Xamarin.Forms is a cross-platform natively backed UI toolkit abstraction that allows developers to easily create user interfaces that can be shared across Android, iOS, Windows, and Windows Phone. The user interfaces are rendered using the native controls of the target platform, allowing Xamarin.Forms applications to retain the appropriate look and feel for each platform.
To get started with Xamarin.Forms for Visual Studio you need to have the Xamarin plugin itself. The easiest way to have it installed is to download and install the latest Visual Studio.
If you already have the latest Visual Studio installed, go to Control Panel > Programs and Features, right click on Visual Studio, and click Change. When the installer opens, click on Modify, and select the cross-platform mobile development tools:
You can also select to install the Android SDK:
Uncheck it if you already have the SDK installed. You will be able to setup Xamarin to use existing Android SDK later.
Xamarin.Forms is a set of libraries for your Portable Class library and native assemblies. The Xamarin.Forms library itself is available as a NuGet package. To add it to your project just use the regular
Install-Package command of the Package Manager Console:
for all of your initial assemblies (for example MyProject, MyProject.Droid and MyProject.iOS).
The easiest way to get started with Xamarin.Forms is to create an empty project in Visual Studio:
As you can see there are 2 available options to create the blank app -- Portable and Shared. I recommend you to get started with Portable one because it's the most commonly used in the real world (differences and more explanation to be added).
After creating the project make sure you're using the latest Xamarin.Forms version as your initial template may contain the old one. Use your Package Manager Console or Manage NuGet Packages option to upgrade to the latest Xamarin.Forms (remember it's just a NuGet package).
While the Visual Studio Xamarin.Forms templates will create an iOS platform project for you, you will need to connect Xamarin to a Mac build host to be able to run these projects on the iOS Simulator or physical devices.