Xamarin teams with Microsoft on cross-platform mobile development

Better integration between Xamarin tools, Visual Studio allows Windows developers to more easily build apps for iOS, Android

Xamarin is partnering with Microsoft and will announce Wednesday better integration of its development tools with Microsoft's Visual Studio IDE.

Arising out of the sale of Novell in 2011, Xamarin has morphed into a key provider of tools for Windows developers wanting to build applications for rival mobile device platforms. Now the company is working with Microsoft in a symbiotic relationship to boost usage of both Xamarin tools and Microsoft's software development platform.

"Currently there are 490,000 developers using Xamarin tools to target Android and iOS," said Miguel de Icaza, CTO at Xamarin. "We provide the bridge to bring C# to iOS and Android. We expect to reach developers and architects in the Microsoft ecosystem that are planning on supporting these mobile operating systems."

The collaboration with Microsoft involves the release of portable class libraries, for sharing Microsoft .Net libraries across Microsoft devices and non-Microsoft devices, said S. Somasegar, Microsoft corporate vice president for company's developer division. Xamarin is integrating with Microsoft Portable Library projects in iOS and Android, making it easier to share code across devices, according to Xamarin.

Microsoft also is working on improved integration between the Xamarin environment from within Visual Studio, via a plug-in Somasegar said. "You can have the same tooling experience that you expect when you are inside Visual Studio when you have the Xamarin plug-in installed," Somasegar said.

Integration between Xamarin and Windows Azure cloud-based mobile services also is part of the integration effort.

Xamarin was formed to take over the Mono cross-platform runtime after Novell, the original caretaker of Mono, was acquired by Attachmate, which was not interested in maintaining Mono itself.

"Xamarin has a good go-to-market strategy and it's pretty appealing to existing C# developers," saide analyst Jeffrey Hammond, of Forrester. "They price the solution on a per-developer basis, so it's very attractive compared to middleware players that charge for user sessions or server licenses. [Xamarin is] able to point to some good design wins like Rdio as well."

In addition to the Rdio music service, de Icaza cites the iCircuit circuits simulator and the Calca calculator as name applications built with Mono.

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