Visual Studio and Xamarin
Xamarin is a mobile app development platform for building native iOS, Android, and Windows apps from a common C#/.NET code base. Apps written with Xamarin can achieve 75% to nearly 100% code reuse between platforms. These apps have full access to underlying platform APIs and can incorporate native user interfaces. They compile to platform-specific packages with little impact on runtime performance. (Note: Xamarin also supports F#, but this documentation will focus on C# only. Visual Basic is not supported at this time.)
Developers familiar with C#, .NET, and Visual Studio will enjoy the same power and productivity when working with Xamarin for mobile apps. These benefits include remote debugging on Android, iOS, and Windows devices, without having to learn native coding languages like Objective-C or Java. It's little surprise, then, that many high-performance apps with beautiful user interfaces—such as NASCAR, Aviva, and MixRadio—have been built using Xamarin.
This documentation helps you evaluate the full power of Visual Studio with Xamarin to build these experiences.
Start with Setup and install, a process that will take some time (typically 2-4 hours depending on the speed of your Internet connection, what you already have installed, and the options you select).
While the installers are running, you can Learn about mobile development with Xamarin which will tell you about the nature of Xamarin, compare Xamarin.Forms to native UI, and more.
Once installation is complete, Verify your Xamarin environment.
Finish by going through the tutorial Learn app-building basics with Xamarin.Forms in Visual Studio.
You can work with all Xamarin features using any edition of Visual Studio 2017 (Community, Professional, and Enterprise). No separate license is required.
These instructions describe the easiest and most straightforward computer configuration for developers who have a Windows and Visual Studio background. With this configuration, the overall development experience is simplified because you only need to interact with the Mac to use the iOS simulator and tethered devices. If you instead come from a Mac background, we recommend either running Visual Studio inside Parallels or VMWare, or using Visual Studio for Mac. Refer to Setup, install, and verifications for Mac users for instructions.
If you're looking for a cross-platform development solution based on HTML and CSS, check out the Visual Studio Tools for Apache Cordova as described in Cross-platform development in Visual Studio.