This is my chance to talk a little bit about a platform that I absolutely love.
I am pretty sure you can’t guess which platform I am talking about, right ? Yup, it is Xamarin.
So where did it all start? It must have been two years at least since I first heard about Xamarin. I remember looking into it, trying a few things, getting frustrated and then just put it aside for another year. Yup, been there, done that.
What helped me a lot was the fact that one of my friends was and is using this platform and he has for several years. So every year he tells about what cool things he built using Xamarin and that made me feel a bit stupid because I couldn’t even build a simple thing let alone a decent professional application. Thanks Paul, yes I am talking about you !
So in December last year I decided to stop moaning about how it doesn’t work and just make it work.
First issue was the license. I really wanted the Business one so I can code using Visual Studio which is only my favorite IDE of all times. I kept looking at the price and thinking to myself I don’t actually have a way to pay for that while I learn it. No one is going to pay me to learn a new platform. Then I kept thinking that if I don’t just do it then I won’t be able to learn and I had and still have big plans which all involve Xamarin. So I decided to take the jump, pay the business license for both iOS and Android. In the end as a professional software developer I do pay for all my other licenses and this is no different. Yes a bit pricey but the mobile world only grows and it’s well worth it in the end.
Second issue was the fact that I had no idea where to start. So I thought hmm, my time is worth quite a lot and I don’t have the time to sit down and figure things out for months and months so why don’t I learn from the people who actually built the platform. So that’s how I decided to pay for Xamarin University. Before I actually did it, I got in touch with Xamarin and they offered me a nice little discount because they provide a discount if you happen to have a start-up which I do. Now, when I say start-up don’t imagine a little Google just waiting to grow. No, I just have my own company so I can build a few products. This allowed me to get Bizspark which is very nice and also a discount from Xamarin, I think it was 20% if I remember correctly.
This still meant quite a lot of money, don’t get me wrong, but it was an easy decision to make. Heck it’s not like it’s hard to make money like a software developer, especially a mobile one, so my investment is already paying off.
Ok, so now is the time to ask why did you pay 2000 USD for a monkey and a T-shirt? Well, that’s you get once you do your first Xamarin University class, you write a little app, place an order and in a few weeks you receive them. Of course it’s not why I paid that much money, it was the other benefits that attracted me although to be sure I had no idea what I was getting into, but it made for a nice pun :).
Now that I have actually done all the classes I wanted I can say straight away that it was well worth the money. You learn everything you need to know, you learn how to build things properly, what to look for, how to optimize things and the little quirks we all know and “love” when talking about mobile development. If I had to learn all that on my own, I’d probably still be doing it 5 months later and I wouldn’t know anywhere near as much as I do now about the platform.
I haven’t done the certification yet, that’s another bonus for attending the Xamarin University, but I will do that pretty soon as well. I hear it is a brutal exam but hey, it’s well worth the effort. It does seem to require a lot more study then the recommended classes which can only be good in my book. Once you have that you can say you know the platform and can prove it as well.
So what’s next ? Yes, there must be a next. There is no point paying thousands of dollars for something if you don’t have a way of making that back and then some. Next, I have a ton of work involving not only mobile apps, but also wearable apps. Every now and then I keep an eye on the Xamarin jobs forum, every now and then you get companies looking for developers and sometimes it is remote work as well. The opportunities seem to grow every month. What can be more attractive than the concept of sharing code between platforms and using my beloved C# and Visual Studio ?
Was it worth it ? To me yes, but this is a question you need to ask yourself. Are you serious enough to bet on the platform and go all out with it ? If you are then don’t hesitate, get it all, learn it quickly and start using it. The mobile and wearables markets are only getting bigger now and the process is accelerating every month. It is, without a doubt a good time to start taking Xamarin seriously. Invest in yourself and it will pay off.