This was a very interesting year for Mono, and I wanted to
capture some of the major milestones and news from the
project as well as sharing a bit of what is coming up for Mono
I used to be able to list all of the major applications and
great projects built with Mono. The user base has grown so
large that I am no longer able to do this. 2011 was a year
that showed an explosion of applications built with Mono.
In this post I list a few of the high profile projects, but
it is by no means an extensive list. There are too
many great products
and amazing technologies being built with Mono, but a
comprehensive list would take too long to assemble.
The largest event for Mono this year was that the team
working on Mono technologies at Novell was laid off after
Novell was acquired.
We got back on our feet, and two weeks after the layoffs
had taken place, the original Mono team incorporated as
Xamarin's goal is to deliver great productivity and great
tools for mobile developers. Our main products are Mono on
iOS and Mono on Android.
These products are built on top of the open
source Mono project and
the MonoDevelop project.
We continue to contribute extensively to these two open source
Launching Xamarin was a huge effort for all of us.
Xamarin would not have been possible without our great
customers and friends in the industry. Many people cared
deeply about the technology and helped us get up and running.
In July, we announced an agreement
that ensured a bright future for our young company.
A couple of days later, we were ready to sell the mobile
products that had been previously developed at Novell, and we
started to provide all existing Novell customers with ongoing
support for their Mono-based products.
Half a year later, we grew the company and continued to do
what we like the most: writing amazing software.
Meanwhile, our users have created amazing mobile
applications. You can see some of those in
our App Catalog.
On the Mobile Space: This year Sony jumped to C# in
a big way with the introduction of PS Suite (see the section
below) and Nokia adopted Windows Phone 7 as their new
And we got you covered on
Android and iOS for all of your C# needs.
On the Browser: we worked with Google to bring you
Mono to Native Client. In fact, every demo shown at the
Client event on December 8th was powered by Mono.
On the Desktop: this year we added MacOS X as a
first-class citizen in the world of supported Mono platforms.
We did this
MonoMac 1.0 and supporting Apple's MacStore with it.
Games: continue to take advantage of C# blend of
performance and high-level features. Read more on
It is a wild new world for C# and .NET developers that were
used to build their UI using ASP.NET or Winforms only. It
has been fascinating to see developers evolve their thinking
from a Microsoft-only view of the world to a world where they
design libraries and applications that split the presentation
layer from the business logic.
Developers that make this transition will be able to get
great native experiences on each device and form factor.
Sony PSSuite - Powered by Mono
At GDC, Sony announced that PS Suite was built on top of
Mono. PS Suite is a new development stack for cross-platform
games and cross-platform applications to run on Android
devices and Sony Vita.
The PS Suite presentation is
In particular, watch the game
2 to get a feeling for the speed of a 3D game purely
written in managed code (no native code):
Some of the juicy details from the GDC announcement:
- PS Suite will have an open appstore model,
different than the traditional game publishing
- Open SDK, available for everyone at launch time.
- PS Suite supports both game development with
Sony's 3D libraries as well as regular app
- Cross-platform, cross-device, using the ECMA Common
- Code in C#, run using Mono.
- GUI Designer called "UI Composer" for non-game
- The IDE is based on MonoDevelop.
- Windows-simulator is included to try things out
MonoDevelop on PSSuite:
PS Suite comes with a GUI Toolkit and this is what the UI
composer looks like:
Google Native Client
Google Engineers ported Mono to run on the sandboxed
environment of Native Client.
Last year they had added support for Mono code generator to
output code for Native Client using
This year Google extended Native Client to support Just in
Time Compilation, in particular, Mono's brand of JIT
compilation. This was used by all three demos shown at the
Native Client event a couple of days ago:
Unity Powered Builder
This is another game built with Unity's Native Client
To get the latest version of Mono with support for Native
Client, download and build Mono
branch on github.
This was the year
2.10. We went from a beta release for Mono 2.10 in
January to making it our new stable release for Mono.
While the world is on Mono 2.10, we have started our work
2.12 out in beta form in January.
Mono on Android
This year we
launched Mono for
Android, a product that consists of port of Mono to the
Android OS, C# bindings to the native Java APIs and IDE
support for both MonoDevelop and Visual Studio.
The first release came out in April, it was rough around
the edges, but thanks to the amazing community of users that
worked with us during the year, we solved the performance
problems, the slow debugging, vastly improved the
edit/debug/deploy cycle and managed to catch up to Google's
latest APIs with the introduction
for Android 4.0.
Mono on iOS
Just like Android, we
on a roll with MonoTouch.
In short, this year:
- We kept up with Apple's newly introduced APIs
(UIKit, iCloud, Airplay, Bluetooth, Newstand,
- Integrated XCode 4's UI designer with MonoDevelop<
and added support for storyboards.
- Added the option of using LLVM for our builds,
bringing thumb support and ARMv7 support along the
We started beta-testing
new set of features to be released early next year: a new
unit testing framework, a heap profiler, integrating
MonoTouch.Dialog in the product and improving the debug/deploy
Mono for iOS has been on the market now for two years, and
many products are coming to the market based on it.
is a PHP compiler that runs on the .NET and Mono VMs and is
powered by the Dynamic Language Runtime.
It is so complete that it can run both MediaWiki and
WordPress out of the box. And does so by running faster than
they would under PHP.
This year the Phalanger guys
3.0 which now runs on Mono (previously they required the
C++/CLI compiler to run).
Phalanger's performance is impressive as it is just as fast
as the newly announced Facebook HipHop VM for PHP. The major
difference being that Phalanger is a complete PHP
implementation and the HipHopVM is still not a complete
The other benefit of Phalanger is that it is able to
and interop with code written in other .NET languages as
well as benefitting from the existing .NET interop story (C,
to bridge C# and C++ matured to the point that it can be
used by regular users.
Compiler as a Service
This year our C# compiler was expanded in three directions:
- We completed async/await support
- We completed the two code output engines
(System.Reflection.Emit and IKVM.Reflection).
- We improved the compiler-as-a-service features of
Our async/await support is scheduled to go out with the
first preview of Mono 2.11 in early January. We can not
wait to get this functionality to our users and start building
a new generation of async-friendly/ready desktop, mobile and
One major difference between our
compiler-as-a-service and Microsoft's version of the C#
compiler as a service is that we support two code generation
engines, one generates complete assemblies (like Microsoft
does) and the other one is able to be integrated with running
code (this is possible because we use System.Reflection.Emit
and we can reference static or dynamic code from the running
We have also been improving the error recovery components
of the compiler as this is going to power our new
intellisense/code completion engine in MonoDevelop. Mono's
C# compiler is the engine that is powering the upcoming
You can read more about
as a service updates.
Unity is one of Mono's
major users. At this point Unity no longer requires an
introduction, they went from independent game engine a few
years ago to be one of the major game engine platforms in the
game industry this year.
The Unity engine runs on every platform under the sun.
From the Consoles (PS3, Wii and XBox360) to iPhones and
Androids and runs on your desktop either with the Unity3D
plugin or using Google's Native Client technology.
of games being built with Unity keeps growing every day
and they are consistently among the top sellers on every app
Mono is the engine that powers the scripts and
custom code in games and applications built with Unity3D and
it also powers the actual tool that users use to build games,
the Unity3D editor:
The editor itself it implemented in terms of Unity
primitives, and users can extend the Unity3D editor with C#,
UnityScript or Boo scripts dynamically.
One of my favorite games built with Unity3D is Rochard was
demoed earlier this year on a PS3 at the GDC and is now also
avaialble on Steam:
Just before the end of the year, Microsoft
for iOS systems.
Kinectimals is built using Unity and this marks the first
time that Microsoft ships a software product built with Mono.
Then again, this year has been an interesting year for
Microsoft, as they
open source technologies for
Azure, released SDKs
for iOS and Android at the same time they ship SDKs for
their own platforms and shipped various applications on
Apple's AppStore for iOS.
We started the year with MonoDevelop 2.4 and we finished
after two major releases
In the course of the year, we added:
- Native Git support
- Added .NET 4.0 project support, upgraded where
possible to XBuild/MSBuild
- MonoMac Projects
- XCode 4 support for MonoMac, MonoTouch and Storyboards
- Support for Android development
- Support for iOS5 style properties
- Major upgrade to the debugger engine
- Adopted native dialogs on OSX and Windows
Our Git support was based on a machine assisted translation
of the Java jGit library using
has proved to be an incredibly useful tool to bring Java code
to the .NET world.
Our precise collector has gotten a full year of testing
now. With Mono 2.10 we made it very easy for developers to
try it out. All users had to do was run their programs with
the --sgen flag, or set MONO_ENV_OPTIONS to gc=sgen.
Some of the new features in our new Garbage Collector
- Windows, MacOS X and S390x ports of SGen (in
addition to the existing x86, x86-64 and ARM ports).
- Lock-free allocation to improve scalability (we
only take locks when we run out of memory).
- Work stealing parallel collector and a parallel
nursery collector, to take advantage of extra CPUs on
the system to help with the GC.
- Work on performance and scalability work, as our
users tried things out in the field, we identified
hot-spots in SGen which we have been addressing.
As we are spending so much time on ARM-land these days,
SGen has also gained various ARM-specific optimizations.
SGen was designed primarly to be used by Mono and we are
extending it beyond being a pure garbage collector for Mono,
to support scenarios where our garbage collector has to be
integrated with other object systems and garbage collectors.
This is the case of Mono for Android where we now have a
cooperative garbage collector that works hand-in-hand with
Dalvik's GC. And we also introduce support for toggle
references to better support Objective-C environments like
MonoTouch and MonoMac.
XNA and Mono: MonoGame
Ever since Microsoft published the XNA APIs for
.NET, developers have been interested in bringing XNA to
There was a MonoXNA project, which was later reused by
projects like SilverXNA (an XNA implementation for
Silverlight) and later XNAtouch an implementation of XNA for
the iPhone powered by MonoTouch. Both very narrow projects
focused on single platforms.
This year, the community got together and turned the single
platform XNATouch into a full cross-platform framework, the
result is the MonoGame
Platform Support Matrix
Currently MonoGame's strength is on building 2D games.
They already have
an extensive list
of games that have been published on the iOS AppStore and
the Mac AppStore and they were recently featured in Channel
For Fun: MonoGame Write Once Play Everywhere.
An early version of MonoGame/XnaTouch powers
game on Google's Native Client. Which allows users of
Windows, Mac and Linux desktop systems to run the same
executable on all systems. If you are running Chrome, you
it in seconds.
Incidentally, Bastion just
VGA awards including Best Downloadable Game, Best Indie
Game, and Best Original Score.
The MonoGame team had been relatively quiet for the most
part of 2011 as they were building their platform, but they
got into a good release cadence with
2.0 release in October, when they launched as a
cross-platform engine, followed up with a
release only two weeks ago.
With the addition of OpenGL ES 2.0 support and 3D
capabilities to MonoGame, 2012 looks like it will be a great
year for the project.
Since MonoDevelop is built on top of the Gtk+ toolkit and
since it was primarily a Unix toolkit there have been a few
rough areas for our users in both Mac and Windows.
This year we started working with the amazing team
at Lanedo to improve Gtk+
2.x to work better on Mac and Windows.
The results are looking great and we want to encourage
developers to try out our
version of Mono, which features the updated Gtk+ stack.
This new Gtk+ stack solves many of the problems that our
users have reported over the past few months.
I never tracked Mono downloads as I always felt that
tracking download numbers for open source code that got
repackaged and redistributed elsewhere pointless.
This summer we moved the code hosting from Novell to
and we were surprised by our hosting bills.
The major dominating force are binaries for Windows and
MacOS which are communities that tend not to download source
and package the software themselves. This is the breakdown
for completed downloads (not partial downloads, or interrupted
ones) for our first month of hosting of Mono:
- 39,646 - Mono for Windows (Runtime + SDK)
- 27,491 - Mono for Mac (Runtime)
- 9,803 - Mono for Windows (Runtime)
- 9,910 - Mono for Mac (Runtime + SDK)
- Total: 86,850 downloads for Windows and Mac
These numbers are only for the Mono runtime, not
MonoDevelop, the MonoDevelop add-ins or any other third party
It is also worth pointing out that none of our Windows
products (MonoDevelop for Windows, or Mono for Android on
Windows) use the Mono runtime. So these downloads are for
people doing some sort of embedding of Mono on their
applications on Windows.
At this point, we got curious. We ran a survey for two
days and collected 3,949 answers. These is the summary of
What type of application will you run with Mono?
This one was fascinating, many new users to the .NET world:
The best results came form the free-form answers in the
form. I am still trying to figure out how to summarize
these answers, they are all very interesting, but they are
also all over the map.
Some Key Quotes
When I asked last week
of how you used Mono in 2011, some of you posted on the
thread, and some of you emailed me.
Here are a couple of quotes from Mono users:
I can't do without Mono and I don't just mean the
iOS or Android dev with C# but MonoMac and Mono for
*nix too. Thanks for everything; from the
extraordinary tools to making hell turn into heaven,
and thank you for making what used to be a predicament
to effortless development pleasure.
I don't think we could have achieved our solutions
without Mono in enterprise mobile development. It
addresses so many key points, it is almost a trade
frameworks too but ultimately we desperately need
1-to-1 mapping of the Cocoa Touch APIs or tap into low
level features which determines our choice of
development platform and frameworks.
That's where Mono comes in.
Gratefulness and paying polite respects aside, the
key tenets of Mono we use are:
- shared C# code base for all our enterprise
solutions - achieving the write once, compile
everywhere promise with modern language and VM
features everyone demands and expects in this century
- logical, consistent and self-explanatory wrapper
APIs for native services - allows us to write meta
APIs of our own across platforms
- low latency, low overhead framework
- professional grade IDE and tools
- native integration with iOS tools and
- existence of satisfactory documentation and
- legal clarity - favorable licensing options
- dedicated product vision via Xamarin - commercial backing
- community support
Koen Pijnenburg shared this story with me:
We've been in touch a few times before and would
like to contribute my story. It's not really an
interesting setup, but a real nice development for
Mono(Touch). I've been developing app for iPhone
since day 1, I was accepted in the early beta for the
App Store. On launch day july 2008, 2 of the 500 apps
in the App Store were mine, my share has decreased a
lot in the past years ;)
I really, really, really like football(soccer),
maybe you do also, I don't know. In september 2008 I
created the first real soccer/football stats app for
the iPhone called My Football. This was a huge succes,
basically no competition at that time. In 2009 I
released My Football Pro, an app with 800 leagues
worldwide, including live data for more then 100
leagues. Since then I created lots of apps, all
created with the iPhone SDK and with Objective-C.
Since the launch of MonoTouch, it merged the best
of two worlds in my opinion. I've been a Mono/.NET
developer for years before the iPhone apps, for me it
was love at first line of code.
The last year I've increased my work with MonoTouch
/ Droid /MonoGame(Poppin' Frenzy etc ;)), and focused
less on working with native SDK's only. Since our My
Football apps are at the end of their lifecycle in
this form, we are working on a new line of My Football
apps. Our base framework supporting our data, is built
with Mono, and the apps UI will be built with
MonoTouch / MonoDroid / WP7 etc.
Included is the screenshot of our first app built
with the framework, My Football Pro for iPad. It has a
huge amount of data, stats / tables / matches / live
data for more then 800 leagues worldwide. We think
it's a great looking app!
Working with MonoTouch is fantastic and just wanted you to know this!
Mono on Mainframes
This year turned out to show a nice growh in the deployment
of Mono for IBM zSeries computers.
Some are using ASP.NET, some are using Mono in headless
mode. This was something that we were advocating a few years
ago, and this year the deployments went live both in Brazil
Neale Ferguson from Sinenomine has kept the zSeries port
active and in shape.
Mono and ASP.NET
This year we delivered enough of ASP.NET 4.0 to run
Microsoft's ASP.NET MVC 3.
Microsoft ASP.NET MVC 3 is a strange beast. It is
licensed under a great open source license (MS-PL) but the
distribution includes a number of binary blobs (the Razor
I am inclined to think that the binaries are not under the
MS-PL, but strictly speaking, since the binaries are part of
the MS-PL distribution labeled as such, the entire download is
That being said, we played it safe in Mono-land and we did
not bundle ASP.NET MVC3 with Mono. Instead, we provide
on how users can deploy ASP.NET MVC 3 applications using
Razor as well as pure Razor apps (those with .cshtml
extensions) with Mono.
2012, the year of Mono 2.12
2012 will be a year dominated by our upcoming Mono release:
Mono 2.12. It packs a year worth of improvements to the
runtime, to our build process and to the API profiles.
Mono 2.12 defaults to the .NET 4.x APIs and include support
for .NET 4.5.
This is going to be the last time that we branch Mono for
these extended periods of time. We
our development process and release policies to reduce the
amount of code that is waiting on a warehouse to be rolled out
We wrapped up our work on updating
CLI standard this year. The resulting standard is now at
ISO and going through the standard motions to become an
official ISO standard.
The committee is getting ready for a juicy year ahead of us
where we are shifting gears from polish/details to take on
significant extensions to the spec.