Miguel has demonstrated a number of new features in Xamarin and Xamarin.Forms that I want to start using immediately:
- First, and most exciting: It’s Free!
- Interactive documentation using markdown and embedded C#
- Inspector and Workbooks
- Simulator on Visual Studio (PC)
- 2D and 3D Graphics Library
- Open Source
Xamarin now available at no extra cost with every edition of Visual Studio (including the free community edition)!
It is almost impossible to describe this without showing it, but I’ll try. Imagine a page of documentation with embedded code examples. You can bring up a simulator and see the result of that code, and more important you can change the code and immediately see the change in the simulator. As you interact with the code, you get full intellisense.
Inspector and Workbooks
This may be one of the most exciting and useful new technologies for Xamarin. The inspector is very much like a web/browser inspector, allowing you to inspect your live, running code.
The inspector also includes a live C# shell that allows you to inject code into your running program, and to experiment with changes to your code and see the effect in real time.
The inspector allows you to create enumerables and dive into them. Inspectors include object render views (which gives you the information you would find in the properties window). Inspectors also includes renderers for various types; for example if you examine an image, that image is displayed in the simulator itself.
You can also create views and populate them with controls and see, in real time, the effects of your work. This can be for any of the supported platforms, including iOS, Android, Mac and Windows Phone.
The simulator gives you a 3-d view of the various layers of views (that is, if you have a UI view with a StackLayout in it, with a Grid inside, etc., the 3D view shows these to you and the code is aligned with the view to show you a 1:1 correspondence between the hierarchy and the 3d representation.
For learning Inspectors, there is built in context sensitive help.
You can embed text into your Inspector, and then render a document with live code. This is the technology used in Interactive Documentation.
Workbooks are Inspectors used for exploring and learning.
Simulator on Visual Studio
Projecting the simulator onto Visual Studio makes debugging much easier, and is particularly helpful when screen sharing. You can show your code in Visual Studio and see the result of your modifications on the same screen.
2D and 3D Graphics Library
More on this in a coming post
All of Xamarin is now Open Source with a much broader license than before. This will allow the use of Xamarin to program any device.
There’s a good bit more and I expect to be creating blog posts as more information becomes available.