Microsoft buys Xamarin

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, February 24, 2016, 8:11 PM | comments: 0

There was pretty exciting news today in developer circles, as Xamarin is being bought by Microsoft. Xamarin makes tools that let you build apps for iOS and Android using C# and Visual Studio. I think a lot of people in .NET developer circles have been wishing for this for a long time, because the tools are valuable and priced as such. The hope in the acquisition is that the pricing comes down, and possibly even gets included in MSDN subscriptions.

I admit, I've been reluctant to get all that into mobile development because it's easier and cheaper to build a Web app, and that requires no stores or updates or whatever. Most mobile apps are really just thin wrappers over services that could be sites anyway. But the other issues were about code reuse and learning new platforms. Android development is actually pretty easy, even though the tools aren't particularly robust. iOS on the other hand has always had crappy tooling and an even crappier language to work with. Objective-C is syntactically ridiculous and a step backward in a world where managed languages like C# and Java make your life easier. I've honestly not been able to go beyond "hello world" with it because I don't have the spare time to use it.

Xamarin isn't perfect, but it doesn't limit you either. Code reuse is possible to varying degrees, C# is an easy language to use, and Visual Studio is still one of the best development environments ever made. I had my first real-life exposure to it at a previous contract gig, and while I didn't get to write code directly, I got to review a ton of it. That sold me on the platform.

Late last year, I got a free subscription for a year, for both iOS and Android, just because I had previously published a Windows Phone app (five years ago). Since I'm kind of suspending development on the forums for now (because the ASP.NET platform is in the midst of some serious change right now), I'd like to make something a little more real with it, and I have some science projects in mind.

In any case, pretty exciting times, even if I'm grumpy about the apptastic world of mobile. I'm looking forward to seeing what they announce.


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