Thursday, February 25, 2016

Xamarin joins Microsoft - initial reaction

Because I know a little about these things and sometimes people like to know what I think, here are my initial thoughts about the announcement that Microsoft intends to buy Xamarin.*

* I have been asked to only say positive things about this announcement. As I don't work for either company and my value and experience comes from being an impartial outsider. I am ignoring this request and instead providing my honest thoughts, whether they turn out to be positive or not. This will likely be a stream of consciousness type list that I haven't planned in advance. Full disclosure: I use and pay for products from both companies. I also get some products free from both companies as a Microsoft MVP.

Details are scarce at the moment and I know nothing that isn't public.
In no particular order, here's what I think right now:

  • Lots of people have been asking/hoping for this. Perhaps it'll make them happy. (They're developers though so probably not for very long though)
  • Many developers were asking for this because they assumed that it will mean the tools become free (like other Microsoft tools). It might be nice if Microsoft's deep pockets make this possible.  We all suffer if people can't create great software because they don't have access to tools. On the downside it'll mean more developers churning out pointless/poor/low quality apps just because they now have access to the tools.
  • Hopefully Xamarin University will remain unaffected. I'd be sad to see this go, but this isn't something that could easily be scaled up (without greatly affecting qualilty) if Microsoft just made it free to all.
  • This will still not create the panacea, universal WORE app experience that many developers want Microsoft to be provide. Lots of developers seemingly want to be able to build a single package and run it on every device they can think of. (at least: Windows PC, Windows phones, Mac, iOS and Android phones and tablets.) There are two general approaches to such apps. 1. You build enough commonality into the OS of each platform/device to make this possible. or 2. You put a runtime onto each platform that makes the app work on each. Neither of which are possible on all those platforms to a way that is acceptable to most apps or developers. - Sorry, this is too big a subject to cover here. Ask me for more details if you want.
  • Hopefully this will improve the Windows experience for Xamarin.Forms apps.
  • Hopefully this will now incentivize Microsoft to make the changes/access required to get Windows devices in the Xamarin Test Cloud. This should mean improved automated testing capabilities for all!
  • Developers still shouldn't expect that this will get us any faster to a place where Xamarin.Forms apps have a greater level of per device customization and integration without the need for doing that customization yourself. There's only so much automagic detecting of how an app should be customized that's possible.
  • This still makes it incredibly unlikely that it will be possible to build iOS apps without having an actual Mac. The restriction is imposed by Apple and I don't expect a solution (workaround) like you get with PhoneGap build or NativeScript. Developers ask for this because of the cost of purchasing the hardware. They don't see it as an investment. This also ignores the situation that without Mac hardware it also makes it very slow to test running on iOS devices as there's no simulator or on device debugging available.
  • I expect Xamarin.Forms XAML and UWP XAML to continue to exist side-by-side. It might be nice if there was just one that did everything but there's precedent and good reason to have both. Plus, WPF XAML still exists and that has differences too.

It'll be business as usual for the next few months at least, but certainly interesting times for traditional Microsoft and Xamarin developers....


  1. As I've said in other places - I have high hopes now for Monogame becoming the new XNA...

    1. That would be nice. Hopefully this isn't a chance to kill it again.

  2. Very nice preview, liked it. Touching different aspects not like others trying to predict what will follow next as if they were made aware by Xamarin about that.

  3. This is a very good news that a good mobile app development company join hands with Microsoft. I am sure this will produce a great results in Mobile app market.


I get a lot of comment spam :( - moderation may take a while.