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Xamarin Evolves, Adds to Its Mobile App Solution Offerings

The mobile apps company continues to add to its growing suite of tools, with the introduction of new tools and features for mobile app monitoring and testing. These were announced at its conference in Atlanta this week.

Xamarin, the cross-platform mobile app tool developer, is taking a few more small steps toward expanding its suite across the mobile application lifecycle with the introduction of a bevy of new tools and several collaboration efforts with vendors ramping up their tools for the mobile apps segment. The announcements came at the company's yearly Xamarin Evolve confab taking place in Atlanta, Georgia, this week.

First off, Xamarin highlighted tools for monitoring and deployment with Xamarin Insights and Xamarin Profiler. Xamarin Insights is intended for gathering app data in real time with the addition of just a few lines of code. Like most of the tools announced, this one is in preview only, but Visual Studio contributor and Xamarin developer Wallace McClure likes what he sees so far. "This will be helpful when users aren't available to answer questions," he said. "Besides, users never have a good answer to the question: 'What did you do to crash the app?'"

The other highlight is Xamarin Profiler, which is aimed at simplifying the monitoring and reporting of management issues related to Xamarin-built C# apps. "For iOS, I have to things like the iOS SDK Instruments tool as well as Heapshot from Xamarin," said McClure, but he said that this tool means "one easy to use interface into what my application is doing while it is running -- for Android, the tools in the Android SDK tools have a tendency to change; Profiler should provide a level of continuity for developers."  

Xamarin is also solidifying its position on the test end, with an improved Xamarin Test Cloud and a new tool offered in preview, Xamarin Sketches. Xamarin Test Cloud, which has been available for a few months in preview, has a new feature for running tests in parallel. The company said that internal benchmarking has shown a dramatic decrease in test running times.

Whereas Xamarin Test Cloud provides a cloud-based emulator of thousands of devices to test apps before rollout, Xamarin Sketches allows developers to test portions of an app and see results of code being written in real-time. It currently only supports C# code, but there are plans to make it work with F#.

Xamarin has other tools at play in the next few months, such as its Xamarin Android Player, which Xamarin claims is a faster emulator than the native Android Emulator. McClure's initial observation is that it's " similar in concept to the Genymotion emulator; the big difference between the two is that this one will be free to Xamarin clients."

And while it wasn't part of the announcements at the show, Xamarin's Jason Smith blogged of a big update to Xamarin.Forms, dubbed version 1.3.0. It sports some improvements in the way it uses dynamic resources in code and XAML, some new behaviors, triggers, but is mainly aimed at bug fixes and performance improvements. Details here.

Xamarin Evolve ends Thursday.

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You Tell 'Em, Readers: If you've read this far, know that Michael Domingo, Visual Studio Magazine Editor in Chief, is here to serve you, dear readers, and wants to get you the information you so richly deserve. What news, content, topics, issues do you want to see covered in Visual Studio Magazine? He's listening at mdomingo@1105media.com.

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