Got an idea for an app? Build it with relative ease using Xamarin. Forms

 

You’ve got an amazing idea for an app and know that amongst hundreds of, thousands of them available on various platforms, yours has the potential to be the next big thing in its respective domain. 

 

The plan or roadmap ahead is set. But what’s boggling you is the initiation point i.e., the development of the app itself and coming up with a prototype, or in fact a ready-to-use interface that can be put up on various application stores and pitched to investors as well. 

 

 

No need to be anxious! Rather it’s time that you become solution-oriented and start to gather resources at your disposal, therefore utilizing whatever you know or have. And by that, I mean either pick up an application development course or pair along with developers in your circle who can aid you up, meanwhile you figure out the rest of the process for your application’s release.  

 

 

If you’re going ahead with the first approach and wondering where and how to start, then this white paper is for you. Note that as you proceed further in the document, you would be fairly acquainted with one of the aptest application development framework solutions these days i.e., Xamarin. Forms. 

[source: • Cross-platform mobile frameworks used by global developers 2021 | Statista]  

 

 

However, covering the entire development process using the framework would clutter things a little bit over here, so we’d keep it for later.

  

Here we’d be covering what Xamarin, Xamarin. Forms are, understand the difference between the two and why Xamarin. Forms is the right choice to create cross-platform and native applications, thereby initiating the forging of your ideas into reality.  

 

To get started with, let’s just know what Xamarin and Xamarin. Forms are.  

 

What are Xamarin and Xamarin. Forms? 

 

 

Xamarin is an open-source cross-platform development framework used by developers to build native and efficient apps for iOS, Android, and UWP (Universal Windows Platform). With Xamarin, developers can share almost 90% of their applications across various devices running different Operating systems. [source: What is Xamarin? – Xamarin | Microsoft Docs]  

 

This facilitates writing the program logic in a single language, thereby giving an option to reuse existing application code while retaining the scope of having a native feel, performance, and look on each platform. Xamarin applications can be created using a PC or a Mac and compiled into native application packages i.e., .ipa or .apk files in iOS and Android-based devices, respectively.  

 

Xamarin. Forms on the other hand is an open-source UI framework that allows developers to create cross-platform user interfaces. It gives its own iteration of user interface that would use native (or OS-specific) controls on Android, iOS, Windows, and other systems. In simple words, this means that an application can share a significant portion of user interface code while keeping the native look and feel of the target platform. It’s kind of like an extension to what Xamarin can do. 

 

For better understanding, let’s just have a look at the graphic here: 

 

 

When it comes to traditional Xamarin approach (Xamarin. iOS and Xamarin. Android), there’s an opportunity to share up to 80% of the application code [source: What is Xamarin? – Xamarin | Microsoft Docs], as these apps use C# which can be seen in the graphic above.  

 

With Xamarin. Forms you can share not only the code for the logic of the application but also the code for its UI. It, therefore, bestows consistent API (Application Programming Interface) for creating UI elements across platforms. This API can be implemented in XAML (Extensible Application Markup Language, used for creating application interfaces) or C#.  

 

Xamarin. Forms applications typically comprise of a shared .NET (a software framework by Microsoft) Standard library and individual platform projects. 

 

The shared libraries hold XAML or C# views and any business logic such as services, models, or other code. The platform projects have any platform-specific logic or packages that the application needs.  

 

There’s also a large collection of libraries that come along with Xamarin. Forms like Xamarin. Essentials that add diverse functionality to applications. 

 

  

Popular applications that have been built with Xamarin and organizations that have started adopting the framework: 

 

  • Survey Solutions – an application by World Bank (the creation of which reflects their proficiency in C#) to launch survey tools across mobile platforms. 

 

  • UPS has gotten rid of almost half the code that was being used for their platform-specific versions by switching over to Xamarin. 

 

  • Alaska Airlines have created mobile-centric customer experiences with C# that deliver the right information to the right person at the right time. 

 

  • HCL adopted Xamarin and Microsoft Visual Studio to have a synchronization among their teams spread across the world. 

 

  • Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences leveraged the convenience that Xamarin provides, as they moved from paper, DVDs, postal mail to digital mediums.  

 

 

[A graphic containing the logos of these organizations and their respective applications can be put up here] 

 

Why or why not go ahead with Xamarin. Forms for your app? 

 

 

If it’s about performance, then apps created in Xamarin native for Android have turned out to have comparable metrics with other native counterparts. Therefore, it can be agreed that Xamarin. Android is overall a great alternative. 

 

But going by the same metrics, we can also make out that apps made with Xamarin. Forms slightly fall behind when it comes to processes such as image loading/saving, serialization/deserialization, booting, processing API requests. Albeit a lot of developers and companies are willing to let go of the performance aspect for operational feasibility and cost-effectiveness that comes with it.  

 

Xamarin. iOS-based apps, however, significantly lagged in performance metrics in comparison to native iOS apps, but it’s a commonly observable thing in cross-platform application development. Besides this, there are plenty of factors that affect app performance including what’s happening on the backend, and Xamarin Native makes it possible to create apps that are almost identical to natively developed ones. 

 

 

 

[source: Xamarin vs Ionic for mobile application development in 2022 (simform.com)] 

 

Due to high interoperability between C# and local libraries under the .NET framework, complex applications can be made with Xamarin. Forms effectively. This also results in the support being offered for your application across a wide range of devices like smartphones, watches, TV, etc. 

 

One can add elegant themes, charts, graphics, etc. from Xamarin’s component store as well. To add to that, custom applications can be built by harnessing the effectiveness of material design components. 

 

So, whether Xamarin should be a go-to choice for you or not somewhat depends on the previously mentioned factors and these relatable scenarios –  

 

 

Go with Xamarin if: 

 

  • You’ve thorough knowledge of C# and .NET framework. 

 

  • The objective is to build efficient cross-platform apps. 

 

  • The application size is not a thing to heavily stress upon. 

 

  • Integration is sought between modern backend services and maximum access to native APIs in your application. 

 

 

Kudos if you’ve made it till here and it showcases that you’re determined towards making your idea into a full-fledged tangible reality through an application. Hope that you’ll be able to fairly decide as to where you should start, especially when it comes to choosing the building blocks for your application. 

 

But before you jump on to the development process with all the enthusiasm and motivation, there are a couple of things to address. Let’s go in a bit of a retrospective mode and head back to the third paragraph of this documentation where amongst various possibilities and options, two alternatives were put forth in front of you. 

 

Assuming that you’ve decided to take matters into your hand, i.e., going ahead with the first approach (which is certainly recommended as you’ll get to learn a lot of things in the process), you’d have to keep in mind that learning application development can be bit overwhelming especially when you’re starting from scratch and you’re a lone wolf trying to figure out the nuances of various aspects of programming.  

 

On the other hand, if you’re looking forward to pairing along with fellow developers in your circle, chances are that the same pace is not maintained amid your crew members. Besides that, and before taking discussions forward with developers, it’s a possibility that you don’t have developers in your immediate work or personal connection circle! 

 

Everything’s got a solution (unless it’s a major mess {pun added}, which certainly the previously mentioned situations are not). And the aforementioned situations do have a way out i.e., to get in touch with trusted experts who can provide apt consultancy and would even take care of the entire development process, so that you can focus upon the rest of the things.  

 

 

Feel free to reach out with any queries and if you’re having burgeoning ideas that need to see the light of reality, where we can aid you.

Good luck and Have fun ahead! 

 

Utkarsh Baghel

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