Mobile App Development made easy with Visual Studio and Xamarin

Last month, we announced that Microsoft acquired Xamarin and welcomed the Xamarin team to Microsoft. Today, in his Build 2016 keynote, Scott Guthrie laid out our plans for how Xamarin and Visual Studio will come together. If you haven’t already, check out Scott Guthrie’s keynote summary post and Nat Friedman’s blog.

In short, we’re making Xamarin’s cross-platform tools available in Visual Studio, from Community up through Enterprise at no additional cost and we’re open-sourcing the Xamarin SDK – the core of the Xamarin toolchain. In addition, we’re making Xamarin’s services (for example, Test Cloud and Xamarin University) available along with the existing Microsoft mobile DevOps capabilities.

To get started with Xamarin on Visual Studio 2015 or Visual Studio 2013, download the Xamarin installer for Windows. If you are installing Visual Studio 2015 for the first time, downloading Visual Studio 2015 Update 2 will also include Xamarin tools. Similarly, Visual Studio “15” Preview installer will automatically install Xamarin Tools.

The integration of Xamarin into Microsoft’s developer tools takes us one step further towards enabling our vision of supporting “any developer, any app, any platform.” With Xamarin you can create fully native apps for Android, iOS, and Windows using the power and productivity of Microsoft’s development tools and services. Together, these and Azure backend services create a comprehensive solution that spans every phase of the mobile development cycle. Here’s a little more detail about what we announced today:

Commitment to open source. Three important things are happening around open source. First, today we committed to open sourcing the Xamarin SDK (runtime, libraries and command line tools) in the coming months. Second, Xamarin announced today that it has already contributed the Mono Project – core to the Xamarin tools – to the .NET Foundation, and the .NET Foundation in turn announced that they will re-release Mono under the MIT License. We are looking forward to active partnership with and contributions from the community for both of these projects. Finally, to kick that off, Unity, JetBrains and Red Hat announced that they are joining the Technical Steering Group of the .NET Foundation, as a great testimony of the strong momentum of the .NET community.

Visual Studio includes Xamarin technologies and tools at no additional cost. Starting today, Visual Studio Community (Microsoft’s free development environment for individual developers, small professional teams, open source projects, and education) includes a fully functional edition of Xamarin tools enabling developers to target Android and iOS applications. In addition, a community edition of Xamarin Studio (Xamarin’s development environment that runs on OS X) is now available with a license similar to Visual Studio Community. Visual Studio Professional and Enterprise include Xamarin’s professional and enterprise features at no additional cost.

Xamarin’s Enterprise capabilities available in Visual Studio Enterprise. Starting today, existing and new Visual Studio Enterprise subscribers will have access – at no additional charge – to Xamarin’s advanced enterprise capabilities and a discounted access to Xamarin Test Cloud. Xamarin Test Cloud and Xamarin University will also be available as standalone offerings, complementing Microsoft’s developer cloud services.

Xamarin Studio Community and Visual Studio Subscriptions. Xamarin Studio is a fully functional IDE enabling development of iOS, Android, and Mac applications on Mac OS X, and today we announced two things around Xamarin Studio for Mac. The first is that we’re creating a Community edition of Xamarin Studio for Mac. The second is that Xamarin Studio Professional and Enterprise will be included in Visual Studio Subscriptions.

Xamarin Studio Community is free just like Visual Studio Community for eligible customers and uses. Xamarin Studio Community includes integrated native designers for iOS and Android, as well as syntax highlighting for C# and F#, code navigation and refactoring. Download Xamarin Studio Community.

Visual Studio Professional and Enterprise subscribers can use Professional and Enterprise editions of Xamarin Studio for Mac as a benefit of their Visual Studio subscription. Most Visual Studio subscribers should log in to the Visual Studio subscriber portal (Visual Studio cloud subscribers, go here) to access Xamarin Studio (for Mac). Visual Studio Enterprise subscribers will get additional Enterprise capabilities for both Visual Studio and Xamarin Studio, as described in more detail in the Visual Studio offerings comparison page.

25% Discount on Xamarin Test Cloud benefit for Visual Studio Enterprise subscribers. Through Xamarin Test Cloud, all types of mobile developers—C#, Objective-C, Java and hybrid app builders —can test and improve the quality of their apps using thousands of cloud-hosted phones and devices. Today, we are announcing a 25% discount on Xamarin Test Cloud for Visual Studio Enterprise subscribers (Visual Studio Enterprise with MSDN and Visual Studio Enterprise – annual). Log in to the Visual Studio subscriber portal (Visual Studio cloud subscribers go here) to get your discount.

Xamarin University expansion. Xamarin University provides online training for mobile developers using Xamarin. Currently, the Visual Studio Dev Essentials program, a free developer membership, provides access to a limited set of Xamarin University courses. Today, we are expanding the selection of online classes for all Visual Studio Dev Essentials members. Additionally, we are offering even more classes to Visual Studio Enterprise and Visual Studio Professional subscribers, as a newly added subscription benefit. These classes help mobile developers augment their existing skills to build awesome mobile apps. If you are a Visual Studio Dev Essentials program member or Visual Studio cloud subscriber, log in here to access Xamarin University. All other Visual Studio subscribers should visit their subscriber portal.

Xamarin Insights and HockeyApp. The Xamarin Insights team and Microsoft’s HockeyApp team will be working together to deliver an industry-leading solution for mobile crash reporting, distribution, and analytics. As part of this transition, the combined team will focus on HockeyApp and will continue to invest in features to deliver the great experiences you have come to expect in Xamarin Insights and in HockeyApp. For more information on the transition, visit the HockeyApp blog.

Xamarin and Azure IoT. Also today, we showed off MyDriving, a fully functional Internet of Things sample app that we built using .NET, Xamarin, UWP, and our Azure cloud services such as the IoT Hub to showcase what you can build. MyDriving showcases some of what’s possible with Azure IoT services such as the Azure Event Hub and Azure Stream Analytics with Visual Studio and Xamarin to create an easy-to-understand (and to run) IoT application. You can find more details here.

As always, we welcome your feedback. For problems, let us know via the Report a Problem feature in Visual Studio. For suggestions, let us know through UserVoice.

John Montgomery is the Director of Program Management for Visual Studio and .NET, responsible for product design and customer success for all of Visual Studio, C++, C#, VB, JavaScript, and .NET. John has been at Microsoft for 17 years, working in developer technologies the whole time. Reach him on Twitter @JohnMont