Guide to Xamarin cross-platform development|MobileAppDaily
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The Definitive Guide to Xamarin

Xamarin offers you the best cross-platform platform to develop cross-platform apps Definitive Guide to Xamarin

Many businesses are increasingly looking for ways to reduce the costs associated with cross-platform app development while ensuring that the user experience and overall quality remains high.

While native apps (iOS, Android & Windows) offer unparalleled performance and user experience, not all companies have the resources to develop natively for each application.

We are now seeing a shift from the development of native mobile apps to cross-platform apps, particularly for large enterprise applications that require apps to work seamlessly across multiple platforms and devices.

So, what is Xamarin? Why do we reckon it’s the best cross-platform app development platform to use and what are the key benefits of using Xamarin?

Here’s the Xamarin cross-platform development rundown. 

What is Xamarin 

Xamarin is used for cross-platform mobile app development that allows developers to share approximately 80 percent of code across major platforms. Even though Xamarin is a relatively new development tool, there is already a community of over one million developers using the Microsoft technology stack to create mobile apps. 

Xamarin cross-platform development was acquired by Microsoft in 2016 and has fast become one of the most popular software options for building cross-platform applications. In simple terms, Xamarin enables C# developers to write native iOS, Android and Windows apps using native user interfaces and a shared codebase across multiple platforms. e.

Apps built in Xamarin have some immediate benefits including faster development times and reduced costs due to the single shared codebase.

Xamarin Suite

The Xamarin Suite 

This incorporates several offerings designed to cater for different stages of the app development lifecycle. Let’s break down the components:

  • Xamarin Forms: This is an API used to design an app experience across iOS, Android and Windows platforms leveraging native controls.
  • Xamarin Test Cloud: Xamarin Test Cloud allows you to run automated testing on apps on over 2000 devices as well as building, testing and monitoring your app's performance in the cloud.
  • Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Android: These are the development environments used to build and deploy platform specific C# code.
  • HockeyApp: This is Xamarins DevOps support tool which allows developers to distribute Beta versions, get real feedback from users, collect live crash reports and analyze test coverage.

Benefits of Using Xamarin:

Now let's take a look at each of these benefits to Xamarin cross-platform development in a little more detail.

1. Shared App Logic 

A shared codebase radically reduces the time and resources needed to complete app development. The shared codebase means it’s easier to develop across all three platforms-  iOS, Android and Windows. Application logic underlying the UI layer such as database interactions and backend enterprise integrations are all coded only once in C#.

Developers can share over 75 percent of the code across the different operating platforms. This not only saves time but also helps to reduce the number of bugs during the development process.

If you were developing an app natively in their different respective platforms, this would essentially require double the effort and double the time to complete. Building a cross-platform app in Xamarin is almost a no-brainer in this respect, particularly for large enterprise applications that need to run seamlessly across multiple platforms and devices.

2. Native performance 

Although native apps undoubtedly provide a superior User Experience, cross-platform app development such as Xamarin are now also offering a native-like app performance. With Xamarin.Forms, the User Interface is rendered completely with native controls allowing the user to end up with a native UI experience. 

Xamarin has UI design environments for Xamarin Studio and Visual studio which allows specialized UI and UX tools. This helps developers to create a flawless user experience.

3. API Integration 

Xamarin allows developers to combine the same APIs and UI controls that are used for developing Android, iOS and Mac application in their respective platform-specific programming languages (Java, Swift, and Objective-C). Its unique binding approach facilitates support for new features right after they are introduced into a device’s operating system.

4. Rapid Mobile App Development (RMAD)

Rapid mobile app development is one of the key benefits more and more businesses are turning towards Xamarin for cross-platform app development. Using Xamarin means that app development can be completed faster and at a reduced cost compared with native app development. 

Apps built in Xamarin can easily satisfy business requirements by offering a native app experience across multiple devices and platforms whilst providing an excellent user experience at the same time.

5. Simplified Maintenance 

Xamarin cross-platform development greatly simplifies app maintenance requirements. If any updates or changes are required, developers can deploy these changes to the source code across all the platforms at once. The shared codebase also limits the number of bugs, however when bugs are found they can be fixed quickly and efficiently across the different platforms.

6. Full Hardware Functionality 

Xamarin allows you to utilize native- level app functionality. It helps eliminate all hardware compatibility issues, using plugins and specific APIs, to work with common devices functionality across the platforms.

7. Up to 66 percent Cheaper 

Let’s say you are a well know taxi app. Now, let’s assume you want to build apps for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. Doing it the old way, you would have to write and design three separate applications from the ground up.

With Xamarin, you build a base for those three. Depending on how much your apps will rely on the device’s physical capabilities such as file system, geolocalization, or cache, you can save between 40 percent and 66 percent of your budget.

What to Watch out for with Xamarin cross-platform development

With so many positives, there will always be some downsides as well. When it comes to Xamarin app development, there are the following cons to consider:

Drawbacks of using Xamarin:

1. Xamarin App File Size 

While being beneficial in many ways, Xamarin is also slightly accused of swallowing more time for the additional job of adjusting app file size. This is mainly because the generous use of Xamarin’s core libraries and functionality burdens the app stores with unjustifiable app file size. The size margin in the store may range from 3MB to 15MB.

2. Software Overheads

Although Xamarin mobile application development saves time by creating a single app for all platforms, it also involves, on the other hand, code linkage and referencing between target OS environments of different devices in use and .Net frameworks. It implies that such efforts can add to the time taken for initiation and downloads of the app.

3. Xamarin Apps are Native Apps 

Cross-platform app development software and tools have come a long way in the last few years and have created a flexible, alternative approach to app development. 

Many of our recent client projects at xDesign an award-winning app development agency in the UK have been built in Xamarin, a cross-platform software tool that generates native apps with platform-specific User Interfaces (UI) across iOS, Android and Windows.

The Final Thoughts

With time, Xamarin cross-platform development is gaining more attention across the globe and that too for good. At a time when there are already various mobile app development tools existing in the market, there comes the requirement of a platform that supports multiple platforms with minimal efforts, and that’s where Xamarin can come handy.

I think we can all agree there are a number of compelling benefits in favor of Xamarin app development and we at xDesign have seen a sharp rise in the number of apps being built and deployed with Xamarin.

Choosing whether to go with native app development or cross-platform development with Xamarin will depend entirely on your business requirements and what you’re trying to achieve. The best thing to do in this case is to consult with a skilled, experienced mobile app development company that can guide you through the right type of app development for your project. 

For more insights related to Xamarin, you can comment below and let us know your concern.

Vikram Khajuria
Written By
Vikram Khajuria

A typical boy and tech enthusiast, Vikram is totally fascinated by the journey of his day from miseries to joys. Covering the journalism field, he writes at MobileAppDaily and keeps surfing the trends to understand tech and inventions better. Don’t forget his driving skills, he is a professional car rallyist. Life has just got better, breath it!!

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