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Xamarin Evolve 2014

This time a not so technical blog post. Due to a very busy schedule the last few months, there wasn’t enough time to take up blogging. Let’s try to get starting again.

First post will be about my first trip to the United States, where I’m attending the Xamarin Evolve conference in Atlanta.

From the beginning of 2014 starting with mobile development was on my wish list. Due to the work load from the start of this year until now I was only able to test around a bit but never had enough time to complete my first app.

We’ve decided to work with Xamarin to create our mobile apps on different operating systems. Not only because I’m specialized in the .NET framework, also the ability to share code between the implementations of the different frameworks is a big plus and time saver!

The conference included (if wanted) a two day training course, that I wanted to attend to get to learn the best practices, the way to structure your code and so one.

On Monday morning training started with breakfast :). In the big meal hall it become obvious that Xamarin is hot. During the kick off session the numbers came up. 700 people are following training alone, what is more then the total of attendees for Evolve 2013!

Next important fact in the kick off was that Xamarin Forms, although just released 3 moths ago, was the most requested subject for the training. This is reflected in the training schedule where a lot of sessions are based upon the Xamarin Forms implementation.

I signed up for the fundamentals track as I don’t have an very deep knowledge working with Xamarin. First sessions where the basics about mobile development with Xamarin Forms. Although my lack of knowledge, the sessions felt very basic, and on a bit of slow pace. I saw a few interesting items but for the most of the content it was a bit tedious.

In the afternoon, after a workshop, XAML was on the program. With some previous experience in WPF was the session about XAML and the data binding a bit the same story as before noon.

What I have to emphasize is how helpful the Xamarin people where during workshops and general questions! Sadly I learned more from doing the workshops and asking the experts then from the sessions on this first day.

To finish of the day all training attendees were invited for dinner in a close by restaurant Stafs. Even there you sense the open mind of the Xamarin employees and other attendees. A perfect place to mingle and hand out experiences with mobile development between each other. Together with Stella on draft, a perfect ending of the first day of conference.

Day 2
Day 2 started a bit earlier then I was hoping due to the jet lag still being present. Waking up at 4 o’clock in the morning wasn’t what I was hoping for, but yeah.

Where day one was missing some body for me, day two was a lot better. Starting with navigation in Xamarin Forms to SQLite and Mobile Data to Web Services gave me a lot of useful information and best practices that I want to implement directly in the first app I’m planning to build.

And that was just before lunch, in the afternoon sessions went on on a better pace with subjects Extending Forms and publishing your app together with labs and time to play around with experts around you.

The second day was closed by the conference welcome reception that I sadly missed due to the still present jet lag. (Planning to lay down for one hour became a solid sleep until, you can already predict, 4 o’clock the next morning)






Deploy your site to Azure from Github private repositories

Last June I attended Microsoft Tech Ed in Amsterdam. During the event the main focus in ASP.NET development was on Azure, the Microsoft cloud solution. I didn’t had the time yet to play around with Azure until I wanted to test if one of my personal projects would have mess speed/loading problems when deployed on Azure.


After working with Subversion (SVN) for the last years, the distributed source control of Github looked appealing. I didn’t wanted to give up the safety of my local SVN server at home with daily backups to my NAS. But on the other side, a recommended and proven source control like Github could only scale down backup and safety worries. To test out Github I’m now combining the two source control systems. Every change first gets committed to my SVN server and then committed and synchronized with my Github account.

Deploying to Azure

Azure websites have a few options to deploy to. Until some time ago the easiest way to deploy a website was to download the “publish profile” from the Azure management portal as shown in the image below


In Visual Studio you can select the downloaded “profile” and then publish to Azure.

Publish directly from Github

Scott Hanselman made a good post about deploying your application directly from your Github repository to your Azure website. Still working on Azure to test out the possibilities there was no problem that every commit would be deployed. It would give me the advantage to direct test the changes I made on my development machine in a ‘live’ production environment (although it isn’t the real production environment).

Following the steps as described by Scott I ran into a problem. When trying to associate my Azure website with the correct Github repository I could only choose from the existing public repositories. As my personal projects aren’t all open source projects I had placed this specific project in a private repository.

Searching for a solution

Up to Google to search if anyone else had solved this problem, maybe a setting on Github, maybe a setting in Azure, … I didn’t found any solutions on the GIT Deployment to Windows Azure forum nor on the wiki pages of the Kudu project (Kudu is the engine behind git deployments in Azure Web Sites. It can also run outside of Azure. It can be found on Github). I decided to post a comment on Scotts blog post. Scott was so kind to forward my question to David Ebbo who is working on Kudu with David Fowler. Just one hour after I posted my comment David responded on my question of it is already possible to deploy from private repo’s:

Not yet, but we are going to support this in the next update. Exact date is TBD, but hopefully in the next month or so.

No solution yet but …

One step closer, but no solution yet. I have some workarounds:

  • Make my repository public on Github.
  • Use the publish profile to deploy directly from Visual Studio
  • Look into pushing to Azure from a build server (not discussed in this post)

What I wanted to emphasize is the quick and clear response from Microsoft when dealing with this kind of problems. I can remember the long and tedious protocol to file bugs and then hopefully someone would answer a month or so later. The Microsoft of today is changed. Quicker response, listening to their users (the developers) and an improved open source protocol! A big change that hopefully will extend to all divisions at Microsoft.


For the people who have a MSDN subscription. There’s a basic start credit included in your MSDN subscription. If you want to start playing around in Windows Azure without waving a credit card from step 1.