Mobile app development has been radically altered through native development frameworks like Xamarin. This Microsoft-owned platform runs on C# and allows developers to create apps for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone using proprietary interface elements.
Learning Xamarin takes commitment and you’ll need some programming knowledge before starting. But with the right books you’ll have a big advantage when first getting started.
In this post I’d like to outline the best Xamarin books to help you go from a complete novice to a highly skilled mobile app developer. Everything you need to know can be learned from these books and with enough practice you can build any app idea from scratch.
Xamarin isn’t the easiest thing to learn without some knowledge of C# and/or mobile development. But for complete beginners I’d recommend Xamarin 4 By Example for its level of depth and writing style.
This is also one of the most recently published books made for beginners, so the information is up to date and relevant to modern Xamarin development.
This is a much newer book covering all the libraries for Xamarin mobile development. You’ll learn the traditional iOS + Android libraries and Xamarin.Forms which is a newer library for building cross-platform native apps.
Xamarin Mobile Application Development totals 432 pages with guided tutorials every step of the way. You’ll learn how to use the C# codebase to build with native elements like buttons, views, controls, and native animations.
You’ll dig a bit deeper into the MVVM system to learn why Xamarin.Forms is quickly becoming a popular choice for mobile app developers. Once you get past the basics you’ll also learn how SQLite databases can hook up to your mobile apps.
All source code is available for free online and you can easily follow along at home with a C#/.NET setup.
Great intro book for beginners, albeit a very technical writing style.
Here’s a study guide made for existing mobile app developers who want to move over to Xamarin. Whether you write Swift for iOS or Java for Android, this book can help you transition to Xamarin with all the coolest features and tools at your disposal.
You’ll learn about the basics of Xamarin along with the Xamarin Studio software and Visual Studio for development. Xamarin Essentials assumes no prior knowledge of the Xamarin library, although you should have some prior experience building mobile apps.
If you have no experience in mobile development then you at least need a background in C#/.NET.
You’ll work through technical demos and exercises covering the architecture style and workflow for Xamarin mobile development. This starts with the iOS+Android libraries separately and quickly moves into Xamarin.Forms.
But this is nothing more than an introduction to the library so you won’t go too far into the details. If you already know your way around C# you’ll come away from this book with a greater understanding of the mobile dev pipeline and the Xamarin framework.
Much like Apple has Xcode as their IDE for iOS developers, Microsoft has Xamarin Studio as their IDE for anyone working with the Xamarin library.
This IDE offers a rich text editor along with debugging tools, help guides, and integrated testing environments for all mobile platforms. Learning Xamarin Studio introduces this IDE to anyone interested in building Xamarin-powered applications.
You’ll get hundreds of clear screenshots along with guided tutorials explaining the complete interface. In 250 pages you’ll learn how Xamarin Studio works, what it offers, and how it integrates with other IDEs like Visual Studio.
The author even shares debugging tips and offers a workflow to remote into an OS X machine for testing iOS apps built on the Xamarin platform.
If you’re serious about Xamarin development then you’ll want to learn Xamarin Studio and this is truly the ultimate guide for getting started.
If you want something a little more up to date then consider Xamarin 4 By Example. This book also covers Xamarin Studio but places a greater focus on practical examples with real project work.
You’ll get started with a brief intro to Xamarin and the installation process. This includes a sample dev workflow teaching how you go from initial idea through coding, testing, and distribution on the individual app stores.
Each chapter gets into a more technical area of development including UI design, handling input data, and replicating native features for each application. By the end of the book you’ll walk through a couple sample projects including a fun mobile game project from scratch.
This is one of the newest books in this list and it’s perfect for a brand new Xamarin developer.
You’ll learn absolutely everything you need to know including Xamarin Studio and the entire workflow from conception to distribution.
If you’re looking for something like a cookbook full of solutions then Xamarin.Forms Kickstarter 2.0 is an excellent resource. It can help newbies come to terms with the Xamarin ecosystem but it’s also a valuable reference guide for more advanced developers.
You’ll work through 40+ individual app ideas with hundreds of source code samples. When you get a copy of the book you’ll also receive access to the GitHub repo containing all the source code.
It’s a lot easier to just copy/paste the source from GitHub and work through it rather than re-typing everything. The solutions are quite varied and you can learn a lot by studying the examples in this book.
Since this isn’t a complete introductory book it’s not the best choice for a complete newbie. You’ll want to understand more about Xamarin before you dive into these code samples and project ideas.
But if you already have some knowledge of C#/.NET and if you know a bit about mobile development then this book can drastically improve your knowledge.
If you need an all-in-one ultimate guide to Xamarin then the 800-page Xamarin Unleashed is a safe bet. The author Alec Tucker has over two decades working with mobile applications for businesses and enterprise solutions.
In this book he teaches all the fundamentals behind the entire Xamarin workflow. You’ll learn about the individual libraries, the C# codebase, and the Xamarin Studio software. He also explains how MVVM fits into your development workflow and how to utilize best practices when writing your applications.
With 800 pages this book is beastly. It’s not just a simple intro guide, but rather a dive into the deep end of the Xamarin swimming pool. But the concepts are presented in a way that anyone can understand them even with little-to-no mobile dev experience.
In later chapters you’ll learn about 3rd party libraries and testing tools made specifically for Xamarin developers.
This is the thickest and most extensive reference book you could use for improving your Xamarin knowledge. But if you’re looking for a much quicker introduction I’d recommend Xamarin 4 By Example as an alternative.
Some devs prefer Xamarin for the simplicity of coding on top of C#. This is specific to Android where native apps rely on a Java framework.
Xamarin Mobile Application Development for Android teaches the Xamarin.Android library. You start with the basics of Xamarin studio but quickly move through Android-specific topics like UI design and user input.
Keep in mind this is a beginner’s book targeted at devs with no Xamarin experience. It also just covers the Android library so it’s not meant for cross-platform development. You’ll study how to build applications on the C# library while keeping true to the native Android experience.
So while it is a rather basic introduction it’s also comprehensive and perfect for newer Android developers who have never touched Xamarin before.
The flip side to Android-specific development is Apple-specific development for iOS. And the iOS Development with Xamarin Cookbook can teach you dozens of step-by-step solutions for building Xamarin mobile apps made for iOS devices.
The book’s author Dimitris Tavlikos has over 10 years experience programming software for desktop and mobile. He was awarded the Xamarin MVP award and he’s someone that knows how to teach this stuff.
Early simple recipes cover the basics of rendering iOS-style interface elements along with capturing unique inputs like double taps. Later in the book you get into more detail for capturing multimedia, device motion, the camera and the GPS functionality.
Each recipe offers further explanations about how to implement these features and possible issues to look out for.
But this is not a beginner’s guide to Xamarin.iOS so you should have experience with C#/.NET and ideally the Xamarin framework before getting this book.
The best way to understanding programming is through hands-on practice. And that’s the entire purpose of Xamarin Blueprints which covers all the major libraries with real world examples.
This is a fairly large book with 450 pages including 8 different chapters. You’ll start building right away by working on projects like text-to-speech translation and a custom stock market app. Each chapter builds on skills from the last so you’ll constantly be improving your Xamarin knowledge.
More complex projects even delve into SQLite for database storage and JSON data transmission for parsing a web feed. By the end you’ll learn how to launch a project outline and how distribution works.
I consider this more of a late beginner’s book when you’re just beyond that phase of “complete newbie”, but just before considering yourself an intermediate developer.
If you can follow along with the lessons in this book you’ll feel much more confident as a programmer and a mobile app developer.
Here’s another newer book focusing on the full ecosystem of Xamarin mobile publishing. Mastering Cross-Platform Development with Xamarin goes far beyond the basics to help you build high-quality mobile apps from a Xamarin foundation.
You’ll learn about high order debugging, curtailing memory leaks, and application lifecycle management for all your mobile projects. Later chapters also touch on networking features and databases with SQLite.
This is not an intro book by any means. Once you get beyond the basics of Xamarin you’ll be left wanting more, and I think this book can deliver.
Each lesson covers a wide variety of tools & techniques regardless of what mobile platform you prefer. Xamarin developers who want to become experts will devour this book and love every minute of it.
This book is a lot smaller and more concise than the previous one, but it still targets the same skill level of more intermediate Xamarin devs.
Mastering Xamarin.Forms teaches the more advanced features in this library along with proper implementation in mobile apps. You’ll learn tips and workflows to improve your testing and debugging process. This includes the ability to solve your own problems along the way.
The author Ed Snider covers a variety of APIs built into Xamarin for custom features, along with the MVVM framework popularized for .NET development. Later chapters get into analytics testing and data tracking to find memory leaks and bugs while your apps are in use.
While this book is very practical it’s also complex and a tad brief. I expected a bit more from an advanced level book.
But what it does teach is invaluable to any aspiring mobile developer with an interest in Xamarin.Forms.
When you get into detailed cross platform app development you’ll constantly run into complex problems. Google is always a great resource, but a cookbook might be even better.
The Xamarin Cross Platform Development Cookbook offers 400+ pages of Xamarin solutions and code snippets for building common functionality for cross platform apps. These include dev solutions for native UIs for all mobile OS’ along with more detailed solutions for building RESTful apps and monitoring performance.
This is easily one of the most exhaustive Xamarin cookbooks you can get. It covers all platforms so whether you’re building for Android or iOS you’ll be covered.
Many recipes get into detailed topics like HTTP requests, SQLite databases, and tracking user feedback through custom libraries.
You definitely need to know C# and Xamarin before picking up this book. It’s really a solutions guide rather than a teaching resource, so if you’re looking for a desk reference while coding apps on Xamarin this is the best guide you can get.
Web developers love native JS solutions like React Native for mobile apps. But I still prefer the classic languages and C#/.NET is more than powerful enough to help you build quality mobile applications.
Xamarin is a powerful library and the demand for Xamarin devs isn’t slowing down.
For anyone just getting started I’d recommend Xamarin Essentials or the more recent Xamarin 4 By Example. Both of these titles can get you started on the right path to learning Xamarin the right way, and the other books in this list can keep you moving down that path to cross-platform mobile app excellence.