App development can be challenging as a result of the many different platforms that must be supported. Creating fully featured and bug-free mobile applications for all the major platforms with traditional development methods can be cost-intensive, time-consuming, and less efficient than a cross-platform approach. And ensuring feature parity across the different ecosystems is another league entirely.
Wouldn’t it be great if developers could write code once and have the resulting application run on all the major platforms? Fortunately, there is a smart, efficient way to build native apps for different platforms without having to write code for each one separately. And that’s Xamarin.
What exactly is Xamarin and how does it make supporting multiple platforms a lot less difficult? Let’s go over the features and benefits of Xamarin. As we do so, consider why it’ll likely be an excellent option for developing your next software project.
What is Xamarin?
Xamarin is a cross-platform app development tool that is popular among software developers around the world. Over 1.4 million developers worldwide employ Xamarin for creating native mobile applications for the iOS, Android, Windows and Mac platforms.
Xamarin, as a company, was founded in 2011 and was later acquired by Microsoft in 2016. Microsoft open-sourced the Xamarin SDK and integrated it into their Visual Studio IDE. Today, Xamarin is the development platform behind a number of popular mobile apps including Slack, and Pinterest.
Xamarin is based on Microsoft’s .NET framework and uses C# as the primary language for development. It allows code to be shared across multiple platforms while allowing native user interfaces to be created for each platform. This results in applications having similar functionality while offering native experiences to users on different platforms.
Some of the benefits of using Xamarin for software development are already evident. Let’s have a detailed look at why Xamarin is such a great tool for mobile application development.
Advantages of Xamarin
The benefits of Xamarin for app development are numerous. One of the foremost, however, is that it allows developers to create native applications for multiple platforms. As a result, apps built with Xamarin have near-native performance and are much more efficient than hybrid or web apps.
Xamarin also gives developers the ability to build native user interfaces, giving their applications a completely native look and feel. Apps also get full access to native APIs and can leverage platform-specific features such as ARKit for iOS, and Android’s Multi-Window mode.
Of course, as a cross-platform app development tool, Xamarin provides one technology stack and code-base for all platforms. Up to over 90% of source code can be shared. Developers can build apps for Android, iOS and Windows with just the Visual Studio IDE. And they can do so on their platform of choice as the fully featured Visual Studio is available on both Windows and macOS.
Xamarin’s features also include AOT (Ahead-of-Time) compilation into native assembly code for both the iOS and Android platforms. The JIT (Just-In-Time) compilation feature for Android is also available and allows apps to be compiled first to Intermediate Language and then into assembly code at runtime.
The cross-platform capabilities of Xamarin mean reduced development and maintenance time for applications that must be available on multiple platforms. Business logic can easily be shared across different platforms. Updating applications with Xamarin is simple and cost efficient as changes only have to be made to the source code, and they’ll be applied across the various platforms.
Xamarin also provides developers with copious amounts of existing libraries that can significantly speed up app development. Developers get the platform-specific SDKs alongside Microsoft’s .NET framework and Nuget packages.
Another advantage of Xamarin is its use of just one programming language – C#. This means that developers can quickly get up to speed with Xamarin development as C# is a powerful but straightforward language.
Other great benefits of Xamarin include support for wearables, a fully featured development system, and a large community of developers. It’s also open source and supported by other organizations besides Microsoft, some of them being Unity, Red Hat, JetBrains, and the .NET foundation.
With the numerous advantages of Xamarin as a software development tool, it’s no wonder that it has gained popularity among developers and project managers alike. It provides a faster, more cost-efficient way to create native looking and feeling applications and makes it a lot easier to ensure feature parity across software platforms.
So, if you’re next or current software development project would benefit from the many advantages Xamarin brings to the table, it would be a great idea to try out Xamarin. There are virtually no alternatives that provide the combination of unique features that Xamarin does. Once you do, you’ll agree that it’s the best development strategy for today’s multi-platform mobile landscape.