Novell Releases Mono for Android 1.0 Devices

Yesterday Novell released the production version of Mono for Google's mobile OS, a set of tools and plug-ins that allow .NET developers to write applications for Android-based devices. The installation includes an Android SDK, a Java SDK and a Visual Studio 2010 Plug-in, which can be downloaded here.

Previously known as MonoDroid, Mono for Android 1.0 requires Visual Studio 2010 Professional or higher to use the Visual Studio Plug-in. Novell says it intends to add support for Mono for Android to its standalone MonoDevelop IDE, which will enable .NET coders not using a compliant version of Visual Studio to develop Mono apps for Android.

According to documentation from Novell, Mono for Android consists of "the core Mono runtime, the Mono for Android bindings to the native Android APIs, a Visual Studio 2010 plug-in to develop Android applications and an SDK that contains the tools to build, debug and deploy your applications." Developers can deploy applications to hardware or the Android simulator, or distribute them via Android Application Stores.

Currently, Mono for Android only supports C#-based development. Novell says it intends to enable Visual Basic development, once it has updated the Mono Visual Basic compiler to run using the Mono for Android mscorlib.dll. The company said no timeframe was established for Visual Basic development support.

Developer Perspective
Wallace "Wally" McClure is a partner at Scalable Development, Inc., a Microsoft MVP, and author of two books on Mono-based development for the iPhone. He said the Mono for Android 1.0 release has impressed him.

"It has support for .NET 4, which developers are using. It has support for Web services, databases, Android services, and many of the features that developers will expect," said McClure, who went on to praise the Visual Studio integration. "Overall, I have found this to work very well. I am able to write an Android application and run it in the emulator or on a device and see what is happening fairly easily. The only plug-in that I use is SVN and Mono for Android integrates with it perfectly."

However, McClure said that debugging integration remains "problematic," with users reporting poor performance and timeouts in Visual Studio. "I suspect that the debugging will improve shortly -- similar to how MonoTouch (the tool for Mono development for iPhone) initially shipped with no debugging support, and about six weeks afterwards the Mono team shipped an update with debugging support."

Pricing for Mono for Android is $399 per developer for the Professional Edition and $999 per developer for the Enterprise Edition.

About the Author

Michael Desmond is an editor and writer for 1105 Media's Enterprise Computing Group.