Xamarin: Xamarin for Students Gets Even Better with Expansion to Visual Studio

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. Now, students get free access to everything they need to become mobile app developers virtually overnight, creating native iOS […]

The post Xamarin for Students Gets Even Better with Expansion to Visual Studio appeared first on Xamarin Blog.

Daniel Hindrikes: Xamarin.Forms Android CardView

When Google introduced Material Design for Android they introduced a new view called CardView. Xamarin.Forms doesn’t have support for CardView by default but you can easily create your own view that renderers a CardView on Android. First step is to create a Xamarin.Forms control in your shared project. public class CardContentView : ContentView {   […]

Marcos Cobeña Morián: Translating Designs into Layouts: Units Conversion

One aspect that Apple pushed to the limits is the union between Designers and Developers. Instead of understanding the product development process as a chain, it is done as a very close relationship walking in the same direction. Both of them speak different languages: they use different tools during their day-to-day job, they see different … Continue reading Translating Designs into Layouts: Units Conversion

James Montemagno: Material Design Theming for Xamarin.Forms Android Apps

I am an extremely big fan of Material Design for Android applications. Case and point is this tweet that I sent out last night:

Over the past six months have I present on Material Design at Xamarin Evolve and also at user groups and the number one question I get is: “How can we use Material Design in Xamarin.Forms?” 

That is a loaded question because Material Design is not only the core theming of the application, but it is custom controls, animations, transitions, and a plethora of other things. Check out Google’s Material Design guidelines  for everything that is really part of material design. 

When it comes to Xamarin.Forms and Material Design it is a tricky question. All the custom control, animations, transitions, and jazz like that you most likely will not be able to do with out some work and some renderers.  However, you still have the ability to add in a little Material Design Theming and of course you can follow proper spacing and guidelines on the 4dp grid.

The AppCompat Debate

Revision 21 of AppCompat v7 was pretty ground breaking. Traditionally, AppCompat brought the use of the ActionBar to older platforms, but Revision 21 changed all of this by bringing Material Design Themes and controls to older devices. This is important since Lollipop is currently 3.5% of the market! Currently, Xamarin.Forms does not use AppCompat which means we can not take advantage of the new compat theming, but there is NO reason that we can’t make our Lollipop users happy by adding a little material theming to their app. This will bring not only material design themes, but also all the fancy touch events, and other core Lollipop control features from the core OS, which will be very nice.

Base Styles:

The first step is to ensure that you have you Resources/values/styles.xml and base theme setup to use Holo. In your Android project under Resources/values simply create a new xml file and name it styles.xml. Then you can place this XML in it:

Next is to create our Lollipop specific styles under Resources/values-v21/styles.xml, which you will place:

I like to put all of my color resources in Resources/values/colors.xml, and this is what mine looks like, which you can see I am referencing in the values-v21/styles.xml:

Update ApplicationManifest.xml

You must now of course tell your Android app to use this new fancy theme that you have created by setting the android:theme attribute:

Remove App Icon from ActionBar

The new default in Lollipop is to hide the app icon from the main action bar and you can easily do this inside of your MainActivity.cs with just a few lines of code:

Update Hamburger Button (optional)

If you are using the MasterDetailPage you will want to update your hamburger icon so that on v21 it uses the new full triple line. You can do this by download the set from the Android Asset Studio and then creating new drawable folders with the extension of -v21 at the end like this:

Then you will set the Icon to “slideout.png” or whatever you called it for your MasterDetailPage.

Here is the final result of just a few minutes of work in my Hansleman.Forms app:

Nice new styling for the colors, larger action bar, better fonts, and of course a nice new hamburger button! So can you get Material Design in your Xamarin.Forms application? Absolutely, but you just don’t get everything and it is for a limited amount of users. However, the number of Lollipop users is only going up so why not add a bit of flare to your app?

XHackers Team: Wearables Day

Hot buzzword of the day is Wearables. We at XHackers are ready to create a buzz. Lot of us when we hear the word – Wearables, we think of Apple Watch, Android Wear, Microsoft Band, Google Glass or even Fitbit. But history of wearables dates back to 1961!

XHackers

In 1961, a MIT Professor, Edward Thorp, whom we call the Father of Wearables, created and successfully used a first wearable computer to cheat at Roulette which gave them 44% edge over the game 🙂 Since then, we had calculator watches (how many of you remember Casio watches 😉 ), digital hearing aids, Nike+, Go Pros, Fitbits and similar clones.

And then one day, Google announced “Project Glass” with a mission statement –

We think technology should work for you – to be there when you need it and get out of your way when you don’t.

It was exciting! With the annoucement of GDK(Glass Developer Kit), Android developers could write native Google glass apps using the Android SDK. This opened up plethora of opportunities for developers into the Wearable Computing market. Parallely, came slew of watches powered by Android called Android Wear. If you didn’t know – Xamarin has been supporting Google Glass & Android Wears ever since. Some exciting news about new watches are making rounds.. watch out! (pun intended).

Microsoft too joined the party by annoucing a cool looking wrist band called Microsoft Band. To our surprise, it came in with full support on all the leading phone Operating Systems like iOS, Android along with it’s very own Windows. With the release of Band SDK for all platforms and Xamarin’s same day support, it’s now seamless to integrate with iOS and Android apps. What we hear is, very soon Cortona which used to work only on Windows Phone, will now work on iOS and Android too – which will open up more avenues for apps to integrate voice in their apps.
XHackers

Apple Watch was one of the most exciting annoucements from Apple! As you may know, WatchKit has been in preview for quite some time now. Recently after WatchKit’s official release, and the actual Watch yet to hit the Apple stores, nothing stops developers to make their apps ready for the D-Day.

With Xamarin platform, it’s now a reality for C# developers to write a cross platform code across all the major wearable platforms. Not just write code for Apple Watch, Google Glass, Android Wears, or Microsoft Band but also share a good amount of code among them.

So are you excited to learn how to build your wearable apps on all these platforms in C#?

XHackers

Here’s your opportunity to peek into the wearable app development world. Come and learn more about Xamarin and how to program for Wearables in our upcoming meetup.

RSVP Now

What we plan to cover –

  • 09:45 AM – 10:15 AM : Quick introduction to Xamarin, Xamarin Forms – Pooran
  • 10:15 AM – 10:45 AM : Getting started with Microsoft Band –Vidyasagar
  • 10:45 AM – 11 AM : Break
  • 11 AM – 11:45 AM : Apple Watch concepts –Pooran
  • 11:45 AM – 12:30 PM : Android Wear concepts – Vidyasagar

See you there!

Blog Credits : Pooran

Cheers
Xhackers Core Team
[email protected]

Johan Karlsson: The Linker – Mono’s virtual 400 HP code chainsaw

One behind the scenes tool that most Xamarin newbies don’t know nothing about is the linker. The linker gets called during the build of your assemblies. It has a single purpose and that is to reduce the size of your assembly. So how does it do that you say! It does it by firing up a digital, virtual, 400-HP chainsaw and cuts away the parts that your code doesn’t use.

GREAT! How do I enable it?!

For iOS and Android the linker is enabled by default for projects that targets actual devices and disabled if you target emulators/simulators. The reason for this is to reduce build time when deploying to a simulator.

You can edit the linker settings under project properties; iOS build for iOS and Android options for Android. 

Anything else I should know

Yes, there are three levels of linking;
  • Link all assemblies which means that all code is subject for linking
  • Link SDK assemblies only which means that only Xamarin Core assemblies will be linked. Default for deploy to actual devices.
  • Dont link which means, well, don’t link… Default for deploy to simulators/emulators.

Outstanding, why don’t I use Link all all the time then!?

The first reason is that deploy time increases since linking takes time. So when deploying to the simulator or for your device while testing, it simply is not worth the extra time.
The other more important reason that should’ve been first is that the linker can be slightly evil. It can remove stuff that you meant to keep. Linking is carried out through static analysis of the code, so any classes that are instantiated through reflection and sometimes through IoC will not be detected and so they will be cut away. You can save the day by using the [Preserve] attribute to decorate classes and tell them to hide from the linker. If you’re coding in a PCL that doesn’t have the PreserveAttribute references you can just roll your own. Simply call it “PreserveAttribute” and the linker will see it. Think of it as garlic for linker vampires…
The third reason not to use link all is that this might affect any third party libraries that you have referenced that isn’t “linker friendly”.

So what’s the summary of all this

Simply leave the linker as is and carry on with your life. Nothing to see here, circulate!

References

Johan Karlsson: Connecting to Android Player using VS and Parallels

This is a short guide for how to connect to Android Player in case you’re using Visual Studio in Windows through Parallels. I use to do this in a way more complicated manor before I realized that it’s just this simple. Looking ahead, In VS 2015, Microsofts gives us an x86/hyper-V Android emulator that looks great. But for now, this works the best.

Start your engines

Fire up Android Player (or any other emulator of your choice that runs Android) in OS X and get the address to the emulator. Click on the settings cog and note the IP Address.

Connect to the emulator

In Windows, open your project in Visual Studio and hit Tools -> Android -> Android Adb Command Prompt. Write adb connect [the IP address] and you should then be connected to your emulator like in the image below.

Run your project

You should now see your device in Visual Studio!

Troubleshooting

Of course, things can go wrong. The issues I’ve encountered are these.
1) I had to disable my wireless network while connected to the local wired network. Surely this is a configuration issue that I just haven’t bothered with yet.
2) The emulator doesn’t show up. Restart Visual Studio.
3) You have to reconnect each time your Mac goes to sleep…
4) Firewalls… Make sure port 5555 is open for TCP from Windows to OS X.