Novell has announced the availability of Mono for Android, the first solution for developing Microsoft .NET applications for the Android platform using Microsoft's Visual Studio tool set.
With the addition of Mono for Android to its existing Mono development tools, Novell is enabling Microsoft .NET and C# developers using Visual Studio and other environments to use a common code base to create applications for the industry's most widely-used mobile devices, including Android-based phones and tablets, Apple iPad, Apple iPhone and Apple iPod Touch.
"With Mono for Android, we give developers access to Android's native APIs to deliver the native API experience," said Miguel de Icaza, Mono project founder and vice president of Developer Platforms at Novell, in an interview with eWEEK. "They can use Visual Studio and target the Android platform."
According to statistics released by research firm Nielson, Android has a 29 percent consumer market share of the smartphone market, making it the most popular smartphone platform. With Mono for Android, .NET developers and independent software vendors (ISVs) can use Visual Studio and their existing skills to build a vast array of Android-based applications and sell their products into this massive market.
"Since the introduction of MonoTouch in 2009, developers have experienced how Mono streamlines mobile application development," de Icaza said in a statement. "As a result, many asked us to build a similar tool for Android. We developed Mono for Android to give both individual developers and businesses a way of sharing their code across multiple mobile platforms, increasing efficiency and reuse of their C# and .NET expertise across the board."
Mono for Android consists of the core Mono runtime, bindings for native Android APIs, a Visual Studio 2010 plug-in to develop Android applications, and a software development kit that contains all the tools needed to build, debug and deploy applications. Developers trained in Microsoft Visual Studio can stay within their preferred integrated development environment (IDE), while using their existing skills and .NET code, libraries and tools, as well as C# programming knowledge, to create mobile applications for Android-based devices. With the Visual Studio 2010 plug-in, engineers can develop, debug and deploy their applications to an Android simulator, an Android device or the Android Application Store.
De Icaza also said the popularity of the Mono tools for Android quickly dwarfed that of the Mono tools for Apple's platforms. In fact, the Mono developer community for Android-related issues is five times as large as that for developers using Mono-based technologies to build apps for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, he said.
Meanwhile, Mono for Android complements MonoTouch, Novell's popular solution for developing applications for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, de Icaza said. Developers utilizing Mono for Android and MonoTouch can save time and money by sharing common code between iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android phones and tablets, as well as Windows Phone 7, Windows desktops and Windows Server. A Mono for Android add-in also allows MonoDevelop users to develop on OS X.
"As a mobile software developer and middleware vendor, Resco customers are enabled to use our products to develop MonoTouch, and now Mono for Android applications for Android and Apple devices," said Michal Sartoris, senior developer at Resco, a maker of software solutions for mobile devices, in a statement. "With more than 3,000 customers, our business success depends on us delivering feature-rich, highly-quality applications to the market before our competitors. Novell is providing us with innovative, cross-platform development tools that enable us to reduce the cost and resources required to create mobile applications."
All editions of Mono for Android are available through http://shop.novell.com. Mono for Android 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 year. Mono for Android Professional Edition is available for $399 per developer for a one-year subscription. For a limited time, existing MonoTouch customers can receive a 50 percent discount off a similar Mono for Android Edition by using their activation code as a discount code.