App maker spotlight: Oberdan Ferreira
[Editor’s note: This is part of a series of articles about app makers, highlighting ArcTouch’s talented team members. Our app makers love the latest tech and finding creative new ways to apply it to their projects.]
Oberdan Ferreira has been a professional developer since he was 19, more than a third of his life. For the past seven years, he’s championed cross-platform technologies for ArcTouch — developing deep expertise in Xamarin, Flutter, and React Native.
The emergence of these cross-platform tools has been a boon for developers and businesses — helping them reach more users on more connected platforms more efficiently than ever.
And cross-platform app development is about to get WAY more interesting. “I think the biggest change is coming,” he says, when Microsoft releases .NET Multi-platform App UI (MAUI) this fall.
I recently had the chance to talk with Oberdan about the state of cross-platform development — and his role as the engineering manager for our Xamarin developers.
If you know Oberdan, you know he loves heavy metal music — and his epic beard rivals some of the best in music. So, that’s where we started the conversation:
When you’re not writing code, what do you like to do?
I’m a headbanger, so I like to sit in front of the TV with Spotify on, discovering new bands as well as listening to tracks I already enjoy. It helps me wind down after an intense day of work. There is an internal Slack channel for the metalheads at ArcTouch to share new and old songs. We created a collaborative Spotify playlist called ArcTouch Metal Club that is one of my favorites.
I also enjoy going to music festivals and local gigs. I’ve been to quite a few since my first concert in 2010 when I watched Metallica live for the first time. Since then, I’ve been to four more Metallica concerts.
What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on at ArcTouch?
Do I have to choose only one? I think it has to be our work with EmployBridge. We built 12 native apps from a single Xamarin codebase. The architecture inspired a lecture I presented at a few conferences here in Brazil. I became friends with several of my teammates on that project — friendships I’ll carry for life. It was just great to work with that team and that client.
What would you say is your career highlight?
To become the engineering manager for our .NET development team. When I applied for the position, I didn’t know how it would go and how I would like to manage people. Looking back, I know I made the right decision. It’s always a good feeling to solve real-world problems with technology, but it’s a great feeling to help people move forward in their careers. Ensuring they are happy and fulfilled at work is more rewarding because I can see the positive change for them.
You’re a cross-platform developer dating back to the early days of Xamarin. What’s the biggest change in recent years?
Xamarin has substantially matured since I started working with it in 2015. The Xamarin.Forms framework is the piece of work that made the biggest impact, allowing developers to build app UIs much faster than years ago. But I think the biggest change is coming — Xamarin becoming part of .NET and Xamarin.Forms becoming .NET MAUI. Microsoft .NET MAUI means big things for Xamarin developers.
How will MAUI change things for Xamarin developers?
The cross-platform app developer community has seen Flutter and React Native emerge and offer better performance and support than Xamarin.
Having Xamarin becoming part of .NET and Xamarin.Forms evolving to .NET MAUI makes room for Microsoft to rework core features and introduce changes to make cross-platform development with .NET way better. Developers will be able to build and test UIs and cross-platform apps with more confidence than before.
Do you see things moving more toward native app development or more toward sharing code across platforms?
The latter. I believe that both ways will still be around for many years to come, but cross-platform development is a smarter choice for many businesses when it comes to getting an app to market quickly. Native development will continue to be a great choice for apps that require intense use of graphics, extensive use of platform-specific capabilities such as games, or heavy use of hardware features. But the vast majority of apps can be built using cross-platform development tools without any compromise to the user experience or UI. The work we’ve done with Hawaiian Airlines is a great example of this.
Cross-platform development costs less to build and maintain — especially as you factor in ongoing DevOps — as companies don’t need to support multiple teams to deal with each platform separately. User Interfaces can be built once and behave the same on multiple platforms allowing UI and UX evolution, bug fixes and the addition of new features to be released at a faster pace.
And beyond that, the line between mobile apps and computer applications is being blurred. With Windows 11, users can install Android apps on their PCs through the Amazon App Store that’s embedded into the Microsoft Store Windows app. That can bring the Microsoft Store into the game again and with that have app developers prioritize support for Windows apps once more.
What’s one thing that people don’t understand — or a misconception — about Xamarin or cross-platform?
There’s a misconception that Xamarin apps are hybrid. Hybrid apps are typically HTML, CSS and JS apps that run in a WebView inside a native container — hence they are called hybrid. Xamarin compiles to native and achieves native performance on each platform. When developers add a button to the screen in a Xamarin app, it will render the actual Android or iOS button with the same behavior or display as if it was written using Kotlin or Swift.
What’s life been like over the past year because of the pandemic?
I think the word is “adaptation.” Since I started at ArcTouch, we have always had “work from home Fridays.” So, when we were first sent home from the office, it was like Friday every day. We thought we’d be back at the office in, at most, three months. Little did we know!
I’m a person who enjoys being with others. I like going to the ArcTouch Brasil office, working with teams in person, and socializing with my colleagues. But we had to adapt. Zoom and Slack became tools we couldn’t live without — as communication and collaboration are key factors for our work.
Tech-wise, we were already well prepared for remote work. Our IT team is exceptional, and we didn’t have any issues with remote work. Our motto last year was “business as usual,” and it really was.
More importantly, as a leadership team, we tried to find different ways to support our people — and understand people’s boundaries and needs in a difficult time. As a manager, I learned to be more sensitive when dealing with my co-workers, always checking on how they’re feeling and making sure they had the support they needed to deal with these difficult times.
What do you like most about your job?
Helping people be their best selves. It’s gratifying to see when our team members are happy and feel rewarded with their jobs, and at the same time are working to reach their personal and professional goals. It’s fantastic to receive positive client feedback about the work we do for them and to know that part of the success is because our people are happy at work.
What do you think app development will look like in five years?
About 70 percent of the world’s population owns a smartphone. They’re almost an extension of the human body now. With everyone now caring more than before about their health status, I believe we’ll see smart devices to help us detect specific health conditions.
I also think that we will develop more connected products for the Internet of Things. Smart home appliances are becoming more popular — even in emerging countries. And we’re starting to see more connected and autonomous vehicles — powered by software. Though I don’t think they’ll be affordable to everyone within the next five years.