Run Xamarin project from command line

2019, Sep 21    

Update 2019, Oct 21: Add Build Archive for Xamarin.iOS

I feel pleasant working on Xamarin projects with VSCode in parallel with Jetbrains Rider IDE. It’s neccessary to find a way to build and run Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Android apps using command line and generate those scripts as tasks in VSCode for quick development.

Run Xamarin.Android project from command line

msbuild /t:Build && msbuild /t:Install && adb shell monkey -p APP_PACKAGE_NAME 1


msbuild /t:Build
msbuild /t:Rebuild
msbuild /t:Clean
msbuild /t:Install
msbuild /t:Uninstall
msbuild /t:UpdateAndroidResources
  • adb shell monkey is used to launch the installed app
  • UpdateAndroidResources is useful when having trouble with the generated code in Resources.designer.cs or when editting resources file (i.e. strings.xml)

Run Xamarin.iOS project from command line

Example build and run Xamarin.iOS app on iPhone XR, iOS 12.4 simulator

msbuild /t:Build && /Library/Frameworks/Xamarin.iOS.framework/Versions/Current/bin/mlaunch --launchsim=bin/iPhoneSimulator/Debug/,


  • msbuild /t:Build for building the Xamarin.iOS app bundle, output file in bin/iPhoneSimulator/Debug folder. There is no need for generating IPA file during development

  • mlaunch used for installing and launching the Xamarin.iOS app bundle on device or simulator. This is still closed source maintained by Xamarin team. But reading the help page would help using the tool /Library/Frameworks/Xamarin.iOS.framework/Versions/Current/bin/mlaunch -h

Explain steps to work with mlaunch

  • Locate mlaunch tool which usually locates at /Library/Frameworks/Xamarin.iOS.framework/Versions/Current/bin/mlaunch

  • Get list of simulators and save the runtime and devicetype value

mlaunch --listsim simulators.xml

# simulators.xml is a temporary file that store all available simulators. Select a simulator (i.e iPhone XR), and keep the associated value of *SimRuntime* and *SimDeviceType* for later usage,
  • Construct argument and launch the app
mlaunch --launchsim=IOS_APP_PATH --device::v2:runtime=SIM_RUNTIME,devicetype=SIM_DEVICE_TYPE

# *IOS_APP_PATH* is the path to ** file generated after *msbuild* step. The *--device* argument is constructed using the *SIM_RUNTIME* and *SIM_DEVICE_TYPE* value from the above step.
  • The message Press enter to terminate the application message will be shown when the app launch on simulator.

Others script for Xamarin.iOS

  • Generate Xcode Archive for publishing (suggest build Solution file rather than Project file)
msbuild /t:Build /p:Configuration=Release /p:Platform=iPhone /p:ArchiveOnBuild=True