Microsoft Build: Xamarin’s Cross-Platform Importance Highlighted

C. Dunlap
C. Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • Xamarin was highlighted at Microsoft Build for its cross-platform capabilities for .NET developers.
  • Xamarin provides additional value-add through testing, monitoring, and managing of mobile apps.

Despite all the hullabaloo around HoloLens and other sexy topics such as Xbox developer kits, Microsoft managed to spotlight its recently acquired Xamarin, a development tools leader which makes it easier for Microsoft developers to leverage a single code base across mobile platforms, supporting native experiences for each. During the keynote at the Microsoft Build developer conference, officials demonstrated how developers can create apps using Xamarin tools which use shared code that runs on Windows, iOS, and Android platforms.

Xamarin had made significant progress in its Microsoft agenda even before it was acquired last month, including integration with Visual Studio, turning that development environment into a cross-platform development tool for building apps for the popular mobile OSs, not just Windows. In 2014, Microsoft open sourced major portions of .NET making Xamarin more compatible. Xamarin created a version of its mobile platform for the .NET environment that runs on iOS and Android, whereby developers create the foundation of their app using C# and then develop front ends that work with each mobile platform.

Microsoft also noted that its open source Windows Bridge for iOS lets iOS developers bring Objective-C code into Visual Studio, with the ability to compile it into a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app. The Xamarin tools will be able to ‘reverse port’ apps initially built in Visual Studio so they can run on iOS and Android (supporting both C# and even Objective-C developers). Microsoft Visual Studio has evolved to include cloud-based application lifecycle management to support API services that integrate apps with third-party services.

Microsoft is building momentum – for example, through the Xamarin acquisitions – in an effort to recruit more developers by offering them a broader range of platforms on which to create apps.

Xamarin told me this week that it’s not just about building great cross-platform apps, but monitoring and managing those apps; it can help with this via Xamarin Test Cloud (which tests against hundreds of configurations across hundreds of devices) and Xamarin Insights (crash reporting and user analytics).

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