MainSoftware Technology Solutions BlogWhat is Xamarin and how is it useful for mobile development?

What is Xamarin and how is it useful for mobile development?

What is Xamarin and how is it useful for mobile development?

Today, mobile applications are widely used in our lives. A lot of people who develop software want to create mobile applications that are supported on different platforms. The reason is the increasing popularity of operating systems on smartphones. This trend continues for many years. People use them for performing a connection to the internet and other tasks. Today, a business has to create its own mobile application if it is going to compete with other companies in this niche.

There are two operating systems for smartphones that cover all the spheres of development of mobile software: iOS and Android. They are the most popular and, as of today, there isn’t any operating system that has the potential to get more users. Creating an application for each of them separately is not convenient and takes a lot of time. That’s a reason why creating mobile cross-platform applications is so important now.

What is Xamarin and what does it do?

Some statistics

Statistics is the indicator of how mobile devices are significant in life. In 2019, the market was the following:

  1. About 42 percent of people use smartphones. It is 3,3 billion people.
  2. About ⅔ of all people on our planet use mobile devices. That’s not only smartphones. For example, tablets are also included.

You should understand that now these numbers are much bigger.

Definition

What is Xamarin? This is a system for creating applications that are compatible with the popular OS.

Firstly, it was developed as an autonomous project but then it was bought by Microsoft. The popularity of this framework is extremely growing because it is a simple and effective solution. It is cross-platforming. A lot of advantages go together with this fact.

Is Xamarin good? Of course. Applications developed using Xamarin are widely spread. We got this information from the official reports. The most famous clients are Bosch, Siemens, Slack, Pinterest, etc. This proof is the most reliable.

Xamarin is the 7th most popular framework among all existing at this moment.

What is Xamarin and how is it useful for mobile development?

What features does Xamarin have?

Xamari has obvious advantages compared to the applications that are developed using standard tools. That’s why you can see it more often every year. The frequency of usage grows regularly. You just need to write a code once and use it on other systems. Moreover, the efficiency of these applications doesn’t become worse. Also, they are convenient.

Xamarin is a unique tool. You don’t need to perform any additional actions, just use C# and .NET.

Basic approaches

You can select one of two methods of Xamarin cross-platform apps development:

  1. Forms. It is a visual approach. You just need to create an interface, algorithms, and use this base for other platforms.
  2. Xamarin Native. This approach is in creating different versions for every system. The difference is in the fact that you need to create a code once.

Advantages of Xamarin

Let’s discuss important reasons for using Xamarin.

Own API and interface

All the applications look like usual apps for these platforms because of elements and technologies that depend on the operating system. People won’t understand that these apps have been created using special tools.

  1. You can use SDK for creating the applications for the most popular operating systems.
  2. Thanks to Xamarin.Essentials library, you can get to work with native API.
  3. It is easy to create a user interface thanks to the WYSIWYG editor. It has all that is necessary for it.

To sum up, the advantages are significant. You can create a single application that looks like a platform.

Single technological stack

You can use one language for creating all the applications. Moreover, there isn’t any need in switching between environments. You can do all you want in Visual Studio. It is effective and convenient. You need to use one programming language and write the code only once.

Thanks to this advantage, it is easy to learn how to use this solution.

Very easy to share the code

The portion of a code that can be used more than one time is 60-95%, depending on the kind of application. You need to perform only insignificant changes. It is better than rewriting huge parts of the code, isn’t it?

Saving resources

You don’t need to spend a lot of time on one cycle. You just need to code only once and that’s it. Don’t waste your time on the same actions. You’d better launch your application faster for different systems. Moreover, you don’t need a lot of groups for creating this application. All the steps of this process become significantly easier if only one team works on this task. If your resources are limited, it will be even more profitable.

Simplicity

Supporting applications created with Xamarin is a very easy process because they use the code together. For example, you are going to make some changes to your application. You just need to do all of that in the code and all changes will be synchronized with all apps in this system. You don’t need to spend resources on that. You can use the help of the people who also use this platform. You can read official documentation to make your knowledge stronger.

Testing

Every application requires checking for mistakes. You can do it automatically with this platform. You have two tools for testing the applications. It makes it possible to detect mistakes easily and protect your users from problems when they use it! It is perfect, isn’t it?

Professional technical support

If you have some problems with using Xamarin, you can solve them easily using the help of technical support. Microsoft is a famous company. It values its reputation, and that’s why you certainly will get professional and quality technical support.

Also, you can get access to Xamarin courses that you can complete on your own, as well as technical documents on the official Microsoft Learn platform. That’s why developers can always get technical support when they want to increase their qualifications.

What are the difficulties?

Of course, Xamarin does not fit all the projects. You can face some disadvantages of this development kit.

Heavy apps

Naturally, solutions based on this framework are two times bigger compared to their own files. They need a lot of additional settings because they use a lot of libraries and functions. Several additional megabytes can be critical for some projects.

No complex graphics

It is hard to create attractive Xamarin solutions that have a lot of graphical elements. If you want to create games, this platform isn’t the right idea for you. However, it can become not a problem very soon. Why? Because developers can create a new API that helps to pass these challenges.

Difficulties in updating the application

When new updates appear, they need time to integrate new functions into the ecosystem correctly. It causes delays and the reputation of a company becomes worse.

Community isn’t very big

The community of Xamarin users is great but small. The number of people in communities for developing certain platforms is bigger. That’s why you don’t have the same abilities to communicate with others. The general number of Xamarin developers is near 10% of all software developers that create applications for mobile devices. Fortunately, experts exist even in the Xamarin community.

What is Xamarin and how is it useful for mobile development?

The real experience of work

One company proposes a lot of services such as the following:

  1. Creating analytics of business needs and requirements.
  2. Application development.
  3. Increasing the quality of mobile applications that became old but their developers want this company to make them more modern.
  4. Mobile testing services.

One of the clients of this company needed a solution that is two separate mobile applications for the work of two groups of users. Naturally, developing them needs huge spendings. That’s why the customer chose a cross-platform solution. As a result, it was developed and successfully launched on iPhone and devices with Android as an operating system.

In another project that this team worked on, they had to create an application for iOS and Android that could manage electronic locks in smart houses. Xamarin has successfully done this task without any problems. Then, testing of this application has been launched and now, the creators of it have become very rich.

How to choose a smartphone or tablet?

It is a very important part because Xamarin isn’t a universal solution. Yes, it helps to save all features of native applications. At the same time, it needs to be adapted to smartphones. Moreover, choosing the right platform is the most important step because spendings have to be covered.

Android and iOS are the most popular platforms at this time. That’s why you’d better choose them. Find the fastest, the cheapest, and the most effective way of creating your personal application.

Do you need to implement Xamarin right now?

It depends on your business. Among all the disadvantages of this solution, you need to adapt your team of developers to using Xamarin in the work. Moreover, they have to study many additional subjects. For example, they need to learn the documentation, guidelines, SDK, and API of every platform.

Also, Xamarin requires knowledge of iOS Storyboards and Android XML. It is useful and important to make your workers more competitive and qualified, but are you ready to do these investments of time and money now?

For example, your team may not be ready to develop mobile applications. It is a separate problem. You need to hire additional specialists that can create iOS and Android apps. They might know what to do without Xamarin. They can use different frameworks. However, hiring them requires money. That’s why it isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Conclusion

Let’s draw some conclusions. What is Xamarin? It is a great framework that is used for creating mobile applications that are compatible both with Android and iOS. Now, the popularity of it increases, and this tendency tends to be long-term.

It is very important to choose how to create your application because, despite the long list of advantages of this framework, nothing is ideal. There are some troubles that you can face. More and more frameworks start to support cross-platform app development. For example, Autofac and MVCC.

Ivan Kolesnikov

About the author:

Ivan Kolesnikov

Experienced professional in programming.