One of the pain points of using Xamarin Forms is that, just to see updates of any UI updates via XAML, you still need to save your changes, recompile, and relaunch the application. What’s more, is that you’d have to do this on each platform you’re targeting to make sure the UI looks good on each of them.

Well, the awesome folks at Xamarin know this and they’ve just released a preview edition of their newest application – Xamarin Inspector. I’ve played around with it a bit and below are my first impressions of the new application.

Take note that, in the time of this writing, the Xamarin Inspector is currently in early preview. More up-to-date information can be found on Xamarin’s documentation page.

When playing with the Xamarin Inspector I decided to use the demo project that we used for our post a while ago on testing Xamarin applications with F# and FsUnit. I felt this application gave a minimal amount of UI just to see what the Inspector could show.

How to Launch the Inspector

Since the Inspector is currently in preview, you would need to update your Xamarin Studio, in the Xamarin Studio -> Check for Updates screen to access the Alpha channel of the updates, like below. Once you tell Xamarin Studio to switch to that channel, it will automatically download the updates.

Alpha channel

To launch the Inspector itself, launch your application in debug, and you’ll see a new toolbar item that launches that application in the Inspector.

Inspector launch

And once it’s launched, you’ll see the application pop up inside the Inspector.

Inspector main

Personally, I’m not sure what the value is in the 3D showing of the application, though with some more experience using the Inspector I may come to understand it and rely on it more. Would be nice to toggle that on and off, though, I’m thinking.

What All Can You Do

The main thing to do with the Inspector is to check out the UI. Xamarin Inspector comes with two views, the main view that shows the application with a tree view of the native UI elements and, if an element is clicked on, all of the properties that element has, which you’ve seen from our previous screenshot.

The second view is an actual REPL to interact with your application while it’s running.

Inspector REPL

What’s awesome about this? You can use the REPL to quickly update UI elements in your application and instantly see how they look in the simulator.

REPL Update

I’m sure I’m still missing some interesting functionality of the Inspector, but from what I’ve played around with so far I can already see how immensely helpful it can be in day-to-day developing of Xamarin applications. I can’t wait to see further updates for the Inspector.

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