Searching for a Cross-Platform Solution: Our Journey to Xamarin Posted by: Jon on 20/08/2014
At Screenmedia, we like to think that over our ten years, we have been rather good at staying ahead of the industry curve.
We were early adopters of mobile; grappled with responsive design before most; and today are exploring the possibilities of wearable tech and the Internet of Things before the demand for these technologies explodes.
When we caught wind of cross-platform mobile development back in 2009, we knew this would become an essential part of our landscape. So, naturally, we set out to find the perfect solution that would help us become a truly cross-platform mobile practice.
For us, the best solution had to do everything we could already do natively, but would cut costs in being able to share as much code as possible. Initially, our three frontrunners were PhoneGap, Titanium, and Xamarin. Each of these platforms had their upsides and downsides, but the stalemate was quickly broken when we turned out eye to our other qualifying criteria – the flexibility of design offered and the quality of the UI.
You see, high quality web and iOS applications are our ‘thing’. We were (and still are) known for it. Unable to compromise on quality and UI, PhoneGap and Titanium were discarded.
Getting to know Xamarin
With our new cross-platform framework decided, our dev team knuckled down in our virtual library; spending hours learning how the APIs of different platforms worked and the best frameworks to build upon. We also spent time getting to know the UK Xamarin community. They were an indispensable source of information when we had questions, and when the opportunity finally came to build some apps on Xamarin we not only felt supported; we felt fully prepared.
Prior to Xamarin, we had to navigate a minefield of architectural and platform issues that could derail any given project. Android fragmentation, for example, would mean that developing for Android could take up to double the time of iOS. Differences in API, device sizes, speed, and other factors such as custom keyboards, cameras, and hard and soft buttons all had to be taken into consideration. Pair this with extensive testing (well, how else are you going to improve your apps?) and you can see why we so badly needed a flexible cross-platform solution.
What’s Xamarin like to use?
In one word – brilliant. One of the biggest advantages we find using Xamarin is the flexibility of the development platform. We’ve been building Enterprise websites using Visual Studio for many years now, but we can now also build iOS, Android, and Windows Phone apps with the help of Xamarin. The development environment is incredibly familiar, which meant that up-skilling our entire team to use Xamarin took very little effort.
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