As I have mentioned in the past, my day job is as a software developer. And it is also my hobby too! For a while now, I have been working on a mobile app that I have been using Xamarin Forms to develop. After about a month of frustration in what I can only assume is a bug in Xamarin Forms itself, I finally hit the point where I had no option but to ditch it and join the new .NET MAUI revolution. So now that I have some experience with the new UI framework under my belt, I thought it would be a great chance for me to talk about why it is an upgrade over Xamarin Forms.
Microsoft’s .NET Multi-platform App UI (.NET MAUI) was introduced as an evolution of Xamarin.Forms. Announced at Microsoft Build 2020, it is designed to streamline and modernize the development of cross-platform applications. But why is .NET MAUI considered better than Xamarin.Forms? This post will delve into the reasons why it is deemed an upgrade, emphasizing its advanced capabilities and advantages.
1. Single Project Structure
Xamarin.Forms uses multiple projects to handle different platforms. However, .NET MAUI simplifies this with a single project structure. Now, developers can manage resources like images and app icons in one place, leading to cleaner, more organized code. This is a huge win!
2. Fluent Design Support in MAUI
With .NET MAUI, developers can use Fluent Design out of the box. Fluent Design is Microsoft’s design system that provides depth, motion, and a consistent look and feel across applications and devices. The support for Fluent Design allows .NET MAUI apps to offer an intuitive and engaging user interface.
3. Performance Enhancements with MAUI
.NET MAUI delivers a higher-performing UI, which is always a win for developers and end-users alike. This improvement is due to various factors, including a reduced renderers hierarchy and improved layouts. The enhancements lead to smoother animations and transitions, faster load times, and a more responsive app overall.
4. Hot Reload and Live Visual Tree
The new hot reload feature in .NET MAUI is a significant upgrade from Xamarin.Forms. Developers can now modify their code during runtime and see changes instantaneously without the need to stop and restart the app. Moreover, the Live Visual Tree feature allows developers to navigate through the UI hierarchy and inspect elements in real-time, increasing productivity and making debugging easier.
5. Support for MVU Architecture
Model View Update (MVU) is an architectural pattern that is gaining popularity in the world of .NET. .NET MAUI includes support for the MVU pattern in addition to the MVVM (Model View ViewModel) and MVC (Model View Controller) patterns, giving developers more flexibility and control over their projects. I can’t say I have worked with MVU yet myself but its definitely something I am looking to learn more about.
6. Simplified Deployment
.NET MAUI offers simplified deployment with single project builds and ClickOnce publishing for .NET desktop applications. This streamlines the entire build process, making it easier and more efficient for developers to roll out their applications. Talk about a time saver!
When Xamarin.Forms is Still a Good Choice
While .NET MAUI certainly offers a range of improvements over Xamarin.Forms, it’s worth noting that Xamarin.Forms still has its place. If you’re maintaining an existing Xamarin.Forms application or working with a team that’s already comfortable with Xamarin.Forms, it may not be necessary to make the switch to .NET MAUI immediately. Xamarin.Forms is also the better choice if your project targets older versions of .NET or if it needs to be compatible with other .NET languages that don’t support .NET 6.0 and later.
In conclusion, .NET MAUI brings about significant improvements over Xamarin.Forms, making cross-platform app development more streamlined, efficient, and productive. From a unified project structure and Fluent Design support to performance enhancements and hot reload capabilities, .NET MAUI offers a modern development framework that stands as a significant upgrade from its predecessor. But as always, the choice between Xamarin.Forms and .NET MAUI should be determined based on your specific project requirements and constraints.
Want to learn more about .NET MAUI? Then check out the official documentation from Microsoft. And if you are looking for more ways to make your life as a software developer a bit easier, I suggest checking out my post on the benefits of ChatGPT for software developers.