XCode vs Visual Studio

Xcode vs Visual Studio

The tools and services provided by various integrated development environments (IDEs) help developers to accelerate mobile app development and testing. Developers have option to choose from a wide range of IDEs according to type of mobile apps and targeted mobile platforms. Both Xcode and Visual Studio are widely used integrated development environments for mobile app development. Apple has developed Xcode as a suite of software development tools for MacOS. The tools provided by Xcode helps developers to build applications for a number of Apple devices – iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV.

On the other hand, Microsoft has developed Visual Studio as a fully-featured integrated development environment for various platforms and programming language. Visual Studio allows programmers to write web applications, web services, mobile apps, and cloud-based apps in a number of programming languages. The tools and services provided by Visual Studio also help developers to build mobile apps for three major mobile platforms – iOS, Android, and Windows Mobile. Hence, it becomes essential for mobile app developers to understand important differences between Xcode vs Visual Studio to choose the right IDE for their next project.

Comparing Two Widely Used IDEs: Xcode vs Visual Studio

Supported Platforms

As noted earlier, Xcode is designed as a suite of software development tools for MacOS. A developer can use Xcode to build applications for various Apple platforms – iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. On the other hand, Visual Studio enables developers to build applications by targeting various devices and platforms. A developer can avail the tools and services provided by Visual Studio to build websites, web applications, web services, mobile apps, and cloud applications. He can even use Visual Studio to build mobile apps for iOS, Android, and Windows Mobile.

Supported Programming Languages

Both Xcode and Visual Studio support a number of widely used programming languages. Xcode supports the source code written in C, C++, Objective-C, Objective-C++, Java, JavaScript, Python, Ruby, or Swift. But it requires developers to write iOS apps in Objective-C or Swift. At the same time, Visual Studio also supports C, C++, C#, F#, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and TypeScript natively. Also, it allows programmers to work with Ruby, Python, M and NodeJS through specific plug-ins. While using Visual Studio, developers can write mobile apps for iOS in C# through Xamarin.

Various Editions

Apple updates Xcode regularly to enable programmers to build apps for latest versions of iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. But it allows developers download a single edition of Xcode. A developer can download the latest version of Xcode directly from the Apple Developers website. But Microsoft currently allows developers to choose from three distinct editions of Visual Studio according to their preferred operating system. A developer has option to choose from Visual Studio for Windows, Visual Studio for macOS and Visual Studio for Linux. However, the macOS and Linux editions of Visual Studio currently lack some of the robust features that developers can avail while running Visual Studio on Windows.

Mobile App Development

Both Xcode and Visual Studio make it easier for iOS app developers to build mobile apps for iOS platform by providing a variety of tools and services. But Xcode supports iOS natively. It enables developers to write native iOS apps in Objective-C or Swift. Also, Apple updates Xcode regularly to leverage the new features provided by the latest version of iOS. On the other hand, Visual Studio enables programmers to make the same app available on iOS, Android, and Windows Mobile through Xamarin. The developers can take advantage of Xamarin to build cross-platform mobile apps with a single and shared code base written in C#. But the mobile app will deliver native user experience on iOS platform by accessing native user interfaces (UIs) and application programming interfaces (APIs).

Code Debugging

Both Xcode and Visual Studio provide robust debugging options and tools. While developing an iOS app, the developers can use Xcode Debugger to identify and eliminate problems in the code. The Xcode Debugger further starts running automatically each time the app is launched. The developers can use Xcode Debugger to locate coding problem, review the control flow and data structure, make rectify the coding error, and run the revises app. On the other hand, the built-in debugger provided by Visual Studio helps developers to speed up debug loop. The developers can even use specific extensions provided by Visual Studio to debug the apps written in PHP, Ruby, Python, and C#.

Option to Migrate Existing Projects

Microsoft allows developers to migrate their existing iOS Xcode projects to Visual Studio. The developers can follow some simple steps to migrate code written in C++ from Xcode to Visual Studio. However, they still need to open the project in Xcode to make changes to the non-C++ code. Visual Studio also allows programmers to set up iOS projects and pair the IDE with their existing Mac systems remotely. The developers still need to put both time and effort to migrate existing iOS projects from Xcode to Visual Studio. Apple does not provide any options to migrate iOS projects from Visual Studio to Xcode.

Licensing Cost

Apple allows developers download and access Xcode without paying any licensing fees. But a developer must join the Apple Developer Program before downloading Xcode. A developer has to pay membership fees ranging from $99 to $299 to join Apple Developer Program. On the other hand, Microsoft allows developers to choose from several editions of Visual Studio according to their precise needs. The licensing cost of individual editions of Visual Studio differs. The developers can avail the community edition of Visual Studio without incurring any additional expenses. But community edition of the IDE lacks some of the robust features provided by the professional and enterprise editions of Visual Studio.

On the whole, both Xcode and Visual Studio accelerate mobile app development by providing a wide range of tools and services. But a developer can use Xcode to build applications for iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS; whereas Visual Studio enables programmers to build a variety of applications by targeting varying devices and platforms. Hence, the developers must keep in mind specific needs of each project while comparing Xcode and Visual Studio.

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