ExEn is my cross-platform port of XNA. It is built on top of MonoTouch (on iOS) and Mono for Android – technologies that are owned by Novell.
A week later, around May 2nd, Attachmate laid off what turned out to be the entire team behind MonoTouch and Mono for Android, as well as “other key Mono developers” (original news item).
This indicates to me that Attachmate/Novell no longer has the expertise or the desire to continue maintaining MonoTouch or Mono for Android. And while the Mono team kept answering support queries (including one of mine, which was blocking me from using Mono for Android, thank you!) for a while after they were laid off, I seriously doubt Attachmate/Novell will be able to continue providing adequate support for these products in the future.
Attachmate’s statement that “All technology roadmaps remain intact”, I now believe is a bald-faced lie.
In the two weeks since the layoffs, I, and the rest of the developers using MonoTouch and Mono for Android, have been eagerly awaiting a statement from Miguel. And finally that statement has come:
On May 16th (a few hours ago), Miguel de Icaza announced Xamarin (xamarin.com), a company formed by the old Mono team. They will be recreating compatible implementations of MonoTouch and Mono for Android as “.NET for iOS” and “.NET for Android“.
Because Mono and MonoDevelop (and MonoMac, for that matter) are already open-source, they only need to recreate the proprietary bits – the compiler and binding systems for each platform.
Miguel has stated in a comment on his blog post that the iOS version will be available for preview in 3 months, the Android one in 4 months.
While this is exciting news, and I have so much faith in Miguel and his team that I would preorder today, I have some concerns about Xamarin’s ability to avoid Second System Syndrome and to avoid being sued out of existence by Attachmate. On the other hand, the possibility that Xamarin will buy the existing technology from Attachmate is apparently still in the air.
In the mean time, MonoTouch is on version 4.0 and is of excellent quality and is very stable. Mono for Android on the other hand was only recently released as 1.0 and is not nearly as rock-solid as I would like.
So, how does this affect ExEn?
ExEn on iOS is already ready-to-use as part of the pre-release program. It’s fast and it’s stable. I would certainly use it!
Work on ExEn for Android was commencing just as this whole Attachmate debacle was taking place. Partially because of this, partially because of the aforementioned bug in Mono for Android, and partly because of some other projects I have going on at the moment, my internal schedule for the Android port is no longer valid. So I apologise to anyone who asked me about this schedule and then relied on that information.
My external schedule for ExEn, as much as I can manage, will remain intact. There will still be an Android port of ExEn. And if nothing else changes it will be usable and released as open source along with the rest of ExEn on June 21st.
I will be betting on the fact that Xamarin can pull off their plan, and that ExEn will port cleanly to their technology. And until I hear anything to the contrary, ExEn is still full-steam ahead!