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Xamarin Mobile Tooling Improved in New Visual Studio 2019

Along with all the goodies available to coders in the brand-new Visual Studio 2019 GA release are some improvements to the mobile development experience with Xamarin tooling.

The updates focus on fundamental stability and performance, the Xamarin team said, because that tooling "should work for you, not against you."

Enhancements are said to speed up solution creation time, boost debugging, provide faster installations with smaller workloads and simplify acquisition of Android SDKs and emulators, among many other improvements.

The team said these updates were spurred by a wide-ranging effort to collect developer feedback

Beyond those "fundamental" tweaks, here's a rundown of the new stuff as highlighted by the team's Pierce Boggan in a blog post yesterday (April 2):

  • Faster "build > deploy > debug" inner development loop: By addressing that aforementioned developer feedback, the team focused on optimizing incremental builds and deployments, resulting in a nearly 30 percent faster build time for a reference application from VS 2017 v15.8, along with deployment times cut in half.
  • Improved UI authoring: This touches upon the cross-platform Xamarin.Forms and individual Android and iOS experiences:
    • Xamarin.Forms: New IntelliCode functionality builds upon IntelliSense that was introduced in VS 2017 by leveraging artificial intelligence. A new property panel helps developers edit common attributes for Xamarin.Forms controls. The XAML Previewer was improved to boost reliability and performance.
    • Android: The AXML editor now provides IntelliSense for all Android resource files including strings, themes, manifest and so on. Also new is snippet completion support, Go to Definition support and inline color preview, along with integration between the AXML editor and design view.
    • iOS: With the iOS designer already supporting custom controls, it now supports a new type: native dynamic libraries or frameworks. "From a practical point of view, this enables you to use SkiaSharp in the iOS designer. It also enables any SkiaSharp-based control (commonly shipped by control vendors) as well."

Much (if not all) of the above was facilitated by gathering that aforementioned developer feedback via more than 30 surveys that generated more than 3,000 individual responses, along with more than 275 individual interviews.

"We have heard loud and clear: the tooling should be stable, performant, and assist in making you more productive while building mobile apps," Boggan said.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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