Learn Mobile App Dev & Mobile DevOps Here

DevOps Meme

My friend Prachi tagged me on this meme on Facebook and I couldn’t agree more with her. When I started my career, my entire version control was folders – zipped, tagged and stored on multiple hard-disks. But then things changed. My guru Raj, enlightened me about advantages of version control systems. I learned about how multiple people can collaborate on projects or how errors can be reversed by going through code history if version controls like Team Foundation Server or GitHub are used. I started using those and these days, all my projects and samples are either in Visual Studio Team Services or in GitHub repository.  Going one step ahead, I’m using Visual Studio Mobile Center for DevOps along with these version control systems.

But what is this all about? How it helps in building successful mobile applications? And I thought about answering these questions in a video series. The goal is to explain mobile DevOps and different steps in mobile DevOps in small (less than 10 mins) videos.  After completing this series, you’ll be able to build cross-platform Xamarin.Forms mobile application, which will consume Microsoft Cognitive Service and set-up mobile DevOps for the same.

To follow along with this series, I’m recommending following minimum hardware/software combination:

  • Intel i5, 8GB, 50GB machine with Hyper-V support & Windows 10 Professional
  • MacBook or MacMini with i5, 4GB, 50GB for compiling iOS apps
  • Visual Studio 2017 Community Preview

With these hardware/software additional services used in this series are:

Watch the 1st video here about activating these tools & services to set-up mobile DevOps.

In 2nd video learn about how to setup build automation, using Visual Studio Mobile Center.

I’ll update this blog post in coming weeks with the 3rd video in this series, which will be about building mobile applications.

Stay tuned and subscribe to my blog/channel :)

Namaste.
Mayur Tendulkar

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Updating Mobile Development Environment

On 20th July, Microsoft released Visual Studio 2015. This release of Visual Studio includes improvements in terms of IDE features, Language features and even changes in underlying .NET framework. Along with this, Microsoft is also releasing Windows 10 on 29th July, which will add Universal Windows Platform (UWP) development capabilities to Visual Studio. In this blog post, I’m going to cover the features that are most important for us i.e. mobile developers. Having said that, if you want to build UWP apps on RTM, hold on till July 29th, as the SDK and tooling for UWP will be released on the same day. You can find that information here.

Install Selection

You can think Visual Studio 2015 as the most complete mobile development IDE. You can build any kind of mobile applications which can run on Android, iOS and Windows devices. To setup your environment for mobile development, while installing itself, make sure you select your required tools. For example, here I’ve selected Xamarin tools to build native mobile applications. In this case, Visual Studio will install the necessary SDKs and libraries e.g. Android SDKs & NDKs with different API levels, Java SDK, etc…

VS 2015 Install

If you’re already a Xamarin developer, you may want to install Xamarin Studio, which needs to be installed separately by downloading Xamarin Installer from the site. With open sourcing of .NET and Roslyn, even Xamarin Studio is using some of its benefits. You can read more about it from Miguel’s blog.

Xamarin Integration & Project Template

Previously (VS 2013 or prior), you had to install Xamarin to get Xamarin specific project templates. With VS2015, if you select above option during install, you’ll have Xamarin project templates in File > New Project Dialog.

VS 2015 Project Templates

Note: The difference between Blank App (Native Portable) & Blank App (Xamarin.Forms Portable) is literal. That means, later one has Xamarin.Forms NuGet and integration in all projects. First one, just creates 4 separate projects without Xamarin.Forms dependencies.

When you create a Xamarin project, Visual Studio will ask you to sign into your Xamarin account to use different features according to license.

VS 2015 Xamarin

Developer (aka God) Mode

As I mentioned above, if you want to build UWP apps on RTM, you’ll need to wait till 29th July. And to enable Windows Store apps development and debugging on your machine, you’ll need to enable a ‘Developer Mode’. When you create a new project you’ll get following dialog which can take you to next dialog, where you need to select ‘Developer Mode’ and you should be able to test your apps. Do the same thing in your Windows 10 mobile device, if you want to debug apps directly on mobile.

VS 2015 - Developer Mode

VS 2015 - Developer Mode Enabled

Accessing Tools

This is not new as such to Visual Studio 2015, but I want to add it here for your reference. You can find all the tools and setting related to Xamarin and mobility under Tools menu. So, if you want to download new API Level (for example Android M Preview) or monitor your Android app’s performance on device using Android Device Monitor, you know where to look for. We’ll cover tools and features exclusive for Windows 10 in next post.

VS 2015 Tools

By the way, if you ever face any issues with Xamarin and need to contact support, Xamarin logs can help you to share more information about your issues with Support guys. Even, you can go through them and find issues/reasons. You can find them easily under Help > Xamarin

If you want to check where exactly platform SDKs are installed, you can find in Tools > Options and at two different selections

VS 2015 - SDK Location - 1

VS 2015 - SDK Location - 2

More Resources

Now, if you want to know more about Visual Studio 2015 and .NET Framework, Microsoft Channel 9 has Connect On-Demand series on it. Some of the most important videos are here

What’s new in C# 6
New Coding Experiences for C# and Visual Basic
What’s New for .NET 2015
Developing iOS and Android Apps in C# with Visual Studio
Xamarin.Forms: Leaveraging XAML to Build iOS, Android, and Windows Apps
Wearables in C#: Highlighting Apple Watch, Android Wear, and Microsoft Band
GitHub Extensions for Visual Studio

I’ll update tendulkar-uvāca series with new tools and technologies once they are released i.e. after 29th July. Till then, download the Visual Studio 2015 and enjoy the new IDE & tooling.

By the way, have I told you: You get Visual Studio 2015 Community Edition free for specific use cases and along with it, you get Xamarin Starter for free. If you’re a student, you can get more benefit through Microsoft DreamSpark program.

Namaste
Mayur Tendulkar

 

tendulkar-uvāca : Episode 1

Uvāca – simply means ‘says, explains, describes’ and ‘tendulkar-uvāca‘ means ‘tendulkar-explains’. Through this series, I want to share my experience and whatever knowledge I’ve about mobile, cross-platform and apps for gadget development. The idea is to help people understand these technologies in any possible way. Here are first two videos from this series.

Pilot Episode:

First Episdoe:

Hope you’ll like these videos. Do subscribe to the channel and blog to get updated contents and also let me know your feedback (be it positive or negative). Also let me know if you want me to cover any specific topics.

Attend: Microsoft Azure Conference 2015

Microsoft Azure Conference 2015

This time, Microsoft India is hosting its ‘Microsoft Azure Conference 2015’ in Pune. This is going to be a huge event for any cloud enthusiast with 2 days and more than 70 sessions. More details about this event is available here: http://www.microsoftazureconference.in/

In this event, I’m going to conduct a hands-on-lab on ‘Put Office 365 in Your Xamarin Mobile Apps’. In this lab, attendees will learn how to integrate Office 365 services in their mobile applications (Android, iOS and Windows)

As a homework, I’ll recommend to go through following links:

This will help you to understand the topic and be prepared for lab.

Namaste
Mayur Tendulkar

 

Events! Events!! Events Everywhere!!!

I’m drafting this blog post while attending (virtually) Apple Live event about iPhone 6 and Watch. And this is a start of series of events that are happening in near future. This is your one reference guide to those events. Don’t miss them if you’re a .NET Developer, Xamarin developer or a Microsoft MVP. Smile

PUG DevCon 2014

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PUG DevCon is a premier event for developers in and around Pune, India. This is going to be a 2 days, multi-track event with industry experts and speakers like Daniel, Nauzad, Raj, Guruji (Sanjay Vyas) and many more. This event is happening on 13th and 14th Sept at MCCIA, SB Road Pune. For more information visit: http://aka.ms/devcon

Xamarin EVOLVE 2014

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This almost a week long event is all about cross-platform mobile and smart gear app development using Xamarin. This event also includes hands-on training and sessions by various industry experts and it is happening at Atlanta, GA on 6th Oct till 10th Oct. For More information visit: https://evolve.xamarin.com/

TechEd 2014

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Microsoft India’s premier technology event – TechEd is happening from 5th till 6th Nov and this time at Lalit Ashok, Bangalore. You can find more information about this event at: http://www.india.msteched.com/ 

MVP Summit

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If you’re a Microsoft MVP, you might have received MVP Summit invite –  a special invite only event for MVPs. This time it is happening from 3rd Nov till 6th Nov at Redmond. Follow the invite for more information.

And much more:

Apart from these events, there are many events in December, for example friend Kunal and Deepak are getting married. Aviraj is coming for a short India visit and I think these are big events for us. And these are very special invite only events Smile

Till then, don’t forget to register and see you at all these events. ‘Say Hi’ if you’re around (except TechEd, I’ll be at Summit).

Namaste

Mayur Tendulkar

Productivity Tools for Windows Phone Developers

Scott has just published a blog post titled Scott Hanselman’s 2014 Ultimate Developer and Power Users Tool List for Windows. This is a most useful list for any developer. Read it here. Thanks a lot Scott.  Smile

I too, have my personal list of tools & NuGet packages which I use regularly while building Windows & Windows Phone apps and I wanted to share them here. Just my 2 cents to above list.

  • Phone Theme Manager
    In your app, you may want force the app to use one theme in particular, irrespective of system theme. OR use some different Accent Colour. A nice NuGet package can do a magic for your app.

    NewMenus
     

  • MVVM Light Framework
    Laurent has built this nice framework to expedite MVVM development. You can build your own framework and start from scratch, but it will be reinventing the wheel. Rather use this framework with Portable Class Libraries and build apps for both Windows & Windows Phone with maximum code reuse. You can read my old post about how to get started.

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  • Multilingual App Toolkit
    A useful tool to build multilingual apps for Windows & Windows Phone. You may read my previous blog post about how to use this tool.

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  • Syncfusion Metro Studio 2.0
    While developing Windows & Windows Phone apps, you’ll need icons for Application Bar. You can design your own icons using this tool. It allows you to customize the icons and allows allows you to export it as PNG or as a vector data for resolution independent scales.
    An alternative can be: The Noun Project

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  • PerfecTile
    You require to design number of icons, images (with different resolution and scale) to attach to your project as logos and other items. Use this tool to generate those images.

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  • Windows Phone Power Tools
    These tools are extensions to what Windows Phone SDK provides. e.g below table can give you more details.

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  • Windows Phone Emulator Skin Switcher
    This tool just changes the skin of your emulator. Nothing fancy, but cool to showcase different device during presentation Smile

    emulator skin switcher wxga_thumb

  • IsoStoreSpy for Windows Phone
    This cool utility can be used to explore Isolated Storage on Windows Phone and explore what data goes inside the apps.

    IsoStoreSpyPreviewImage
     

  • XAML Spy
    As the site says: XAML Spy is the visual runtime inspector for Silverlight, Windows Phone, Windows Store and WPF apps. It provides unprecedented access to all aspects of any running XAML app. Interact with the UI visual tree, monitor events, extract XAML, explore the contents of the package and isolated storage, view statistics and more, much more.

    quickstart.darktheme

  • Windows Phone Desktop App
    This is for both developers and consumers. You may want to sync your data between machine and Windows Phone device. You can easily plug-in the device and move/sync content. For Windows 8 there is Windows Store app which makes it easy. For Windows 7 you can use this desktop app. Most interesting feature of this app, which I can’t find difficult otherwise, is to sync podcast. Give it a try Smile

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  • Zune
    If you’re Windows Phone 7 developer or consumer, you’ll require this tool to sync data between device and your laptop. This is also a great media player and podcast downloader.

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These are the basic tools and NuGet packages required for everyday Windows or Windows Phone developer. There are some third-party control sets from vendors like Syncfusion, DevExpress, Telerik, ComponentOne, Mindscape, Infragistics and I’ll talk about them in future posts.

I hope, I’ve covered most of them here. If you’ve any suggestion or you know any tool and want to include here, do let me know.

Cheers,

Mayur Tendulkar