The latest version of Microsoft’s Xamarin.Forms cross-platform UI toolkit for developers provides a simpler way to build mobile apps. In many ways, it appears to be a Microsoft-focused take on Flutter, Google’s mobile app framework.
“For the past year, Xamarin has been on a focused journey to improve your productivity by reducing your complexity when building cross-platform mobile applications,” Microsoft’s David Ortinau writes. “We learned from you that getting started with Xamarin.Forms should be easier and quicker, and that navigation is a constant area of frustration.”
The result is a major new Xamarin.Forms feature called Shell. According to Microsoft, “Xamarin.Forms Shell reduces the complexity of mobile application development by providing the fundamental features that most mobile applications require, including a single place to describe the visual hierarchy of an application, a common navigation user experience, a URI-based navigation scheme that permits navigation to any page in the application, and an integrated search handler.” Shell apps all provide better rendering speeds and reduced memory consumption.
Shell has a downside, of sorts: It only works for Android and iOS apps where Xamarin.Forms more broadly also works for Windows 10 UWP (Universal Windows Platform) apps too. (It also supports Mac, WPF, GTK+, and Tizen in preview.) But for developers steeped in the Microsoft stack, Xamarin.Forms and Shell provide a familiar C# and .NET take on mobile development.
Xamarin.Forms 4.0 also includes a preview of a new feature called Visual that makes it easier to create mobile apps that look natural and native on Android. Today, it includes base implementations for many Material Design user interface controls, and more is on the way, as is iOS support.