Friday, 20 May 2011

Mono for Android and MonoTouch status change

Anyone who keeps an ear to the Mono world will have doubtless heard of the recent corporate changes that have impacted the Mono product line. For some while Novell have owned Mono, having previously absorbed the original developer, Miguel de Icaza, and his company, Ximian. Recently, Attachmate completed their acquisition of Novell and there have been the usual consequential streamlining processes occurring.
One of the casualties of this process is the Mono team, who were all released. This means that formal development of the commercial tools MonoTouch for iPhone development and Mono for Android for Android development have now halted. There’s been little noise on this subject from Attachmate, but the current thinking is that people who’ve already bought these products are still entitled to support. How supportive this support turns out to be is, perhaps, questionable. Certainly the store mechanisms that allow purchasing of MonoTouch and Mono for Android licenses have been disabled.
I should just add at this point that these events should not affect Mono itself, which is and always has been an open source platform. It’s the commercial tools for iOS and Android that are primarily affected.
For those who have been taking advantage of the homely feel of .NET development for iOS and Android devices, this news has set the cat among the pigeons, or thrown a spanner in the works, or whatever your preferred cliché may be. However, all is not lost.
As soon as Miguel and his team were let go, they immediately set up Xamarin. Xamarin is already working on producing API-compatible tools, similar to MonoTouch and Mono for Android, currently named .NET for iOS and .NET for Android respectively. The projected time for these tools is 3-4 months with the iOS product coming first.
Clearly this 4 month gap may prove logistically troublesome for some, but if you have already bought one of the Novell tools you can carry on working with it with an eye to switching to the Xamarin equivalent towards the Autumn.
If this time window is too much, well, you can always spend some time picking up native Objective-C skills or learning Java and use the normal development process in Xcode or AppCode for iOS, or Eclipse or IntelliJ IDEA for Android.
It seems that interest in the Mono-based tools continues. Various scheduled conference talks around the world on the topics are still going ahead rather than being cancelled. Personally, I will still be talking on Mono for Android at a Dutch User group (SDN) event in June.
That said, the timing of this unsettling news is not great for me as I’d started work on a series of tutorials for Mono for Android. I’ll probably put them on hold until the Xamarin products show some life, but since I’d finished the first one, I’ve put it on my web site. It’s looks at how you get going with Mono for Android and looks at the way Android applications operate, to get you started in the Android world, from a Mono for Android perspective. You can find the tutorial here on my web site.

Update: In case you came here and weren't aware of news happening in between when this was written and now, Mono for Android and MonoTouch came back and are flourishing away now.
Update: The introductory article mentioned is somewhat out of date now, but I have recently updated it to work with the current Mono for Android v4.


  1. I managed to place an order for MonoTouch today (22nd May 2011) so fingers crossed that I can download it...

    Bryan Crotaz

  2. Interesting change in the store mechanism, Bryan...
    Did it work?