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Open Source Xamarin.Forms 4.0 Simplifies Mobile App Creation

Microsoft shipped Xamarin.Forms 4.0, a major update to its open source, cross-platform mobile app development solution that simplifies project start-ups with new Shell functionality.

Microsoft describes Shell as "a simplified, navigation-aware container for making building mobile applications more efficient."

Shell is designed to reduce the complexity of building mobile apps by boiler-plating fundamental app architecture features that include:

  • Full visual hierarchy
  • Common navigation experience
  • URI-based routing
  • Integrated search handling

As noted, problematic navigation functionality is a main focus area of Shell, with the company stating, "Shell provides an extremely simple syntax to establish your app's flyout and tab menus. It also introduces a powerful route based URI navigation service in addition to the existing navigation service."

Navigation is also featured prominently in new Xamarin.Forms documentation, which includes:

Other highlights of the open source Xamarin.Forms 4.0 include:

  • Fast Renderers, which "reduce the inflation and rendering costs of a Xamarin.Forms control into a single view."
  • Image source unification via the ImageSource class, which takes functionality earlier introduced for fonts and applies it to other constructs: "You can now use FontImageSource, embedded resources, files, and URIs everywhere without impedance."
  • Accessibility: "We continue working towards improving the ease with which you can make your apps more accessible by now controlling the focus order directly in Xamarin.Forms. When you have a modal that goes away, or when you navigate from page to page, it's important to tell the device's screen reader which element has focus. Something should have focus. In order to now do this, you can set the TabIndex on any VisualElement and the native OS will take care of the rest."

All of the above and much more is detailed in the release notes.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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