This week sees the formation of a new force in the open source world focused on furthering the development of Mono-based products. Embracing Mono's core principles to make .NET applications cross-platform and extend the scope of Linux tools development, Xamarin is a new company that hopes to further Mono's mandate to support a wide range of architectures and operating systems.
Xamarin was founded by Mexican open source champion Miguel de Icaza, the man who started GNOME and Mono itself under Novell. In the wake of Attachmate's acquisition of Novell in April this year, the company has been openly reducing its Mono-focused workforce to what has been argued to be the detriment of the long-term health of the Mono project. At the same time, the Mono team had been trying to spin the Mono project off from Novell for more than a year; however, the plan was not executed.
In the face of these changes and upheavals, de Icaza has taken the original Mono team with him to form a new project, which like Mono derives its name from a Spanish term for monkey — this time the Tamarin species.
The new operation's developer objectives include:
- Build a new commercial .NET offering for iOS.
- Build a new commercial .NET offering for Android.
- Continue to contribute, maintain, and develop the open source Mono and Moonlight components.
- Explore the Moonlight opportunities in the mobile space and the Mac App Store.
According to the project's newly launched and as yet relatively unpopulated website, "We believe strongly in splitting the presentation layer from the business logic in your application and supporting both your backend needs with C# on the server, the client, or mobile devices and giving you the tools to use .NET languages in every desktop and mobile client."
After Xamarin's initial focus on the iPhone stack, the Android stack, and then the Moonlight ports to both platforms, the team says it will work to ensure that new versions of .NET for the iPhone and Android will be "source compatible" with MonoTouch and Mono for Android — products that will be essentially commercial offerings, built on top of the open core Mono.
The Xamarin team states that it will provide support and custom development of Mono and is open to all feedback at this formative stage of its being. The business plans to fund itself by looking for "angel funding;" i.e. a cash support from private sources.
The project wants to "maximize the pleasure" that developers derive from using Mono and .NET languages on their favorite platforms — and its next steps will include:
- Tutorials for various developer stacks
- API documentation for the various Mono-specific APIs
- Dedicated Customer Support Software (assistly or getsatisfaction)
- Upgrade Bug system
- Consulting and Support
Finally, the team will be looking for marketing and communications support to help tell the world that it believes it has a best-of-breed developer platform. "Our previous marketing budget is what the ancient Olmec culture referred to as Zero," the teams quips, but in a good-natured kind of a way.