find a full sample of integrating Ads Lite SDK in my Monkeys App on GitHub. If you’re looking to integrate AdMob ads in your Xamarin.Forms applications, read through my posts on integrating AdMob for both iOS and Android Xamarin.Forms apps.

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The Week in Mobile: January 8-14, 2017

TWIMThe iPhone turns 10, Android Wear 2.0 to arrive next month, Google’s Tango powers AR museum exploration and more Each week we round up the top news stories, think pieces and other content that centers on the fast-paced, quickly changing world of mobile technology. We tell you which companies are employing clever mobile strategies, illuminate […]

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Best of 2016: Mac apps for nerds

Welcome to part 3 of my “Favorite Apps of 2016” series. This installment focuses on Mac utilities and developer tools. If you’re not a power user or a coder, there will probably be fewer apps of interest to you, but there are quite a few that are great gateways for intermediate users to start making more of their Macs.

Check out the previous lists, too: Mac Productivity and Mac Creativity.

Utilities

The list of apps I use every day that I think get mentioned enough that I can save some word count on describing them…

The “Obvious” List

The Standouts

CleanMyMac 3
I fell in love with this one in 2016. It covers all the bases that Cocktail did for me, plus disk scanning for large files, extension and launch agent management, and more. Again, not to be confused with MacKeeper.
HoudahSpot
I love Spotlight. I love HoudahSpot because it makes complex Spotlight queries easy while adding even more power. Recently-added Smart Folder export makes it helpful to me even outside of the app.
As a side note, I built this series using HoudahSpot to find apps opened within a date range and export the list with just the app name and category columns as a CSV file. Then a little manual curation and a ruby script to sort the list into posts by category.
Hammerspoon
This utility takes a lot of fiddling, but for adding keyboard features and other customizations, it’s pretty amazing. Finally a valid reason in my workflow to learn Lua.
Default Folder X
It’s taken some time for Default Folder X to regain full functionality since El Capitan, but it’s there now and I’m glad to have it back. If Save and Open dialogs make you crazy, this is the solution.
Droplr
Droplr continues to be my favorite way to quickly share screenshots, animated gif recordings, and Markdown/Code notes. It’s fast and well-integrated, and I love being able to use custom domains (ckyp.us, my Beastie Boys tribute of a domain name), sort my share history, and track analytics.
Smart Sync
Not pretty, but for the price the best folder-syncing solution I’ve found for my needs.
Keyboard Maestro
In 2016 I finally got serious about learning Keyboard Maestro. I always knew it was amazing, thanks to bloggers like Gabe Weatherhead (MacDrifter), Patrick Welker (RocketInk), and Dr. Drang, but now I’m actually starting to use it and realize the full scope of what it can do.
Fileloupe
This one is a bit pricy ($20) for my needs, but worth it in the end. Browse folders of files with split previews, metadata inspection, sorting, filtering, and flagging, video playback, and more.
Monity
When my other system monitoring solutions fell behind the times or ceased development, I tried out Monity and it’s fit the bill nicely. It’s a Today widget that gives me all the CPU, disk, and network info I need.
OmniFocusColors
Here’s a random and free tool for creating OmniFocus color themes.
NetSpot
A WiFi scanner and analysis app. Great for solving wifi network issues and improving coverage.
Arq
My favorite backup app. I use it with SFTP, but also love the integration with Amazon S3 and Glacier. The speed boost this year was significant, too.
LaunchControl
LaunchControl has kept up with the OS changes, and is still the most solid and complete tool for managing (and creating) background daemons and agents for macOS. Even if that doesn’t sound interesting to you, trust me, it makes running scheduled and repeating tasks easy. You’ll thank me later.
Jettison
This disk ejecting app from St. Clair Software is my top choice in its bracket. I can eject all (or specific) external and network drives with a keystroke, and automatically eject them on sleep.

Developer Tools

Xsymbolicate
Need to read and understand symbolicated crash reports easily? This is the tool that helped me make sense of them.
Hyper
I use iTerm 2, but Hyper (as well as Black Screen) have taken some serious strides in the realm of highly-customizable (via HTML/CSS/JavaScript) terminal apps.
RegExRX
I know, there are a ton of better looking RegEx apps with very cool features. RegExRX keeps drawing me back, though, with great highlighting, error reporting, and the ability to import and export a pattern converted to whatever language/syntax you’re working in. It can even generate code for initializing and executing regex objects in each supported language.
Feeder
I use Feeder primarily for Sparkle appcasts, but it has excellent features for bloggers and podcasters as well.
Kaleidoscope
Kaleidoscope hasn’t updated since 2014, but it’s still the best diff/merge tool for my needs. A hefty price tag, though ($70), so you might prefer Xcode’s FileMerge and something like Patch Viewer.
PaintCode
Import PDF, SVG, PSD, AI or EPS documents or draw your own with built-in vector tools and output generated code in Swift, Obj-C, Java, C#, JavaScript or SVG, ready to use in your app as fully-scalable, code-driven graphics. It’s awesome, and there’s a Sketch plugin available.
SwitchUp
I’m going to offer a strong recommendation of SwitchUp for developers, but with the caveat that it’s long been abandonware. It’s perfect for testing applications with multiple sets of preferences and cache files, though.

Next up will be my favorite iOS apps from the last year!


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New Xamarin.Forms Pre-release 2.3.4.184-pre1: Quality Improvements, Bindable Picker

We have been working on improving the quality and performance of Xamarin.Forms as we speed toward our next stable release, so the bulk of this pre-release amounts to a huge list of quality improvements. For a complete rundown, check out the release notes here.

What’s New in Xamarin.Forms 2.3.4.184-pre1

There are a few feature enhancements nestled in among the bug fixes. Most notably, we’re delivering on several features we announced on the Xamarin.Forms Roadmap, including Bindable Picker, OnIdiom Support for UWP Desktop, and quality improvements.

Bindable Picker

Use the same binding syntax you’re familiar with on controls like ListView to work the Picker control. Bind your ItemsSource, SelectedIndex, SelectedItem, Title, and TextColor without having to wire things up manually in the XAML C# code file. This makes using the Picker control that much easier in apps that make regular use of Mvvm and bindings.

OnIdiom Support for UWP Desktop

You can now target your code directly at desktop and laptops running Windows thanks to a community member pull request. Previously, UWP desktop was lumped in with phone or tablet.


  
    
      Vertical
      Vertical
      Horizontal
    
  
  ...

Quality Enhancements

We’ve been looking for wins in terms of quality and performance across the board. Now, if you have XAMLC enabled in your project, you’ll benefit from all of the runtime performance gains we’ve made; we’re working on even more. UWP developers may have noticed that ListView performance needed some love, and in this release it has been vastly improved. In both cases, no changes are required by you.

In addition to those highlights, we’ve addressed more than 90 bug reports and added over 45 other fixes to improve overall quality. We’re really happy with the momentum we have going and hope you are, too.

The Future of Xamarin.Forms

Community Contributions

The Xamarin.Forms community has been helping drive improvements with pull requests and proposals. This pre-release boasts over 50 pull requests merged from 13 community members across 10 countries in just the past three months. A huge thanks to every one of you for each bug fix and enhancement, big or small!

Do you have a great idea for what Xamarin.Forms should be doing and want to learn how you can contribute? Head over to our new Evolution forum and get started by reading the contribution guidelines. As of this writing, we already have six proposals “In Progress” and another nine proposals that have been “Accepted”.

Xamarin.Forms Feature Roadmap

Last week we published our Xamarin.Forms Roadmap, which looks forward to what we expect to deliver over the next several months. Community feedback has been excellent and productive in helping shape the future of Xamarin.Forms. We’re heavily focused on performance improvements, quality improvements, and implementing the features most impactful to Xamarin.Forms users. Make sure to read the Roadmap here and bookmark it so you get any updates we make as those dates approach.

Try it now—feedback please!

To get Xamarin.Forms 2.3.4.184-pre1, search nuget with the pre-release option enabled, and install it into each PCL and App project.

We’re currently hunting for all the bugs–help us so we can get to release candidate status! Of course, we want to validate that we’ve successfully closed out other bugs and celebrate a bit (kudos welcome), but a goal of any pre-release is to surface new bugs as well. Load up your projects, simple and complex alike, and give them a taste of 2.3.4.184-pre1.

If you’ve got a new bug to report, drop us a quick report here so we can follow up in detail.

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The post New Xamarin.Forms Pre-release 2.3.4.184-pre1: Quality Improvements, Bindable Picker appeared first on Xamarin Blog.

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