Advantages and Disadvantages of Xamarin for Businesses

04 Jan. 2016 Mobile App

Xamarin has fast caught up as a cross platform leader and seems to be the best alternative when it comes to creating a single application. What remains to be seen is whether it can work equally well when it comes to building more than 1 application. Can it do justice to your mobile strategy in such a scenario? While native development is also an option, it doesn’t really help in all cases where the code has to be duplicated for additional platforms. Developers and Businesses alike believe that Xamarin offers the best of both worlds, it provides almost native UX, around 80% or more code can be reused, and has a growing community of 600,000 Xamarin mobile app developers. However, before we proclaim Xamarin as the next best thing since sliced bread, we need to take a closer look at the most important pros and cons of Xamarin.

Drawbacks and Advantages of Xamarin

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Advantages of Xamarin

  1. Effective for Offline Applications: The best thing about Xamarin app development is that it reuses the business logic layers and data access across platforms. This is useful when functions like large amounts of local data, image recognition and offline mode need to be implemented. Another benefit is the code reusability aspect. When a majority of it can be reused, the entire product gets a distinct identity. There are no two separate teams tinkering away on iOS and Android apps. Instead, one team is responsible for one product – a clear benefit when it comes to product development.
  2. Long Term Impact of License cost: There are few who believe Xamarin is pricey. However, that isn’t the case when you look at the scalability benefits it provides. Typically, the license cost is $999/developer/platform/year. When your team size is say 3-4, you have a MSDN subscription discount, then as a business you end up with extra $5000/year. If your business has a long term plan with dozens of apps, a healthy budget and teams that share licenses/projects, the license cost pays for itself in less than few months.
  3. Best of .NET and Native: Xamarin is a native platform but does let developers use C# through wrapping native libraries with a .NET layer. This also makes Xamarin highly customizable and open to all the third-party libraries that are written for Android or iOS environments.

Disadvantages of Xamarin

  1. Limited Availability of Xamarin Professionals

    In case of Xamarin, a couple of things may take place. As a business, you may need to teach your mobile developer .NET or your .NET developer mobile development. While they may not need to pick up Objective-C or Java, they’d still be required to have knowledge of some platform-specific app architecture and frameworks that have a Java or Objective-C flavor. Your organization will need to combine individuals with diverse skill sets but who still have Xamarin understanding at the end of the day.

  2. Possibility of Risk

    Almost all cross-platform alternatives carry with them the possibility of additional work or unanticipated risk. One of the most noticeable cons is Xamarin’s framework libraries may cause unreasonable app file size to be downloaded from Google Play or iOS App Store. The difference can be anywhere between 3 MB and 15 MB. This also depends on how much core library functionality is used in the app. However, when compared to other solutions like Appcelerator, Kony or IBM WorkLight, Xamarin is the most efficient when it comes to striking a balance between risk and reward.

Having considered the advantages and disadvantages of Xamarin, it is clear that the platform is a winner. In a rapidly changing technology world, Xamarin makes it possible to build, test and monitor applications that perform beautifully thanks to a shared architecture and code. As a cross-platform mobile development framework, Xamarin helps in not only upping an application’s quality but also helps businesses derive better commercial value from apps.

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