I'm currently writing this at the Orlando airport waiting for my flight to head home back to South Carolina. Normally I couldn't wait to head back home after an event to relax and to just, well, be home. However, I'm a bit sad that I have to leave. I met some awesome folks, both Xamarin employees and other attendees. I have an absolute blast helping to give training for Xamarin University. And I got to experience Wizarding World and Jurassic Park at Universal.
I'll split this recap up into two sections, training and the actual conference, since they were two different event. Yet I couldn't imagine a better experience without doing both.
At each Xamarin Evolve they include a two day bootcamp style training. It's basically a set of Xamarin University classes in two full days. It can be pretty intense, but you really get a lot out of it.
A colleague and I were asked to become adjunct trainers to help out with some of this training. When I was asked to join I first thought, "Crap, this is going to be really scary being up in front of folks for two full days!". But then I remembered that the best way to grow is to get out of your comfort zone. So I accepted.
During the time up until the actual training, I learned a lot about how much preparing and practicing really does matter even though it's the last thing I want to do for it. It was also around that time that I heard a Hidden Brain episode on grit. The lesson learned there is that using your grit to do things is the least fun experience, but it helps reap in the rewards once it's all done that much more. I then took preparing more seriously. I even took a hiatus from reading books! That's something that hardly ever happens.
The first day of training comes and I don't feel as nervous as I did during the practice sessions. My colleague did the introductions and welcome session. Then I was up for my first session to introduce Xamarin Forms. I then ended the day finishing half of the last session on local data. The next day I resumed the local data talk and went straight into web services, while my colleague finished out the rest of the day.
My absolute favorite part of the training was interacting with the students one-on-one and helping them when they had questions or issues during the labs. I definitely want to do this again and it's great inspiration to give more talks. I'm already thinking of what I can present on next and start preparing the materials for that.
The conference itself was nothing short of amazing! Tons of great sessions that are already posted online (thank you, Microsoft!). I learned a great deal just by attending the ones that I did and will definitely take that home with me for future projects and learning.
Here are a few sessions I attended:
- If You Build It: Making Apps for Humans - A wonderful presentation that showcases several interviews the presenter had with, not only some other developers, but with people you would encounter on the street with other careers besides tech. Honestly, this made me want to attempt something similar in my home town.
- Becoming a XAML Master - I've done XAML in Xamarin Forms for around a year and half now and have come to really enjoy using it for building up my UI. This session covers a few extra tricks I can incorporate to utilize the power of XAML instead of having to write out extra code.
- Enhancing Your Mobile Application with Machine Learning - I've been interested in data science and machine learning for a while now and this was the perfect session to get me started on the path of learning more of it. Great demos in this one!
- Mobile Apps in F# - Of course I have to go to an F# session! This one really drives examples of why you should try F# and some demos of using it in Xamarin applications. The async and MailboxProcessor stuff here is really digestible!
Another one of the highlights of the conference was definitely going to Universal Wednesday night for Wizarding World and Jurassic Park. Rode on a couple of rides, finally got to try some butter beer, and just hung out with awesome folks.
Something that surprised me was the amount of F# fans that were also at the conference. I met several of them there and had tons of great discussions on the language itself and the community that surrounds it.
An interesting thing they do at Evolve is they have a section called the Darwin Lounge. This includes mini-hacks that you can do and win prizes and play with some of the awesome things they have also created
All this really sums up to is to just go to Xamarin Evolve every chance you get! It was and still is the best conference experience I've ever had!
And obligatory monkey photo...