Tool Gives Visual Studio Developers Jump on Writing Linux Apps

Mainsoft's "Grasshopper," a free Visual Studio .Net plug-in, enables Visual Studio developers to create applications for Linux.

Mainsoft Corp. Tuesday announced a program and a new tool for Visual Studio .Net developers to use their familiar tool set to write applications for Linux.

The San Jose, Calif., company announced its Visual Studio .Net for Linux Developer Program as well as its new Visual MainWin for J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) Developer Edition tool, code-named Grasshopper.

Yaacov Cohen, Mainsofts president and chief executive, said Grasshopper is a free Visual Studio .Net plug-in for Visual Studio developers to use to create applications for Linux.

Indeed, Mainsoft tasked Evans Data Corp. to conduct a survey, which found that 22 percent of developers using Visual Studio .Net had written or attempted to write an application for Linux in the last year, Cohen said. The survey also revealed that more than half of the Visual Studio .Net developers surveyed said they have used open-source components in the past.

Cohen said Grasshopper is based on Mono, the open-source project for delivering a full implementation of .Net for Linux.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here for eWEEK Labs look at Mono 1.0.

Grasshopper is the first Visual Studio-based IDE (integrated development environment) for Linux, which enables developers to develop, debug and deploy Web applications and Web services for Windows, Linux and Java-based platforms, Cohen said.

"Weve been getting two main feedbacks on this," Cohen said. "People have had a lot of skepticism about this being too good to be true, or that its not possible. So we are giving away a free edition, but its limited to Apache Tomcat."

Essentially, Grasshopper is targeted at individual developers and small groups of users, although enterprise users who seek to use the technology with enterprise-class J2EE application servers such as WebSphere, JBoss and WebLogic can do so using the enterprise edition of the Mainsoft technology, Visual MainWin for J2EE Enterprise Edition.

In addition, Cohen said with Grasshopper, Visual Studio .Net developers can contribute enhancements, class libraries and fixes to Grasshoppers and Monos shared open-source runtime. "Were also open-sourcing our runtime, which is Mono-based," he said.

Miguel de Icaza, Monos project leader and a vice president at Novell Inc., said the Mono project team has been working with Mainsoft for about 18 to 24 months to help it deliver technology "that allows you to run existing .Net or ASP .Net applications on Solaris or on big IBM machines on Linux."

In addition to the new tool, Mainsoft also launched a Linux Zone for Visual Studio developers, with how-to articles and interactive forums to help make application development for Linux and Java-enabled platforms faster and easier for Visual Studio developers, Cohen said.

/zimages/3/28571.gifMicrosofts "Hawaii" Visual Studio tool set will be redesigned, taking developers well beyond current capabilities. Click here to read more.

"Already, cross-platform development is a powerful reality among our ISV customers, who use the high productivity of Visual Studio software to develop enterprise applications once and deploy them on multiple platforms," Cohen said in a statement. "Grasshopper encourages wide-spread adoption of Linux development among Visual Studio developers, who can easily move, or hop, across Windows, Linux and other Java-enabled platforms."

Also in a statement, de Icaza said, "Forging a direct line of communication with Visual Studio developers is essential to building a robust open source community. We welcome Mainsofts years of experience working with Microsoft developers to pursue our shared goal of promoting cross-platform Linux development, much faster than was possible."

/zimages/3/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis in programming environments and developer tools.