As many of you know, I use the C# programming language a lot for my Software Development work. With that being said, I often use some third party libraries in order to speed up development time and perhaps add some new features. However, the libraries I have listed here are used in every one of my C# projects. If your favorite C# Library is not listed. Please leave a link to it in the comments section so I can try it out. Let’s get started.
I specialize in making web and mobile applications and being able to parse and create JSON data is extremely important to me. Json.Net is a really useful tool for parsing and creating JSON data in your applications. It requires no setup, just add it to your project using Nuget and your now your ready to start working with JSON Data. I recommend that you spend some time reading the documentation so you know how to use the library effectively. Especially when dealing with nested elements in JSON Data. There is also a very active community around this framework in case you get stuck or get confused on the functionality. I cant recommend this library enough.
I have decided to create the Derek Podcast, this podcast is another way for me to produce content about my software developer career. I chose to start a podcast because its something I’ve always wanted to try and I appreciate the medium. My written posts will come back next week but in the meantime, here is episode 1. Please let me know what you think by leaving a comment or via Twitter.
Recently, I was working on an app with Xamarin where I had a long list of colors that the user can pick from. I created a Simple ListView inside my app to display all of the colors in a table. However, this approach presented some unexpected problems such as:
How do I display a preview of the color next to the text label in my ListView Cell?
How do I keep track of what colors are selected by the user?
How to display a checkbox next to a color once it’s selected?
If you haven’t noticed, I haven’t been blogging much lately. The main reason for this is because I was tired of running my blog on a slow cloud provider. Up until this past Friday, I migrated my blog to Digital Ocean from Microsoft Azure. The migration process was super simple and only took about an hour, to get things transferred to my new provider. Before the migration, I was consistently having performance issues with WordPress on Azure. For example, it took forever to publish a simple post, the page would consistently load for a while before I could start writing. Another issue was that updating plugins or other components of my website would cause WordPress to get stuck in Maintenance Mode. The only easy way to get everything working again was to use an FTP client and remove a certain file from the directory structure of my website. However, the main driver for the migration was the price per month to keep a relatively small site like this up all the time. The price was about $200 a month alone. Keep in mind, I also have various servers for the backends for various applications on Azure. After a while, keeping all this up was getting very expensive. I even asked Microsoft what my options were to improve performance and help on how to reduce my price. They had a few good suggestions, which I implemented but it still seemed slow. I had the option to upgrade the server running my blog to something more powerful. The recommended option was out of my price range.
As many of you know, I’ve been contracted to create two mobile applications for some local small businesses. One common requirement for both of these applications is that the final product needs to be available on the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store. With this in mind, I figured I would try using Xamarin to create these apps. As I started working on these apps, I documented most of the initial thoughts via an older post on my blog. Since then most my problems have been resolved. However, I did notice it was hard to find good resources on how to build things using Xamarin Forms. I was able to find some old resources via some searches on YouTube, but I was not satisfied with the quality of the content. With this in mind. I wanted to take this opportunity to share what I have learned so far. Like my other Swift tutorials, we are going to start out small and work our way up. Let’s get started!
The ListView is a pretty common control in cross-platform mobile development. In Xamarin Forms, a ListView gets rendered out as a UITableView on iOS and a ListView in Android. You can create a ListView programmatically or you can use XAML. Once you have created your ListView you can access it in your code via its name property. Next, you have to assign an ItemSource to your ListView. In my case, I used a Generic List from the System.Collections.Generic Namespace. From there you populate your list with whatever data is going to be presented to the user. When your List is configured, set your List Object as the ItemSource property of your ListView. If you followed along with this post your app should compile fine and a ListView should show up on your device. If you encountered an error, check your code for errors as needed. Full code samples below. Happy Coding.
Over the last couple of weeks, I have made great progress on two apps that I’m writing. Working on these two projects every week has been a personal goal of mine since I started this blog, and I’m excited to see what the future holds. However, this progress means that the development process starts to slow down and the testing phase begins. This past weekend, I spent most of my time getting ready to move my apps into testing mode. During this time, I developed some tips in order to help newer developers get ready for testing.
For those who know me personally you might be aware that I’m learning VB.Net for use at my day job. Up until a month ago, I was using my C# skills to create applications and API’s for my employer. However, this caused a problem and management told me I had to learn VB.Net ASAP. To be honest I had no problem with this because, I could probably find some good online resources that could teach me the language rather quickly, since I already knew the .Net Framework. However, things went down hill really fast. Most if not all the resources for learning VB.Net are either very out dated or very poor. With not having any luck, I decided to find a Microsoft Virtual Academy course on VB. However all the offerings Microsoft had were considered retired, and recommended that I learn C# instead or try this VB for Absolute Beginners course.
That course didn’t satisfy me. I didn’t need to learn how to use Visual Studio or how to use certain data structures. I knew all that from C#. Since VB and C# use the same .Net Framework and CLR. I can easily move my existing coding skills to the older language. I eventually found this course on Udemy. I took the course shortly before Christmas and found it to be very helpful. But still didn’t have the content I was looking for but, it seemed to teach what I wanted to know. Soon I began to practice my VB skills. I made a handful of small apps but nothing major. After feeling pretty good about myself, I decided to try some common CRUD actions using Entity Framework (EF), a popular ORM for .Net, and one of my favorite tools. I ran into the same issue with the initial VB learning. All example code was in C# not VB. I eventually figured it out but getting EF to work in VB is not straight forward and its very ugly with the syntax. For those that are curious here is a sample incase your wondering how it looks:
Comparing it to the C# syntax its very messy and verbose. In addition if your using Pogo classes in a MVC project You need to import them one at at time instead of importing the models namespace. Even though I’m sill learning VB its very clear that it is a afterthought at Microsoft and all development efforts are still focused on C#, as it should be. However, if your just starting out do not learn VB. You are more likely to see a C based language like C# rather than a language based on BASIC. Its only a matter of time before VB is retired. Please feel free to comment or reach out to me on Twitter with your thoughts.