Xamarin Evolve 2016 is shaping up to be our best conference ever, and with top mobile development experts from around the world coming to Orlando, Florida, April 24-28!
We thought we’d take a look behind the brilliant code and get to know this year’s Xamarin Evolve 2016 speakers a little bit better. We’ll be sharing these spotlights for the next few months leading up to the conference and we hope you enjoy getting to know this year’s speakers before you meet them in person in April!
First in the series is Xamarin’s own Charles Petzold, who will present, Mastering Xamarin.Forms XAML. Charles is a programmer and writer at Xamarin and has been writing about programming for Microsoft operating systems for thirty years. He has written several books on Windows and Windows Phone development and is also the author of Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software (Microsoft Press, 1999) and The Annotated Turing: A Guided Tour through Alan Turing’s Historic Paper on Computability and the Turing Machine (Wiley, 2008).
How long have you been doing mobile development?
I’m a relative newcomer to mobile. In 2009 some people from Microsoft invited me to look at the early versions of Windows Phone 7 with the idea that I might want to write a book about it. I was delighted to discover a mobile platform that was based on my favorite language and APIs: C#, .NET, and XAML. Mobile has dominated my professional life since then.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
Coming from a background in desktop programming, the biggest lesson I’ve learned with mobile development is the necessity of compromise. A phone has a relatively small screen, no mouse, and a virtual keyboard that occupies almost half the screen. The hope, of course, is that the challenge of battling these restrictions allows a breakthrough to a solution that in some way is actually better than the comparable desktop application. And indeed, mobile applications are much more intimately interactive because of touch.
Why did you get into software development?
I attended the first college that required all freshman to take a programming course, so in September of the year 19-mumble-mumble I began learning Fortran using punched cards and paper output. But it wasn’t until after college that I taught myself digital hardware and software by designing and building a computer-controlled electronic music synthesizer. That was a hobby that certainly changed my life.
What are you looking forward to most at this year’s Xamarin Evolve?
The excitement and electricity of so many mobile developers in one place.
What is a take away from your talk that will change the way attendees do mobile development for the better?
I think that many programmers who appreciate the strong typing of languages like C# and F# have a reluctance to use a markup language like XAML because with markup everything in the API is reduced to a string, and strings are by their nature prone to misspellings and inaccuracies. I want to demonstrate that XAML is just as type safe and nearly as versatile as C#, and that it’s really the combination of code and XAML that makes it so powerful.
What devices are you carrying around with you right now?
I used to be a Windows Phone user, but in the early days of working with Xamarin.Forms, I wasn’t happy with the standard Android emulators available at that time. I bought a Nexus 5 just for Xamarin.Forms development but I fell in love with it, and now it’s the last thing I put down before bed and the first thing I pick up in the morning. I’ve also been wearing an LG G watch and I’ve become rather addicted to that as well.
What are you doing when you’re not doing mobile development with Xamarin?
My wife and I live in New York City, so we take advantage of the many museums and cultural opportunities in this great city. We particularly see a lot of live music—everything from song recitals and chamber music to large orchestras and opera. There are even still a few bookstores left in New York City, and we enjoy browsing for books. Some of our best times together are spent simply reading, either to ourselves or aloud.