Yesterday, we released Xamarin Studio 6, full of fantastic new features to help you work more productively. IDEs by their very nature can be complex and it’s often difficult to discover and remember the features that will help you the most, so I’d like to share some tips to help make your development experience in Xamarin Studio more enjoyable.
1. Dark Theme
One of the most requested features in Xamarin Studio ever was a dark theme. We added this in Xamarin Studio 6 and you can see it today. Make sure you have the latest updates installed, and you’ll find it in the Visual Style panel in the Xamarin Studio Preferences dialog. Not only did we bring a dark theme to Xamarin Studio, we polished the whole UI for a sleeker, more modern look. Our designers even created 5,727 new icons!
2. Global Search
One of my top features is the global search box on the toolbar. It’s a great way to search for files, types, and members in your solution, or quickly navigate to things you already know about. Global search uses fuzzy camel-case matching, just like the code completion popup. For example, if you were looking for
UINavigationControllers in your code, you might search for “navCon” or “nav con”.
Xamarin Studio’s global search also searches the available commands. This is a super convenient way to run commands for which you don’t remember the keyboard shortcuts. I often open the Project Options dialog from the keyboard by activating global search with Cmd-., typing “popt”, and hitting Enter.
3. Key Bindings
For the commands you use most frequently, key bindings can vastly speed up your core workflow. In addition to the key bindings displayed in Xamarin Studio’s menus, there are a lot of useful little “hidden” commands that you can find in the Key Bindings panel in the Preferences dialog, such as Transpose (Ctrl-T), which swaps the characters on either side of the caret. You can assign your own key bindings to your favorite commands and edit existing key bindings.
4. Source Analysis
My favorite feature in Xamarin Studio is source analysis. It was previously available as an experimental option, but now that Xamarin Studio 6 uses the Roslyn Compiler Platform, source analysis is more reliable and is enabled by default.
Source analysis uses Roslyn analyzers to inspect the code you are working on to find problems and suggest improvements. The issues it finds are marked by underlines and are shown in the scrollbar. You can hover over them to display a tooltip explaining the issue and cycle between them using the Next Issue in File command (Alt-Page Down) or by clicking the indicator at the top of the scrollbar.
The best part is that source analysis can automatically fix many of the problems it finds. Right-click on the issue and if fixes are available they’ll show up in a Fix submenu in the context menu.
The Fix menu can be opened directly from the keyboard with the Alt-Enter shortcut. This pops open a combined menu that shows any available fixes and refactorings. There are a huge number of contextual refactorings that can be accessed this way that can be combined in powerful ways, especially in combination with the Expand Selection command (Alt-Shift-Up) to select expressions and Move Line (Alt-Up/Alt-Down) to move lines around.
Our existing built-in library of over 300 refactorings, analyzers, and fixes have been ported to Roslyn, and they’re now also available for Visual Studio as an extension called Refactoring Essentials. You can even write your own analyzers and fixes, as Kasey Uhlenhuth showed in her talk at Evolve.
5. Xamarin Studio Add-Ins
Xamarin Studio has a growing ecosystem of add-ins that extend it to do even more. Add-ins can add Roslyn analyzers, new commands, new project types, and much more.
You can install add-ins that other people have created from the Add-In Gallery in the Add-In Manager.
There’s even an add-in that helps you create your own add-ins!
Learn More About Xamarin Studio
There are so many features of Xamarin Studio to love, it was tough to pick just a few to highlight here. For more tips like these, you can watch my session “Become a Xamarin Studio Expert” from Evolve 2016 or install my Macaque Tip of the Day add-in from the Add-In Manager.
We’re always trying to make the development experience better, so I would love to hear about any ways we could make using Xamarin Studio more enjoyable for you. If you have any suggestions, please contact me on Twitter or file a request on the Xamarin Studio UserVoice.