Disclaimer: this is an automatic aggregator which pulls feeds and comments from many blogs of contributors that have contributed to the Mono project. The contents of these blog entries do not necessarily reflect Xamarin's position.

September 1

Xamarin Apt and Yum repos now open for testing

Howdy y’all

Two of the main things I’ve been working on since I started at Xamarin are making it easier for people to try out the latest bleeding-edge Mono, and making it easier for people on older distributions to upgrade Mono without upgrading their entire OS.

Public Jenkins packages

Every time anyone commits to Mono git master or MonoDevelop git master, our public Jenkins will try and turn those into packages, and add them to repositories. There’s a garbage collection policy – currently the 20 most recent builds are always kept, then the first build of the month for everything older than 20 builds.

Because we’re talking potentially broken packages here, I wrote a simple environment mangling script called mono-snapshot. When you install a Jenkins package, mono-snapshot will also be installed and configured. This allows you to have multiple Mono versions installed at once, for easy bug bisecting.

directhex@marceline:~$ mono --version
Mono JIT compiler version 3.6.0 (tarball Wed Aug 20 13:05:36 UTC 2014)
directhex@marceline:~$ . mono-snapshot mono
[mono-20140828234844]directhex@marceline:~$ mono --version
Mono JIT compiler version 3.8.1 (tarball Fri Aug 29 07:11:20 UTC 2014)

The instructions for setting up the Jenkins packages are on the new Mono web site, specifically here. The packages are built on CentOS 7 x64, Debian 7 x64, and Debian 7 i386 – they should work on most newer distributions or derivatives.

Stable release packages

This has taken a bit longer to get working. The aim is to offer packages in our Apt/Yum repositories for every Mono release, in a timely fashion, more or less around the same time as the Mac installers are released. Info for setting this up is, again, on the new website.

Like the Jenkins packages, they are designed as far as I am able to cleanly integrate with different versions of major popular distributions – though there are a few instances of ABI breakage in there which I have opted to fix using one evil method rather than another evil method.

Please note that these are still at “preview” or “beta” quality, and shouldn’t be considered usable in major production environments until I get a bit more user feedback. The RPM packages especially are super new, and I haven’t tested them exhaustively at this point – I’d welcome feedback.

I hope to remove the “testing!!!” warning labels from these packages soon, but that relies on user feedback to my xamarin.com account preferably (jo.shields@)

Should I do it myself, or use the Asset Store?

“First of all, don’t start with the mentality “I have to do everything myself, I’m an indie”. Sometimes it’s good to learn. But if you say that over and over again it starts to be destructive,” says Alejandro Garza, the CEO of start-up studio Authentic Illusions.

The Authentic Illusions team is full of PhD researchers in the field of Artificial Intelligence. So the studio has no lack of programmer talent. But that doesn’t mean that they love coding their games from scratch and they’d like to share the reasons why.

Alejandro Garza thinks that indies often believe that they have unlimited time, but forget to factor in their own living costs. “What’s worth it in the end is finishing your game. If you’re completely out of money, you won’t finish it”. He sees many crowdfunding campaigns that are setting themselves to fail by asking for too little money.

He suggests that when you decide to add a new functionality, you should always first consider your own skills. Can you code it yourself? Do you have something in your old work you can base this on?

Then you need to consider the value of your own time and how much of it is going to be taken by the development of the plug in. “If it’s going to take a week and a week of your work is worth 300 dollars, you should see the project in that perspective. But experienced project managers know that it’s hard to put together an accurate estimate, it’s necessary to include a buffer for unexpected delays,” warns Alejandro.

If you decided that buying a plugin is more cost effective, do some research before buying. Consider how well documented the different options are and how much time will you spend integrating them. Read comments and reviews and make sure to take other people’s experiences into account.

“I have not yet stumbled across badly documented assets, but I know it can happen. You just need to do a little research before paying. Of course, even very good assets take a little time to integrate, but so do assets that you develop yourself,” he points out.

When the budget of your project is zero, the equation might look very different. “If you don’t have any money at all and need the assets right now, there’s really nothing else to do but get cracking. But when you have a budget, even a small one, you should really remember to take your own wages into account”.

In the beginning, it’s good to learn by developing from scratch and not think too much about the time spent on the project. But to have this attitude throughout the whole development process of a commercial game is extremely risky. “It might be sheer arrogance that will end up costing you your game,” warns Alejandro. For example, you can lose some valuable promotion opportunities by not being able to put something together to a deadline.


Authentic Illusions are happy to show they prototypes externally, because they feel it’s important to get feedback from people as soon as possible. With the Asset Store, they saved a lot of time and effort programming, but they also use 3D models for prototyping. “Being able to have the prototype up and running is really great. Even just internally, showing the artist what you had in mind can be extremely valuable. But externally, having something up and running that looks good, that’s indispensable”.

Even though the placeholder art has helped the team a lot, editor extensions are still their favorite category. “Obviously the first one would be NGUI, it is great. But seeing the new tools, maybe it will be redundant, let’s see!”

Another favorite is Editor Console Pro, which is a great way to customize your scripting workflow. “For example, if you want to print out the steps that each class is performing, it shows them all, in different colors as you want them. It’s super useful for debugging”.

Advanced PlayerPrefs Window is an example of a game functionality that they decided to buy on the Asset Store instead of developing themselves. It’s a little console with all the player preferences that you can modify on the go. It saves quite a bit of time, which is extremely valuable, especially considering it only costs $10.

Alejandro’s radiating with optimism about the future of the team as well as the Unity ecosystem. The team is developing a 2D tool for the Asset Store, but they’re also thinking about how to use Unity for their research. “In the end, if you work on AI, you don’t want to use many different systems to build and test your project. Unity is an awesome platform to bring everything together and run it right away,” he says.

The Authentic Illusions team is collaborating with Arbor Sheep, an art studio, on a 2D side scrolling puzzle adventure called REalM.


August 29

Xamarin Evolve 2014 Speaker Spotlight: Jesse Liberty

Xamarin Evolve 2014 is only a month away, and we couldn’t be more excited for all of the amazing talks we have lined up for you this year. We have some of the top mobile development experts from around the world coming to Atlanta, Georgia, October 6th-10th, so we thought we’d take a look behind the brilliant code and get to know this year’s Xamarin Evolve 2014 speakers a little bit better. We’ll be sharing these spotlights for the next month leading up to the conference; we hope you enjoy getting to know this year’s speakers before you meet them in person in October!

First in the series is Jesse Liberty, who will present, “Evolving From Web to Mobile App with Xamarin,” in the Cross-Platform track. Jesse is a Master Consultant for Falafel Software, Jesse Libertya Microsoft MVP, an author, and he creates courses for Pluralsight. He hosts the popular, Yet Another Podcast, and his blog should be considered required reading. He was a Senior Evangelist for Microsoft, a XAML Evangelist for Telerik, a Distinguished Software Engineer at AT&T, Software Architect for PBS, and Vice President of Information Technology at Citibank.

Why did you get into software development?


What is the biggest lesson about mobile development that you’ve learned?

It is imperative to understand the expected user experience on each individual platform.

What are your favorite mobile apps and why?

The Kindle and Audible apps have transformed the way I read books. Evernote has become an extension of my memory. Waze has improved my travel as has Tripit. And Shazam/Soundhound is just magic.

What will attendees get out of your talk?

My hope is that attendees will get a new perspective on Xamarin as a way to transition from web through hybrid to native development.

What are you looking forward to most at this years Evolve?

While I’m very much looking forward to many of the presentations, it’s the hallway conversations I most look forward to.

What are your favorite open source libraries, and why?

I’m growing increasingly fond of Xamarin Forms Labs as a wonderful extension of Xamarin Forms. Of course, JSON.NET is a life saver and there are many others as well.

Mobile .NET and Xamarin Meetups for September

School is back in session and so are mobile developer meetups! Check out the announced events for the month of  September and remember to follow @XamarinEvents on Twitter to stay informed on newly added Xamarin events.


Here are some upcoming Xamarin developer group meetups:

Australia Partner Conference au

  • Gold Coast, Australia: September 2-4

Seattle Mobile Developers  us

  • Seattle, WA: Tuesday, September 2nd 6:00pm
  • Accelerate your mobile development with Azure, with Paul Batum

Mobile with Xamarin  us

  • Hartford, CT: Thursday, September 4th 12:00PM
  • Cross-Platform Mobile Development Using C#, with Xamarin’s Mike Bluestein

KulenDayz 2014  hr

  • Osijek, Croatia: September 5-7
  • Presentation on Xamarin.Forms

TechEd New Zealand 2014 nz

  • Auckland, New Zealand: September 9-12
  • An introduction to building cross-platform apps using Microsoft technologies and Xamarin

Sydney .NET Mobile Developers au

  • Syndey, Australia: Tuesday, September 9th 6:30pm

DFW Mobile .NET  in

  • Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas: Wednesday, September 10 6:00PM
  • Show & Tell – One Year Anniversary

Houston TechFest  in

  • Houston, Texas: Saturday, September 13th 10am
  • Cross-platform Development with PCLs; Scaling mobile applications with Azure and Xamarin; Developing for Google Glass with Xamarin.Android and C#

2 Day Hands-On Lab us

  • Hudson, Ohio: Wednesday, September 17-18 9:00am
  • Cross Platform Mobile Programming with Xamarin and C#​, with Jesse Liberty

Israel .NET Developers User Group il

  • Tel Aviv, Israel Wednesday, September 17 5:30pm
  • Building Cross Platform Apps with Xamarin!​

Boston Mobile C# Developers Group us

  • Cambridge, MA: Thursday, September 18th 6:00pm
  • What’s New in iOS 8 using Xamarin, with Xamarin’s Mike Bluestein 

Cape Town Xamarin Users Group za

  • Cape Town, South Africa: Thursday, September 18th 5:30pm
  • ASP .NET SignalR and Xamarin

FalafelCon us

Arizona-Xamarin  in

  • Tempe, Arizona: Thursday, September 25th 6:00pm
  • iOS & Android Animation

goto;conference  dk

  • Copenhagen, Denmark: Friday, September 26th
  • Xamarin’s James Montemagno will be presenting.

Expert Day  co

  • Bogota, Colombia: Saturday, September 27th
  • Presentation on Xamarin.Forms

goto;conference  dk

  • Aarhus, Denmark: Monday, September 29th
  • Xamarin’s James Montemagno will be presenting.

Xamarin events are always happening around the world, so if you don’t see your city listed above, be sure to also check out the Xamarin Events forum where new meetups are being added all the time. Additionally, don’t forget to follow our @XamarinEvents Twitter account to make sure you never miss an upcoming Xamarin event.

Don’t see a developer group in your area and want to get one started? We’re here to help! We have a tips and tricks guide on starting a developer group, our introduction to Xamarin slide deck, and of course our community sponsorship program to get you on your way. We also want to hear from you, so please feel free to send us an email or tweet @XamarinEvents so we can help spread the word and continue to grow the Xamarin community.

Charles Petzold Book Contest Winner!

Xamarin.Forms and its support for XAML has been getting a lot of attention lately; almost as much as the fact that Charles Petzold has joined Xamarin to work on it with us! We were so excited we held a contest.

Thanks to everyone who checked out the Xamarin.Forms Solitaire encryption sample and tweeted an entry. The winner was XTRRK PGGHI BQETU (decrypted, that’s @davidsonblake86). Congratulations Blake, your signed copies of Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software and The Annotated Turing: A Guided Tour through Alan Turing’s Historic Paper on Computability and the Turing Machine are on the way!

Meet Charles at Evolve 2014

Petzold BookEveryone else can still get a Charles Petzold book by attending Evolve 2014. Preview copies of Creating Mobile Apps with Xamarin.Forms will be provided to all attendees, helping everyone get a jump-start developing with Xamarin.Forms and XAML.

Charles will be presenting the following talks at Evolve:

XAML for Xamarin.Forms covers the basics of XAML syntax, including resources, property elements, attached properties, and markup extensions, how to integrate custom views and custom markup extensions into XAML, and the relationship between XAML and MVVM.

Xamarin.Forms is Cooler than You Think goes beyond the surface to explore some of the less obvious features of Xamarin.Forms, including the more obscure layout mechanisms, the power of data bindings and behaviors, and the flexible animation infrastructure.

We look forward to seeing you there.

August 28

Couchbase Joins Xamarin Evolve 2014

Couchbase LogoWe’re excited to announce that Couchbase will be joining us at Xamarin Evolve 2014 as a Silver Sponsor. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to learn more about using Couchbase Lite for .NET with Xamarin from Zack Gramana, Senior Software Engineer at Couchbase and the author of Couchbase’s Xamarin component, along with Wayne Carter, Couchbase’s Chief Architect of Mobile.

Couchbase Lite for .NET was jointly developed by Xamarin and Couchbase, and is the world’s first and only full featured, flexible, mobile JSON database that runs locally on the device. Wayne Carter and Zack GramanaZack and Wayne will cover, “Building Mobile Apps That Work Online & Offline with Couchbase,” in the Mobile Ecosystem Track at Xamarin Evolve 2014, where you’ll learn how Couchbase Lite for .NET’s low-friction document datastore, powerful MapReduce queries, and drop-dead simple synchronization combine to help you build awesome apps faster and easier. They’ll also cover common use cases and show you how easy it is to integrate into your apps so that they “just work” — anytime, anywhere.

Register for Xamarin Evolve 2014 now to learn about Couchbase Lite for .NET and so much more!

Unity at Gamescom: the true community spirit

Gamescom 2014 in Cologne was a 335000 visitor show with business and consumer areas. What area do you think Unity belongs to? Both actually!

Unity is not just a tool provider, we consider ourselves part of the game development industry with a clear mission of delivering as much value for our users as we possibly can. So we had a big and cozy Unity plus friends kind of booth on the business floor. And we sponsored the indie booth on the consumer floor.

In the business area, you can often see boring meeting boxes with denied entrance for everyone but the real business people. We at Unity think that making business and being open does actually correlate. So we invited some larger companies and talented indies to showcase their projects. We made our booth a show area for people to meet Unity reps, to talk to Unity users, to play Unity games and to check out the upcoming Unity 5.

It worked out great! Unity users were stopping by the Unity booth to leave their promo stuff/swag, so other visitors could pick it up. People were setting meetings by our booth, since it was quite a landmark on the floor. That is the community spirit and the value that goes packed with the product!

Lots of media people attended our booth to check out the new mobile title Nival secretly unveiled, beautiful new games from Game Insight and Monzo, the new project by the famous Madfinger Games.

Good thing was to see the Unity booth buddies sharing media attention – “did you see the game on the next table? You should definitely check it out!” – that was a regular goodbye message to the press on the booth.


And just to make this all even better we had Gang Beasts hot-seat championships. That was noisy and full of emotions. This game may become the central point of any party out there.

Overall, we loved what we did at Gamescom. And you? Have you been to our booth? Did you like it? What should we improve next year?

August 27

Tips for your First Wear App

Android Wear was officially released at Google I/O 2014, giving developers a unique opportunity to create Android apps for a new class of devices.

With our recently announced preliminary support in Xamarin.Android you are not only able to extend your current application with enhanced notifications, but also develop an app that runs directly on the wearable and can sync data between your handheld app and wearable app.

In this article, we will cover the basics of Android Wear. For more information, I also invite you to bookmark Chris Hardy’s “C# is in my ears and my eyes” Evolve 2014 session, where he will cover Android Wear among other emerging devices goodness.


Add Wearable Features to Notifications

The simplest way to support the new Wear platform is to take advantage of the shared nature of notifications between the phone and the wearable. By using the support v4 notification API and the WearableExtender class available with our NuGet package, you can also tap into the native features of the platform, like inbox style cards or voice input by spicing up your existing Notifications.


Companion Applications

screenshot-framedAnother strategy is to create a complete companion application that runs natively on the wearable. This is easier than you might think because, in essence, developing for Android Wear is just like developing for your Android phone, since it’s running the same Android platform.

As an example (among all the other fantastic ones), I added a simple Wear companion to our Xamarin Store app, allowing you to browse the catalog from your wrist and add/remove items from your order

Below you’ll find some tips to get you started on your own Wear applications.

Getting Started

As part of the last release of Xamarin Studio, we have added a new template to easily create a new Android Wear application:

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 6.44.02 PM

The template automatically created references our Wearable NuGet, giving you access to the wear UI toolkit and communication API.

User Interface

The primary navigation pattern for Wear is a series of cards arranged vertically. Each of these cards can have associated actions that are layered out on the same row. The pattern is more generally called 2D Picker.

The GridViewPager class part of the Wearable NuGet allows you to just do that. Adhering to the same adapter concept as ListView and friends, you generally associate it with a FragmentGridPagerAdapter that lets you represent each row and column cells as a Fragment.


There is also a Wear specific design for action buttons, consisting of a big colored circle and a small description text underneath. Although there is currently no built-in widget to do this in the library, it’s very easy to do it yourself by using a simple custom layout and a state-list drawable file.


Being companion to a phone application, wearable apps need to be able to communicate with their host. Android Wear gives you access to two different communication APIs to do this.

First is the Data API, which is akin to a synchronized datastore between the wearable and the phone. The platform will take care of propagating changes to the other side when it’s optimal to do so. It’s also able to smartly detect when the wearable is out of range and queue up the synchronization for later.

Second is the Message API, which allows you to use a lower level, small payload, fire-and-forget type of communication. With this API you can craft small message to which you associate a URL path and a byte array content that you can send directly to a node in the Wear network.

The Xamarin Store wear app uses both APIs for different purposes. The Data API is used to transfer the available products and their associated image assets whereas the Message API allows the wearable to send order to the phone like refresh the store information or add/remove item from the cart.


These APIs are available as part of our Wearable NuGet on the wearable and via our Google Play Services preview NuGet on the phone (version 19). You can register the API through the now-uniform Google Play Services connection service.

The main entry points for the two APIs are respectively WearableClass.DataApi and WearableClass.MessageApi. You can choose to register callbacks for receiving those messages via each of the API listener interfaces or alternatively implement a service in your app deriving from WearableListenerService that will automatically be instantiated by the Wear Android subsystem.


Wearable applications are deployed as their own APK file embedded inside the main application APK. Since this is a preview release, we haven’t yet ironed out the perfect way to automate this process, but for now it’s still possible and easy to manually package your Wear application.

Note that if your wearable application wants to communicate with your phone application, you will need to properly install the phone app APK containing the Wear child APK at least once on your phone device so that the initial binding is done. Afterwards, you can directly deploy and debug your Wear app from the wearable.

August 26

Introduction to Android Material Design

We recently announced preliminary support for Android L Developer Preview, and as you dive into playing with the new SDK you will immediately notice one of the biggest enhancements is the brand new Material Design concepts that Google has developed. This is the first time that Google has created a full design specification for developers to work off of when creating Android applications. In this post I will introduce the main concepts and impact of Material Design for Xamarin developers including:

  1. Theming and Accenting your Android App
  2. Elevation and View Shadows
  3. New Drawable Capabilities

material design

Additionally, Jérémie Laval and I will be giving a wonderful session at this year’s Evolve entitled Android Material Design from Concept to Implementation. In this session we will cover every aspect of Material Design including design concepts, new widgets, animations, compatibility, and so much more.

Setting Up Your Project

Before we get started be sure you have all of the latest Xamarin.Android and Android SDKs installed. Be sure to read our Android L Developer Preview Support announcement for full details of how to get started. Once you have your project open you will want to update the Target, Minimum, and Compile Target Framework found under your project options General and Android Application settings. In the future, you will want to change your Minimum Target to support older frameworks, but since Android L is not officially released you won’t be able to ship L apps to Google Play yet. Additionally, be sure to create an Android L emulator or have a device such as a a Nexus 5 or 7 that can run the Android L Developer Preview.

MinTarget Android L
General Target

Material Theme

When developing Android applications you are able to use and customize themes to brand your application. You might already be familiar with the Holo theme that has become very popular in the last few years. Android L introduces a brand new Material Theme in multiple flavors that you are able to use in your application. These will not only theme your ActionBar, but will give you a refreshed style for all of the controls. Here are the three themes available:

  • @android:style/Theme.Material (dark theme)
  • @android:style/Theme.Material.Light (light theme)
  • @android:style/Theme.Material.Light.DarkActionBar

Android Material Themes

To start to use these themes you will first need to create a new folder in the Resources folder called values-v21. This is where any of your Material Theme customization should be placed. Since you will most likely need to support older versions of Android you would want to fallback to a supported Theme in the Resources/values folder for older versions. With this folder in place you should now create a new styles.xml file and create a new theme for your application that inherits from one of the themes above (to support older versions create a styles.xml in your /values folder and create a theme with the same name there). Here is a new theme for my app called AppTheme which is of the default dark material theme:

  <style name="AppTheme" parent="android:Theme.Material">
  <!--Customizations Here-->

To use this theme you simple need to add it to your AndroidManifest.xml under the application node:

<application android:label="My Awesome App" android:theme="@style/AppTheme">

Alternatively, you can set it on a specific Activity with the Theme attribute.

[Activity (Label = "MaterialTheme",
           Theme = "@style/AppTheme")]

Add Branding

CustomThemeSometimes the default color schemes might not match your companie’s brand or you might just not like them. No worries, as Google has made it extremely simple to customize the Material themes by setting these three properties in your theme:

  • android:colorPrimary – Your app’s branding color
  • android:colorPrimaryDark – Darker variant of colorPrimary, used by default for status bar
  • android:colorAccent – Accent color for UI controls

Here is what a Xamarin based theme might look like with these colors:

<style name="AppTheme" parent="android:Theme.Material.Light">
  <item name="android:colorPrimary">#3498DB</item>
  <item name="android:colorPrimaryDark">#2C3E50</item>
  <item name="android:colorAccent">#B455B6</item>

You can customize the status bar with the android:statusBarColor attribute.


When developing for Android L you are no longer restricted to just the X and Y properties of a control and have the ability to adjust the Z value to elevate controls off the page. To achieve this we are able to set the android:elevation attribute on our element using a specific size such as 2dp, which is used to determine the size of the shadow.

The shadow is drawn against the view’s background drawable. Let’s say you wanted to add an elevation to a TextView. You could set a background color and elevation, but you can spice it up and create a circle drawable for the TextView’s background with a specific fill color:

<!-- Resources/drawable/mycircle.xml -->
<shape xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
    <solid android:color="#3498DB" />

You would then set the elevation and background attributes on the TextView:

  android:elevation="2dp" />

Here are three lined up with different elevations:
Android Elevations

You are also able to set a translation of a view for animations using the View.SetTranslationZ method.

Drawable Tinting

A unique addition to Android L is that you can now define bitmaps as an alpha mask and easily tint them by using the android:tint attribute. You no longer have to create multiple versions of your assets to simply change their colors. Mixed with the new theme color attributes and the brand new Palette Library that enables you to get colors samples from an image you can do some amazing things. Here is an example of a white Xamarin logo tinted in a few different colors with a circle background:



So Much More

This is just an introduction to Material Design, but there is so much more including animations, notifications, CardView, and RecyclerView just to name a few. Be sure to check out our Android L samples on GitHub and our Android Samples page.

Discuss this post in the Xamarin forums.

IBM Joins Xamarin Evolve 2014

IBM LogoWe’re excited to announce IBM as a Diamond sponsor of Xamarin Evolve 2014. Greg Truty, Distinguished Engineer, Chief Architect SWG Mobile Build & Connect at IBM, will lead two sessions at the conference focused on how to easily build cross-platform native apps on the client-side with Xamarin, powered by the Worklight Server on the backend.

“Connecting Xamarin Apps with IBM Worklight” is a hands on session designed to show you the power of Xamarin and Worklight together. Greg will cover how to connect native Xamarin apps to IBM Worklight Server for easy integration into your enterprise’s environment, and you’ll walk away with the ability to leverage existing resources and infrastructure for mobile, as well as manage cloud-based services directly to the end-user device.

Creating a successful enterprise app that employees actually adopt into their workflow requires much more than just delivering a great UI and UX on the employee’s choice of device. It doesn’t matter how good the app is if employees don’t know about it, can’t easily get it onto their device, or if it fails to keep up with new workflow processes and/or device features that make their lives easier. Greg’s second session, “Keeping Apps Relevant: Deployment, Support, and Management Best Practices for Your Enterprise Mobile Apps,” will teach you best practices for managing the last, but not least, parts of the mobile application lifecycle.

Don’t miss your ticket to native mobile app expertise – register here to join us at Xamarin Evolve 2014 today.

August 25

Salesforce Joins Xamarin Evolve 2014

Salesforce Cloud LogoWe’re happy to announce that Salesforce will be joining the roster of amazing industry-leaders that are sponsoring and speaking at Evolve 2014, October 6-10 in Atlanta, Georgia. Join us there for the mobile development event of the year for cutting-edge enterprise content, networking, and more, including a Salesforce session from Grant Davies, founder and CEO of Bluetube Interactive, a Premier Xamarin Consulting Partner.  Grant is a seasoned Evolve speaker who co-presented the Kimberly-Clark field sales app with Kimberly-Clark at Xamarin Evolve 2013.

Grant’s talk, “The Salesforce1 Platform: The Enterprise Back-End for All Your Mobile Apps,”Grant Davies will focus on building cross-platform apps faster with Xamarin and Salesforce. You’ll learn how to easily connect Xamarin apps to the Salesforce1 Platform, a scalable enterprise back-end for mobile apps with a variety of mobile services that make apps more contextual, user-centric, engaging, secure, and scalable.

Register now to take your mobile apps to the next level with Xamarin and Salesforce at Xamarin Evolve 2014.

August 24

My thoughts on the ALS challenge

Before you read this entry, please be aware that it might rub you the wrong way. (That's okay with me if it's okay with you. I don't expect that everyone will share my perspective.)

There's always the one guy who has to be the party pooper, and I guess it's my turn. Ever since hearing about the ALS challenge I've felt a bit weird about it. With every video I watched I got a bit more upset and I couldn't quite put my finger on the cause.

It seems like a very harmless way to raise money for charity. I don't have a problem with people trying to raise money for charity.

After considerable thought and some discussion with friends I have figured out why this particular challenge rubs me the wrong way. I have a problem with the mechanisms by which it has spread from person to person, in particular that it involves challenging specific people on a public forum by name.

Ultimately there are three reasons why people might participate after being named publicly:

  1. They like being part of something big, especially if it helps people. Your natural team player, they will jump on the challenge simply because they want to be involved in it.
  2. They feel guilty at the thought of not participating. After being called out by someone else, they can't help but join in lest they feel like a grinch. The 24-hour time limit on the challenge serves to exacerbate the guilt and get people to react quickly without taking any time to think about what they are doing.
  3. ALS research is their top priority and is something they genuinely care about.

Some people may fit into all of these groups. I don't really fit into any of them.

I've never been much of a team player to this extent; I mean, I work fine with others and even enjoy it, but I'm not a bandwagon-jumper.

Neither am I one to succumb to social pressure or guilting; I vehemently resist it. (This will be no surprise to those who know me.)

Ultimately, if I donate to a charitable cause it will be because I have given it considerable thought, and because I have considered it in contrast to other charities. It's not that I don't think ALS is a terrible condition, it's just that there are other charities to whom I would prefer to give. If that is truly where you want to give then more power to you.

I don't think someone saying my name in a video is a good decision-making process for deciding when, how much, and to what charitable organization I should give. On the contrary, bandwagon mentality and/or guilt trips are extremely poor reasons to give. I don't believe that most people actually become part of the third group in 24 hours.

Now here is where I'm going to step on some toes (if I haven't already), and while I don't want to, I can't really help how I feel about this. I've been having these thoughts long before I was ever nominated to participate in the challenge, and I was really hoping that nobody would mention me because I didn't want to say these things.

By nominating someone, you are making the following assumptions:

  1. You assume that they have either the money or the water to participate. I have several friends on the west coast who don't have the funds to participate right now, and many parts of the west coast are under a severe drought. They can't spare either of the resources this challenge calls for.
  2. You assume that ALS research is one of their top priorities. Maybe it is and maybe it isn't. Maybe there is something else they have judged more important to them. This isn't a decision for you to make on their behalf.
  3. You assume that they would actually like to participate in the first place.

By nominating someone, this is what you are saying: "I don't know if you have the money or water to participate, but since I've said your name you are now socially obligated to give this certain amount of money to charity, or waste water. You must provide us with proof of either action. If you don't then you will be judged."

If you've done your share of nominating you may be rejecting this interpretation because it's not what you meant. But -- and I cannot stress this enough -- it is exactly what you meant. You just didn't realize it at the time. (Or maybe you did!)

This is a form of social extortion: participate or be judged as a Scrooge.

I do not feel comfortable giving in to this kind of ultimatum, nor do I feel comfortable "calling out" others and putting them in this same position. Frankly, my charitable giving is none of your @#$%^!) business.

My family does and will continue to give to charity -- because I want to, not because a group of people are attempting to guilt me into it.

I cannot participate in this challenge, and I don't feel guilty about it at all. Judge away.

August 22

Favorite Xamarin Studio Feature Contest Winners!

Xamarin’s new $25 per month Indie subscriptions, brings new opportunities to get involved with Xamarin for developers around the world. Our latest contest was an opportunity to get to know more about users favorite Xamarin Studio’s features, and it’s exciting to read the different perspectives from all different types of Xamarin users.

Thank you to everyone who participated! There was one stand-out among the many contestants, and that’s Patrick Sullivan! In his blog, Patrick talks about NuGet Packet Manager, saying that, “the NuGet package manager integration into Xamarin Studio is one of the reasons I really wanted to try it out in the first place.”

Congratulations! You’ve won a 6-Month Xamarin Indie Subscription for iOS and Android.


Thank you to everyone who participated in the Favorite Xamarin Studio Feature contest! All valid entries will be receiving an exclusive Xamarin swag bag. If you didn’t manage to get an entry submitted this time, no worries; keep an eye on the Xamarin Blog for future contest announcements.

August 21

And the winners are….

The Unity game developer contest sponsored by Microsoft had you busy developing and porting games to Windows the past few months; we received over 600 entries which is more than double what we received last year. We were blown away at how polished and fun the games were, which made judging super tough but we also had a blast! After much deliberation, we have our top three winners and 20 honorable mentions to take a slice of the $100K pie.

We are so proud of our developer community for pulling out all the stops, and we weren’t the only ones impressed, Sonal Pardeshi, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft said,

“We had some fantastic games submitted to the Unity contest! It was challenging for the Microsoft and Unity teams to narrow down the list to 50 finalists, and even more so to select the 23 winners! Every game was special. Kudos to the top 3 winners and 20 runner ups! The Bridge is an absolutely unique game with beautiful artwork. We loved the highly polished Mini Motor Racing, it plays great on both Windows and Windows Phone. The Veil is an impressive storytelling experience with an original setting that is available first on Windows. We thoroughly enjoyed playing these games and would like to thank all Unity developers who participated in this contest!”

So without further ado, in first place taking home $50,000 is The Bridge by The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild


The Bridge is an absolutely stunning 2D puzzle game that will have you re-evaluating your perceptions of up, down and sideways as you rotate the world to solve puzzles. This is an all around fantastic game that we fell in love with.

In second place winning $30,000 is Mini Motor Racing by NextGen Reality Pty Ltd t/a The Binary Mill

Mini Motor Racing Landing page 2 edited

The Windows Store edition of this game is elegant and super fun. It has awesome 4K remastered textures, multiple input on a Surface tablet as well as full Xbox 360 controller support and it also optimizes depending on your device specs. We were impressed with it’s look, gameplay and technical prowess.

And in third place is The Veil by Wayward Productions Ltd taking away $10,000.

The Veil_1920x550-3_edited

We really enjoy the ambience, art style and discovery within this game. The minimalist mechanics are perfect for being immersed in the story and world which makes for a really lovely experience.

This year we also have 20 honorable mentions for developers who went above and beyond by producing innovative, addictive fun games, these lucky developers receive a Unity Pro license:

Slingshot Puzzle by Dream Dale

Splemy by Formerdroid Ltd

Shiny The Firefly by Headup Games GmbH & Co KG

FreudBot by Slash Games

Lost Echo by KickBack

Trolls vs Vikings by Megapop

Tiki Monkeys by MilkCap Limited


The Quest: Anniversary Edition by Guerilla Tea Games Ltd

Mini Dogfight by Echoboom S.L.

Shoggoth Rising by dreipol GmbH

Drive Me Bananas by Press Start Studios

Snow Spin by Ezone PTY LTD

Pirate Dawn by Kim Stockton

Simian.Interface by Bullseye Studios

CarX Drift Racing by CarX Technologies

Planet Zoom 3D by Info Tech Studio srl

Medieval Apocalypse by Obumo Games/Zoltán Gubics

Kings Can Fly by Firedroid

Beyond Gavity by Qwiboo Ltd


[Video] Xamarin Designer for iOS in Visual Studio

Here’s a recording of the recent video I did for the Microsoft Flashcast series showing how to use the Xamarin Designer for iOS in Visual Studio:

Be sure to check out my colleague James’ Flashcast on Xamarin.Forms on August 27th.

August 20

Three Tricks in Xamarin Studio

I wanted to share three tricks that I use a lot in Xamarin Studio/MonoDevelop.

Trick 1: Navigate APIs

Xamarin Studio's code completion for members of an object defaults to showing all the members sorted by name.

But if you press Control-space, it toggles the rendering and organizes the results. For example, for this object of type UIWindow, it first lists the methods available for UIWindow sorted by name, and then the cluster for its base class UIView:

This is what happens if you scroll to the end of the UIWindow members:

Trick 2: Universal Search

Use the Command-. shortcut to activate the universal search, once you do this and start typing it will find matches for both members and types in your solution, as well as IDE commands and the option to perform a full text search:

Trick 3: Dynamic Abbreviation Completion

This is a feature that we took from Emacs's Dynamic Abbrevs.

If you type Control-/ when you type some text, the editor will try to complete the text you are typing based on strings found in your project that start with the same prefix.

Hit control-/ repeatedly to cycle over possible completions.

Five Cross Platform Pillars

The last couple of years have been good to C# and .NET, in particular in the mobile space.

While we started just with a runtime and some basic bindings to Android and iOS back in 2009, we have now grown to provide a comprehensive development stack: from the runtime, to complete access to native APIs, to designers and IDEs and to a process to continuously deliver polish to our users.

Our solution is based on a blend of C# and .NET as well as bindings to the native platform, giving users a spectrum of tools they can use to easily target multiple platforms without sacrificing quality or performance.

As the industry matured, our users found themselves solving the same kinds of problems over and over. In particular, many problems related to targeting multiple platforms at once (Android, iOS, Mac, WinPhone, WinRT and Windows).

By the end of last year we had identified five areas where we could provide solutions for our users. We could deliver a common framework for developers, and our users could focus on the problem they are trying to solve.

These are the five themes that we identified.

  • Cross-platform UI programming.
  • 2D gaming/retained graphics.
  • 2D direct rendering graphics.
  • Offline storage, ideally using SQLite.
  • Data synchronization.

Almost a year later, we have now delivered four out of the five pillars.

Each one of those pillars is delivered as a NuGet package for all of the target platforms. Additionally, they are Portable Class Libraries, which allows developers to create their own Portable Class Libraries on top of these frameworks.

Cross Platform UI programming

With Xamarin 3.0 we introduced Xamarin.Forms, which is a cross-platform UI toolkit that allows developers to use a single API to target Android, iOS and WinPhone.

Added bonus: you can host Xamarin.Forms inside an existing native Android, iOS or WinPhone app, or you can extend a Xamarin.Forms app with native Android, iOS or WinPhone APIs.

So you do not have to take sides on the debate over 100% native vs 100% cross-platform.

Many developers also want to use HTML and Javascript for parts of their application, but they do not want to do everything manually. So we also launched support for the Razor view engine in our products.

2D Gaming/Retained Graphics

Gaming and 2D visualizations are an important part of applications that are being built on mobile platforms.

We productized the Cocos2D API for C#. While it is a great library for building 2D games -and many developers build their entire experiences entirely with this API- we have also extended it to allow developers to spice up an existing native application.

We launched it this month: CocosSharp.

Offline Storage

While originally our goal was to bring Mono's System.Data across multiple platforms (and we might still bring this as well), Microsoft released a cross-platform SQLite binding with the same requirements that we had: NuGet and PCL.

While Microsoft was focused on the Windows platforms, they open sourced the effort, and we contributed the Android and iOS ports.

This is what powers Azure's offline/sync APIs for C#.

In the meantime, there are a couple of other efforts that have also gained traction: Eric Sink's SQLite.Raw and Frank Krueger's sqlite-net which provides a higher-level ORM interface.

All three SQLite libraries provide NuGet/PCL interfaces.

Data Synchronization

There is no question that developers love Couchbase. A lightweight NoSQL database that supports data synchronization via Sync gateways and Couchbase servers.

While Couchbase used to offer native Android and iOS APIs and you could use those, the APIs were different, since each API was modeled/designed for each platform.

Instead of writing an abstraction to isolate those APIs (which would have been just too hard), we decided to port the Java implementation entirely to C#.

The result is Couchbase Lite for .NET. We co-announced this development with Couchbase back in May.

Since we did the initial work to bootstrap the effort, Couchbase has taken over the maintenance and future development duties of the library and they are now keeping it up-to-date.

While this is not yet a PCL/NuGet, work is in progress to make this happen.

Work in Progress: 2D Direct Rendering

Developers want to have access to a rich API to draw. Sometimes used to build custom controls, sometimes used to draw charts or to build entire applications based on 2D rendered API.

We are working on bringing the System.Drawing API to all of the mobile platforms. We have completed an implementation of System.Drawing for iOS using CoreGraphics, and we are now working on both an Android and WinPhone implementations.

Once we complete this work, you can expect System.Drawing to be available across the board as a NuGet/PCL library.

If you can not wait, you can get your hands today on the Mac/iOS version from Mono's repository.

Next Steps

We are now working with our users to improve these APIs. But we wont stop at the API work, we are also adding IDE support to both Xamarin Studio and Visual Studio.

Unity 4.5 for Samsung Smart TV

Take your games to Samsung Smart TV

Hooray! Today, we’re pleased to announce the public preview of Unity 4.5 for Samsung Smart TV, adding another platform to Unity’s already extensive multiplatform capabilities. Unity for Samsung Smart TV is completely free for all Unity developers!

Start now, it’s free

The Unity for Samsung Smart TV public preview is available right now as a separate 4.5 editor installation. It will ship officially with Unity 5.0, and will be free for everyone to use. If you already own Unity Pro, you get all the Unity Pro features for Samsung Smart TV with no need for an additional license. It’s also available and completely free for users of the free version of Unity!

Easy porting and development

Adapting your game for Samsung Smart TV is much like porting your game to any other platform with Unity. If your game already runs on mobile devices you’re halfway there! The hardware in the TV is very similar to a mid-range mobile device, so you can expect similar performance metrics.

All the input devices

Samsung Smart TVs come with a range of different input mechanisms for your gamers to enjoy, and we’ve provided the full complement of input modes that make handling dpads, joysticks, wired and wireless game pads and mouse pointers really easy. Each remote model maps to these modes in an intuitive way, and your game can switch between the modes as needed to get the best experience for the user. You can even make a mobile controller app!

Super-fast setup

Getting your game from Unity to Samsung Smart TV is simple – just one click after initial setup and you’re done – no dev kit needed! We’ve developed an application called Unity Launcher for Smart TV. Install it on your TV via the Samsung App Hub, and, once it is running, Unity can deploy your game to the TV just like that so you can spend more time on making a great game.

Why port my game to Samsung Smart TV?

Smart TVs are becoming more powerful and more prevalent in the living rooms of families worldwide. With more than 20 million devices sold globally, this is an opportunity for you to reach millions of new customers! Samsung expects the Smart TV game market to continue to grow dramatically year on year, and you will be able to monetize your games via an in-app purchase plugin provided by Samsung.

Great Unity Games already available on Samsung Smart TV

During the beta period, several developers tested the platform by porting their games. Here are some Unity games that you can play on your Samsung Smart TV today:

Abyss Attack

edited abyss

CapsuleHunter by Wicket Studio

CapsuleHunter01 edited


CandyCoaster by Nfun

ScreenShot Image 1


Tales Runner by RHAON ENT

screen shot_image_4

What our developers are saying

“Bringing Abyss Attack to Samsung TV was a very easy process. We worked closely with our publishing partner, Chillingo to ensure that players received a phenomenal gaming experience from mobile to a larger screen. The Unity team also did an amazing job at answering any questions along the way. We can’t wait to introduce Abyss Attack to newer audiences.”

–Cristian Tota (Abyss Attack, deepbytestudios.com)

What hardware do you need?

Any of the Smart TV models listed below.

panel 2014 lineup
UHD HU9000
FHD H8000


panel 2013 lineup
UHD F9000
FHD F8000


Get started now

Download Unity for Samsung Smart TV here: http://forum.unity3d.com/forums/samsung-smart-tv.66/

Help is at hand

For app registration visit the Seller Office: http://seller.samsungapps.com/

For SDK information and Q&A for developers visit the Samsung Developer Forum   (http://www.samsungdforum.com/)

For Samsung Smart TV questions, please email: sdfadmin@samsung.com

For Unity-related questions, please post to the forum here: http://forum.unity3d.com/forums/samsung-smart-tv.66/

More Open-Source Initiatives from Unity

Our community is full of users who rely on Unity — whether it be for work, for play, or both. Knowing that, we’ve been thinking about new ways we can engage our community and provide a better user experience. One of the initiatives we’ve decided on is to start sharing the source for selected components of Unity. With access to the source for components (or tools related to Unity), we hope to:

  • Reduce risk by giving you control of things that are commonly used
  • Increase the flexibility and applicability of components by giving you the power to customize them
  • Enable you to extend Unity in ways that were previously just not possible

To do this, we’re going to start hosting components’ source over at our home on BitBucket. We’ve also prepared a Guide for Contributors that is now part of our user manual.

What exactly will you open the source to?gui-screen-shot-clothified

We’re starting this project by making the recently-updated source to the Unity Test Tools available on BitBucket in a repository ready for you to fork, modify, and even open pull requests with contributions if you wish.

The next component we plan to give you the source to (unless we get something else ready before then!) is the long-awaited new UI system. We’re convinced you’ll do awesome things with the source once you get it in your hands.

Beyond that, we don’t have a concrete plan, but we have a lot of things in the pipeline. These components (like the new UI system) will all be isolated from Unity in such a way that you can modify them and use your own modified version with the official public Unity release.

mit-license-smallWhat license is the source released under?

We are using MIT/X11 as our standard license. We’ve never been a fan of a revenue sharing model, and we have a similar opinion about the license for our open-source components; we didn’t want to burden you with licenses that restrict what you can do with the source code.

Because we’re releasing our source under an MIT/X11 license, we’re also expecting contributions we accept from the community to be contributed under an MIT/X11 license.

Do I need Unity Pro?

Nope! The source is available to everyone, regardless of what Unity license you have.

Unity’s History with Open-Source

Unity has been participating in other open-source projects for quite some time. Our scripting engine is based on Mono and we keep our fork of Mono open on GitHub, as well as our open-source shader cross-compilation tools (hlsl2glslfork and glsl-optimizer). We also use a lot of open-source tools internally: our build/test automation server and lives on BitBucket, as do custom extensions to Mercurial, the version control system we use. Unity Technologies employs several developers to contribute to the open-source projects that we we use (check out a list of our contributions to the Mercurial project as an example).

A new era? We hope so!

Although Unity Technologies has been active in the open-source community for quite some time, this is the first time we’ll be opening the source to components of Unity itself. We’re excited to see what you do with it.

Amazon Joins Xamarin Evolve 2014

We’re excited to welcome Amazon as the first Gold Sponsor of Xamarin Evolve 2014, the must-attend event for mobile developers October 6-10 in Atlanta, Georgia. Amazon joins a growing list of industry-leading sponsors bringing great technical content, connections, and hacking opportunities to the event.

Amazon Logo

The conference line-up now includes two new technical sessions delivered by Amazon speakers David Isbitski and Tara Walker, covering Amazon Fire and Amazon Web Services.

Amazon Web Services LogoIn the “Mobile Ecosystem” track, Tara Walker, will show you how to build great mobile apps that leverage AWS Cloud services bringing identity management and data sync (Amazon Cognito), push notifications (Amazon SNS Mobile Push), cloud storage (Amazon S3), and a fully-managed NoSQL database (Amazon DynamoDB) to your mobile apps. Tara will take you on a step-by-step journey so you can see how to configure and add AWS services to your apps, and then integrate them into your backend architecture.

Amazon Fire PhoneIn the “Emerging Devices” track, David Isbitski, Worldwide Developer Evangelist for Amazon, will show you how to build native Amazon Fire Phone, Fire TV, and Kindle Fire Apps with Xamarin. This session will include both a walk-through of how to quickly use Xamarin to run your apps and games on Amazon devices, as well as an overview of how to get started and get noticed in the Amazon Appstore.

Register now to get your ticket to mobile expertise with Amazon Web Services and the Amazon Fire line of devices at Xamarin Evolve 2014!


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