The other day, I ambled over to Charles Petzold's web site to see what he was up to, and was surprised to discover that he's signed on with Xamarin and is writing a book about cross-platform mobile software development using that company's toolset. Coincidentally, I then received an email alert a few days later noting that the first pre-release version of this book is now available for free.
Charles Petzold is one of those guys that should need no introduction. But as the author of the "Programming Windows" books, he holds a special place in my life even though I've never actually met him. 25 years ago, before leaving banking to seek a career in the computer industry, I used to read and re-read the then-current version of that book, which was an enormous, Bible-sized hard cover. My coworkers thought I was nuts.
Over time, Mr. Petzold documented .NET, Windows Phone and then Windows 8/WinRT software development in the same detail-oriented and authoritative style, and while I'm long past my developer days, I've read them all. As far as I and millions of others are concerned, he is the voice of God when it comes to Windows programming.
So I was interested to see that he was taking on Xamarin cross-platform mobile development. Here's how Mr. Petzold described it back in August in his own blog.
"Xamarin provides tools for developers to write Mac, iOS, and Android apps using C# and .NET," he wrote, adding that he was surprised to find himself accepting a position at the firm. "My main job at Xamarin is to write a book about Xamarin.Forms — the new C# and XAML platform that lets you share user-interface code between iOS, Android, and Windows Phone applications."
Xamarin, for its part, also wrote a humorous post in which it described Charles Petzold as "a hardware/software package that converts APIs into books."
The book that will come out of this is called Creating Mobile Apps with Xamarin.Forms, and it will ship in final form in Spring 2015. It's aimed at beginner and proficient Xamarin.Forms developers alike, Xamarin notes. And now a free, pre-release version of the book is available from Microsoft Press. So if you're looking into getting into cross-platform mobile development, and didn't want to learn three separate development environments, this is almost certainly a great way to go. (I'm not hugely familiar with Xamarin.Forms, but it's based on C# and Petzold is behind it, so count me in.)