Amidst news of job cuts, support for Moblin 2.1 and its enterprise collaboration platform called Pulse, Novell’s new Mono Tools add-in module for Microsoft Visual Studio seems to have slipped comparatively under the radar.
The company says that this is the first commercial development tool for the rapid creation of .NET applications for Linux, UNIX and Mac OS X within Visual Studio. A note of caution on that statement, the “industry first” element of Novell’s announcement appears to rather hazily refer to this product being the first “rapid and easy to use” tool, which is perhaps rather too subjective.
Regardless, Mono Tools for Visual Studio claims to allow Microsoft .NET developers to use their familiar Visual Studio environment to design, code and maintain multi-platform applications.
Novell’s curiously named “Mono” offering appears to very much play in multi-channel stereo, or at least multi-platform development. One can only speculate that the branding boys and girls decided to use the mono ‘one product for many’ label to signify the breadth of the product.
Microsoft has said that it backs Mono Tools, but then Microsoft would put their stamp of approval on products that integrate with its Visual Studio IDE (integrated development environment) as they “enrich the Visual Studio ecosystem” no less.
Prior to the arrival of products such as Mono Tools, .NET application porting did indeed require developers to invest in learning new programming tools and rewriting/re-architecting applications. Novell says that, “Mono Tools for Visual Studio is a commercial solution that enables C# and .NET developers trained in Microsoft Visual Studio to stay within their preferred IDE, and use their existing skills and extensive .NET ecosystem of code, libraries and tools to develop or port applications to Linux, UNIX or Mac OS X.”
Mono Tools has been built by many of the engineers who develop and support Mono, an open source project sponsored by Novell. The company further states that, “Through a pull-down menu and other integration points in Visual Studio, Mono Tools enables developers to leverage the multi-platform coding, testing and debugging functionality of the Mono platform, all while staying within Visual Studio.”
Miguel de Icaza is the Mono project founder and vice president of developer platforms at Novell. He is keen to bridge the gap (as he puts it) between Microsoft’s IDE and Linux. Only a cynic would argue that he also wants to build a bridge to connect to Microsoft’s extremely profitable .Net development channel, which is currently populated by over six million software engineers. But hey, Novell is a commercial entity so why the hell not I guess right?