Xamarin: Forms or not to Forms

If your starting to look at Xamarin for mobile app development your quickly going to ask yourself one question, should I write my app in Xamarin Forms or regular Xamarin? It’s not as easy of a question as you might guess.

tumblr_inline_mxaqdhiz3J1qzumo9First what is Xamarin Forms? Xamarin Forms is a UI abstraction layer where you write the UI in XAML or C# and it’s translated into corresponding native controls. This is a façade or abstraction allowing for a common, uniformed way to create platform specific controls.

You may think it’s a clear cut case, but as anyone from Xamarin will tell you Xamarin Forms is not the future for all apps. Xamarin Forms will not replace normal UI development, instead it’s a totally different path for different needs.

The one caveat is that Xamarin Forms is very new and is changing all the time. Almost every update will break existing code somewhere and there are bugs that you will run into. Don’t start using Xamarin Forms and expect a mature development platform.

Use Xamarin Forms If:

  • You want a common set of controls that are cross platform
  • You want a common look and feel for your app on all platforms (you can write platform specific UI renders/controls but your going to be fighting the platform)
  • You want a common theme for your app
  • You don’t really want platform specific look and feel
  • You don’t want low level/high customizability controls
  • You don’t want to use the native UI designer for each platform

Xamarin Forms is a great solution for building cross platform data/form centric UI’s, for example Line of Business Applications with CRUD style entry and visualization. For Resgrid Connect app we will be utilizing Xamarin Forms and Xamarin Forms Labs. I’ll be writing about that more in the future as I dive into Xam Forms development.

Resgrid is a SaaS product utilizing Microsoft Azure, providing logistics, management and communication tools to first responder organizations like volunteer fire departments, career fire departments, EMS, search and rescue, CERT, public safety, disaster relief organizations, etc. It was founded in late 2012 by myself and Jason Jarrett (staxmanade).

About: Shawn Jackson

I’ve spent the last 18 years in the world of Information Technology on both the IT and Development sides of the aisle. I’m currently a Software Engineer for Paylocity. In addition to working at Paylocity, I’m also the Founder of Resgrid, a cloud services company dedicated to providing logistics and management solutions to first responder organizations, volunteer and career fire departments, EMS, ambulance services, search and rescue, public safety, HAZMAT and others.