Getting ready for Xamarin Development

Many times when I talk about Xamarin Development people ask me that what all are needed for the development, what type of PC do we need, how Xamarin licenses works etc etc. Although these informations are provided with Xamarin documentation and scattered over internet, I thought it would be better if I consolidate them together and provide a step by step guide for any beginner to get ready for Xamarin development (specially Xamarin Forms as I work mainly on those) from hardware & software requirements to getting the machine ready.

Step-1 : Hardware & Software requirements:
Xamarin has provided a detailed documentation on what hardware and softwares are required to develop any xamarin application on their developer documentation . Please read this before moving ahead.
A few things which I would like to clarify about which people get confused are :

  1. You must have a apple developer ID configured on you Mac machine before executing your first Xamarin.iOS application otherwise Xamarin studio will not build your application. you can get the same by visiting Apple Developer Portal.
  2. Another thing apart from apple developer ID is latest version of Xcode as mentioned in the documentation.
  3. On Windows machine you must have Visual Studio 2013 or higher installed as otherwise creation of PCL libraries will give issue which are very tough to solve.

One most important thing : Mac machine is must if you want to develop iOS applications as you won’t be able to build and unit test the application with out it. You can either purchase a Mac for that or you can use macincloud.com ‘CI build agent plan’ (I have never used this but there is this blog which can help to use it)

Step-2 : Installation:
Mac:
Xamarin has provided the iOS and Android installation steps for Mac separately (iOS, Android), but I would recommend to follow the Android one only as it will install both Android as well as iOS.
Windows:
Now this one is a bit confusing 🙂 as there are multiple options here:
Option 1 : Visual Studio 2013 & Xamarin Studio.
If you follow this option, then you will have to install Visual Studio 2013 first and then Xamarin Studio using this link. As Xamarin Studio on Windows only supports Android development, so this document title says ‘Installing Xamarin.Android on Windows’.
Option 2: Visual Studio 2015 without Xamarin Studio.
All the versions of Visual Studio 2015 comes with and option to install Xamarin iOS and Android along with it. I have created this document which is for installing Visual Studio 2015 Community edition with Xamarin enabled, however the same process can be followed for rest of edition too. Please note that if you have installed Visual Studio with Xamarin then don’t install Xamarin studio separately as it gives many issues due to version conflict and path issues of Xamarin plugin for Visual Studio present in Xamarin Setup and Visual Studio Setup.
Option 3: Visual Studio 2015 with Xamarin Studio.
This is similar to the first option except here you will be installing Visual Studio 2015 instead of 2013 first and then Xamarin Studio using the link given in first option.
Step-3 : Licenses:
Now here comes another confusing point :). Xamarin licenses are per user per platform which means that if you want to develop for both Android and iOS app you will have to pay the double amount mentioned on the license costs page (i.e $50/month for indie, $1998/year for Professional and $3798/year for Enterprise as per cost mentioned on the page at the time of writing this blog) for one developer.
However for learning purpose you can get a trail license which is the professional license for 30 days with a limitation that the application setups built using this license will work only for 24 hours.

One good news guys Xamarin if free now for individual Developers & communities 🙂

After following the above mentioned steps your machine will be ready for develop developing Xamarin/Xamarin Forms applications however in order to properly test the applications on emulators and devices, I would suggest to follow next few steps:

  1. Configure your Visual studio to connect with Mac for building iOS application, you can use the first part of this document
  2. The default Android emulator which gets installed with Visual Studio or Android SDK is very slow so Xamarin suggests to use ‘Xamarin Android Player’, however please make a note that it only works on physical machines
  3. If you want to test your application on physical Android device, you must enable the developer mode of that device. This article will help you in that.
  4. Testing on a iOS physical device is not easy like Android, you will need to provision that device for testing.This article will help you in that.
  5. If you are planning to develop Xamarin Forms then please keep these device requirements in consideration which it supports.

Once you follow all these steps your machine is ready for Xamarin/Xamarin Forms development. I hope that this blog helps many more people to join Xamarin Bandwagon 🙂 Let me know if I missed anything.

Happy Coding

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