.NET MAUI vs Xamarin: A Comparison of Two Cross-Platform Mobile Development Frameworks 

Building cross-platform mobile apps is a challenge. Developers need to learn multiple languages and frameworks, and they need to maintain separate codebases for each platform. .NET MAUI and Xamarin are two frameworks that can help developers build cross-platform mobile apps.

.NET MAUI is a newer framework, while Xamarin is a more mature framework. .NET MAUI has some advantages over Xamarin, such as a single project structure and improved graphics APIs. However, Xamarin has some advantages over .NET MAUI, such as mature platform support and a large community of developers.

In this blog post, we will compare .NET MAUI and Xamarin in detail. We will discuss the similarities and differences between the two frameworks, and we will provide some recommendations on which framework is right for you.

Introduction to .NET MAUI and Xamarin

NET MAUI, or Multi-platform App UI, is a cross-platform UI framework that allows developers to build native mobile and desktop apps using C# and XAML. .NET MAUI is the successor to Xamarin Forms, and it offers a number of improvements over its predecessor.

Xamarin also has a wide range of third-party components that can be used to build mobile apps. This makes it easier to build complex apps without having to write all of the code from scratch.

Let us look at the detailed differentiations between .NET MAUI and Xamarin, highlighting their unique strengths and advantages.

.NET MAUI vs Xamarin – Comparison

1) Architecture and Project Structure:

Xamarin: Xamarin follows a shared codebase and platform-specific projects approach. Developers create a shared codebase that houses the core business logic and UI code, while platform-specific projects allow access to platform-specific APIs and features.

.NET MAUI: .NET MAUI introduces a more consolidated project structure. It utilizes a single .NET MAUI project for all platforms, reducing complexity and making it easier to manage and maintain cross-platform code.

2) User Interface Development:

Xamarin: Xamarin.Forms is the UI framework used in Xamarin. It allows developers to create cross-platform UIs using a single codebase, with a rich set of UI controls and layouts. Xamarin.Forms provides a consistent look and feel across multiple platforms.

.NET MAUI: .NET MAUI builds upon Xamarin.Forms and introduces .NET Multi-platform App UI (MAUI) as the new UI framework. MAUI further enhances the UI development experience, offering better control over platform-specific features and improved performance.

3) Performance

Xamarin: Xamarin has made significant performance optimizations over the years. However, due to the use of wrappers for accessing platform-specific APIs, there may still be some performance overhead.

.NET MAUI: .NET MAUI leverages the advancements in .NET 6 and its optimized rendering pipeline to provide better performance compared to Xamarin. It takes better advantage of platform-specific features and APIs, resulting in improved app performance and responsiveness.

4) Development Environment

Xamarin: Xamarin supports various IDEs, including Visual Studio, Visual Studio Code, and Xamarin Studio. Developers have the flexibility to choose their preferred development environment.

.NET MAUI: .NET MAUI recommends the use of Visual Studio 2022 and Visual Studio for Mac as the primary development environments. This ensures that developers have access to the latest and most advanced tooling specifically designed for .NET MAUI development.

5) Community and Ecosystem:

Xamarin: Xamarin has a well-established and active community. There is a vast array of resources available, such as tutorials, forums, and libraries. Developers can find support and guidance from experienced Xamarin developers worldwide.

.NET MAUI: .NET MAUI is relatively new but inherits the existing Xamarin community. The community is growing rapidly, and resources are emerging to support the adoption of .NET MAUI. Documentation, samples, and community support are becoming increasingly available.

6) Migration and Compatibility:

Migration: Existing Xamarin.Forms projects can be migrated to .NET MAUI. However, the migration process may involve certain challenges and considerations. Microsoft provides tools and resources to facilitate the migration process and ensure a smooth transition.

Compatibility: .NET MAUI fully supports Xamarin.Forms, allowing developers to leverage their existing codebase and investments. Platform-specific code and dependencies can also be handled during the transition process, ensuring compatibility with existing Xamarin projects.

Exploring the Differences: .NET MAUI vs Xamarin

Aspect Xamarin .NET MAUI
Architecture Shared codebase and platform-specific projects Consolidated project structure with a single .NET MAUI project for all platforms
User Interface Development Xamarin.Forms UI framework .NET MAUI UI framework (based on Xamarin.Forms)
Performance Performance optimizations with some overhead Better performance leveraging .NET 6 and optimized rendering pipeline
Development Environment Supports Visual Studio, Visual Studio Code, Xamarin Studio Recommends Visual Studio 2022, Visual Studio for Mac for optimal tooling
Project Templates and File Structure Separation of platform-specific projects, shared code, and UI code Simplified project structure with consolidated files and folders
Theming and Customization Custom theming and styling options available through Xamarin.Forms Enhanced theming and customization options in .NET MAUI
Platform-Specific Features and APIs Access to platform-specific APIs and features through platform-specific projects Improved control and access to platform-specific features and APIs in .NET MAUI
Development Workflow and Tooling Flexibility in choosing the preferred IDE (Visual Studio, Visual Studio Code, Xamarin Studio) Recommended IDEs: Visual Studio 2022, Visual Studio for Mac with dedicated tooling for .NET MAUI development
Community and Ecosystem Well-established community with abundant resources, tutorials, forums, and libraries Growing community with increasing resources, documentation, samples, and community support
Migration and Compatibility Tools available for migrating Xamarin.Forms projects to .NET MAUI Full support for Xamarin.Forms in .NET MAUI, enabling compatibility and seamless transition
Roadmap and Future Development Integration of Xamarin into .NET MAUI; continued support and updates Continued roadmap for .NET MAUI, including feature enhancements, bug fixes, and integration with future .NET versions
Target Platforms iOS, Android, macOS, Windows iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, and more through .NET Multi-platform App UI (MAUI)

Final Thought

Xamarin and .NET MAUI are both great cross-platform mobile development frameworks, but they have different strengths and weaknesses. Xamarin has a large community and mature tooling, but its performance can be inconsistent. .NET MAUI is easier to learn and use, with improved performance and the latest advancements in .NET. The best choice for you depends on your team’s experience, project requirements, and budget. Ultimately, both frameworks are great options for cross-platform mobile development.
The best way to choose between Xamarin and .NET MAUI is to consider your team’s experience, your project’s requirements, and your budget.
If you need help deciding which framework is right for you, or if you need help getting started with cross-platform mobile development, please contact our experts. We would be happy to help you!
Author

Rajesh Thirunaukkarasu

Rajesh is a seasoned software professional with 18+ years of experience in IT Development, Project/Product Management, Application Development, Architecture & Design, Transition and Client Relationship Management. Currently, he is part of the product engineering practice at KANINI and leading AI/ML projects.

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