7 Tips for Android App Development with Xamarin


Read this article to know all about the development of Android applications using Xamarin. Know what is this framework, how you can use it, how beneficial is it for an Android developer and many more such facts about this Android development framework.

Xamarin is a relatively new framework on the app development scene, launched in 2011. It has quickly gained a following and a fanbase. According to Statista, in 2018, Xamarin was one of the ten most widely used frameworks among developers.

Why are there so many Xamarin developers? Its ability to draw upon the advantages of C#, efficiency in terms of code sharing, and scalability attract developers from all over the world. However, if you are not yet convinced to choose Xamarin as your next mobile development framework, this post will help you get more info about the framework and its advantages.

What is Xamarin?


The Xamarin framework is a suite of cross-platform application development tools. The founding team used C# as the base language. In fact, it's the only language a developer needs to develop a Xamarin web app.

That's why the framework is the right choice for beginners who are yet to learn Objective-C or Swift.

There are two approaches to Android app development with Xamarin.

Xamarin Forms


This tool is a fit in case you want to create a static cross-platform app with little-to-no code changes. Using Xamarin Forms, teams benefit from superior prototyping and development speeds can freely choose a pre-made screen layout, and can write code both for iOS and Android.

Choosing Xamarin Forms, a developer opts for:
  • 100% shared code for all platforms that will be running the app;
  • A single interface for all OS;
  • Reduced development cost as opposed to building native apps;
  • Relatively slow app performance;
  • Low third-party components support;
In a nutshell, Xamarin Forms is a good fit for static, data-driven apps - databases, listview projects.

Xamarin Native


Xamarin Native is a suite of tools that allows developers to create native tools for each chosen platform - Windows, Android, or iOS. While all three projects share a backend, every single one of them has a separate user interface.

Deciding to go with Xamarin Native means:
  • A slower development cycle compared to a Xamarin Forms-based project;
  • Higher development costs;
  • Faster performance speed, a wider range of supported features;
  • All tools needed to create complex interfaces;
  • Non-Portable .NET libraries support.
Projects that use Xamarin Native usually rely on system-specific features or offer complex user interactions - games, content editing apps, and so on.
Basically, the framework is adapted to all challenges a project team might face during a Microsoft Xamarin development cycle. It successfully tailors the needs of small and global teams and is capable of supporting complex apps with a robust back-end and a multi-layered interface.

7 Reasons to Choose Xamarin For Mobile App Development


According to the framework's official website, Xamarin is currently used by over 15,000 companies. Industry giants like Siemens and Bosch, along with ambitious tech pioneers like Slack rely on the platform.

Why are global corporations putting their trust in Xamarin? There are more than a handful of reasons to choose the framework for app development.

1. Based on C#


Xamarin's huge reliance on C# is a framework's major advantage. The language has a strong safety typing, so all the written code will be protected from unexpected behavior. Also, Xamarin supports a fair share of .NET features - asynchronous programming. LINQ, Lambdas, and many more. Choosing Xamarin, developers can leverage the benefits of C# libraries as well.

2. Improved maintenance quality


Thanks to the fact that Xamarin-based apps share a codebase (and, in case of Xamarin Forms, a user interface), it's easier for development teams to support the project's performance throughout the entire product's life cycle.

Shared code increases the speed of testing and bug fixing - also, a business manager will not have to hire separate teams to manage an iOS, Android, or Windows Phone app. As a result, choosing Xamarin as a part of the iOS or Android app development stack reduces the cost of development by significant numbers.

3. Wearable support


Developing apps for Apple Watches and Android Wear is a growing trend. However, only a few frameworks fully support wearable app development. The good news is, with Xamarin, you'll be able to create a functional app for smartwatches using the Visual Studio. The framework uses a native approach for wearable project development. That's why you'll be able to rely on system-specific features when designing software for Apple Watch, Android Wear, or Microsoft Band.

4. One-stop development environment


Unlike Native (Xamarin's main rival), the framework doesn't make developers change the environment depending on the platform. To create a mobile app on Xamarin, you need to run Visual Studio on a Windows or Mac computer. Then, you will be able to connect to virtual Android or iOS emulators for app testing.

Xamarin allows developers to design interfaces and workflows - all while using a single environment. Moreover, Visual Studio can be connected to a physical device so that a project team can improve the quality of testing and debugging.

5. Open-source technology


After being acquired by Microsoft, Xamarin has become yet more developer-friendly. It has shifted to an open-source license. For the last few years, developers have access to all the SDKs of the framework.

Other Xamarin tools that are now open-source and free to use include Forms, command-line instruments, and API bindings.

6. A fit for prototypes and basic apps


While Xamarin is used by large-scale companies, its core user base consists of startup managers looking forward to testing the waters of the mobile app market. In fact, Xamarin is one of the most fitting tools to support basic projects. 100% code sharing provided by Forms and a wide list of pre-made templates significantly improves the speed of prototyping and the entire development cycle.

As of late, Xamarin has encouraged tech businesses to collaborate with the framework by providing pre-configured templates. Dozens of companies have developed and shared preconfigured controls designed specifically for the framework. This way, an app developer has to spend less time working on user experience.

7. A wide range of learning resources


Xamarin is open to beginning developers. The founding team has created Xamarin University - a platform that offers a ton of content for C# and the package learning. Unfortunately, starting from June, this year, the University is no longer updated. However, all the online classes and guest lectures are available at Microsoft Learn.

Xamarin has a strong community. You will be able to get development tips and ask framework-related questions using Community Forums.

Best Xamarin App Development Practices


In order to ensure your team is leveraging the benefits of the framework to their fullest extent, consider implementing the following tips for Xamarin development:
  • Make sure all team members are in the loop. Cross-platform Xamarin app development requires top-notch communication. It's a good practice to establish daily standup meetings as well as encouraging open discussions over Slack.
  • Estimate the needed time for development on a feature-by-feature basis. Asking an iOS or Android Xamarin developer to determine how much time is needed to build a ready-to-the-market product is challenging. Instead, it's better to calculate an estimate for each of the app's individual components. This way, a project team will end up with a more accurate development timeline.
  • Use Visual Studio Mobile Center. A fair share of developers misses out on Mobile Center. In fact, it condenses all the tools needed by developers. For one thing, you will be able to test and release apps automatically. Mobile Center combines testing and analytics tools with a minimalistic, sleek interface. Basically, the platform combines the power of Xamarin Test Cloud, VSTS, and the Hockey App.
  • Decide which platforms the app will support beforehand. Selecting the operating systems that will run the product is crucial - otherwise, you might choose a package that's not supported by one or several targets.

Conclusion


Xamarin is a relatively new app development platform - however, the range of opportunities it opens to SMEs is tremendous. The framework does an impressive job at cutting development costs and the amount of time needed to complete the project.

While Xamarin might not be able to fully support feature-heavy apps for Android, iOS, or Windows, it's a solid choice for small-scale projects. Thanks to a wide range of supported platforms along with a broad number of interactions, Xamarin is one of the mobile application development industry frontrunners.


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