Next to set the version number correctly, specify the application icon and various compiler settings it was a bit tricky to setup the building process for an android package and publish it to the google play store. With Visual Studio Xamarin Android 7 the setup part is getting much easier.
How was it before Xamarin Android 7
When not already done you had to setup your application for release, which includes setting the version number, specifiy application and configure various compiler settings. For the first time, you also had to create a keystore, which contains the different keys, and a key for your app. To publish the app, you had to choose select Publish Android App… in the Tools > Android menu. This menu was only active when your build configuration was set to release.
How is it with Xamarin Android 7
The preparation steps are the same as before Xamarin Android 7, but the publishment tool got a complete makeover and better integration in Visual Studio. Next to that it automatically creates a keystore and stores every created android package on your local disk. To start the build process right click on your android project and select archive. The creation of the archive will only be successfull if your build configuration was set to release or the correct configuration was set.
When clicking Distribute… you first have to choose either if you want to deploy to the Google Play Store or store the apk locally. In the next step you have to create the signing key once and from then on you simply choose the key. The keystore and the unsigned android packages can be found on your disk by clicking Open Folder.
Next to the easier process of create a package, a big benefit is also the possibility to deploy directly to the Google Play Store. But compared to other frameworks like fastlane there are still some essential features missing, like automatically take localized screenshots, to allow a fully automated deployment.