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20 February 2013, 15:36

Xamarin embraces Visual Studio and enhances own IDE

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Xamarin has announced an across-the-board update to its range of products and pricing models designed to establish the company as the de facto bridge between Microsoft C# developers and Android and iOS mobile platforms. Xamarin's speciality has been working with the Mono toolchain for C# and for mobile development; rather than abstract away platform differences, the company implements a close-as-possible version of the platform's native APIs in C#.

One of the core components of the development chain was the MonoDevelop IDE. Xamarin has taken MonoDevelop, reworked the internals, and built a new IDE for Windows and Mac called Xamarin Studio, which can be used to build all iOS, Android and Mac applications and includes an Android UI builder and integration with the Xcode Interface Builder to let app developers design easily.

Code completion for the various APIs is aimed at helping coders unfamiliar with the native APIs explore them; a modern debugger, supporting GUI-driven examination of the code, is also included. Xamarin Studio also supports Android and iOS deployment, and debugging with simulators, refactoring support, source control with Git and Subversion and plugs into Xamarin's new Component Store.

But not all developers want to switch IDEs and with many C# developers familiar with Visual Studio (VS), Xamarin has reached out to them with Visual Studio integration. This is designed to allow the VS veteran to move to writing applications for iOS or Android without giving up any of the VS ecosystem such as Resharper or other tools. Developers can also debug using simulators or devices from within Visual Studio.

Xamarin Studio is included in the new free Starter development offering from the company, with a bundle for small (less than 32K of code) applications with no third-party library dependencies. For bigger applications, a new Indie offering at $299 "per platform, per year" removes that limitation. The company has also renamed its other products; MonoTouch has become Xamarin.iOS and Mono for Android has become Xamarin.Android.

Visual Studio integration is only included in Xamarin's Business ($999 per platform, per year) and Enterprise ($1899 per platform, per year) subscription plans. Enterprise includes a higher service level with a one-day SLA, hotfix releases and a range of prebuilt app components. The Xamarin 2.0 FAQ offers more information.


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