Xamarin integrates with free Visual Studio Community to let developers build Android, iOS apps

The development tool combo will be available in the coming weeks.

Xamarin has integrated its cross-platform development tools with Microsoft's Visual Studio Community 2013, allowing developers to build native Android and iOS apps for free.

The integration between Visual Studio Community and Xamarin's Starter edition will be available in the coming weeks, the company said in a blog post Wednesday. Xamarin is also doubling the size limit on apps that can be created with Starter, so that developers can build even more capable apps for free.

Previously, developers had to pay for Visual Studio and at least Xamarin's Business edition, which costs US$83 per month, user and platform.

Visual Studio Community -- which was announced Wednesday and can be downloaded from Microsoft's website -- is aimed at attracting more developers, and Xamarin hopes to get in on that expansion. The Community version is more full-featured than the existing Visual Studio Express.

Xamarin has also integrated its tools with the new Visual Studio 2015 Preview release, which has templates that make it easier to install the tools from within the IDE. Microsoft and Xamarin have been collaborating since November last year.

Microsoft also released an open-source version of the server-side parts of its .Net framework and revealed a project to port the runtime software to Linux and Mac OS, as well.

The company also upgraded Visual Studio Online with devops-friendly features to automate and manage application releases, and provision and configure development, test and production environments on Azure.

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