Microsoft Releases Xamarin.Forms 4.0

Posted on May 22, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Dev, iOS, Mobile with 9 Comments

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.

You can learn more about Xamarin.Forms 4.0 and Shell at the Microsoft Docs website.

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Comments (9)

9 responses to “Microsoft Releases Xamarin.Forms 4.0”

  1. eric_rasmussen

    It's difficult to compete with things like React Native. I'm a .NET developer through and through, and I mostly ignored the web-based app creation frameworks in favor of Xamarin.

    With the latest releases of Vue.js with NativeScript and React Native, I tried them out to see what they're like. My goodness web development tools have come a long way. There are libraries for everything and tons of support. If I was developing an app for just Android and iOS I might still pick Xamarin, but I also want to target the web and platforms like ChromeOS. It's hard to argue against PWAs for coverage like this, so hopefully one day Xamarin can build apps for WebAssembly or something.

    It's still great to see them working on this though! I'm using Visual Studio 2019 and I love it. Microsoft has made huge strides with developer tooling and platform support!

  2. dontbe evil

    " In many ways, it appears to be a Microsoft-focused take on Flutter, Google’s mobile app framework."

    actually it's the other way around, xamarin.forms as you said reached 4.0 ... and it exists way before than flutter

    • christian.hvid

      In reply to dontbe_evil:

      I think what Paul meant is that it's ridiculously easy to scaffold a professional looking app in Flutter, which hasn't always been the case with Xamarin. The new Visual and Shell features in Xamarin seem to be a direct response to the MaterialApp and Scaffold widgets in Flutter. Now, if we only could get hot reload, 60 fps and perhaps web targeting in Xamarin, it might actually catch up with Flutter...

  3. coeus89

    This is exciting as a CS student. C# is a mature and fun language. I'll have to give this a try.

  4. lvthunder

    So is there a visual part to creating the UI's or is it all done in code?

  5. nwebster

    "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..."

    I'd hardly call that a downside, given that even MS seems to be giving up on the UWP focus.

  6. factoryoptimizr

    Since Xamarin is open source, there's a "community" effort to add UWP compatibility for Xamarin Forms Shell. From the comment thread on GitHub, most of the work is complete and the pull request is under review by the Xamarin team.

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