Today, at Microsoft Connect(); 2017, we shared some very exciting updates related to Visual Studio and Xamarin. We invite you to join us tomorrow and Thursday to see even more during the remainder of the live event! Day 2 will be packed full of deep dives into the products, including those from Day 1, and Day 3 is a full day of free training from Xamarin University and Microsoft Virtual Academy.

Below are just a few Xamarin highlights from today’s announcements:

.NET Embedding

In Scott Guthrie’s keynote this morning, James Montemagno demonstrated an initial preview of our tooling to enable developers to integrate .NET libraries and UI written in C# into their existing iOS, Android, and macOS apps written in Objective-C, Swift, and Java. This opens a new path for developers to adopt Xamarin and .NET for code reuse across even more apps, without having to rewrite their existing codebase.

Your C# code is now more portable than ever: you can use C# to build cross-platform libraries that allow you to use C# and .NET in native iOS, Android applications, or the use of C# to build reusable components directly targeting iOS, Mac, or Android specific APIs.

.NET Embedding is available in preview for you to try today! Check out our getting started guides to add some .NET to your Objective-C, Java, and C-based apps.

Xamarin.Forms

Xamarin.Forms 2.5 is available today in the NuGet Gallery, delivering the latest quality and performance improvements, as well as new capabilities, including Native Forms and Layout Compression.

Xamarin.Forms Native Forms

With Native Forms, you can easily add cross-platform XAML pages to your Xamarin iOS and Android applications alongside existing storyboards and Android XML layouts, enabling you to use powerful Xamarin.Forms features such as XAML Compilation, DataBinding, and MessagingCenter, without having to go “all-in” on Xamarin.Forms navigation and the Xamarin.Forms app model.

Xamarin.Forms Layout Compression

Layout Compression optimizes the speed of UI rendering and memory consumption by enabling developers to identify which layouts may be flattened and removed from the visual tree without changing the resulting layout.

Xamarin.Forms & XAML Standard

To improve productivity for developers creating UI with Windows 10 XAML and Xamarin.Forms XAML, we have been working with the Windows team to bring these worlds closer together through the XAML Standard effort we talked about at Build earlier this year, making it easier to work with XAML regardless of which platform you’re targeting.

Today we’re announcing a Xamarin.Forms preview that features new standard APIs that align with APIs in UWP and WPF. These are aliases for common types available on all platforms you can target with XAML. What’s great is that these new APIs come without introducing breaking changes; you can start using these standard types in C# and XAML without changing any of your existing code.

Xamarin Live Player

Building UIs with Xamarin.Forms has become even easier in Visual Studio 2017 version 15.5 with the Xamarin Live Player. This release adds the ability to preview XAML in an Android emulator or an iOS simulator on a Mac live as you type, including support for rendering design-time data:

 

Previewing XAML with the Xamarin Live Player feels natural; as you move from document to document, Visual Studio will automatically preview the active XAML document for you. Entering “Live Run” mode to quickly iterate and see code changes reflected in your UI on device or simulator is as easy as pressing Shift+Alt+F5, or by clicking the “Live Run” button that appears at the top of the editor for XAML.

Live Player devices act and feel just like regular emulator and device debug targets. The Xamarin Live Player already supports breakpoints when debugging, and, in this release, we improved how the overall functionality integrates into Visual Studio, including integration with the Console and Error windows.

Open Sourcing Xamarin Workbooks

Last year we announced the general availability of Xamarin Workbooks, a free, interactive programming environment that’s perfect for experimentation, learning, and documentation. Since then, we’ve added support for the latest C# features, drastically improved NuGet integration, introduced support for .NET Core and Xamarin.Forms, and improved accessibility, performance, and user experience.

Today, we’re thrilled to announce that Workbooks is now open source under the MIT license and has moved to its new home under the Microsoft GitHub organization!

We see Workbooks as an invaluable educational tool for learning the myriad of .NET platforms, APIs, and libraries, and believe it can best grow in this role as an active open source project. Please check out the roadmap, chat with us in Gitter, and try our first open source release, Workbooks 1.4 Beta 1, available today.

We’re excited to share these great announcements. Be sure not to miss the live stream on Channel 9 to catch the next two days of awesome Xamarin developer content and LIVE sessions from Xamarin University trainers!