Building a mobile app can be a coin toss.
Heads: easy creation of an app through an integrated development environment (IDE) in a single afternoon. Tails: a difficult creation process involving time-consuming design and endless testing (including beta, usability, and QA).
One process that can tips the scales in your favor and make building an app easier is Xamarin.
How Does Xamarin Work?
Xamarin exists in two forms: Xamarin.Android and Xamarin.iOS – both of which work through the open source .Net Framework Mono. Mono is an equal opportunist, meaning if you want to design for a specific platform, chances are Mono is compatible.
Xamarin has a different compiler for both of the mobile platforms. For iOS, it is Ahead-of-Time (AOT), which allows apps to compile immediately to ARM assembly code. By comparison, the Android compiler has to go through Intermediate Language (IL) and then compiles natively with Just-in-Time upon app launch.
Special iOS Xamarin Requirements
If iOS is your platform of choice, you’ll have to develop your app on a Macintosh that runs OS X Yosemite or later – regardless of whether you choose Xamarin Studio or Visual Studio to code in. Additionally, iOS SDK and Xcode are required for Xamarin.iOS to compile properly. This is true despite being written in C#.
To begin developing for iOS, you must first install Xcode (available free in the App Store) which will install a simulator that can be helpful for testing and development. Once you are ready to distribute your app, you have to become an Apple Developer Program member which will cost you $99 USD/year.
There are numerous app development options; however, the benefit of using Xamarin is that it works using one coding language, C#, across all available platforms. This is what we call cross-platform mobile development.
In order to create native apps without the use of Xamarin, each platform uses different features. This means that some platforms will work with one coding language but not another. However, Xamarin combines the attributes of native platforms with its own features. These added features include:
- Base Class Library (BCL)
BCL is a collection of features (like Serialization, XML, IO, Database, Networking Support, and String) that is streamlined for use. Moreover, compiling C# code can give access to additional libraries, which will allow you access to other features that aren’t available through the BCL.
- Integrated Development Environment (IDE)
Studio (for Mac) and Studio/Visual Studio (for Windows) are the available IDEs for Xamarin. Both operating systems’ IDEs have impressive features, including:
- Library of project templates
- Auto completion options
- Management systems for both projects and solutions
- Source control integration
- Mobile Cross-Platform Support
There is support for cross-platforms amongst all three of the dominant mobile platforms. Utilizing Xamarin means that the applications you create have the ability to share the majority of their code (90%). Additionally, Xamarin also affords access to the Xamarin.Mobile library across the platforms. Access to the mobile library and cross-platform support allow developers to reduce costs and cut down the time it takes apps to hit the market.
What should you use Xamarin to build?
The best part about Xamarin is that it can be used to create any number of applications. This goes for both enterprise apps (for businesses) and apps for consumers. Additionally, the services provided by Xamarin help developers build, monitor and test their app designs efficiently and across various platforms.
As with developing any sort of technology within enterprise environments, you will undoubtedly stumble across opportunity costs. These costs mean that projects that take more time to complete than expected equates to missing out on another project being developed. However, with Xamarin, the work being completed in a single language, on .NET framework, across platforms and in a collaborative fashion, can allow for more work to be completed in a timely fashion.
In our highly mobile world, it is imperative that developers creating mobile applications should look to tools like Xamarin and the expert Xamarin cross-platform developers at Bizmosis to ensure that their applications meet industry and consumer standards. Contact us today to find out how we can help you achieve your goals through technology.