Xamarin is an incredibly comfortable framework dedicated to cross-platform mobile software development in C# with the involvement of .NET. It supports iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.
In order to develop an app based on Xamarin, you won’t need to know any specific nuances of native languages and, while working on the platform, you’ll provided with full access to all the platform’s SDK features and to native UI creation mechanisms.
As a result, one can create an application that is externally identical to its native analog, which makes it absolutely suitable for distribution via official marketplaces like Google Play and the App Store.
Additionally, according to Xamarin’s developers’ words, an end solution wouldn’t show a significant performance downgrade, either.
The discussed framework consists of the following integral parts:
- Xamarin.IOS – a C# class library that provides access to iOS SDK for developers;
- Xamarin.Android – a C# class library that provides access to Android SDK for developers;
- C# compiler;
- .NET framework;
- IDE tools (built into Visual Studio for Mac OS and Windows).
This article outlines, in detail, seven major reasons to use Xamarin for cross-platform development.
1. Easy to learn
What’s the first thing you should pay attention to when choosing a framework? The learning curve, of course. Don’t you agree that none of us want to waste time studying specific syntax (for example with Angular, which requires beginners to spend at least a couple of months to get a grip on it)? Thus, excessive learning difficulties, which can provide an error-resistant code, simply don’t allow many beginners to fully master the development environment. In turn, there are no additional hardships to overcome to start working with Xamarin (you won’t have to learn the Xamarin language or anything).
All that’s required is knowledge of C#, with its imperative coding style, .NET environment, and certain classes specific to native platforms.
If you decide to create a fully native app, you will definitely require some Java (for Android) and Objective-C/Swift (for iOS) skills. This might be an invincible obstacle for some, though. Just look at the way the same task implying formulation of an attribute line is implemented in Objective-C and C#.
If you don’t use Xamarin as cross-platform development technology in order to create a commercial project that would sufficiently perform on each platform, you might face a necessity to involve two development approaches at once. That, however, would require practically twice as much expenses.
2. Reduced development cost
Based on the above advantages, we can note that Xamarin cross-platform development takes approximately 1.5 times less time (and money) than a separate native project development for each platform.
For cross-platform development with Xamarin, around 70% of code will be composed in a universal format, due to platform-independent APIs.
Sure, there are some bits of code that can be left unchanged for both versions (the backend, for example) and some that can be insignificantly customized (particularly, business logic, which isn’t connected to user device specific functionality), but it’s more complicated than that. Your app will definitely include parts that must be written from scratch for each OS. Nevertheless, cross-platform development with Xamarin is much more easier than native, where one can hardly make it without having to hire two separate developers teams, when a need to deploy an app to both platforms arises.
In this example function, MainPage uses the ITextToSpeech interface to choose the appropriate function for the platform:
3. Similar to native UI creation
One of the significant reasons why developers prefer native development instead of cross-platform framework involvement is the inability of the latter to cover the whole array of capabilities featured by separate platforms. We’re talking, primarily, about design (flat design for iOS; Material design for Android) and user device smart features (an app’s access to contacts, camera, GPS data, etc.).
The final cross-platform solution won’t show high performance (a disadvantage that practically all the apps created via browser-based cross-platform frameworks feature) and would not operate in anyone’s favor (meaning that any features initially planned by a project owner would not be realized to their full extent).
Although, the situation is different with Xamarin cross-platform native framework. With this framework the above-mentioned issues won’t concern you. In addition to a standard set of .NET classes, you’ll be able to effortlessly connect the classes supported by a certain mobile platform (which are available in C# libraries for Xamarin.Android and Xamarin.iOS, respectively).
This means that, when using Xamarin to create iOS and Android apps, you won’t have to experience limited capabilities and involve third-party tools which aren’t usually free.
4. Plentiful testing capabilities
Testing a product that will soon be released isn’t a simple task, especially, if we’re talking about Android-based devices. iOS, for example, has strictly defined user device screen formats, whereas Android devices can feature various parameters. Because of that, in some cases, an app that wasn’t tested on a certain device can simply “float” on it. Xamarin creators have provided a solution in this area.
In particular, developers working with this framework can use Test Cloud, which allows emulating over 2,000 devices. This solution isn’t free but is fully justifiable.
5. Perfect IoT device compatibility
Xamarin will be your best bet if you want your future app to access user location and data gathered by gyroscope, accelerometer, and other built-in detectors.
This developmental environment is fully compatible with IoT-based devices (e.g. Estimote) which help indicate geolocation data, meaning you won’t have to involve integrations with third-party solutions (an option that wouldn’t be available anyway).
6. Good documentation and large community
Xamarin has wonderfully-structured documentation that includes cases, snippets, and step-by-step tutorials.
Surely, it won’t cover every single one of the questions you can potentially come up with, so here’s where an online community comes to the rescue. There are two official communities – one on the official website and another on the StackOverflow website.
If you don’t get an answer to your question here (some developers complain about experts’ inactivity in communities), you can turn to private tech support available with a Xamarin business license. With this method, you’ll get an answer in a few hours and it won’t be limited to a standard set of procedures that seldom helps eliminate the issue completely. Instead, you’ll received a detailed step-by-step manual to resolve your particular issue.
7. Seamless integration with Visual Studio
Practically every IT company out there has a well-developed infrastructure of existing Windows-based software.
All the revisions of Visual Studio since spring 2016 contain Xamarin as part of their subscription both on Mac OS and Windows platforms. You do not need to pay anything extra if you are already using Visual Studio in your development processes.
After trying to answer in detail the “Why use Xamarin?” question and presenting a bunch of obvious pros, we’d like to make our review more objective and mention some of its cons. Actually, there is only one noteworthy downside: The nominal size of the app written in Xamarin that is, usually, a bit larger than the native version. Still, optimization never hurts.
So how good is Xamarin?
Xamarin is a solution with a number of advantages and that is perfect for creating complex (from an architecture advantage perspective) cross-platform apps extensively, similar to their native analogs.
Based on extensive experience in developing cross-platform apps using Xamarin, our developer team firmly believes in its current capabilities and future perspectives as it continues to grow and evolve. This is the reason why we choose it as our primary mobile software development framework.
If you have an idea for a potential project, and you’re not an expert developer, consider employing our Xamarin cross-platform application development services. Contact our team today for further details.