Last week, on December 9-10th, Microsoft Romania hosted the Xamathon, a hackathon also organized in other European countries, that promotes the development of cross-platform mobile applications by using Xamarin platform in combination with Azure services.
The reasons I chose to participate were my recent interest in mobile application development and cloud services, experience with C# and .NET, and also the challenge of working with XAML, a markup language I had no previous experience with.
Registration was free and there were expected not only experienced developers in Xamarin, but also anyone who wanted to find out the benefits of these technologies used together, so that the event included training sessions held by experts in the field: Daniil Rybin, Xamarin & .NET Consultant, and Ciprian Jichici, Microsoft Regional Director Genisoft General Manager. In addition, mentors from Microsoft Romania were constantly present among participants, benevolent in helping us to get over any technical bottlenecks.
The judging criteria were briefly the application purpose, use of Azure services and proper running on multiple platforms. No certain theme was imposed, but you had the chance to win additional prizes if you had followed a theme suggested by one of the sponsors.
My teammate and I decided to build an application that helps customers in a clothing store to find out what sizes are available for a particular product. Along with Xamarin Forms, I used ZXing.Net library for barcode scanning, Azure Mobile Services as backend API and Azure Active Directory as authentication provider.
Presentation of the project should not exceed three minutes, that’s why we focused on the minimum functionality that proves the application will not face technical limitations, it uses cloud services and is cross-platform. Our team took the first place, with very little advantage, since the team scores were very tight.
Prizes included Go Pro cameras, mini-robots controlled by smartphones and portable speakers. In my opinion, the participation itself is a considerable win – as to me, it was mostly about the opportunity to gain new knowledge in an effective way, in a short time.