A Tour to Essential Tools and IDEs for Xamarin Development

Xamarin is one of the oldest cross-platform frameworks available. Founded in 2011, Xamarin community has grown immensely over the years to 1.4 million developers across 120 countries. The technology is mainly used in enterprise environments and has gained many positive reviews over the years. Xamarin is used by over 15,000 companies in fields like energy, transport, healthcare, and more.

What is Xamarin?

Xamarin is an open-source platform that is used for building modern and high-performing applications for iOS, Android, as well as Windows with the help of .NET. 

Xamarin is an abstraction layer that manages communication of shared code with underlying platform code. It runs in a managed environment that provides conveniences such as memory allocation and garbage collection.

How Does Xamarin Work?

Xamarin allows developers to develop native applications for Android, iOS, and Windows platforms with the help of a single codebase, i.e. C#, and a single IDE, i.e. Visual Studio. Thus, a developer can develop native mobile applications without knowing Java, Kotlin, Objective-C or Swift. What that means is, all the C# code has to be converted to make it working on these three separate platforms.

Xamarin provides the following:

  • Native UI interface
  • Native API access
  • Native performance

IDEs for Xamarin App Development Services

1. Visual Studio

Visual Studio is a modern and sophisticated IDE by Microsoft, which facilitates a variety of features to create mobile and web applications. It supports mobile app development with .NET-based Android, iOS, tvOS, and watchOS apps, Mac desktop apps, ASP.NET Core web applications, .NET Core applications, and cross-platform Unity games.

Visual Studio IDE is comprised of some very important features such as a rich editor, debugging, native platform integration with Mac, iOS, and Android, and an integrated source control. It also contains improvements for cross-platform mobile development.

2. XCode

Apple’s XCode IDE is a core part of the iOS app development experience. It provides an extremely productive environment to build a different variety of apps to run on Mac, iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, and Apple TV.

iPhone app development can be accomplished with Xamarin on Visual Studio running on a Windows machine. However, a Mac computer should essentially be accessible on the network at the same time, acting as a build host for remote compilation and debugging.

Xamarin Development Tools

Xamarin Development Tools

1. NuGet

NuGet is an essential tool that is used for by every modern Xamarin app development company. Its mechanism helps developers create, share, and consume useful code. The code thus generated is often bundled into packages containing compiled code as DLLs with other content required to consume these packages.

A central repository of more than 100,000 unique packages is maintained by NuGet at nuget.org and millions of .NET developers use these packages in Xamarin mobile app development every day. It also enables developers to host packages privately in the cloud, on a private network, or even just on a local file system.

2. Xamarin Inspector

Xamarin Inspector is an interactive C# console that brings Xamarin Workbooks and Inspector to users. The Inspector tool integrates with the IDE’s app debugging workflow. Therefore, it serves as a diagnostic or debugging aid when any running app is inspected.

3. Prism

The Prism framework is used for building maintainable, testable, and loosely-coupled XAML applications in WPF, Windows 10UWP, and Xamarin Forms. This framework provides an implementation of design collection patterns that help with writing maintainable and well-structured XAML applications, including dependency injection, MVVM, EventAggregator, commands, etc.

The core functionality of the Prism framework is a shared code base in a Portable Class Library targeting such platforms. Platform-specific things are implemented in the respective libraries for the target platform. Prism also integrates these patterns with the target platform.

4. MFractor

MFractor comprises XAML IntelliSense, hundreds of XAML inspections and refactoring, image tooling, etc. to make for more simplified Xamarin mobile app development. It also offers an enhanced XAML editor that supercharges Xamarin. Forms development along with helping developers find code issues instantly and fix them quickly.

The missing essentials are added by MFractor. These essentials include an image importing wizard, localization assistance, and dozens of shortcuts related to mobile-specific navigation. These elements can be fully customized to meet the needs of a project with code snippet support and a rich configuration engine.

5. Resharper

A Visual Studio Extension, ReSharper is a tool for .NET developers, which provides on-the-fly code quality analysis available for VB.NET, ASP.NET, C#, XAML, ASP.NET MVC, TypeScript, JavaScript, CSS, HTML, and XML. The tool informs the developer about the exact position where the code needs to be improved. It also helps in fixing the problems automatically. 

Xamarin is equipped with robust emulators that suit various mobile platforms, and this is an important reason why many business organizations are relying on this cross-platform app development framework. Xamarin provides several options for debugging with the freedom to crosscheck from the desktop, emulator, or directly on the device. 

Xamarin comes with a range of rich features. It has an ever-growing community of developers and has quickly become a personal favourite of experienced as well as new developers alike when they wish to choose a cross-platform development framework.

Thanks to Xamarin’s powerful C# environment, native and cross-platform libraries and APIs, and ease of deployment, it’s the best choice to ensure the Android, iOS, and Windows apps are developed in sync. This, in turn, reduces the overall time of development and brings new features to the users faster.

Enterprises adopt this framework because it does not require native iOS and Android platforms. This tool can extend the app development to the next level and is easily accessible.

Xamarin is designed to scale up and is open-source. For different types of businesses, this cross-platform framework has become an obvious choice.