.Net development moves to Android

Novell offers Mono for Android, which works with Microsoft's Visual Studio

Novell is extending on Wednesday development of Google Android mobile applications to developers with Microsoft .Net application-building skills.

The company will ship its Mono for Android development tool, enabling C# and .Net Framework 4 application developers to build for Android. "Our product is basically an extension of [Microsoft's] Visual Studio," toolset, said Miguel de Icaza, vice president for the developer platform at Novell. Built as a plug-in, Mono for Android works with only Visual Studio 2010 Professional, not other releases of Microsoft's IDE. But developers also could use the Android plug-in with Novell's free MonoDevelop tool, which is not as feature-rich as Visual Studio.

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Featured in the Android tool is Mono, which is Novell's runtime enabling applications built using Windows technologies to run on non-Windows platforms. The Android tool turns .Net code into native code for the platform, which typically leverages an ARM CPU, said de Icaza.

Novell previously has offered MonoTouch, for building applications for Apple iOS devices via .Net. "This [Android release] completes our offering that makes C# the first [language] that runs across all three major [mobile] operating environments," those being iOS, Android, and Windows Phone 7, he said. Priced at $400 and accessible at the Mono for Android website, the tool exposes the native Android API and .Net APIs. Developers can port code from existing desktop or iPhone applications to Android.

A user of the product said it offered the ability to share business logic and database among multiple platforms. "Code it once and share among several platforms," said Tiago Reis, senior developer at Cardmobili. The product in its pre-release stage has had some bugs and rough edges but is still "a great product," he said. Although Cardmobili has a lot of Java experience in-house, most of the company's mobile applications are built on C#.

During the pre-release phase of Novell's Android tool, the company had called it MonoDroid. But branding guidelines prevent Novell from using Droid in the name, a company representative said.

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