How to Build a Mobile Application with Xamarin

xamarin

Xamarin is a development software that assists in the creation of native and cross-platform mobile applications.

Users can design and build apps using the tools available in the Xamarin store, which includes both free and paid tools – like full-featured Integrated Development Environment (IDEs) for iOS and Windows computers, and Xamarin SDK. The platform features Git integration and OSS development.

Ideal for those with an understanding of the popular C# language and .Net framework, Xamarin has been touted as a quick and simple tool for embarking on your app-building journey.

Getting Started

Much like Microsoft Visual Studio or Android Studio, Xamarin developers can intuitively navigate the Studio software and begin building their app right after installation. The Studio is where you’ll be able to experiment with language, create algorithms and discover new APIs all from one place. The platform offers a training and tutorial website where you can create a sample to-do application called Tasky.

You can see the anatomy of Tasky as it is separated into layers. Add simple functionality and customize Tasky’s appearance with clear step-by-step instructions. This sample gives developers a taste of what it’s like to delve into Xamarin, and how to share C# code across multiple platforms, including iOS, Android, Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8.

The Xamarin team vouches for C#, claiming it is less verbose, simplifying the use of lambdas and asynchronous programming.

Cross-Platform Development

Cross-platform tools are growing in popularity, according to a report by the State of the Developer.

In 2015, estimates showed cross-platform tool usage rising from 23 percent to 30 percent in just six months. And as developers know, building cross-platform applications can be challenging due to the varying requirements and languages used. This is one of the major reasons users decide to try Xamarin, as it dramatically simplifies the process of developing cross-platform mobile apps.

Xamarin mobile application development involves reusing an average of 75 percent of the same code, while achieving the desired effect on each different platform. A process that would have taken hours in the past is now reduced to the time span of one project.

Through the development of native UIs on each platform, apps look and feel the way you want without extensive code change. Xamarin.Forms allows you to build apps with native UI with 100-percent shared code.

Useful Features

IOS developers can use Xamarin’s automatic binding generator to utilize pre-existing Objective-C code.

IOS users can also access any API and send app bundles directly to the app store using the Ahead-of-Time compiler. Xamarin offers similar features to Android developers, like bundle shipping, access to any Android API and the ability to utilize pre-existing Java code. Debugging is streamlined in the Studio, which gives suggestions for improvement as you review your code.

Xamarin development companies can integrate with various backends, such as Salesforce, and create business apps for customers. The platform also features a component store, which you can browse to find components to add to your app before finalizing.

Ideal for small teams, Xamarin allows users to remain flexible, collaborate and switch between platforms easily with just one codebase.

Finally, Xamarin can be used for enterprise mobile app development, a field that is expected to grow dramatically by 2017.

Training and Testing

Aside from its practical design software, “Xamarin University” offers paid unlimited online training for developers as well as a “Xamarin Testing Cloud” for iOS and Android apps. For developers looking for support throughout the entire process of learning, creating and testing, Xamarin features an excellent toolbox to keep the productivity flowing and the confusion at a minimum.

To learn more ways to build mobile apps, read our other post How to Build a Mobile Application with Titanium.

Request a Consultation

How to Build a Mobile Application with Titanium

Building mobile apps can be time consuming, costly and confusing, especially for people new to the technical process of mobile development. Titanium takes these troublesome elements out of the process, letting users create native mobile apps from a single JavaScript code base.

Released in 2008, Titanium was originally intended for the creation of desktop apps. Just one year later, Appcelerator expanded to include support for iPhone and Android apps. This open-source framework gives users a full step-by-step tutorial on how to build a basic sample iPhone or Android app.

From there, users can delve deeper to create, test and measure the performance of more intricate applications.

To use Titanium programming, you must be running one of the following operating systems:

  • OS X 10.9.4 (or later)
  • Windows 7 and 8
  • Linux Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

The Value of Employing JavaScript

Titanium uses JavaScript, an accessible and flexible programming language that allows web developers from around the world to get acquainted with mobile development.

One of the major benefits of Titanium is that over 80 percent of application codes are reused across platforms, thus eliminating the need to learn two separate languages.

The JavaScript interacts with Titanium’s API, giving users UI button icons, text fields and other items. Apps may be run on other platforms with little modification, depending on the complexity of the code. While you may have to rewrite sections of code, Titanium ensures this can be done with minimal effort while avoiding the lengthy and tedious recoding process that would typically be necessary.

Essentially, your JavaScript is compiled into representative symbols within the native code for an iPhone or Android. Not only will you save hours of development time, but your app will look and function better on a variety of mobile devices.

Titanium’s toolkit is designed to assist you in meeting the requirements of major marketplaces like the iTunes App Store and Google Play, while maintaining a native feel regardless of the platform.

Navigating Titanium’s Multifaceted Interface

With the intention of providing a native user interface experience, the Titanium toolkit gives developers the ability to create full-featured apps. You can simply select your monthly plan, create a developer account and log in to start building your app. The Titanium toolkit features the following components:

  • Titanium Studio
  • Titanium SDK
  • Alloy Framework
  • Appcelerator Dashboard
  • Appcelerator Arrow
  • Appcelerator Insights
  • Appcelerator Platform Services

Once inside, developers have instant access to a variety of tools and can obtain those tools which pertain to their operating systems. For example, to develop Android apps, you must first install Android SDK. Once all of your components are in place, you can begin development right away via the Quick Start Guide.

Titanium SDK

A primary component within Titanium programming is Titanium SDK, an Apache software development kit. Developers using Titanium SDK will have access to a variety of unique features — first and foremost, the opportunity to build genuinely native apps — along with social sharing, location-based services, extensibility and more.

Not bound by the native web view that is common in web-based solutions, Titanium allows for deeper platform integration and leveraging of UI components. By rendering web content in a native application, you are improving speed and creating seamless movement within your applications.

Titanium SDK includes a set of Node.js-based utilities and other tools to combine your source code and JavaScript interpreter. Much of this heavy lifting is done automatically through Titanium Studio, leaving you free to focus solely on the construction of your mobile app without the headaches of compatibility issues.

Titanium Studio

Titanium Studio is an interactive design center and work space for developers to experiment and tweak cross-platform apps. It is an IDE (integrated development environment) where users can work specifically on app writing and testing.

The Studio is useful in that it offers a platform configuration tool, which lets developers install native SDKs. With several debugging tools, the Studio gives you the chance to run your app in debug mode and set breakpoints for further examination.

Analytics

Beyond simple app development, Titanium offers analytics that reveal the frequency and platform from which your app is used.

You can enter custom analytics to track more specific details, such as button clicks or other kinds of user behavior, giving you an in-depth understanding of how your app is being received. Developers can also create event funnels, which are custom events that they can track to gain further insight into app flow.

Building a Titanium Community

The number of Titanium-built apps are literally increasing by the minute, along with the communities of developers surrounding the platform. Users now have access to an open marketplace where templates, extensions and modules can be bought and sold.

Appcelerator invites developers to expand Titanium by writing their own codes, and subscribers have access to additional modules through Titanium+Plus.

Overall, Appcelerator has proven itself a growth-oriented platform that continues to broaden to accommodate the needs of the mobile development industry. With over 800,000 developers and more than 400 million devices running Appcelerator apps, it’s clear that Titanium is one of the most trusted platforms for native mobile development in today’s digital landscape.

Did you miss our CTO’s Introduction to Appcelerator’s Titanium? Don’t wait. Click on that link!

Request a Consultation