My thoughts on MonoTouch as we enter 2010
What a wild and crazy last 6 months its been for my personal development direction. I've always been excited about mobile development. Every couple of years, I ask somebody at Wrox about a book on mobile development. Every time, the response is along the lines of "You are f***ing kidding." In June/July, Novell, the NetWare guys, announced MonoTouch. Its a library that allows developers writing in .NET/C# to target the iPhone. Wow, .NET developers, who are the largest market of developers could target the iPhone, the smartphone that clearly has the most mindshare. I sent an exploratory email to someone at Wrox about doing a Wrox Blox on MonoTouch. The response was almost immediate, "Get me a proposal and get started. The iPhone is H O T."
I rebuilt my Macbook and started working with MonoTouch. I could tell that the product was very early stage. I'm not sure if the bigger problem was the beta version of MonoTouch or the alpha version of MonoDevelop. As expected, things started to settle down, bugs were fixed in the product, stability improved, and things got better. Around the time of the 1.0.0 version of MonoTouch, someone asked me what I thought. My response was, "I think MonoTouch has really good promise, but it still feels beta like. I hope it feels more complete by year end." Well, sure enough, it does.
A good friend of mine and fellow INETA Speaker brought up some really good points about the history of open source software, that open source products were typically a nightmare to configure and get setup correctly. I remember that statement he made very well. I didn't disagree with it at the time. After having used MonoTouch off and on for the last four months and watch it mature, Novell has produced a product that makes developing for the iPhone fairly easy.
The interesting thing is that Novell has made developing for the iPhone in .NET/C# on the Mac easier than developing on Windows for WinMo in .NET/C# with Visual Studio. Seriously, what is wrong with that picture?
Overall, I really feel that MonoTouch is becoming a full featured framework for development. As we enter 2010, I'm really glad to add it to my toolbelt. I'm looking forward to new features that Novell is going to add to MonoTouch.