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22. February 2013

 

Monotouch and Monodroid ( long since renamed ) are two products that I have *almost* purchased half a hundred times.  If you’ve not heard of them, they are a native port of C# and most of the .NET libraries to iOS and Android.  They have been having a good run and are the underpinnings of a number of very successful projects, such as PlayStation Mobile and Unity3D.  I really like .NET too but… and there is always a BUT.

 

It was 400$ for the basic version.  That’s 400$ for each platform too by the way.  That’s a pretty hard pill to swallow, especially when most of the competing products are free.  Or frankly, you could pick up the full Unity package for less than that!  Monotouch always offered a trial version, but it was limited to the emulator/simulator and if you have ever used the Android emulator on Windows, you know how vile that is!

 

Well, great news! 

 

First off, there is now a free version available that lets you deploy to device!  That said, you can’t p/Invoke to 3rd party code.  I honestly am not sure how much of a limitation that is.  Generally that means you can’t run native code, but still can run .NET assemblies.  If that’s the limitation, it isn’t a huge one.  If it means no libraries though… well, that’s a bit more painful.  I wonder if you can run Monogame, libGDX or PlayN in the free version?  Will look into that and get back to you.

 

Second, there has been a price drop.  It’s now 299$ per platform, per year.  Somehow, that 100$ makes a huge difference for me.  I don’t really like annual subscriptions though, I really wish people would move back towards version releases…  All the same, cheaper is always nice.

 

Third, there’s a new IDE, Xamarin Studio.

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A little too XCode for my tastes, but I’ll be sure to check it out.  MonoDevelop is nice enough, but never really felt… comfortable if that makes sense.

 

Fourth, and this one is a biggie to many people.  You can build for iOS from Visual Studio on Windows.  Don’t get too excited, you still need a networked Mac to run the native toolchain, but you can do 99% of your work, debugging and testing in Visual Studio.

 

 

Very cool developments!  You can read more about it here.

 

EDIT:

 

A few points of clarification.

First is regarding the 299/year.  It’s not as bad as it sounds, the tools continue to work after a year is up, just no more updates.  That is much more reasonable and developer friendly.

Second is more details on the free version:

Xamarin Starter allows developer to build and publish simple apps, which contain no more than 32k of compiled user code (IL), and which do not call out to native third party libraries (i.e., developers may not P/Invoke into C/C++/Objective-C/Java.

Still not sure where that would leave Monogame, as it isn’t a native library, but it does no doubt make pInvoke calls to OpenGL.

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