Xamarin 3.0 Released With Xamarin Designer for iOS and Xamarin.Forms
Written by Alex Armstrong   
Thursday, 29 May 2014

Xamarin gives .NET developers a way to develop apps for iOS and Android using C#. Things just got better with the release of Xamarin 3.

While Xamarin 2 supported the development of iOS and Android apps within Visual Studio it lacked an interface designer for iOS applications. That gap is now filled with Xamarin Designer for iOS which is included in Xamarin 3.0.



(Click to enlarge)


The Xamarin Designer for iOS is a visual designer for the iOS Storyboard format that is fully integrated with Xamarin Studio and Visual Studio. It lets you lay out sophisticated UIs, intuitively add event handlers, take advantage of auto-layout, and see live previews of custom controls.

The iOS Designer maintains full compatibility with the Storyboard format, so that files can be edited in either Xamarin Studio or Visual Studio in addition to Xcode's Interface Builder. A walkthrough on using custom controls with Xamarin Designer for iOS has been provided or watch this demo on the Xamarin blog for a quick overview:



(click to access demo)


For those wanting to develop cross-platform apps Xamarin.Forms is the really exciting aspect of Xamarin 3. It's a new library that enables you to build native UIs for iOS, Android and Windows Phone from a single, shared C# codebase.

It provides 43 cross-platform controls and layouts which are mapped to native controls at runtime, which means that your user interfaces are fully native. There's a helpful demo on the blog and on the Xamarin.Forms product page:


(click to access demo)

Limited to set of common controls or set free - depends how you look at it. As long as you make use of just the controls that Xamarin Forms supports then you can use a single code base and your app will look native. If you need a control that isn't supported, because say it is only available on one platform then you need something more than Xamarin Forms. It seems a good strategy and no doubt it will evolve.

Nat Friedman's blog post announcing Xamarin 3 lists five major IDE enhancements:

  • Visual update – Xamarin Studio now includes a new welcome screen, hundreds of new icons, improved support for Retina displays, and some nice touches throughout the IDE.
  • Streamlined Visual Studio support – iOS and Android extensions have been combined into a single Visual Studio extension, streamlining installation and updates for all users, and improving the build and debugging experience.
  • Full support for NuGet –  allowing devs to take advantage of the many NuGet packages which are are now shipping with Xamarin compatibility.
  • .NET BCL Documentation –  now integrated into Xamarin Studio courtesy of Microsoft.
  • F# Support –  built-in support for building iOS and Android apps using the F# functional programming language.



(Click to enlarge)


Xamarin 3 also introduces two new code sharing techniques for cross-platform apps:

Shared Projects -  to share code across iOS, Android, and Windows in either Xamarin Studio or Visual Studio.

Portable Class Libraries - Xamarin 3 can both produce and consume PCLs from both Xamarin Studio and Visual Studio.


With Xamarin 3 you now have two ways to create cross platform apps with Visual Studio. You can use PhoneGap/Cordova to create HTML/JavaScript web apps which will run as native apps on all supported platforms. However all of the native apps will have HTML like UIs as this is how the UIs are generated i.e. as a webview. Alternatively you could use Xamarin WebForms, code in C# and run true native apps with native UIs.

Sounds good to me! 


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Last Updated ( Thursday, 29 May 2014 )