Xamarin – The latest release is unusable and I need to vent.

When it was announced that Microsoft was purchasing Xamarin, I was extremely excited for the future of this amazing technology, but as the months roll on I find myself become more and more frustrated with the sub-standard releases that keep being rolled out.

I don’t believe I’m the only person who is becoming frustrated. I’ve been a Xamarin developer for years, and I know a lot of other users are as angry as I am. Let’s take a look at why I’m so disappointed.

Insights. Microsoft killed it pretty quickly after the acquisition to be replaced with HockeyApp. The .NET SDK for HockeyApp is a damn disgrace, and the feature set doesn’t come close to that of Insights. We’ve been told to migrate to HockeyApp sometimes, but it’s not fit for purpose.

Broken Promises. USB Remoting was announced at their Evolve conference; I watched the live stream full of excitement. We’re now in October, and no sign of it anywhere, and Xamarin isn’t talking about it. Can I only assume it’s not coming?

DataPages was also a great bit of tech that was announced but doesn’t seem to have progressed any since the demo. Has this also been killed?

Bugs. The iOS simulator is very nice when it works, but for weeks I was unable to use it because I upgraded my Mac to macOS Sierra (this was after a blog post from Xamarin about support for the new OS).

The iOS tooling for Visual Studio is unusable. I’ve not met any Xamarin who use it day to day. They all agree that Xamarin Studio (despite its issues) is far better for iOS development. I installed the latest release (I believe they call it Cycle 8) and it’s broken almost all of my iOS apps. Looking through the Xamarin Forum, it looks like I’m not the only person to have become stuck with this release. In general, the Visual Studio tooling is terrible, in fact, it makes me hate writing software. I’m hoping that whoever within Xamarin is responsible for Visual Studio is given a nice redundancy package, and the work is migrated over to the real VS team. They’ve had years to get this right and it’s still the worst development products I’ve had the displeasure of using.

I’ve been trying to work out why Xamarin might release such terrible versions of their tools, and I can’t help but wonder if the commitment to the marketing BS that is “same day support” means that they’ll purposely release a half-baked version of their tools. Given some of the very basic issues I’ve hit with Cycle 8, I guess that QA (if that team even exists) never got to test it.

I know this comes across as a bit of a rant, but right now I’m lost for what to do. I’ve invested heavily in Xamarin and convinced my clients to take a risk with them. I’m now left looking bad because of decisions Xamarin has made. I wonder if I should look at building my new apps with Swift and Java as right now I don’t consider Xamarin to be production ready (it wasn’t great before but it was at least usable).

My advice to anyone in Xamarins senior management team would be this; focus on stability, not new features.

Stop announcing products that we developers didn’t ask for to make headlines and then quietly drop them later. Stop with the same day support mantra because I never want to deal with unusable releases. I’d rather wait an extra week or even a month if it means I can work. Stable should at least be usable.

If anyone from Microsoft with power is reading this. Please take a look at the existing release. Grab a fresh PC and try and get Xamarin installed and try to build a hello world app for iOS and Android. I’m confident you’ll struggle to get anything running.

TDLR: Xamarin was always a little buggy but Cycle 8 is the worst version of the tools released yet. Its unusable and Xamarin & Microsoft don’t seem to care.

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