Mobile Tools for Visual Basic 2015

Introduction

There are few great tools that you can use to create Mobile Applications within Visual Studio 2015. With this article, I aim to provide you with enough background on each so that you can see what to expect in the official release of Visual Studio 2015.

Xamarin

Xamarin apps share code across all platforms: Target iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac with a single, shared C# codebase. Use the same language, APIs, and data structures on every platform.

Xamarin apps are built with standard, native user interface controls. Apps not only look the way the end user expects; they behave that way, too. This can't be achieved with other solutions. Visual Studio 2015 automatically installs the latest version of Xamarin. Choose a Xamarin project to start building your app and use the Visual Studio debugger, IntelliSense, and other powerful features of the Visual Studio IDE.

When starting a New project, you have three choices in using Xamarin to create a mobile app. You can create an App for Windows Phone by choosing Blank App (Windows Phone). To create an App for Android, you choose Blank App (Android). You also can create a Shared Project that creates an app for both Android and Windows Phone platforms.

Here is a great example on how to use Xamarin to create a cross-platform app.

Apache Cordova

Apache Cordova is an open-source mobile development framework. It allows you to use standard Web technologies such as HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript for cross-platform development, avoiding each mobile platforms' native development language. Applications execute within wrappers targeted to each platform, and rely on standards-compliant API bindings to access each device's sensors, data, and network status.

Installing Visual Studio tools for Apache Cordova can be a tad complicated, which is honestly what I sometimes hate about Visual Studio. Here is the proper way to get started with Apache Cordova in Visual Studio.

Visual C++ for Cross-Platform Mobile Development

You can build native C++ apps for Android and Windows devices, and share code in libraries built for iOS, Android, and Windows, by using Visual C++ for Cross-Platform Mobile Development. This is an option available in Visual Studio 2015 that installs the SDKs and tools you need for cross-platform development of shared libraries and native apps. When it's installed, you can use Visual C++ to create code that runs on iOS and Android devices and platforms, in addition to Windows, Windows Phone, and Xbox.

Writing code for multiple platforms can be frustrating. The primary development languages and tools for iOS, Android, and Windows are different on each platform. However, all platforms support writing code in C++. This is the common denominator that you can use to enable re-use of core code across platforms.

Visual Studio Emulator for Android

The Visual Studio Emulator for Android is a desktop application that emulates an Android device. It provides a virtualized environment in which you can debug and test Android apps without a physical device. It also provides an isolated environment for your application prototypes.

The Visual Studio Emulator for Android is designed to provide comparable performance to an actual device. Before you publish your app, however, we recommend that you test your app on a physical device.

Conclusion

This article's purpose was just to introduce you to the various new tools available for mobile app development within Visual Studio.



About the Author

Hannes DuPreez

Hannes du Preez is a Microsoft MVP for Visual Basic for the eighth consecutive year. He loves technology and loves Visual Basic. He has a lot of experience in .NET and loves to share his love, pain and musings about Visual Basic

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