Xamarin starts to connect Mac devs with Visual Studio

Cross-platform tools maker Xamarin is solidifying ties with its new parent company, Microsoft, while tackling app development for Apple iOS and Google Android with a series of technology rollouts today.

Xamarin Studio IDE 6 for Mac OS X, for mobile development, brings its user interface and functionality closer to those of Microsoft's own Visual Studio platform. The IDE integrates with Microsoft's Roslyn compiler platform and offers enhanced support for Microsoft's F# functional-first language, including backing for F# Portable Class Libraries. 

To help C# developers build native iOS apps, the new IDE will have mechanisms to connect Visual Studio to a developer's Mac. These include iOS Simulator Remoting, for interacting with iOS apps without leaving Visual Studio, and iOS USB Remoting, for deploying and debugging apps from Visual Studio to an iPad or iPhone plugged into a Windows PC. Xamarin also will offer Test Recorder Visual Studio Plugin for generating mobile app test scripts within Visual Studio. "Simply interact with your app on device or in the simulator, and Test Recorder generates scripts that can be run on thousands of devices with Xamarin Test Cloud's automated app testing," Xamarin said.

The Xamarin SDK, meanwhile, will be offered under an MIT license and contributed to the .Net Foundation. It features native API bindings for iOS, Android, and Mac, as well as the command-line tools necessary to build for them.

As part of the Xamarin SDK, the cross-platform UI framework Xamarin.Forms is also being open-sourced. It will include new features for building native UIs for iOS, Android, and Windows from a shared C# code base. Xamarin.Forms Previewer previews XAML source code from within the IDE, while Data Pages connects a data source to a template to automatically generate app screens. "This dramatically speeds time development time for Forms-based apps, allowing developers to create screens with just a few lines of XAML," said Xamarin.

Developers can include Xamarin.Android and Xamarin.iOS controls in Xamarin.Forms apps, increasing design choices, while a themes capability abstracts the UI from Xamarin.Forms pages, for sharing styles across multiple applications. URL navigation enables developers to link to a Forms page from within a mobile app and pull specific data.

Xamarin also will offer Xamarin Test Cloud Live, providing remote access to devices for exploratory testing and real-time debugging.

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