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Xamarin Inspector & Workbooks 1.3 release notes

Xamarin Workbooks & Inspector provide interactive tools for learning, experimenting, and even modifying your running app.

This is a significant update to the 1.2 series, with a number of new features:

  • .NET Core 2.0 support
  • NuGet improvements, including support for .NET Standard 2.0 packages
  • Support for C# 7.1
  • A new sidebar for Workbooks
  • Easily enable Xamarin.Forms support when creating a new workbook
  • Automatic rendering of SkiaSharp, XPlot, and OxyPlot types
  • Improved accessibility on Windows

1.3 Series Releases

  • 1.3.2 (October 3, 2017)
  • 1.3.1 (September 21, 2017)
  • 1.3.0 (September 14, 2017)

.NET Core 2.0 Workbooks

You can now create Workbooks targeting .NET Core 2.0, the new .NET platform for fast cross-platform server and console applications.

.NET Core 2.0, .NET Framework 4.6.1, and the latest Xamarin platforms implement .NET Standard 2.0 and can reference .NET Standard NuGet packages.

Screenshot of the Create new workbook window.

NuGet Improvements

Workbooks now use the same version of NuGet as Visual Studio 2017, opening up access to the latest packages, including those targeting .NET Standard 2.0.

Packages installed in a Workbook now show up in the new sidebar, and can be uninstalled via the context menu.

Workbooks use standard NuGet.config files to search the same repositories you have configured in Visual Studio. The global package cache is now used to save disk space and speed up package installation.

C# Updates

The latest Roslyn update introduces support for C# 7.1 with default expressions, inferred tuple names, and pattern-matching with generics: small improvements to C# 7.

IntelliSense now has improved method signatures to show ref, out, params, and optional parameter details.

User Interface Improvements

The New Workbook dialog has been redesigned to accommodate .NET Core and platforms that support Xamarin.Forms. For Console workbooks, either .NET Core or the system .NET Framework / Mono can be selected. For iOS and Android, Xamarin.Forms can easily be enabled.

Screenshot of the Create new workbook window with the Xamarin.Forms checkbox.

Workbooks now feature a sidebar that represents the structure of a workbook, including NuGet packages and a navigable table of contents.

The table of contents is produced automatically based on markdown headers (levels 1-3). The headers can be linked to from within the document, using the same approach as GitHub ([link text](#a-header) to link to # A Header).

Workbook showing drawing shapes code

The Windows app now sports an "Open Recent" menu for parity with the Mac app.

Accessibility Improvements on Windows

  • A high contrast theme is now available and automatically activated when high contrast mode is in use within Windows.
  • The default theme has improved contrast throughout.
  • All supplementary dialogs can now be closed via Esc
  • Improved support for screen readers by annotating some controls.

Rendering Improvements

Plot objects returned from cells will now render directly in the editor surface. Currently OxyPlot and XPlot are supported.

Screenshot of a workbook rendering a chart. Screenshot of a workbook rendering a scatterplot.

New SkiaSharp renderers have been introduced for SKSurface, SKPixmap, and SKColor.

Workbook showing image filter


  • SVG images are now supported (ImageFormat.Svg).
  • New convenience Image functions are available (run help in a Workbook).

Markdown Authoring

Special renderings for blockquotes starting with an emoji has been added.

  • > ℹ️ will render as a note with a blue background
  • > ⚠️ will render as a warning with a yellow background
  • > 🚫 will render as a problem with a red background

SDK and Integrations

The Workbooks SDK allows library developers to integrate with Xamarin Workbooks and Inspector to provide enhanced experiences.

In the 1.3 release, the SDK is now published as a NuGet package. This makes it easier to build integrations as projects, and ship them directly in a library's NuGet package. As an example, check out SkiaSharp, which now ships Workbooks integrations within its own NuGet package.

Custom integrations are loaded from NuGet packages, or when referenced directly via #r.

Notable Bug Fixes

1.3.2 (October 3, 2017)

  • Fixed support for Mac Workbooks when running on macOS 10.13 High Sierra. See bug #59749 for details.

  • Fixed stitching/Z-fighting on macOS in the 3D View Inspector when selecting views.

1.3.1 (September 21, 2017)

  • Fixed an issue where the UrhoSharp NuGet on Windows failed to load.

  • Improved performance when changing the zoom level of large workbooks.

  • Addressed a connection failure when inspecting a Xamarin.Forms app using Visual Studio for Mac 7.1. See bug #59601 for details.

  • Fixed a regression where workbooks would be unusable after reconnecting to a previously disconnected session.

1.3.0 (September 14, 2017)

  • Code cells with #load directives will now be properly reloaded if the .csx script file has changed. Fixes bug #59257.

  • On Mac, the update channel will now be discerned from Visual Studio for Mac if it is installed, falling back to Xamarin Studio otherwise.

  • Links in HTML cell results now open in the default browser.

  • Fixed a number of cases in which System.Drawing's Bitmap type would not render correctly as an image.

  • Evaluated cells now properly re-evaluate when switching agents.

  • Fixed a crash that could occur when copying and pasting within markdown cells.

  • Fixed center positioning in the 3D view when representing CALayers.

  • Fixed a bug when using System.ValueTuple on Windows systems with .NET 4.7 installed.

  • Fixed content scaling issues in 3D view.

  • Addressed an issue that sometimes caused broken installations on Windows.

  • Fixed a bug which caused empty strings to render as null.

  • Fixed a bug on Windows where deserializing fully qualified JSON via Newtonsoft.Json would fail to look up types defined in the workbook.

  • Fixed a bug that would sometimes cause inconsistent rendering of Console output from the agent.

  • Fixed a bug that could cause Android workbook connection to hang on Mac.

Known Issues

  • NuGet Limitations
    • Native libraries are supported only on iOS, and only when linked with the managed library.
    • Packages which depend on .targets files or PowerShell scripts will likely fail to work as expected.
    • To modify a package dependency, edit the workbook's manifest with a text editor. A more complete package management UI is on the way.