Using an app template can really streamline app development and in particular stage one MVPs. In this article I look into the possibilities of using and app template with Xamarin.
The first big task in my mind, before I starting to code is creating a basic app design. Having a design in terms of screens, layout and flow should help me focus my development and learning, so that I don’t waste time and effort.
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Given that designing and creating graphic assets for an app can take a long time I was really hoping to pick an app template from somewhere like My App Templates and use that as my base. Although I’m not overly concerned at this stag with it being perfectly designed and great looking, starting with some base design concepts can really help.
After doing a little review I really liked the tap tag template, and could see a way it could be implemented to give a decent looking comic catalog:
I really like the notion of using an app template for the first MVP to give you a bit of a springboard and the my app templates ones are great – I know from using them for Android projects that they’re really good, and cant recommend them enough. I should note that all links to my app templates in this article are affiliate links, but I wouldn’t recommend them if I didn’t honestly think they were great.
So I did some research, decided on a template only to realise that they are not Xamarin friendly. The reason for this is that in order to really streamline your development process my app templates have coded the templates natively – which is great when you’re coding natively, but not for Xamarin!
I’m sure if Xamarin got a significant enough market share we’d start to see Xamarin friendly app templates out there, but right now Xamarin is fairly niche – maybe there’s an opportunity there?!
I was really disappointed by this, and did consider buying the template just for the PSD file to take icons and graphics from, but in the end decided it’d be simpler to take some inspiration from the template, and source some icons from elsewhere.
Xamarin Component Store
I also looked at the Xamarin component store as they have a section for themes on there. This seemed like an almost perfect option – Xamarin built themes to kick start your project across multiple device…great! I quickly realised however, that the themes section on the xamarin component store is really quite poor.
Within 5 minutes of looking you can see that there is roughly 15 themes – this by itself isn’t a terrible number as even My App Templates has a limited selection of templates. The real killer however is that all of the themes are built only for iOS…nothing at all for Android. To me this is crazy – I would have thought that the Xamarin team would have at least published one theme as a showcase that works across platforms. The other big question is whether these themes will work with xamarin forms at all – but thats for another day.
Maybe one day the themes section of the component store will be a little more inspiring, but right now its not very impressive at all, which is a shame.
After the frustrating start with Xamarin and My App Templates, I decided that I’ll sketch some simple wireframes (maybe taking some inspiration from the tap tag template) and work out the graphical elements after that. I dont want to worry about the graphics too much, but having something that looks at least OK will keep me happy!