Aug 25, 2023

Embracing the future of mobile app development in a post-Xamarin era

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Xamarin, a powerful cross-platform mobile app development framework, once took the app development world by storm. Loved for its ability to build native apps for Android and iOS, using a single codebase, it significantly reduced development time and costs. During its peak popularity, Xamarin empowered developers to create feature-rich apps that delivered seamless user experiences across multiple platforms, making it a go-to choice for businesses seeking efficient mobile solutions.

But, keeping mobile apps on a platform like Xamarin after it becomes unsupported by Microsoft can lead to security vulnerabilities, compatibility issues with OS updates, and limited access to new features. So it might be time to let it go completely. At ASquared, we highly recommend embracing the opportunity to transition to React Native or Flutter - the leading tech stacks for cross-platform app development.

Did you know?
Transitioning to a supported platform like React Native or Flutter ensures ongoing support, security, and access to cutting-edge advancements for a future-proof app development journey.

Embracing the opportunity for change

React Native, offers a powerful and flexible framework, allowing developers to build high-quality cross-platform applications using JavaScript and React. With its growing community and continuous support, React Native has become a popular choice for those seeking a reliable and modern mobile app development solution.

Xamarin has served developers well, but React Native is emerging as the future of mobile app development. With its vibrant community, robust ecosystem, and cross-platform capabilities, React Native offers the perfect blend of performance and versatility. Plus, tools like Expo help make the creation, development and deployment of mobile app updates a joy, which is brilliant for rapid innovation of digital products.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Why React reigns supreme

React Native is built on top of one of the most popular web frameworks - React.js. This makes it hugely popular with web developers looking to extend their skills to mobile app development. React's declarative programming approach allows developers to create interactive UIs effortlessly. Define the desired outcome, and React handles the rest. React makes building interactive and visually appealing user interfaces a breeze for developers by focusing on what they want to achieve, rather than getting bogged down in complex code. This means faster and smoother app development, allowing teams to collaborate better and deliver incredible user experiences without getting tangled in technical details.

React's component-based architecture fundamentally alters the way developers approach app development. It’s a bit like building with LEGO bricks, but with less foot-spearing surprises. By breaking the user interface into reusable components or hooks, developers create a library of modular reusable elements which can be easily integrated across projects. This streamlines development, leveraging pre-built code and focusing on business-specific features. Maintenance and updates become effortless, thanks to isolated code libraries, boosting overall efficiency. Plus, using pre-built components saves time and effort, eliminating the need to start from scratch every time, enabling developers to build faster and better apps.

React's performance optimisation is powered by the Virtual DOM (document object model) - a lightweight, in-memory representation of the actual DOM. By calculating minimal changes needed to update it, React minimises expensive DOM operations, leading to faster app performance and smoother user experience. Especially crucial for data-intensive applications, this magic helper updates only the necessary parts, leaving the rest untouched. Imagine a snappy, delay-free experience where React's Virtual DOM ensures seamless interactions, making apps responsive and enjoyable for users. This is also a huge time saver for development as it enables Fast Refresh in React Native where a developer’s code changes to a single file instantly update in the preview app without reloading or rebuilding the whole application.

React has become wildly popular, and it's not just because of its cool features. Its amazing community of developers worldwide shares tips, tricks, and resources, making it easy for anyone to learn and get help. So, you're not alone in your app-building journey! The React community is always ready to lend a helping hand and keep you in the loop on the latest and greatest in app development.

Making the leap and changing the game

Transitioning from Xamarin to React can be a game-changer for your mobile app development. To ensure a smooth and successful migration, it's crucial to assess your Xamarin codebase thoroughly. Identify any dependencies or specific features that might need custom solutions in React Native to plan effectively. Adopting an incremental approach is key – break down the migration into manageable phases, starting with smaller components or screens and gradually moving towards more complex modules.

Rigorous testing throughout the process is a must to ensure seamless functionality and maintain a consistent user experience. By taking these strategic steps, your transition to React Native will not only be less stressful but will also unlock a world of possibilities, empowering your development team to build faster, more interactive, and scalable apps.

Spotlight on some low code marvels

The advent of low-code tools heralds a new era of app development, offering a powerful ally to streamline workflows. These tools feature intuitive interfaces and pre-built components, enabling us to build feature-rich applications with greater efficiency and flexibility, unleashing creativity without compromising on quality. Offering an unprecedented level of efficiency and flexibility in mobile app development by minimising the need for manual coding, developers can focus on creativity and innovation, accelerating the entire process.

From drag-and-drop interfaces, which can be used to create stunning UIs and responsive layouts, to seamless collaboration options and API integrations to expand functionality without breaking a sweat. We are hooked.

Photo by Elizeu Dias on Unsplash

Case study spotlight

We recently worked with Surfers Against Sewage to migrate their legacy Xamarin app to a completely new codebase powered by - you guessed it - React Native!

We had direct access to the legacy code but we used the Xamarin source primarily at a very high level to compare basic architecture. Unfortunately there’s no magic bullet to auto-migrate from one platform to another. However, with our focus on the user’s experience we were able to reproduce everything that was working well for users in the previous app, interview and learn from existing users and then craft a number of major enhancements to the app loved by so many UK swimmers and surfers.

As Xamarin takes a back seat, transitioning to React Native promises a brighter future for mobile app development. At ASquared, we recommend embracing React Native's power, but you don't have to stop there - discover the ultimate efficiency and flexibility with low-code tools too, and take the opportunity to make improvements, streamline language, user experience and workflows at the same time. Your users, and your development team will thank you for it later. The future's still bright, and the possibilities are now endless.