Xamarin Unveils New Cross-Platform Mobile Development Tools

Cross-platform mobile development tool vendor Xamarin Inc. introduced a bevy of new tools and several collaboration efforts during the company's Xamarin Evolve conference in Atlanta this week.

New offerings include Xamarin Insights for gathering real-time app data in real time by adding just a few lines of code. It's now in preview only, but Xamarin developer Wallace McClure likes what he sees so far. "This will be helpful when users aren't available to answer questions," he said. "Besides, users never have a good answer to the question: 'What did you do to crash the app?'"

Also announced was Xamarin Profiler, designed to simplify the monitoring and reporting of management issues in Xamarin-built C# apps. "For iOS, I have to things like the iOS SDK Instruments tool as well as Heapshot from Xamarin," said McClure, who added that this tool means "one easy-to-use interface into what my application is doing while it is running -- for Android, the tools in the Android SDK tools have a tendency to change; Profiler should provide a level of continuity for developers."

Xamarin also solidified its position on the testing end with an improved Xamarin Test Cloud and a new tool offered in preview, Xamarin Sketches. Xamarin Test Cloud, which has been available for a few months in preview, has a new feature for running tests in parallel. The company said that internal benchmarking has shown a dramatic decrease in test running times.

Whereas Xamarin Test Cloud provides a cloud-based emulator of thousands of devices to test apps before rollout, Xamarin Sketches allows developers to test portions of an app and see results of code being written in real-time. It currently only supports C# code, but there are plans to make it work with F#.

Xamarin has other tools at play in the next few months, such as its Xamarin Android Player, which Xamarin claims is a faster emulator than the native Android Emulator. McClure's initial observation is that it's " similar in concept to the Genymotion emulator; the big difference between the two is that this one will be free to Xamarin clients."

And while it wasn't part of the announcements at the show, Xamarin's Jason Smith blogged of a big update to Xamarin.Forms, dubbed version 1.3.0. It sports some improvements in the way it uses dynamic resources in code and XAML, some new behaviors, triggers, but is mainly aimed at bug fixes and performance improvements. Details here.

About the Author

Michael Domingo has held several positions at 1105 Media, and is currently the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.