The mobile sphere has grown exponentially and Android operating system covers a major part of it. But even so, cross-platform apps have gained a lot of momentum for the past few years. Xamarin, a software development company started in 2011 with the intent of creating exclusive cross-platform mobile apps. People choose Xamarin app development services because they are quite unique as compared to other platforms. As and when its popularity grew, Microsoft acquired it.
So, why should you use the Xamarin platform for developing your mobile application? Let’s find out through the 3 reasons given below:
- The first and the biggest reason why Xamarin is a favorite is that it contains native features and can share the common code base.
- Xamarin tools are easily available and Visual Studio offers the facility to download them easily. You can directly create the iOS, Android, and Windows app using the visual studio. Most of the code used in the app is in c#.
- Xamarin has another attraction point that it allows calling the existing code; coded in another platform such as Java in Android.
The Process of Xamarin Applications
One of the most curious questions asked about Xamarin is, what does it do that allows one to write common code for different platforms? Well, it works at the root level and has converted the existing iOS and Android SDK to C#. And that’s the reason why it is known as Xamarin C# mobile development. As you can use C# on both the platforms, you do not have to remember many codes.
You can build the UI in two different ways. One, you can make use of the native methods for building the UI and two, you can also make use of the Xamarin.Forms. The next part is connecting the UI and codebase, after completion of UI. The developers do that by executing different code strategies such as portable class libraries and shared project of the Xamarin app development services.
We are now clear with the Xamarin C# mobile app development and the process of developing an app on it. Now let us move to check out the pros and cons of using the platform.
Pros of Xamarin Mobile App Development
There are many reasons why a number of companies use Xamarin including GitHub, Trello and Slack.
Xamarin has one technology stack which allows the code to work on different platforms. It uses C# along with the.Net framework for developing applications for mobile devices. Thus, one can use the source code of up to 96% in the original code. It means that the engineering cycle is speeding up.
Moreover, Xamarin never needs you to switch between the development environments. You can develop the Xamarin apps in the visual studio which is the perfect replacement of the Xamarin studio. It offers you with the cross-platform development tools like a built-in part of the development platform without paying additional costs.
Xamarin app development services offer cross-platform services which make it look similar to the native code. The performance metrics are comparable to Java for Android and Objective C for native IOS development. Along with that, Xamarin performance improves so that it can match the standards of native development.
Visuals studio, IDE, offers you with the complete solution that allows building, testing and tracking mobile app performance. The center allows you running the automated UI tests for your mobile app. It also identifies the performance issues with your app before its release. These services can help you throughout the development but it comes at an additional fee.
Renders Flawless experience
Xamarin mobile app development offers flawless experiences with the help of the platform specific UI elements. Xamarin.Forms tool offers cross-platform app services for platforms like Android, iOS, and Windows. It converts the UI components of the app into platform-specific interface elements during the runtime.
Xamarin.Forms is a great option for business-oriented projects and boost app development speed. The abstraction layers are extra and they can lead to a decline in performance. You can make use of Xamarin.Android and Xamarin.iOS in separate forms for developing custom app UI and getting better performance.
Eliminates hardware issues
Xamarin is the platform which offers you with a complete solution at the native level functionality. It eliminates hardware issues such as compatibility. It makes use of the specific API and plugins which work on common devices across-platforms. Along with this, the Xamarin platform also supports the linking with native libraries. It allows you to get better customization and also offers the native level functionality. The amount of overhead is less.
Open source technology
As we read earlier, Microsoft acquired the Xamarin and after that, the licensing policy of platform underwent changes. It is now an open source technology which has Xamarin SDK along with the libraries, runtime, command line tools. Xamarin being an open source ensures that all tools are available with the MIT license (a part of visual studio).
Microsoft made a better path for growth when changes occurred in-licensing strategy. It heads Xamarin and gets support from JetBrains, Unity, and Red Hat. This has led to the growth of Xamarin and it has become the most powerful and reliable tech stack.
Xamarin supports wearable devices. Which means you can develop the application for Apple watch and Android wear. The component store of Xamarin allows adding functionality to apps by simply downloading the plugins. It is also possible to integrate the application with popular backends such as parse and Microsoft Azure. Xamarin platform also allows adding the authentication methods, plugins for adding billing support, etc.
The major issue and concern of people, while using a technology, is maintenance. Xamarin app development ensures low maintenance. It is a cross-platform application and thus it makes maintenance and updates easier. You can easily deploy the updates to the source files and Android and iOS apps will receive updates.
This has proven to be beneficial for all the Xamarin mobile app development companies. At the same time, it is important to remember that it works for applications using Xamarin. Forms or the shared code business logic. This saves a lot of time and money at the same time and helps in keeping the apps up to date.
Single Package with Development Toolset
Xamarin comes with a single package including the complete development toolset and it includes its own IDE i.e. Xamarin studio. It is now replaced with the visual studio. Along with the IDE comes the platform itself i.e. Xamarin SDK, Xamarin cloud for testing purposes, HockeyApp and Xamarin.Insights for the analytics and distribution purposes.
It means that you don’t need to invest extra in the additional tools as Xamarin package includes all of them. You also don’t need to integrate the third-party apps for building, testing and deploying the apps developed on Xamarin.
Xamarin.Forms are the attraction point and a major advantage for Xamarin mobile app development. It is a perfect framework for prototypes and simple apps. Using Xamarin, you can develop a mobile application in two ways. The first is, using the Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Android. Xamarin.Android is the main approach which is common in use.
Another way is, using the Xamarin.Forms which is in the visual studio library. Xamarin.Forms help you in rapid prototyping and also producing the application in less time using the less of platform-specific functionality. Thus, Xamarin.Forms is best for the development in case of code sharing. Xamarin.
Forms is a viable option when code sharing is more important than custom UI. You can easily create a single interface and also share it across the platforms. This means that you don’t need to design for each platform separately. You can build an application with two types of UI for which; you can make parts of the UI from Xamarin.Forms and others with native UI toolkit.
There is a wide community which pays attention to the development of the Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Android. There are many of the providers who contribute to providing libraries such as Telerik UI which helps in enriching the capabilities by offering the UI components.
Xamarin.Forms also provide different functionalities and fast developments of mobile applications. Microsoft suggests using live player tools. After the app testing and debugging, this application is installed automatically on the devices. It does not need tethering device to the workstation. After the live player installation, developers can scan the QR code using phone camera which offers access to the developed app. An app can synchronize with the phone in real time on visuals studio. It simplifies the setup and debugging procedures. Microsoft has discontinued the support for the live player but you can download the app and pair it with visual studio anytime.
Xamarin.mac allows the development of native Mac apps with the help of.Net and C#. Thereafter, the task of integrating the Objective C libraries takes place. Xamarin Mac with Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Android is a perfect combination as it helps developers to share 90% of the native code across the Mac, Android, and IOS OS. Xamarin.mac also integrates with the Xcode so that the developer can make use of Xcode -an integrated builder which can help in creating the UI.
Xamarin is an interesting and useful platform for developing the mobile application as learning it is easy. You can get an access to Xamarin University which has smooth on-boarding. It is an e-learning portal for people who have recently adopted the platform and wish to learn about it. The university makes sure that Xamarin platform becomes useful and easy for those who know C# and also for those who do not.
All you need is primary level of programming experience. If you are new, the university offers you with all the crucial knowledge. The portals also provide training for beginner to advanced levels which include live classes, self-guided learning, guest lectures, and office lectures.
Cons of Xamarin mobile app development
Xamarin is an amazing technology and platform for mobile application development; but at the same time, it has certain flaws which you need to be acquainted with before choosing it as your mobile application platform.
Delayed support for updates
Unfortunately, when it comes to providing the latest updates, Xamarin offers delayed support. It usually depends on the team of developers. Third-party tools cannot offer you with immediate support for latest Android and iOS releases. It takes some time to implement the changes on the plugins. So, latest updates get support at a later stage. Xamarin claims to offer the same day support but there are times for delays.
Limited Access to Libraries
Xamarin has open source libraries. But at times, it has limited access. The native development makes use of open source technologies. When you use the Xamarin platform, you need to use some components of the platform and some of other .Net open source resources. Xamarin components offer a number of custom UI controls. You can use these controls in a few clicks but they come with a price. It is possible to add graphs, charts, themes, and many other features and includes the addition of payment processing, beacons, out of box push integration, etc.
Xamarin community is smaller as compared to Android and iOS. Hence, it becomes challenging to find a developer who has an experience in Xamarin app development services. The platform is growing and Microsoft backs it up. But still, experienced developers are rare to find. Xamarin engineers do not have the potential that the engineers that belong to Android and iOS communities do. Thus, through educational platforms, Xamarin University offers courses that provide practical training for developers who are new.
Basic Native Language Knowledge
When you go for Xamarin C# mobile app development, it becomes important to have basic native knowledge of the language. You can use Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Android for building mobile apps which have a native look. But you still need to write a platform-specific layer of code. This asks for at least some basic knowledge of the technologies like Java for Android and Objective C or swift for iOS. This is not applicable when you make use of Xamarin.Forms.
No UI code sharing
The benefit of Xamarin is that it allows sharing of code across-platforms. But you can share only the logic and the UI code is platform specific. And hence, building games, compiled animations, rich custom UI in Xamarin are pointless as Xamarin allows less sharing in terms of code.
Larger size apps
Xamarin apps are larger as compared to the native ones. It is true that the native made apps are almost half the size of the Xamarin app. A “hello world” app for Android makes 16 MB. Thus, Xamarin needs some extra optimization so that the apps file size can be kept reasonable.
Compatibility issues with third-party apps
Xamarin has compatibility issues with third-party libraries. You may face certain issues while integrating the third-party resources with Xamarin app. Most of the tools and libraries offer you with complete support for the native technologies, but at the same time, the Xamarin support is not always available. Xamarin has its own components store but you may need to add some functionalities through some other app.
When you develop your application using the Xamarin, it includes linking of codes and also referencing between the operating systems of different devices. We can say that linking and referencing increases the download as well as startup timings of application and that increases the overheads.
It is true that although a major part of the Xamarin coding can be useful across the platforms; the user interface creation is not at all portable. Which means, that you can only copy the logic code and not the interface code. So, the developers need to work hard on the coding interface for each platform. This is quite time-consuming.
Xamarin makes use of both .NET and C# to give you a familiar and common platform for the creation of mobile apps which can run on different platforms. It does not mean that the write once and run anywhere formula is applicable. The code is in C# but the controls and properties are different.
Xamarin is a platform which combines the best of the cross-platform and the native user operations. There may be certain cons of the Xamarin, but it also offers all the benefits of the cross-platform project for developing a mobile app. The optimum utilization is possible by reusing code. Xamarin proves to be the all-in-one solution platform which allows you to build, test, and also monitor the apps using one tool. You can choose Xamarin C# mobile app development provider who ensures that all the pros are helpful in outweighing the cons of the platform.
Business owners prefer choosing the Xamarin development platform for a mobile app as it reduces the time to market by sharing code. The best use of the Xamarin is enterprise mobile solutions. The standard UI covers 90% of the projects; the logic is same across platforms and platform customization takes only 5 to 10% of the engineering efforts.
Maulik Shah is the Founder and CEO of Biztech IT Consulting and Solutions, providing the finest Xamarin App Development Services. Maulik is a tech enthusiast and writes about the various Aspects of e-commerce technology