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Big Nerd Guide: Xamarin or the Android development kit?

 
Ranch Hand
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I know some Java and .net. Do you recommend Xamarin or the Android development kit? And why? Thanks!
 
Greenhorn
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Because Xamarin is now included with all editions of Visual Studio at no extra cost and does not require a separate license, you can use the Visual Studio installer to download and install Xamarin.Android tools. (The manual installation and licensing steps that were required for earlier versions of Xamarin.Android are no longer necessary.) In this guide, you will learn the following:

How to install Xamarin.Android for use with Visual Studio on Windows (or for Mac).
How to configure custom locations for the Java Development Kit, Android SDK, and Android NDK.
How to launch the Android SDK Manager to download and install additional Android SDK components.
How to prepare an Android device or emulator for debugging and testing.
How to create your first Xamarin.Android app project.
By the end of this guide, you will have a working Xamarin.Android installation integrated into Visual Studio, and you will be ready to start building your first Xamarin.Android application.

Thanks!
 
Author
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Hi Thomas,

Personally, I do not recommend Xamarin for Android development. Keep in mind that I am heavily biased because my career has been based on native Android development through consulting, teaching, and the Android book that I've helped to write. I do not have extensive personal experience with Xamarin, so you may want to gather information from other sources as well.

I can say that, through teaching our Android Bootcamp class, I've had many students in my class tell me that they started developing Android applications with Xamarin and decided that they had too many problems and wanted to learn native development (which is why they took the class).

I hope that helps. I would push you towards native development, but that is a decision you'll have to make for yourself.
 
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If you're interested in cross-platform approaches, you might want to check out Apache Cordova as well. It utilizes web technologies instead (HTML, CSS, JavaScript), and has plugins that allow the use of native capabilities, like access to contacts, camera and other phone-specific functionality. It doesn't hide the underlying language, though, so if you need access to native functionality for which no plugin is available, you need to delve into Java/Swift and the native Android/iOS API.
 
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