Xamarin tool aims to show the ease wth which .NET apps can become mobile
As mobile device shipments overtake those of PCs, cross-platform tool developer Xamarin hopes to get more enterprises to adapt their apps for Android and iOS with the help of its .Net Mobility Scanner.
Xamarin’s new tool shows how much of a Windows app’s code can run on the OSes.
“What we have discovered over the last two years is that there are millions of lines of C# code sitting inside companies today that can already run on mobile devices through Xamarin on iOS and Android and people don’t know it,” said Nat Friedman, Xamarin CEO and co-founder. “They don’t know how easy it is for them to take their existing code and take it mobile.”
Xamarin develops tools that let developers create apps for Android, iOS and Mac OS X using C#. The company thought it would be useful to provide a service developers could use to scan their code and determine how much of it is ready to run on Android or iOS after using Xamarin’s development tools, according to Friedman. The .Net Mobility Scanner also tests for compatibility with Windows Phone and Windows Store, he said.
To use the free service, developers can head to the Mobility Scanner website, which uses Silverlight. There they select compiled .NET libraries or executable files that need to be analyzed, and the service will help identify platform-specific dependencies in the code. Future versions will provide suggestions for how to make the code more mobile-friendly.
The company has been surprised that the compatibility between existing .NET apps and Android and iOS has been as high as it has, Friedman said.
The level of compatibility with iOS and Android depends on the type of app that is scanned, but 90 percent or more is pretty common, according to Friedman. A theme that Xamarin has noticed while developing the scanner is that .NET app compatibility with Windows Phone is lower than it is with Android and iOS. That’s because Windows devices may, for example, be missing some commonly used classes, according to Friedman.
Developers also need to remember that apps need a new user interface suitable to the mobile screen size and to a touch interface, and that they will have to be able to run within the constraints of the device, Friedman said. Memory usage and CPU power, for example, are lower on a mobile device than on a desktop or server.
The scanner analyzes code in a browser, without uploading it. The only information that is transmitted is the data that appears in the final report, according to Xamarin’s Mobility Scanner site.
Like many companies in the Windows ecosystem, Xamarin is this week taking part in Microsoft’s Build conference in San Francisco, where it has a booth.