Today I attended the Xamarin Partner Summit in London on behalf of 3factr (a Belgian Xamarin Premier Consulting Partner I work for). It was a small sized conference, but nevertheless and interesting and informative afternoon.
Short story: “Apps have won”, “IOT, AR/VR/MR will rule the next years” and “No Xamarin Evolve in 2017!” – Petition at the bottom!
Apps have won
The keynote with the title “Transformative Opportunities in Mobile and Cloud” gave an overview on how to world (and companies) are evolving towards mobile-first, cloud-first. By 2020 6.1 billion users will have a smartphone, which is 70% of the world population. That alone brings great opportunities. Benedict Evans (a partner at Andreessen Horowitz and with a job to predict where it will go in the future) tells that “Apps have won” and that “Mobile is eating the world”.
We also got some quotes and slides about how Microsoft has evolved in the last years. As keynote speaker Greg Urquhart said: “Microsoft has become a different place”, pointing out that Microsoft is the largest open source provider on GitHub. With the acquisition of Xamarin (the largest in the cloud division) Microsoft is focusing on this mobile-first, cloud-first enigma. With the Azure platform they now can bring cloud-first to all Xamarin developers under the same Microsoft umbrella.
After the keynote, there were three tracks: a business track, a novice technical track and an advanced technical track. I decided to follow the business track because — being a Xamarin developer for the last 5 years — I thought that some business insights into the mobile world would be beneficial over the technical track.
Matt Larson had an interesting session about IOT, AR/VR/MR and how this will explode the next years – Moore’s law will shift towards the fact that chips will become cheaper and cheaper every year, and in the end will become almost free, meaning that everything will have a chip inside. And this will bring great opportunities for app builders (and their customers). Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality will become mainstream the coming years, with lot’s of devices on the roadmap such as the already available HoloLens. We saw some interesting promotional video’s of Microsoft about these technologies and I must admit, these Microsoft promotional video’s look great! Everything we saw was actually created with the known Cognitive SDK’s from Microsoft. Great stuff!
Advanced Technical Track
For the last session of the afternoon, I decided to switch to the advanced technical track. I was a bit disappointed by the fact that this track was more like an open discussion, just shout a topic and discuss it. Some were interesting some not… We did have a small interesting discussion about Mobile Center. Mobile Center is a new platform that Microsoft (Xamarin) introduced last november that would bring together all mobile related operations: Build, Test, Distribute, Crash Reporting, Analytics. As mentioned in the session, it’s actually VSTS Build + Xamarin Test Cloud + HockeyApp + Xamarin Insights. The problem is that the status of today’s features is far from complete. You can Build if you have a GitHub repository for example, but not if you are using BitBucket. The building part lacks a lot of features that a platform like Bitrise.io for example has – basically you can build a branch. Period. Also the Analytics are basic and the User feature (user flow, path) of Xamarin Insights is not present. All together this platform is not production ready but the target is that all features will be there at the Build conference in mid May 2017. Let’s hope…
For the closing keynote we got a overview of the partner program and how it would evolve towards MPN (Microsoft Partner Network) by Microsoft’s next fiscal year (July 2017). We also got a list of upcoming events, such as the Xamarin webinars (Mobile Center), Microsoft Build in Seattle (May 10-12, 2017) and Microsoft Inspire (new name for the Worldwide Partner Conference held in Washington, July 9-13, 2017). No word about a possible Xamarin Evolve in 2017 – following the 18 months cycle an October/November date would be possible… But then the question came from the audience… and was responded with “Ah the million dollar question about Evolve… well… I can tell you that there will be no Xamarin Evolve in 2017.” Silence and disappointment in the room… Too bad. Will Xamarin Evolve ever return? That’s the question – to which we did not get an answer. I loved Xamarin Evolve and was lucky to attend the last 2 editions. There was always a great atmosphere and the conference was in a sense big, but then again small enough so that you really felt being a part of this great community. Maybe we should start a petition to bring back Xamarin Evolve, at the latest in 2018. Ok, that’s what I did 🙂 You never know. Please share it with all Xamarin developers and beyond!