The mobile world has changed and when it comes to build a mobile app for any business, then there is always a doubt between native and the cross-platform apps. If we prefer one single platform, native apps will work perfectly for us; but if we have to build an app for all three major platforms – Android, iOS and Windows, then we have to build an app for all the 3 different platforms, which is definitely a time consuming job. This is one way of creating the app.
Another way is to follow “Write-Once-Run-Anywhere” approach. There is no need to choose between the different platforms and the app can be build cross-platform. This has been made possible by using Xamarin app development environment in C#.
What is Xamarin?
- C# compiler
- .Net libraries
- Development environment
Features of Xamarin
- Binding available for different SDKs
Xamarin consist of all strongly-typed bindings that are required for the SDKs in both the Android and iOS. They are quite easy to use and navigate as well.
- Language constructs
The applications are written in C# and it includes all the features like Dynamic Language features, Parallel Programming features, etc.
- Cross platform support
Xamarin provide cross-platform app development support for the major platforms like Android, iOS and Windows. Almost 90% of the code is shared between the platforms. This is one of the biggest advantages as it saves the extra time of the developer to write code for the each platform.
- Base class library
.Net BCL is used by the Xamarin applications. .Net BCL is a collection of classes that has features like Database serialization, networking support, etc.
The C# code can be compiled and can be used for other platforms and it also provides access to thousands of libraries as well.
- Modern IDE
Xamarin Studio on Mac OS is used by Xamarin. Visual Studio 2013 on Windows is also used by this platform.
Xamarin is a better way to:
Write the apps in C# and share the code on Android, iOS and Windows.
Testing of the code is available and it lets the developers find thousands of bugs on the go.
Monitoring of real-time crash and other exceptions is possible on this platform.
Xamarin Test Cloud
- Testing the app
The app can be tested on a huge range of devices from all across the world. The devices can be selected based on the manufacturer, OS and many other factors.
- Ruby or C# automation
Calabash framework can automate and test any iOS or Android app for its perfection.
- Analyze the performance of the app
Full frame screenshots and video playback is available with every step. This has made testing the apps on various platforms much easier than before.
It provides one of the best ways to create iOS apps. The AOT compiler compiles the iOS apps directly to the native assembly code. Apple iOS SDK libraries can be accessed directly from the C# code along with the automatic binding generator that allows the use of custom controls and Objective-C code.
The apps can take the advantage of the updated iOS libraries. Same day support is available for iOS 5,6,7,8.
The developers can ship the Android packages directly to the Xamarin environment. Xamarin. Android uses just-in-time compilation for app’s run-time optimization. They can also access Google Android APIs along with the .Net naming conventions.
The developer can also use the existing Java code and custom controls in the Xamarin app. Xamarin.Android has stayed up-to-date with the most current Google APIs.
Additional benefits of Xamarin
- Xamarin Studio and C# is a combination used by many Unity3D developers for the creation of their games
- Xamarin offers Test-cloud that is an innovative user interface for testing
- Flash programmers can also benefit from Xamarin. Playscript that mixes AS3 and C# to create amazing animations.
What’s next in Xamarin
A lot of new features are expected in Xamarin in the next 5 years. Xamarin will see changes in a couple of areas and the developers will be able to develop and test the apps more quickly. Xamarin will cover more market areas as its presence will be seen in all the major mobile applications.
The support for new technologies will also be there and the Xamarin platform will be more focused on user interfaces.
The native metaphor is an added advantage for Xamarin and Xamarin Forms labs is expected to see a growth in the coming few years.
Juned Ahmed co-founder and head of sales team at IndianAppDevelopers.com leading name in web and mobile application development. He shares his views of current trends of latest cross platform mobile application technologies on various blogs.