Xamarin Evolve 2016 – A Watershed Moment for Forms

It was brilliant to be a part of Xamarin Evolve 2016. It was an inspiring few days where an amazing community came together to hear great talks, hack, share ideas and have fun!

When the dust had settled though, there seemed to be a consensus that amongst all the great presentations, tooling, ideas and frameworks, Xamarin.Forms was the star of the show.

Getting harder to make the case for native

For many, Xamarin.Forms has long been the go-to technology for building cross-platform apps. But a big chunk of the Xamarin community had yet to be convinced. Ever since it first came on the scene, there has been a feeling of excitement tinged with caution for anyone who has been let down by silver bullet promises in the past. But the potential was always there and it was a case of watching the product and the community grow, knowing that one day the balance would tip in favour of Forms. Well for many, that day has come.

Many native Xamarin developers that I spoke to in the latter stages of Evolve had had their heads turned by Forms. And the best part of it was that it wasn’t some big marketing message, or someone shouting from the rooftop of the Hyatt Regency. It was subtle, something in the confidence with which people spoke about their Forms apps, the growing catalogue of tools and components available and the speed at which they allow you to get up-and-running across multiple platforms.

From the keynote, we saw the new Xaml Previewer and Data Pages. Jason Smith showed us how to optimise our app performance and how to create our own custom layouts, while James Montemagno open sourced his Xamarin.Forms Android, iOS and Windows 10 Evolve 2016 Apps. With each step forward, it gets harder and harder to make a case for native UI over Forms.

What does the future hold for Evolve?

Of course, it wasn’t all Xamarin.Forms. On a personal level it was great to have one last outing as a member of my old team. Even if the timing of MixRadio’s demise scuppered our chance to speak at the event.

Other highlights included the prolific Greg Shackles discussing app monitoring strategies and James Clancey putting his own unique spin on async/await. My personal favourite was the Paul Betts session which explained why SQLite can appear to be less performant than his excellent Akavache library despite Akavache itself being based on SQLite. It was a masterclass on using SQLite properly and much of the content would apply to other database technologies such as the newly released Realm.

There are a load of other videos of great sessions at the official site. What you can’t get a feel for was the fun we had at Universal Studios, doing the Darwin Lounge hacks and socialising with the brilliant Xamarin family.

Regardless of what Microsoft do next, it seems likely that this event will be the last of its kind. The community will grow rapidly now that Xamarin is for Everyone and the close knit, family feel of the Xamarin community will be hard to maintain. There certainly seems to be a strong will to keep the momentum going, so fingers crossed!

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