Mainsoft launched a free Visual Studio .Net plug-in called Grasshopper and a developer community forum for creating Web applications and Web services that run on Linux, Windows and Java platforms. Formally titled Visual MainWin for J2EE Developer Edition, Grasshopper benefits from two years of collaboration by Mainsoft and the Mono team on Mono's ASP.NET, ADO.NET, XML, Visual Basic and .NET class libraries class libraries--about 3.5 million lines of code, according to Mono leader Miguel de Icaza. The Mono Project, sponsored by Novell, is developing an open source version of Microsoft's .Net platform that allows developers to cfreate Linux and cross-platform applications. With Grasshopper, .Net developers can contribute class libraries, bug fixes and other improvements enhancements that can be used in Mono and Visual MainWin for J2EE.
Mainsoft decided to offer the new Linux plug-in for Visual Studio for free as a way to achieve broader distribution for its development platform . "We want to scale the business and move beyond the early adopters to reach the thousands of Visual Studio .Net developers," said Mainsoft CEO Yaacov Cohen. He cited a report by Evan Research claiming that 22 percent of Visual Studio .Net users developed for Linux in 2004, and more than half used open source code in their applications. "Today, a lot of [Visual Studio] developers don’t have the skills to move to Linux. We want to make it easy to 'hop' from Visual Studio .Net to Linux, Java platforms or Windows,” Cohen added. However, enterprise-class features such as support for multiple processors and fully-featured J2EE servers requires Visual MainWin for J2EE Enterprise Edition, which, according to Mainsoft's site, has a base price of $5,000 per developer for a two year license. Visual MainWin for J2EE has an ECMA-compliant C# compiler for compiling Microsoft Intermediate Language (MSIL) directly into standard Java bytecode. Mainsoft also has a development environment for porting Windows applications developed in Visual Studio with C++ to Unix and Linux.
Mono update: de Icaza said Mono 1.2 is on target to ship in September with much better performance and reliability. Compared to version 1.0, the new version is doing 8x more requests per second on a single processor server. It will also support Windows.Forms, Xquery and have a debugger. “ Now we have a debugger like real men did three decades ago,” said de Icaza. "It's really an IDE [Integrated Development Environment]." He said the debugger was in the final stages of testing and would support multiple languages--C#, Java, and Basic.