Before You Start
Welcome to Crosslight. Let’s take a few moments to get a brief understanding about Crosslight, and what it has to offer.
Most mobile developers, like you, faced numerous difficulties and challenges when building a single app targeting multiple platforms. Not only it takes much longer time, effort and cost to complete the project, the overall development experience is so tedious, boring and painful at best. Furthermore, you have to maintain multiple set of codebase per platform — all written with different language using different technologies. Crosslight was started with a simple idea, to take the pain off from cross-platform mobile development — so everyone can enjoy creating great cross-platform apps. You will learn how in just a few moments.
In a nutshell, Crosslight is a powerful development toolset that allows you to build native cross-platform mobile apps in a single code base, with a single language and a single set of programming API. It leverages Model-View-ViewModel (MVVM) design pattern to offer you the best of both worlds — 100% shared user interaction logic and the flexibility in designing view for each platform. Beyond just libraries, Crosslight includes hundreds of ready-to-use UI components and mobile services that greatly simplifies cross-platform development. Crosslight currently supports four platforms: iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8.x, and Windows 8.x.
Crosslight offers tons (and growing) of time-saving features which you can check out later. But in case you’re so curious to find it out now, please head to Crosslight Release Summary.
This guide also presumes that you are already familiar with .NET Framework, C#, and little basics of object-oriented programming and architectural design pattern. Now, let’s get started.
At its heart, Crosslight is building upon .NET Framework and C#, a mature platform and a powerful programming language that most developers are already familiar with today. Crosslight implements its core architecture such as platform abstractions and application frameworks in the Portable Library, which makes it a truly platform agnostic toolset. Put simply, the software prerequisites you need to install will be largely depending on the platforms you want to support.
For examples, if your Crosslight app is targeting only Windows Phone and Windows 8, then you can develop completely in Windows using Visual Studio and Windows SDK. However, if your app also needs to support iOS, then you will also need a Mac computer running at least OS X Mavericks.
To complete this step, please visit Crosslight System Requirements and go through the information provided in the page such as system requirements, supported development environments, and the minimum version of the required software. Once you have the prerequisites ready, let’s get on to the next step.
This step is fairly straightforward. If you haven’t downloaded Crosslight, please get your trial copy here. You will receive an email shortly with the download links and instructions.
Note that Crosslight installer is available in both Mac and Windows. Typically, you will need to install both of them to get tooling support available in each operating system. In addition, you might be interested in installing the Premier edition which also includes Intersoft reporting server component. For now, let's just choose the Mobile Studio installer.
Typically, your Crosslight installation will complete successfully in a few minutes. If you need more detailed installation instructions, please check out our step-by-step installation and development preparation guide here.
Once you have got Crosslight installed, let’s have some fun creating your first Crosslight-powered app. Alternatively, if you prefer to see what Crosslight is capable of, you might want to jump ahead to the Running Crosslight Samples section below and check out our inspiring samples collection.
Creating Your First Crosslight Application
Creating a new Crosslight project is super easy, thanks to the Crosslight Project Wizard, a time-saving IDE extension designed for Visual Studio 2012 or later.
In just a few seconds, the Project Wizard automates the solution and project creation depending on the template type you choose. It also includes beautifully designed screens for each template, enabling you to jump start your new project in no time. Some templates such as business template even include pre-built settings and a fully working login and user registration functionality, so you can build great data-driven apps in unbelievably short time.
To complete this step, simply choose a basic project template such as Blank or Navigation, then run the project in the simulator to see the result. For examples, to run the project in iOS, first set the startup project to the iOS project, then simply click the Run button in the toolbar.
At this point, your screen should look like the following.
If you have some extra time, you might also want to try running the project on other platforms such as Android, Windows Phone 8, and Windows 8. This video guide provides everything you need to keep on track.
Congratulations! You have successfully created and run your first Crosslight app.
Now, let’s explore the comprehensive Crosslight capabilities and features in depth.
Running Crosslight Samples
Crosslight ships with over 8000 API and hundreds of features, including pre-built services, application frameworks, and a vast array of UI components for each supported platform. It might sound interesting to dig further, but let’s not worry about that as you will eventually get there over time.
The easiest way to master Crosslight is through learning by example. We’ve made available a huge collection of samples that demonstrate Crosslight’s rich features and capabilities.
To complete this step, you will be going through three simple tasks.
First, download the latest Crosslight samples from our Git code repo here. Then follow the on-screen instructions in the site.
Next, extract the downloaded samples to the appropriate folder to take advantage of the automatic references resolve. This allows you to run the samples without additional efforts. A full guide to configure the samples on both Mac and Windows is available here.
Finally, let’s try to run one of the basic samples in the iOS simulator. Simply double click the sample solution file in the Finder, for instance, MVVMSamples.sln, which will launch Xamarin Studio in just a moment. Then hit the big play button to run the sample in the iOS simulator.
At this point, your screen should look like the following.
We strongly recommend you to check out the samples in the order of difficulty level. Start from the fundamental samples such as MVVM samples, services samples, data presentation samples and navigation samples — then followed with data access samples such as inventory tracker, simple expense, and synchronization samples.
Congratulations! You’ve successfully getting Crosslight samples up and running.
While experimenting a sample, try to spend some time playing around with the project and the code. Our hint is to pay attention at the Shared (core) project, particularly the ViewModel classes which contain most of the application and user interaction logic. Also notice how the ViewModel is consumed by the view in each platform through a simple class definition.
For certain samples, such as Inventory Tracker, you might also want to try running the samples on different device kind such as iPhone and iPad. You will be impressed how Crosslight makes everything just works — seamlessly.
Now that you’ve learnt how to create and run a Crosslight project. You also get samples configured and running. The next step is obvious — jump start to your real cross-platform mobile projects.
Don’t have an app idea yet? Here are some of our favorite recommendations:
- A catalog app for listing your products or services, allowing you to reach more customers and keep them up-to-date with your latest products.
- A simple client and project portfolio app, useful to quickly access your client information and the projects you’ve work with them.
- A membership app for your community with a few handy features such as event and schedule listing, photo sharing services, forums and comments.
- Or how about migrating your legacy desktop-based CRM system, so your sales team can take order on the go anytime and anywhere.
This guide is intentionally written for simplicity to help you getting started with Crosslight in the fastest way possible. If you would like to learn Crosslight in depth, we’ve made available a wealth of resources from conceptual topics, walkthroughs, video tutorials, and comprehensive API documentation — all accessible from the Crosslight Developer Center.
For further reading, we’ve hand-picked several topics that you will find useful.