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Xamarin forms – Platform startup: Forms.Init() visit!

As XF documentations say, your platform-application (Droid, iOS or WP) should call Forms.Init() at startup.

That should be done:

  • In iOS: in the AppDelegate.FinishedLaunching method
    • global::Xamarin.Forms.Forms.Init();
  • In Droid: in the MainActivity. OnCreate (Bundle bundle)
    • global::Xamarin.Forms.Forms.Init(this, bundle);
  • In Win Phone: in your application's MainPage constructor
    • global::Xamarin.Forms.Forms.Init();

 

 

 

 

What does Forms.Init do?

On droid

Here is an example of what Forms.Init method does on Android:

 

public static void Init(Activity activity, Bundle bundle)
{
    // get the calling assembly 
    Assembly callingAssembly = Assembly.GetCallingAssembly(); 

    // Call SetupInit 
    SetupInit(activity, callingAssembly); 
}

 

Let us continue following the call to SetupInit():

 

private static void SetupInit(Activity activity, Assembly resourceAssembly) 
{
    // set the Context to current activity 
    Context = activity; 

    // initialize resources for this assembly 
    ResourceManager.Init(resourceAssembly); 

    // set the AccentColor according to OS version 
    if (Build.VERSION.SdkInt <=    BuildVersionCodes.GingerbreadMr1) 
    { 
       Color.Accent = Color.FromHex("#fffeaa0c"); 
    } 
    else 
    { 
       Color.Accent = Color.FromHex("#ff33b5e5"); 
    } 

    // log (if not initialized) 
    if (!IsInitialized) 
    { 
       Log.get_Listeners().Add(new DelegateLogListener( 
 (c, m) => Trace.WriteLine(m, c))); 
    } 

    // set the Device.OS version and platform services (here android) 
       Device.OS = TargetPlatform.Android; 
       Device.PlatformServices = new AndroidPlatformServices(); 

    // recreate the device info from this activity 
    if (Device.info != null) 
    { 
       ((AndroidDeviceInfo) Device.info).Dispose(); 
       Device.info = null; 
    } 

    IDeviceInfoProvider formsActivity = activity as IDeviceInfoProvider; 

    if (formsActivity != null) 
    { 
       Device.Info = new AndroidDeviceInfo(formsActivity); 
    } 

    // recreate the ticker 
    AndroidTicker ticker = Ticker.Default as AndroidTicker; 

    if (ticker != null) 
    { 
       ticker.Dispose(); 
   } 

   Ticker.Default = new AndroidTicker(); 

    // initialize renderers (if not initialized (again)) 
    if (!IsInitialized) 
    { 
       // register renderers for attributes export / cell / image source 
       Type[] typeArray1 = new Type[] 
                   { typeof(ExportRendererAttribute), 
                   typeof(ExportCellAttribute), 
                   typeof(ExportImageSourceHandlerAttribute) 
                   }; 

       // registrer the handlers of these types 
       Registrar.RegisterAll(typeArray1); 
    } 

    // set the device idiom according to screen width dpi 
    Device.Idiom = (Context.Resources.Configuration.SmallestScreenWidthDp >= 600) 
             ? TargetIdiom.Tablet : TargetIdiom.Phone; 
 
    // set search expression default (if not already set) 
    if (ExpressionSearch.Default == null) 
    { 
       ExpressionSearch.Default = new AndroidExpressionSearch(); 
    } 

    // set initialzed flag 
    IsInitialized = true; 
} 

 

 

 

On iOS

 

public static void Init() 
{ 
    if (!IsInitialized) 
    { 
       // set initialized flag 
       IsInitialized = true; 

       // set the AccentColor 
       Color.Accent = Color.FromRgba(50, 0x4f, 0x85, 0xff); 

       Log.get_Listeners().Add(new DelegateLogListener( 
             // obscure decompilation of an anonymous methodJ 
          <>c.<>9__9_0 
             ?? (<>c.<>9__9_0 = new Action<string, string>      (<>c.<>9.<Init>b__9_0)))); 

       // device os and platform services 
       Device.OS = TargetPlatform.iOS; 
       Device.PlatformServices = new IOSPlatformServices(); 

       Device.Info = new IOSDeviceInfo(); 

       // set the ticker 
       Ticker.Default = new CADisplayLinkTicker(); 

       // register renderers for attributes export / cell / image source 
       Type[] typeArray1 = new Type[] 
                      { typeof(ExportRendererAttribute), 
                      typeof(ExportCellAttribute), 
                      typeof(ExportImageSourceHandlerAttribute) 
                      }; 

       Registrar.RegisterAll(typeArray1); 

       // set device idiom 
       Device.Idiom = (UIDevice.get_CurrentDevice  ().get_UserInterfaceIdiom() == 1L) 
             ? TargetIdiom.Tablet : TargetIdiom.Phone; 

       // set search expression default 
       ExpressionSearch.Default = new iOSExpressionSearch(); 
    } 
}

 

 

On Win Phone

 

public static void Init()
{
    if (!isInitialized)
    {
        // create an event trigger object (why?) 
        // note: constructor initializes an EventNameProperty DependencyProperty 
        new EventTrigger();

        string name = Assembly.GetExecutingAssembly().GetName().Name;
        ResourceDictionary dictionary1 = new ResourceDictionary();

        // load xaml resources 
        dictionary1.set_Source(
                new Uri(string.Format("/{0};component/WPResources.xaml", name),
                UriKind.Relative));

        // add resources to merged dictionaries 
        Application.get_Current().get_Resources().get_MergedDictionaries().Add(dictionary1);

        // set accent( color from resources 
        Color color = (Application.get_Current().get_Resources().get_Item("PhoneAccentBrush") as SolidColorBrush).get_Color();

        byte introduced3 = color.get_R();
        byte introduced4 = color.get_G();
        byte introduced5 = color.get_B();

        Color.Accent = Color.FromRgba((int)introduced3,
                                (int)introduced4,
                                (int)introduced5,
                                (int)color.get_A());

        // log 
        Log.get_Listeners().Add(new DelegateLogListener(<> c.<> 9__3_0
                    ?? (<> c.<> 9__3_0 = new Action<string,
                    string>(<> c.<> 9.< Init > b__3_0))));

        // set device os and platform services 
        Device.OS = TargetPlatform.WinPhone;
        Device.PlatformServices = new WP8PlatformServices();
        Device.Info = new WP8DeviceInfo();

        // register renderers for attributes export / cell / image source 
        Type[] typeArray1 = new Type[]
                    { typeof(ExportRendererAttribute),
                            typeof(ExportCellAttribute),
                            typeof(ExportImageSourceHandlerAttribute)
                    };

        Registrar.RegisterAll(typeArray1);

        // set ticker default 
        Ticker.Default = new WinPhoneTicker();

        // set device idiom 
        Device.Idiom = TargetIdiom.Phone;

        // set search expression default 
        ExpressionSearch.Default = new WinPhoneExpressionSearch();

        // set initialzed flag 
        isInitialized = true;
    }
}

 

 

 

Xamarin forms: an inside look – II. The (simplified) journey of a Label from your code to screen

Understanding how your UI code ends up by being shapes and colors on a device screen may help in better usage, better interpretation for encountered issues and for evaluating if you really need a custom renderer for a given control.

Exploring this also explains some of the interesting internal Xamarin forms mechanisms to play its awesome cross-platform game!

To do this, I will here attempt to explore the journey of a simple control: The Label.

For simplicity, I will track the journey to an Android device.

Label hierarchy

Label is a class defined Xamarin.Forms.Core.dll. Its hierarchy is roughly the following:

 

The Label renderer

At the end of this simple control processing chain, we have the android's Label renderer responsible of drawing it on the screen of each device… The renderer hierarchy (on Android):

The mono component

The ViewRenderer (XF Platform.Android.dll) is defined as:

public abstract class ViewRenderer<TView, TNativeView>

: VisualElementRenderer<TView>,

global::Android.Views.View.IOnFocusChangeListener,

IJavaObject,

IDisposable

 

It inherits the VisualElementRenderer (abstract) class which is defined as:

public abstract class VisualElementRenderer<TElement>

: FormsViewGroup,

IVisualElementRenderer,

IRegisterable,

IDisposable,

global::Android.Views.View.IOnTouchListener,

IJavaObject,

global::Android.Views.View.IOnClickListener

where TElement : VisualElement

 

Both of them refer to objects from the Android.Views and Android.Runtime namespaces defined in Mono.Android.dll.

 

The Label renderer referenced types, inheritance and interface implementations (summary)

 

Label renderer calls (summary)

The IRegisterable and Registrar link nodes

As you can notice, both ViewRenderer and VisualElementRenderer implement the IRegisterable Interface defined in XF.Core.dll.

 

IRegistrable is implemented by all Renderers. And is referenced by the Registrar class (we will see later).

Let us follow IRegistrable implemented child tree till the Label Renderer node:

(Incidentally, in he above figure, we again notice our ImageSourceHandler at the very root of the tree… you may look at my notes here)

The key node: XF Registrar

Registrar (Xamarin.Forms.Core.dll) is an internal static class. It exposes (internally) some methods for registering generic handlers of which we find the Renderers.

The method RegisterAll(Type[] attrTypes) of the Registrar class proceeds registration of the input array of types (note: as the class is internal, I could not find – for now – who calls this method: see a sample call at the end of this post).

If we follow the method's decompiled code, we understand that items of the Type array argument are expected to be each decorated with an attribute of type HandlerAttribute (deriving from System.Attribute). Here is a simplified version of the method's code:

 

internal static void RegisterAll(Type[] attrTypes)
{
    Assembly[] assemblies = Device.GetAssemblies();

    foreach (Assembly assembly2 in assemblies)
    {
        foreach (Type type in attrTypes)
        {
            Attribute[] attributeArray = Enumerable.ToArray<Attribute>(CustomAttributeExtensions.GetCustomAttributes(assembly2, type));
            foreach (HandlerAttribute attribute in attributeArray)
            {
                if (attribute.ShouldRegister())
                {
                    Registered.Register(attribute.HandlerType, attribute.TargetType);
                }
            }
        }
    }
}

 

 

HandlerAttribute exposes two members: HandlerType and TargetType, both are of type System.Type

 

Few attributes derive from this HandlerType attribute. Of which you have… oh… the famous ExportRendererAttribute!

 

And that is roughly how XF finds the renderer to call for a given control on each platform.

Sample call to Registrar at droid application launch in AppCompat:

Xamarin forms backyard - exploring MSBuild projects

In a previous post, I talked about how to manually change the project (.csproj) file to create an App.xaml and App.xaml.cs files in a Xamarin forms project. The reason for this is to be able to declare and use global application resources (styles, assets… etc.) linked to the main application file (App.cs changed to App.xaml.cs). That is, in a way, to repair a guilty XF project template that doesn't create these items by default.

Like in all development processes, when you use xamarin forms, you spend your time coding and building your projects.

In Windows, this essential build process goes through MSBuild which reads and interprets .csproj file's instructions into specific actions to compile and package your applications.

Those .csproj files are XML files containing configurations, variables and instructions… many can be manipulated in Visual Studio or Xamarin Studio. Still, some of these configurations require a deeper dive into MSBuild details. Your project, for instance, may sometimes fail to build for reasons that are difficult to trace without such dive.

Diving into MSBuild is something different from simply reading the .csproj xml instructions.

Understanding the way these instructions would be interpreted and handled by MSBuild is crucial for your investigations success.

MSBuild API to the rescue

Fortunately, MSBuild offers an API that allows you to explore or modify the build engine behavior according to your requirements.

I used this API to build a simple MSBuild browser (Windows WPF application) that allows you to examine the detailed interpretations of MSBuild to a .csproj or .vbproj file.

A project configuration browser

The browser uses the objects defined in the MSBuild Microsoft.Build.Evaluation namespace.

Three main view models of the application are used to represent MSBuild objects:

  • iProject: msbuild project view model. Encapsulates the collection of:
  • iProjectItemType: project item types (and actions). Each project item type encapsulating a collection of:
  • iProjectItem: an item of the related type. This object encapsulates a property bag of the related MSBuild item's properties (For instance: metadata).

 

PropertyBag object is used to allow future application extensibility. It parses MSBuild objects' properties independently of the version referenced (the current application references MSBuild 14.0.0.0).

 

The result looks like this:

 

You can download the binaries Here

If you are interested in extending features, you can download the source code here.

 

Xamarin forms – the OnPlatform<T> heavens!

Xamarin forms offer this class (OnPlatform<T>) of great help to adapt your code (either c# or Xaml) to the current runtime device's platform.

So you may write:

string helloDevice = Device.OnPlatform<string>(
            "Hello iOS", "Hello Droid", "Hello Win Phone");

 At runtime, on iOS, your string would have the related platform value:

In Xaml, you specify the type to which the OnPlatform should act and the values for each platform:

<ContentPage.Padding>
   <OnPlatform x:TypeArguments="Thickness">
      <OnPlatform.iOS>0, 20, 0, 0</OnPlatform.iOS>
      <OnPlatform.Android>0, 0, 0, 0</OnPlatform.Android>
      <OnPlatform.WinPhone>0, 0, 0, 0</OnPlatform.WinPhone>
   </OnPlatform>
</ContentPage.Padding>

The main difficulty in Xaml is that you should know exactly the Type to pass as TypeArgument.

For system known types, you should use the x: prefix like in:

x:TypeArguments="x:String"
x:TypeArguments="x:Double"
x:TypeArguments="x:Int32"

For Xamarin Forms objects properties and types, it is easy to use the Visual Studio Object Browser to obtain the correct information:

Here, for instance, you know that the Padding is of type Xamarin Forms Thickness:

    <OnPlatform x:TypeArguments="Thickness">

 

Xamarin forms maps – let’s talk renderers: 1. Win Phone

I continue about XF maps, where a custom renderer is needed if you want to customize appearance and interaction.

As most Xamarin forms samples about maps expose renderers for Droid and iOS (I did not see any about WP), I will start by exposing a sample for that 'missing' renderer. Another post will follow with some ideas about the renderers for the other platforms.

 

In this sample, we handle SamplePlace objects (see below) through our custom map and custom pin objects (see previous post)

What we want:

  • Display custom pushpins (icons specified for each custom pin)
  • When a pushpin is clicked, display a custom information callout about the place.

 

The way to do this:

The renderer (which derives from MapRenderer) receives our custom map, containing the map pins. The binding context of each Pin is set to the related custom pin. The place data is accessed through the custom pin's DataObject.

The renderer has two levels of duties:

  • A 'formal' role inherited from the default renderer: create and display the specific platform map control, position the pins on it and define the interaction with the control's events (map taps / pins taps / callout taps…).
  • A customization role: use our specific embedded information to customize pins' appearance and callouts.

 

The renderer code

Our renderer class:

public class iCustomMapRenderer : ViewRenderer<iCustomMap, Map>


For Xamarin.Forms.Maps to retrieve our renderer at runtime, it should be 'exported'. The code should now be like the following:

 

// Note: ExportRendererAttribute is defined in Xamarin.Forms namespace
[assembly: ExportRenderer(typeof(iCustomMap), typeof(iCustomMapRenderer))]

namespace iMaps.WinPhone
{
	public class iCustomMapRenderer : ViewRenderer<iCustomMap, Map>
	{
		private Map				_winMap;			// the win phone map control
		private iCustomMap		_xfMap;				// the xamarin forms map we are handling
		private iCustomPin		_selectedPin;	// our current slected pin

		// the callout user control that will display selected place info
		UserControl	_placeInfoCtrl	= new UserControl()
		{
			HorizontalAlignment	= HorizontalAlignment.Stretch,
			VerticalAlignment		= VerticalAlignment.Stretch,
			MinHeight			= 300,
			Background			= whiteBrush,
		};
		…



 

Here is a global view of the renderer's methods:

 

In the ElementPropertyChanged (override), we will:

  • Create the win phone map control.
  • Parse the received pins, and use their specified icons as pushpins.
  • Subscribe to each pushpin Tap event to display the callout.
  • Subscribe to the map Tap event to hide any displayed callout.

 

// Center the map on the 1st pin
var			pin	= _xfMap.Pins[0];

// create the win phone map control. set as the native control
_winMap		= new Map
		{
			ZoomLevel = 13,
			Center = new GeoCoordinate(pin.Position.Latitude, pin.Position.Longitude)
		};

this.SetNativeControl(_winMap);

// subscribe to map Tap event (to unselect last pin if any)
_winMap.Tap		+= WinMap_Tap;

// AddCurrentLocationToMap();
// loop through the received pins. display each with its custom pin icon
foreach (var formsPin in _xfMap.Pins)		//.CustomPins)
{
	var			pushPin		= new Pushpin();
	iCustomPin	customPin	= formsPin.BindingContext as iCustomPin;
	SamplePlace	place		= customPin == null ? null 
										: customPin.DataObject as SamplePlace;

	// subscribe to the pushpin tap event (to display the callout)
	pushPin.Tap += PushPin_Tap;

	// set the pushpin position on the map
	var geoCoordinate			= new GeoCoordinate(formsPin.Position.Latitude, formsPin.Position.Longitude);
	pushPin.GeoCoordinate		= geoCoordinate;

	// set the pushpin tag to the custom pin
	pushPin.Tag					= customPin;
	…
	…



The custom pushpin icon

To put a UI element on the map, you create a MapOverlay containing the element on the desired location (geo coordinate) and you add that MapOverlay to a Layer that you put on the map.

A Pushpin (defined in Microsoft.Phone.Maps.Toolkit namespace) is a UI element that exposes a Content property (of type ContentControl) which we can set to our image of choice (the one specified by the custom pin object for instance). In that case, the pushpin would look like this:

We may also directly put our image on the MapOverlay. In that case that would be like this:

 

The callout control

Let us create a (win phone) xaml UserControl for displaying place object's information. We will use this when a pushpin will be tapped.

 

<Border x:Name="LayoutBorder" Background="Transparent" Height="auto" Padding="8" >
	<Grid VerticalAlignment="Top" Background="Transparent">
		<Grid.RowDefinitions>
			<RowDefinition Height="24" />
			<RowDefinition />
		</Grid.RowDefinitions>
		<Grid.ColumnDefinitions>
			<ColumnDefinition Width="24" />
			<ColumnDefinition />
		</Grid.ColumnDefinitions>

		<Image Source="{Binding Source, Source={StaticResource imgMapPointer}}" Grid.Column="0" Grid.Row="0" Stretch="Fill" Height="24" Width="24" HorizontalAlignment="Left" VerticalAlignment="Top" />

		<Border Padding="8" Background="White" Grid.Row="0" Grid.Column="1" Grid.RowSpan="2">
			<StackPanel>
				<Image x:Name="imgPlace" Height="128" Width="128" HorizontalAlignment="Left" Source="{Binding Converter={StaticResource placeImageConverter}}" Margin="8" />
				<TextBlock FontWeight="Bold" Text="{Binding Name}" Foreground="Black" />
				<Rectangle Height="1" Fill="Black" HorizontalAlignment="Stretch" />
				<TextBlock Margin="8,0" FontSize="14" Text="{Binding MapPinText}" Foreground="Black" />
			</StackPanel>
		</Border>
	</Grid>
</Border>



 

At design time, the code above would look like:

At runtime, the Pushpin Tap event handler will set the control's DataContext to the selected SamplePlace object. It will then display its image and information.

The pushpin Tap event handler determines the currently selected place (through the pushpin.Tag) and calls this method to update the control:

 

void UpdateInfoControlContents(SamplePlace place)
{
	_placeInfoCtrl.ClearValue(UserControl.ContentProperty);

	if(place == null)
		return;

	PlacePushPinInfoCtrl ctrl = new PlacePushPinInfoCtrl() { DataContext = place };

	_placeInfoCtrl.Content = ctrl;
}



 

 

There is certainly still much to do for these mechanics to produce something elegant and informative.

That may just be a good start.... Download the code and have more fun!

In a following post I will talk about some ideas for Droid and iOS map renderers (also included in the sample).

Xamarin forms: appCompat & rounded buttons, cleaner solution!

This is a follow up for my last post about AppCompat and rounded buttons where your custom renderer would not be called!

In that post, I exposed a 'hack' solution which is better be avoided.

On this page (the same where Kelly Adams presented a decompiled code of the AppCompat launcher), Thomas Omer-Decugis exposed a simple and efficient solution: you create a new class that derives from Button and create (in the Droid project) your custom renderer for this class.

In that case, your renderer is called and can proceed to handling properties like BorderRadius that are ignored by AppCompat.

 

public class iRoundedButton : Button 

In this screen capture, the first 2 buttons are standard buttons (where border radius is not handled by AppCompat)

The following 2 are defined as: (xmlns:local="clr-namespace:iRoundedButton")

<local:iRoundedButton … 

 

And where the custom renderer handles the border radius.

 

The custom renderer itself is the same as in the previous sample, with this minor change:

[assembly: ExportRenderer(typeof(iRoundedButton /*Xamarin.Forms.Button*/), typeof(CustomButtonCompatRenderer))]

Xamarin forms – what about maps?

Why do we use maps?

Apart from the pleasure (and poesy) of locating things in the global earth space, there is something practical and useful in using maps and geolocation.

I myself could never be able to live in big cities without mapping applications guiding me from a place to another and giving me such vital information like 'where can I park my car' (almost a dilemma in European cities at leastJ)

As we talk about maps, we of course talk about mobility (and vice versa). That puts it in a way where we might think that a mobile app is often linked to mapping features: if your app sells something (it often doesJ), the user will inevitably ask: where is it? How can I go there?... etc.

Xamarin forms maps package

The Xamarin forms maps package delivers a good solution to integrate maps into your XF applications.

A nice sample is delivered that explains how to get started with the package.

To avoid some of startup pitfalls, I compiled my own pitfalls and solutions here.

The package (Xamarin.Forms.Maps.dll) contains a few useful objects:

 

Xamarin.Forms.Maps - What / Who lives there?

The component exposes three main objects:

  • Map object (a View)
  • MapSpan object
  • Pin object (a BindableObject)

Finally an object: Geocoder for geocoding operations (that I didn't find really useful or simply operational)

More details and Inheritance

A Map (deriving from View) is of:

  • MapType (enumeration)
  • It has two MapSpan(s) representing the VisibleRegion and the LastMoveToRegion
  • And it contains a collection of Pin(s) (IList<Pin>)

A MapSpan is composed of its center (a Position: a structure of Latitude, Longitude), dimensions in terms of Distance (a structure with some factory methods (FromKilometers, FromMiles…) to apply values using known distance units).

The good news is that the Pin is a BindableObject. We will see how to use this to extend some features.

Extending Xamarin Forms Maps

You can simply use the maps package with its provided features and obtain good and useful results for your app's users: display pins on the map, when a pin is clicked, its label is displayed, and you can respond to that label's Tap event to open your selected item's specific form. That can be enough in many cases.

Other more demanding apps may need, for instance, to customize pin appearance and/or the callout for each pins… etc.

The standard Pin object is limited to handling objects' Address (string), Label (string), Position (coordinates) and pin Type (enumeration: Generic, Place, SavedPin or SearchResult). It also exposes a Clicked event to which your app can subscribe.

 

It does not handle other features that you may need… like specifying a pin icon, or a custom callout.

So, you think: still, we can derive a custom pin object that may provide such requested information.

Unfortunately that is not possible because Pin is a sealed class! (Why is it sealed?... mystery!. I hope the creators have good reason for this choice. For now, I find this a little strange)

Customizing maps: yet another solution

I found some interesting efforts to extend and circumvent the Xamarin maps limitations.

You may have a look at some Here… or Here.

Most efforts concentrate on offering Custom rendering solutions (For Droid and iOS. Few, if any, expose a Win Phone workable renderer).

The fact that we need a custom renderer for maps is inevitable if we opt to using the specific platform mapping features (which seems the reasonable choice). A structured (architectural) approach is required in any case.

What we want to handle in this sample, is a Place object:

It contains information about its location (latitude, longitude, address…) and other properties (Name, description, image…)

What we need in our current sample is:

  • Display a custom pushpin according to the type (category) of the Place at the pin location.
  • Display a custom callout when the pin would be clicked.
  • Raise a Clicked event when the callout would be tapped.

Instead of this:

We would like to have something like this :

As we cannot inherit the Pin class (sealed), let us create an iCustomPin class containing the target map Pin and providing the required customization features (here the pin's icon):

The iCustomPin class will act as a view model for the Pin, thus providing some (gets) of its properties: MapPinLabel, MapPinPosition, MapPinType… etc.

It exposes a DataObject (an 'object', which will contain a Place object in the current sample… Note: That may be refactored to a BindableProperty)

An iCustomMap object (deriving from the Xamarin forms Map) will be in charge of inserting / updating our custom pins. It may also provide a custom Callout control template (ContentView) that can be used for displaying the selected (Clicked) pushpin.

How these objects can be used?

The sample execution sequence can be as follows:

  • Data: create a list of sample places, each containing coordinates, description…
  • View: Insert a custom map control (iCustomMap object) into the page
  • For each ample place, add the corresponding custom pin (iCustomPin) to the custom map:
    • A custom pin contains a 'standard' Pin
    • Set standard Pin's BindingContext to the custom pin. (The custom pin contains the Data Object… which is the Place)
  • Rendering: the custom renderer, at each platform, can access the custom pin info (and thus the sample Place) through the Pin's BindingContext… It would then display the pushpins according to the specified icon asset, and eventually displays the place's callout when required.

 

 

 

In a following post, I will expose custom renderers details for Android and WP.

Will also try to polish the sample code a little more before publishing for download. Will keep you posted when readyJ

Xamarin Forms Maps – a (very) quick start!

Solutions to avoid some pitfalls for starting up with Xamarin forms maps package.

Before to use?

Some steps are required for your map application to be able to start and to display maps.

 

In Android project, before to use maps, you must first generate an API key. This can be done in your google account (create one if needed). You can optionally in this step link your API key to a specific application. This API key should be specified in the AndroidManifest.xml of your Android project:

<application android:label="Your app name" android:icon="@drawable/your icon">
    <meta-data android:name="com.google.android.geo.API_KEY"
            android:value="put you api ur key" />
<meta-data android:name="com.google.android.gms.version"
        android:value="@integer/google_play_services_version" />
</application>


In this same file, you should also specify the required location access permissions:

 

For iOS, you should specify the some values for the following keys in info.plist file:

<key>NSLocationAlwaysUsageDescription</key>
<string>Please allow us to use your location.</string>
<key>NSLocationWhenInUseUsageDescription</key>
<string>We are using your location</string>


For WinPhone, you should specify some application capabilities as (at least):

 

For All platforms:

In each platform, call Xamarin.FormsMaps.Init(); after Xamarin.Forms.Forms.Init()

Without this call, your map will not show!

  • iOS - AppDelegate.cs file, in the FinishedLaunching method.
  • Android - MainActivity.cs file, in the OnCreate method.
  • Win Phone - MainPage.xaml.cs file, in the MainPage constructor.

 

That is what the Xamarin Forms Maps documentation saysJ. In fact I tested: that is required for iOS, not required for Android… and for Win Phone… just a minute… the emulator is starting up… IT IS required!

 

How to use?… Look at it working

To use these items, you simply insert a Map View in your Xaml page (or ContentView). Which can also be done in code. In xaml, don't forget to mention the namespace!

Here is an example of a ContentView (a UserControl for our WPF/Silverlight friends!)

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> 
<ContentView    x:Class="iMaps.iMapCtrl1" 
    xmlns="http://xamarin.com/schemas/2014/forms" 
    xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2009/xaml" 
    xmlns:map="clr-namespace:Xamarin.Forms.Maps;assembly=Xamarin.Forms.Maps" 
    > 
    <map:Map x:Name="theMap" /> 
</ContentView> 

 

Important remark: for a mysterious reason (you will see many in Xamarin environment), if the 'map' namespace specifies the assembly's extension ('.dll') that doesn't work in WinPhone (i.e. app crash!)

Should write this:

xmlns:map="clr-namespace:Xamarin.Forms.Maps;assembly=Xamarin.Forms.Maps"

Not this (results in WinPhone crash):

xmlns:map="clr-namespace:Xamarin.Forms.Maps;assembly=Xamarin.Forms.Maps.dll"

 

Now, for this sample, we can insert some Pins at the ContentView (UserControl) creation:

public iMapCtrl1()
{
    InitializeComponent();
    PutSomePinsOnMap();
}

 

void PutSomePinsOnMap()
{
    // define a center point and some sample pins
    Position        tourEiffel    = new Position(48.859217, 2.293914);
    Pin[]        pins            =
    {
        new Pin() {  Label = "Tour Eiffel",
            Position = new Position(48.858234, 2.293774), Type = PinType.Place },
        new Pin() {  Label = "Concorde",
            Position = new Position(48.865475, 2.321142), Type = PinType.Place },
        new Pin() {  Label = "Étoile",
            Position = new Position(48.873880, 2.295101), Type = PinType.Place },
        new Pin() {  Label = "La Défense",
            Position = new Position(48.892418, 2.236180), Type = PinType.Place },
    };

    foreach(Pin p in pins)
    {
        theMap.Pins.Add(p);
    }

    // center the map on Tour Eiffel / set the zoom level
    theMap.MoveToRegion(MapSpan.FromCenterAndRadius(tourEiffel, Distance.FromKilometers(2.5)));
}
 

 

Once this ContentView in a Page that gives a nice view like this: