Miguel de Icaza, co-founder of the Gnome project, creator of the Gnumeric spreadsheet and founder of Ximian, has now announced the founding of Xamarin. In a blog post, he says the startup will maintain and develop the open source Mono and Moonlight programs, build new commercial .Net offerings for Apple's iOS and Google Android, and "explore the Moonlight opportunities in the mobile space and the Mac appstore".
Mono was put in a difficult position following Attachmate's purchase of Novell, as I reported here earlier: Mono's future in doubt? Novell had bought Ximian, but Attachmate was leaving its fate to be decided by another of Novell's purchases, SuSE, which is based in Germany.
In his blog post, Announcing Xamarin, de Icaza says:
"We have been trying to spin Mono off from Novell for more than a year now. Everyone agreed that Mono would have a brighter future as an independent company, so a plan was prepared last year. "To make a long story short, the plan to spin off was not executed. Instead on Monday May 2nd, the Canadian and American teams were laid off; Europe, Brazil and Japan followed a few days later. These layoffs included all the MonoTouch and MonoDroid engineers and other key Mono developers."
Xamarin now has "angel funding" to keep the team together, and it is looking for further investors. "Our plan is to maximize the pleasure that developers derive from using Mono and .Net languages on their favorite platforms," he adds.
Unfortunately, Attachmate owns the rights to the commercial development platforms, MonoTouch and MonoDroid, but with no developers, they can't have much of a future. It would make sense to transfer them to Xamarin, but it's not clear that Attachmate can act fast enough for this to be worthwhile. Xamarin aims to start shipping code in three or four months.
In a comment, John says:
You are making a mistake by spending your limited resources on Android. Focus on iOS. Mono on iOS is special because there is no managed code platform on iOS. Mono on Android is not special because Android has Java. Sharing code between C# and Java is easy enough, but sharing code between Java and Objective C is not. Please focus on making this project commercially viable ASAP by rolling out iOS version.
Xamarin appears to be derived from Tamarin New World monkeys. Helix Code had used a monkey on its logo, before it was renamed Ximian, while Simians are "higher primates", which includes New World monkeys and humans.