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New opportunity for Xamarin

25/02/2016 - 13:10

Wow! Big news yesterday, Microsoft bought Xamarin, the cross platform tool maker.

This is a fantastic news for us, developers, as Microsoft is probably the only one that could fix the two majors issues that dragged Xamarin down:

  1. Their Xamarin Forms product, while surprisingly good tool for building up a quick and dirty cross-platform prototypes is too much hampered by bugs and (surprise, surprise!) cross-platform issues.
  2. The developer community is small, making it hard to find ready to use solutions and components. Those components, essential for cranking up the application development speed, are copiously available on the mainstream platforms, but are hard to find on Xamarin.

How can Microsoft help with these issues?

Over the last two years or so, Microsoft has been opening up their tools and platform to the open source community. A tremendous amount of cool stuff: http://www.dotnetfoundation.org/projects. Roslyn, their .NET compiler is maybe their most generous gift to the community.

It is obvious that one of the first move Microsoft will do with Xamarin is to open source it. I believe that closed source is one of the main hurdle why the Xamarin developer community remained relatively small. By opening it up, Microsoft will attract more developers, especially the ones belonging to the precious kind of developers that are giving back to the community.

Microsoft has been advertising their Universal Platform for a few years now. The platform is Universal, but only across Windows devices (Windows Phones, Tablets, laptops, IoT devices and even Xbox). With Xamarin Forms, they now have the ultimate universal platform. They need to address the bugs that plagues it, improve the default look and feel, and I believe they can offer a very competitive offering to the web based cross-platforms application framework out there. Microsoft developer tooling is still the best one out there, bar none. I am confident that they will tenderly give the same attention to Xamarin as they do to their other tools and frameworks, and will make Xamarin Forms the tool to go to for cross-platform development.

Berthier Lemieux