Don’t Re-Invent the Wheel: Use Components or Plugins In Your Apps

Xamarin provides native, cross-platform mobile application development using language we all know and love – C#. However, it is still required to learn concepts of each platform. For example to send text message (SMS) in all these three platforms there are different set of APIs.

Below API is for Android, which uses SmsManager to send the text message. There is another way to do this using Intents.

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In case of Windows Phone, ChatMessage allows us to declare and send text message. This API is available in WinRT platform. In case of SL based apps, we need to use Launchers/Choosers.

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In case of iOS as shown below, there is no API as such. But we use URL to launch default messaging app. In this case, we cannot set the message body, which we want to send out.

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Life will be much simpler if there will be just one API on all these platforms which will take care of sending text messages and as I developer we don’t need to bother about on which platform it is being called. Here comes components and plugins. My friend James has written a nice blog about ‘What Exactly is a Plugin for Xamarin?’. You can read it here

In our case, we’re going to use Messaging Plugin for Xamarin and Windows which allow us to use same API to send text messages. Below code is written once in a Xamarin.Forms project which depending on platform on which code is executing, send the message using that platform’s APIs.

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Using this plugin, it becomes easier to send text messages on Android, iOS and Windows. And this is the magic of Plugins for Xamarin.

In future posts, we’ll cover some of the best plugins and components which can help you build cross-platform mobile applications with single code-base.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this.

Namaste
Mayur Tendulkar

//PUBLISH – Global Event Updates

Microsoft is hosting a global event //PUBLISH. This event is in series with //build, //learn and will be called //publish. You can find more information about this event at: https://publishwindows.com/ 

The idea behind this event is to help you get your apps in the store. If you’re working on any existing app (Windows Store or Windows Phone) or have an app idea, we’ll help you to complete it and submit it on the store. We at Pune User Group are happy to say that, PUG will be hosting this event in Pune. As this is a global event, we’ll be hosting it on the same dates i.e. 16th and 17th May. This post will give you idea about the event.

In Pune, you can find agenda and registration details here: Pune Link. Once you register, we’ll send confirmation mail to registered users and they’ll be invited for the event.

As it is going to be session+coding+support event, please make sure that your machine is properly configured. Please get the latest version of Visual Studio and Windows Phone SDK installed on your machine to avoid confusion at the venue. If you need any help with it, please contact us. My email ID is mayur.tendulkar {at} puneusergroup.org

And have I mentioned, there will be prizes too (for eligible candidates Smile)

Till then.. register and happy coding.

Mayur Tendulkar

It’s All About Controls (Part 2)

Thanks for reading Part 1 of this multi-part blog post. If you’ve missed, in Part 1, we talked about what has been added (or converged with Windows) in Windows Phone 8.1 SDK. This part will mainly cover the changes that are included in this SDK. These are important changes and you must make a note of it to build stunning apps. Perhaps, later, there will be part 3, in which I’ll cover some 3rd party components, which can be used in Universal apps. Do let me know if you want to cover anything specific.

Panorama Is Now Hub

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With Windows and Windows Phone convergence, Panorama control from Windows Phone is changed to Hub control. It is similar to Hub control available on Windows and gives effects like Panorama. It also, share the same XAML in both the platforms

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StatusBar (SystemTray) Changes

StatusBar or SystemTray is top-most component on page, which shows various details:

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In Windows Phone 8 apps, you could show/hide system tray from XAML. For example:

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Now, in 8.1 (WinRT) apps you’ll need to use code behind to do it. For example:

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Flyouts, Flyouts Everywhere

Flyout is a new control in WP8.1 SDK. As MSDN says, use it to display lightweight UI. Also, unlike a dialog, a flyout can be lightly dismissed by clicking or tapping outside it. You can create a flyout by using following code. And actually add a flyout to any control which is a FrameworkElement.

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Command From Your Bar

With WP8.1, you do get your old AppBar.. but also get CommandBar. This command bar shares code with Windows. It also have Primary Commands and Secondary Commands. Which represents main buttons and menu on bottom app-bar in WP app. Whereas, on Windows, they have positions on app-bar as left and right.

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Zoom – SemanticZoom

With WP8.1, LongListSelector is gone. However, it is replaced with SemanticZoom – in convergence with Windows. This control actually has two views which are shown in different way according to Zoom In/Out mode. It will be another topic for blog. But to put it into simple words: you’ll see a large list of photos in Grid. But when you *squeeze* it, you’ll see a list. OR vice a versa as you design your view.

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With these controls, there are some more changes in controls are added. Like RichTextBLOCK (not Box), WebView (not Browser). But I would love to keep this post short.  

In next series (rather, I’m planning to change the name Smile), I’m going to talk about API changes in Windows Phone 8.1 SDK. Meanwhile, do let me know your feedback and if you want anything more covered here.

Happy Coding

Mayur Tendulkar