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My first experience with Xamarin on Windows

So about a year ago I gave Xamarin a try. The idea of leveraging my 12 years of experience in .NET and Visual Studio to build mobile applications appealed to me. After playing around with the trial I soon discovered that the experience wasn't going to be smooth; Deploying to the mac build host was slow and worked about half the time. I remember getting weird error messages that really didn't mean anything. Most of the time, the solution was to restart Visual Studio or the build host. My feeling at the time and from my conversations on the forums was that this was not a development environment you could use every day and be productive with.

So today, almost 1 year later, I thought I'd give Xamarin another try. So I went to the website and donwloaded the installer and started it with the default options. Half-way through the installation it popped an error saying it couldn't find an Android SDK (wasn't it installing it?). Had to restart the installation. On the 2nd try it completed successfully.

Excited to try my first iOS application, I create an empty solution and add a new iOS project through Add New Project and selecting iOS Hello World Application. After clicking OK, a VS prompt asks me if I want to reload the project I'm just about to add. Strange. The prompt appears on top of what looks like a Xamarin window asking to login to my account. So I click reload and bam Visual Studio crashes...

I remember listening to a talk by Miguel who tells developers how he wants to delight them. This is far from a pleasant experience so far and I haven't even started programming yet. My question is this: how can a developer be "delighted" when the path to creating a simple Hello World application is so bumpy? Is the development experience in Visual Studio better today than it was a year ago? At a thousand dollar per targeted platform per developer per year, I'm kinda wondering where all this money goes...

Guy

Posts

  • Guy.GodinGuy.Godin USMember ✭✭

    Well ok I can answer this after trying for 4 hours to get something working. It's a big NO. This is worst than it was a year ago. It won't deploy to an iOS device at all (and this is with a fresh MacOS/XCode/Xamarin installation. Even worst is that I found other people complaining about this issue since February 5th and it is still not fixed.

    http://forums.xamarin.com/discussion/13106/can-not-deploy-on-emulator
    https://bugzilla.xamarin.com/show_bug.cgi?id=17611

    I played around with various combinations of alpha/beta on the build host and client but no luck. Also the beta has newer versions than the alpha channel!?

    People who bought the business plan must be feeling ripped off...

  • SoftSavageSoftSavage GBXamarin Team Xamurai
    edited February 2014

    Hi Guy,
    Can I confirm you are using the VS 1.10? Also when you run the Mac Build Host diagnostic does it correctly identify your Mac? Are all the items that are run during the diagnostic ticked and green? Are you paired with the aforementioned Build Host?

    If possible could you post your mtbserver.log file or send an email to [email protected] with it attached.

    Thanks,

    Dominique.

  • The VS stuff has been working really well lately. The last update seems to have messed something up. I've been using XS on my air instead. As I get more familiar with XS the more I don't mind using it on the mac and it speeds development up.

  • SKallSKall USMember ✭✭✭✭

    I think running Visual Studio on Windows machine and building through a Mac over the network can be problematic. The experience is much better running Windows on Mac (with Parallels) and connecting to the build host on the same physical machine.

  • Guy.GodinGuy.Godin USMember ✭✭

    Yes I am using 1.10. I reviewed the mtbserver.log and it had the following error: No installed provisioning profiles match the installed iOS code signing keys.

    So I recreated new provisioning profiles, re-assigned them in XCode and was able to deploy to my phone. I wish that this error message would have appeared in VS instead of saying "Internal Server Error"...

    I still can't switch to the emulator though, it says: "Failed to change active application on server". In the mtbserver.log is says "Command [ChangeActiveApplication:CommandUrl=ChangeActiveApplication] finished (89)

  • AsifAshrafAsifAshraf USMember

    I have prepared a full team of 6 developers. Android, IOS Native devs and well experienced .NET guys. I tried to **ck with xamarin installations on our Mac and windows machines and after one week I have given up. Only the installation on different machines have tons of issues, differences pairing issues. Unlimited errors in basic installation. I think its a BIG NO From my side on using Xamarin corss platform app development. I wonder why Scott Hanselman wrote that he loves this product. So silly he should have practiced it. I am amazed why Microsoft Desperately writes xamarin on MSDN. They are losers.

  • EidandEidand GBMember, University ✭✭✭

    All I can say is think what Xamarin are actually doing and offering. It is not easy to accomplish from any point of view.
    While I remember going through difficulties a year ago when I first touched it, it now seems much more polished and I was personally able to build things and deploy them to Android and iOS devices.

    Pairing up my mac to VS also worked. It does happen that a new release can sometimes screw things up so my advice is to find a version which is fine, plenty of those around and stick to it and never upgrade until you try it on a VM first.

    Xamarin gets attention from Microsoft because it is the only way we can use dot net to build native apps for all platforms.

    Now, in terms of iOS development, several people told me that using Xamarin Studio on the actual Mac is much better experience than Visual studio on Windows and a mac host. So you might want to try that.

    @Asif Before you assign a team of people to using a new product, may I suggest you train one guy up who knows the product well, maybe even gets Xamarin certified. Once you have that kind of skill in house you can add the other people to the mix as well and you have someone who can actually guide them through the process makes them productive quicker. If you all jump in like that it can be a pretty rough experience.

    In the end I guess my point is to take the good parts out of this, you can build native apps with Xamarin otherwise no one would be here.

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