Novell has announced the commercial release of MonoTouch 1.0, a solution for developing applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch using the Microsoft .NET framework, including C# and other .NET programming languages.
Novell has announced the commercial release of MonoTouch 1.0, a
solution for developing applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch
using the Microsoft .NET framework, including C# and other .NET
Novell officials touted the new technology as a liberating concept
for iPhone application developers, because developers have primarily
built iPhone applications using C and Objective-C, putting iPhone
development beyond the reach of most .NET developers. With MonoTouch,
the creativity of millions of .NET developers worldwide can be
unleashed to build a vast array of iPhone applications, Novell said.
In an interview with eWEEK, Miguel de Icaza,
vice president of developer platform at Novell and founder of the Mono
open-source project, said, "We want to do what Eclipse did for the Java
community, but for the .NET community."
MonoTouch was developed by the Mono Project team and it simplifies
iPhone development by allowing developers to utilize code and libraries
written for the .NET development framework and programming languages
such as C#, IronRuby and IronPython. Individual .NET developers and
independent software vendors (ISVs) can now sell their products into a
massive new market, while corporate developers and IT organizations can
deploy their applications in a new mobile computing environment.
The iPhone developer program license restricts developers from
distributing scripting engines or Just-In-Time (JIT) compilers, which
are required by managed runtimes such as .NET for code execution. As a
result, the world of iPhone applications had been previously closed to
.NET and Mono developers. Developers can now use MonoTouch while fully
complying with these license terms because MonoTouch delivers only
"Developing our mobile forms solution on multiple platforms before
MonoTouch from Novell was time-consuming due to the diverse technology
platforms," said Simon Guindon, mobile solution developer at
TrueContext. "With MonoTouch, we can now optimize development for the
future and enrich the Pronto Forms product offering at a faster
Indeed, de Icaza said when the Mono team "took a bunch of Apple
[Objective-C-based] samples and rewrote them in C#, they were one-half
to one-third the size they were before -- meaning you use less code
The popularity of the iPhone and iPod Touch has created a huge
market for iPhone applications. According to Scott Ellison, vice
president of Mobile and Wireless at IDC, in its first year the Apple
Apps Store had more than 50,000 available applications, and well over 1
billion downloads with an average of more than 140 new applications
launched every day.
"The iPhone has experienced tremendous adoption in both consumer and
business markets," said Al Hilda, program director, Application
Development Software at IDC, in a statement. "Given that applications
are a key reason for the iPhone's success, a solution that allows .NET
developers to use existing skills to build iPhone applications is an
exciting and consequential milestone in the evolution of mobile
The Mono team initially started working on the MonoTouch technology
in 2008 when the team began working Unity Technologies, a game maker
that was working on building Mono-based games for the iPhone, de Icaza
In a blog post, Tom Higgins, a product evangelist for Unity, said, "Unity has helped bring the Mono framework on to both the iPhone and the Wii console."
MonoTouch from Novell is a software development kit that contains a
suite of compilers, libraries and tools for integrating with Apple's
iPhone SDK. Microsoft .NET base class libraries are included, along
with managed libraries for taking advantage of native iPhone APIs,
Novell said. Also included is a cross-compiler that can be used for
turning .NET executable files and libraries directly into native
applications for distribution on the Apple Apps Store or for deployment
to enterprise iPhone users. In addition, Xcode integration enables
application developers to test on the device or in Apple's iPhone
Simulator and ship applications to the Apple Apps Store for
In a blog post, de Icaza said MonoTouch consists of:
??Ã MonoTouch.dll --
The C# binding to the iPhone native APIs (the foundation classes,
Quartz, CoreAnimation, CoreLocation, MapKit, Addressbook, AudioToolbox,
AVFoundation, StoreKit and OpenGL/OpenAL).
??Ã Command Line SDK
to compile C# code and other CIL language code to run on the iPhone
simulator or an iPhone/iPod Touch device.
??Ã Commercial license
of Mono's runtime (to allow static linking of Mono's runtime engine
with your code).
??Ã MonoDevelop Add-in
that streamlines the iPhone development and integrates with Interface
Builder to create GUI applications.
"The vast majority of Windows-centric developers, ISVs [independent
software vendors] and IT organizations have chosen the C# language and
.NET for development," de Icaza said. "As such we have seen tremendous
demand for tools to build .NET-based iPhone applications. We developed
MonoTouch in response to this demand, giving both individual developers
and businesses a solution that breaks down the barriers to iPhone
Moreover, de Icaza said MonoTouch "is probably the most sought after
piece of technology in the history of the [Mono] project. Since October
we have been bombarded with requests for it."
Yet, although Mono is an open source project, MonoTouch is a
commercial venture from Novell. MonoTouch Personal and Enterprise
Editions are available now through http://shop.novell.com. For
individuals only building applications for the Apple Apps Store,
MonoTouch Personal Edition is available for $399 per developer for a
one-year subscription. MonoTouch Enterprise Edition is
available for $999 per developer for a one-year subscription, which
includes maintenance and updates. A five-developer Enterprise license
supports five concurrent developers and is available for $3,999 per
Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.