When considering iOS or Android app upgrades, most of us think of Objective-C vs Swift, and Java first of all. However, there are many ways to build functional and easy-to-use mobile applications. And Xamarin app development tool is one of them. In this article, we do an in-depth review of Xamarin and compare it with traditional mobile development solutions and cross-market solutions. If you know the basics, consider skipping the sections you are most interested in.
What Is Xamarin?
It is impossible to ignore Xamarin when talking about important ways to improve mobile applications. As a relatively new tool, it is based on the Microsoft technology stack and already has a community of over 1.4 million developers.
Xamarin became a popular cross-platform product for developing mobile applications within the Microsoft ecosystem. This discovery violates the financial limit of using Xamarin. As Microsoft made Xamarin SDK open source, it became part of the Xamarin Visual Studio Integrated Development Environment (we discuss the best IDEs you can use for Xamarin app development below).
What are the main features of Xamarin?
C # language. Xamarin uses one language, C #, to create applications for all mobile platforms. Unlike translated solutions, such as Appcelerator Titanium, Xamarin is genetically integrated, making it an option to build applications that work best with a native look and feel.
Based on the NET framework. C # is an adult language with strong security typing that prevents code from unexpected behavior. Since C # is one of the languages of the .NET framework, it can be used with several useful NET features such as Lambdas, LINQ, and an Asynchronous (async / await) system.
Speaking of technology, Xamarin uses C # and traditional libraries wrapped in a .Net layer to improve the performance of a different platform. Such apps are often compared to traditional ones in both iOS and Android platforms for mobile development in terms of functionality and user experience. Additionally, Xamarin can use all the native and latest API access to use sub-field capabilities in Xamarin applications such as ARKit on iOS or Android Multi-Window. Therefore, Xamarin cross-platform applications look 100% native to any device, providing a better user experience better, compared to hybrid applications.
Compilation. The platform has two major products: Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Android. In the case of iOS, the source code is directly integrated into the native ARM code (Ahead-of-Time integration), while the Android Xamarin apps are first integrated into the Middle Language and then – into the native code during operation (Just-in – Consolidation of time).
Xamarin. Forms. Xamarin. Forms is a unique product designed to create prototypes or mobile applications that share up to 100 percent code across iOS and Android.
Xamarin.Mac. Additionally, developers can use Xamarin. Mac to build Mac OS applications. These and other products from the Xamarin stack will be discussed briefly.
Platform SDKs. “Xamarin supplies access to detailed SDKs (Cocoa Touch for iOS and Android SDK) with easy C # syntax.
Bonds of the field-specific code. In most cases, the engineers will be able to manage the development by maintaining the traditional look and feel of the appropriate platforms within the Xamarin area. However, Xamarin allows you to dial an existing domain code (e.g. Swift for iOS) if you have to re-use other modules or recognize certain domain-specific functions such as barcode scanning, PayPal, or Google Analytics integration.
Support of wearables. Xamarin keeps making apps for multi-platform Watch devices. Developers can use Visual Studio for both Mac and Windows to build iOS Apple Watch apps. Also, Xamarin fully supports Android Wear.
Xamarin project structure. Most Xamarin-related functions are expected to be used with a Windows upgrade installed with Visual Studio and Xamarin. Apps can be configured directly from desktops or on devices and emulators. If you plan to upgrade iOS apps to Windows, it may also be possible as Visual Studio connects to the iOS Newspaper Designer with the iOS template. There is also a Visual Studio for Mac that allows you to use the template on a Mac or directly on a locked iPhone. Debugging is done with Visual Studio.
Like any other technology, Xamarin has its advantages and disadvantages, which has been the subject of a heated debate recently. To make an informed decision about Xamarin compared to native development, let’s weigh all the advantages and disadvantages of Xamarin app development. If you are stressed out at a time, we recommend that you watch this video to give an overview of the strengths and weaknesses of the Xamarin arena in less than 6 minutes.
Pros of Using Xamarin for Development
There are good explanations for why Xamarin is used by numerous organizations, including Trello, Slack, and GitHub.
One Technology Stack to Code for All Platforms
Xamarin uses the C # compliant .Net framework to create applications for any mobile platform. Therefore, you can share an average of 80-90 percent of code across all platforms accelerating the engineering cycle. Xamarin also does not require switching between development areas: You can create all of your Xamarin applications in Visual Studio or Visual Studio Code. Cross-platform development tools are offered as an integral part of the IDE at no additional cost.
Performance Close to Native
Unlike traditional hybrid solutions based on web technology, the Xamarin platform application can still be classified as traditional. As the platform progresses, the performance of Xamarin is constantly being updated to fully conform to the standards of native development, Microsoft has provided advice on development strategies. Visual Studio also offers a complete solution for building, testing, and tracking application performance: The Visual Studio Application Center lets you perform automatic UI testing and diagnose problems before they are released. However, this service is provided for an additional fee.
Earlier, we tested and compared the effectiveness of Xamarin with native applications. The results may be old in some ways; however, they clearly show a decent level of performance of Xamarin applications.
Native User Experiences
Xamarin allows you to create seamless self-expression using field-specific UI components. It is also possible to build cross-platform applications for iOS, Android, or Windows using Xamarin. Forms tool, which converts the app’s UI components into specific field-specific interaction features. As the use of Xamarin.The forms greatly increase the speed of application development, it is a good choice for business-focused projects. However, there may be a slight decrease in performance due to the additional layer. With the app’s custom UI and high performance, you can still use Xamarin.iOS, and Xamarin. Android separately to ensure the best results.
Traditionally, Xamarin is not believed to be the best choice for apps with heavy images. That being said, there are several libraries like OpenGL ES and frameworks like SkiaSharp and Urho that make applications for applications with a rich custom UI, complex animation, or games even possible with Xamarin.
Full Hardware Support
With Xamarin, your solution gets the functionality of a traditional-level application. Eliminates all computer hardware compatibility issues, using specific plugins and APIs, to work with standard devices across all platforms. As well as access to platform-specific APIs, Xamarin supports linking to native libraries. This allows for better customization and traditional functionality with a smaller overhead.
Open Source Technology with Strong Corporate Support
The Xamarin SDK, which includes working time, libraries, and command-line tools, has become an open-source and is available to all MIT licensees as part of Visual Studio. By removing the huge barrier, and licensing costs, Microsoft paved the way for the continued growth of the platform. Also, owned by Microsoft, and supported by Unity, JetBrains, and Red Hat, the .NET Foundation in general and Xamarin have become a reliable and powerful technology stack.
Thanks to its cross-platform application, Xamarin makes editing and updating easier. Thus, it helps you to save time and money while keeping your apps up to date.
Complete Development Ecosystem
Xamarin comes with a single package containing a complete set of development tools, including its IDE. In April 2018, many Xamarin development tools previously known as separate features became part of the Visual Studio App Center. Installed the platform itself (Xamarin SDKs), testing (formerly Xamarin Test Cloud), distribution and analysis platforms (formerly Xamarin. Insights), and much more. As the tool kit remains free, there is no need to invest in additional tools or integrate third-party applications to build, test, and run your Xamarin apps.
Xamarin.Forms: a framework for creating native UI layouts
Xamarin suggests that engineers build mobile applications in two ways. Using Xamarin. Forms are the second method. A more advanced version that allows for faster prototyping or productive applications with a specific field function. That’s why Xamarin. Most forms are better with applications where code sharing is more important than custom UI. It will allow you to reuse 99% of the code, which means you will be able to create a single interface and share it across all platforms without having to design each platform individually.
As Xamarin.The forms were developed over the years, it became a global tool and gained a healthy society that cared for it. For example, some technology providers offer their libraries such as the Telerik UI which provides engineering skills that provide pre-configured UI components.
Xamarin.Forms XAML Hot Reload
As Xamarin. For forms intended for rapid and uncomplicated development, Microsoft recommends using the XAML Hot Reload tool. It speeds up development by allowing you to modify XAML during debugging and quickly see those changes in the operating system, without having to stop and rebuild. In this way, Hot XAML Relocation allows for quick reboots and feeds of your apps to ensure UI changes.
Building apps for Macs with Xamarin.Mac Tool
Xamarin.Mac allows you to develop native Mac applications completely using C # and. NET. It includes the same libraries used for upgrades in Objective-C and Xcode. By using Xamarin.Mac integrated with Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin. Android, developers can share up to 90 percent of the native code across Android, iOS, and Mac OS. In addition, Xamarin. Mac integrates with Xcode, so the developer can use Xcode’s Interface Builder to create a user interface app.
Xamarin Learning Resources
Microsoft Learn is an online educational site that helps people develop the technical skills associated with Microsoft products, including Xamarin. The forum provides courses for both beginners and experienced engineers, allowing students to prepare for Microsoft Certificates. Educational resources include free self-study, live online classes, office lectures, and guest lectures.
Xamarin supports TVs, wearables, and IoT
The Xamarin framework, thanks to its Xamarin.Forms, allows you to create portable versions of multiple platforms. In addition to iOS, Android, Windows Phones, and Mac, you can upgrade Tizen apps – the operating system used on other Samsung devices – for smartphones, TVs, and IoT. Besides, Xamarin.iOS allows you to build Apple tv and watchOS applications.
Xamarin Cons to Consider
However, there are still some disadvantages that can cast a pall upon the platform. So, why not use Xamarin?
Slightly Delayed Support for the Latest Platform Updates
This depends entirely on the Xamarin engineering team. It is not possible with third-party tools to provide immediate support for the latest releases of iOS and Android as it takes time to make changes and/or to launch new plugins, etc.
Limited Access to Open Source Libraries
Indigenous development makes extensive use of open source technology. Although the selection is not as rich as it is for Android and iOS mobile apps, you can use NuGet Packages now containing everything that was in Xamarin Components.
High Cost for Professional and Enterprise Use
Although Xamarin is a free open-source platform for each developer, the framework can cost a good deal for business needs. You will spend a lot of money buying a Visual Studio license. For example, Visual Studio Professional with a basic set of development tools costs $ 1,199 for the first year and $ 799 for upgrades. At the same time, Visual Studio Enterprise, which is testing additional tools, will cost $ 5,999 for the first year and $ 2,569 for upgrades.
Xamarin Talent Pool and Community Constraints
The Xamarin community is much smaller than the native iOS or Android. And it is smaller than the React and Ionic communities. Therefore, finding an experienced Xamarin developer can be a challenge.
According to a 2020 Stack Overflow study, only 5.8 percent have used the Xamarin framework since 2020, compared to 11.5 percent of React Native and 7.2 percent of Flutter.
Even though the number of Xamarin developers does not compare to iOS or the native Android communities, the platform offers extensive support to its developers. As mentioned above, Microsoft Learn provides practical resources and training for those who have recently acquired this technology. By using this support, the learning curve of a C # /. Experienced developer Net is very small.
Another problem some developers face is the fragmentation and lack of standards in learning and development resources, including literature. This affects the quality of support you will receive.
Basic Knowledge of Native Languages
If you are using Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin. Android to create mobile apps with a real native look and feel, you will still need to write a platform-specific code using the native APIs for each platform. Therefore, although not as compulsory as it was before, it may be helpful to have at least some basic knowledge of native technology (Java / Kotlin for Android and Objective-C / Swift for iOS) are needed to understand and find out more about forum-specific documents. Also, the Xamarin. This, however, does not apply to Xamarin. Forms.
Larger App Size
Depending on their type and complexity, Xamarin applications are usually larger than native ones (the latest being about half the size of the Xamarin application). Therefore, Xamarin applications often require additional configuration such as linking to extract unused code from installed libraries and keep the app file size reasonable.
Xamarin.Forms Will Soon Cease to Exist
Forms will merge with .NET and transform into a new cross-platform framework called .NET Multi-platform App UI, or MAUI. MAUI will have the entire native UI and provide access to all the native APIs.
At that time, Xamarin shipment. Forms must take place by November 2021. Therefore, if you are currently working with Xamarin or are planning to build new Xamarin applications, it is worthwhile to keep an eye on the dates and check Microsoft’s guidelines for smooth transitions.
Compatibility Issues with Third-Party Libraries and Tools
There may be problems when integrating third-party services with your Xamarin application. Although many tools and libraries provide full support for native technologies, Xamarin support may not be provided by the retailer. Although Xamarin has its parts store, there is always the possibility that you will need some power or integration within your application that can be provided by the forum. Therefore, to use other third-party packages, you must use wrappers.
Piece of Advice
Most business owners opt for the Xamarin mobile app development platform as it reduces marketing time and engineering costs, by sharing code and using a single stack of technology. But the purpose of the app and its target audience may be the most important thing to consider.
Based on our team experience, the best place to use Xamarin is mobile business solutions. Therefore, customizing the platform will only take 5-10 percent of the engineering effort. Therefore, the development of Xamarin-cross-platform loses significant profits and may be commensurate with the time and cost of traditional solutions.