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MonoCross 1.0 Released

After many months of intense development sprinkled-in between our client obligations, we have released MonoCross version 1.0!  Many thanks to Ben, Kenny and John, as well as the rest of the team at ITR Mobility for your help pulling this together.

Here some highlights:

  • Core Navigation Re-factor:  added multi-threading support to navigation, and re-worked the navigation logic to be available directly from your Views.
  • Enhanced iPad Support: extended iOS navigation to enable large form-factor concepts for iPad.
  • WebKit State Management: added multi-session support to MonoCross.WebKit; previously state management was entirely the responsibility of the application developer.
  • MonoDroid.Dialog Updates: new element types, and enhanced support for dialog development on Android.
  • WebKit.Dialog: added a new project and elements to support for dialog development on WebKit.
  • Data Management Samples:  a new sample, (CustomerManagement), that demonstrates common data management operations, (List + CRUD), in a simple three-view application.
  • Data Management Services Sample:  a new RESTful services sample built in WCF to show device/server interaction.
  • Windows Phone Support: added support for Windows Phone, including XAML-based views, navigation helpers, and containers for both the BestSellers and CustomerManagement samples.
The download is available at monocross.net, and if you like what you see come join us.

Now here’s where I make a shameless plug for the book ;^)

Professional Cross-Platform Mobile Development in C# from Wrox Press is available for pre-order at Amazon.com for delivery in early 2012.  In it we’ll cover even more ideas to make your MonoCross development efforts successful, such as:

  • Choosing the Right Archtecture:  considerations for mobile architecture decision making.
  • Designing your UI: best-practices in mobile user-experience design and prototyping.
  • Cross-Platform Development with MonoCross: details on successfully using the MonoCross MVC pattern to deploy your apps.
  • Building and Consuming Data Services: how to build RESTful services that are optimized for mobile applications, and how to consume and process data, even when you’re disconnected.
  • Accessing the Device: tips and techniques for accessing device features such as audio-video, contacts, messaging, geo-location and more.
  • Using MonoCross Utilities:  how to incorporate MonoCross.Utilities into your shared application for a unified approach to storage, threading, network, cryptography, serialization and logging — all from your shared, cross-platform applications.
  • Building Hybrid Applications:  how to get the best of both the web and native worlds by using techniques like custom URI schemes, and device function hooks.
  • Delivering your Application to the Enterprise: how to extend your mobile application to the enterprise desktop, web, and even the cloud; plus advanced techniques for sharing code including view-abstraction and mixed-view-models.
Thanks to everyone in the community who have shown such tremendous interest in MonoCross; we’ll continue to move it forward, and hope to build a vibrant community of propeller heads!

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Mono @ Microsoft

I wrote last week about C# and .NET for mobile development, since they are currently the only language and framework that is portable across the major mobile platforms, (iOS, Android, and Windows Phone). Well it looks like the idea is gaining some momentum in Redmond.

Both Rabi Satter and Rob Tiffany have been blogging on the subject, and the two have even ported their Mobile Line of Business Accelerator over to MonoTouch.

Rob even speaks of Mono as a key component of what he calls the Microsoft MEAP. For those unfamiliar, MEAP stands for Mobile Enterprise Application Platform — a term coined by Gartner in an attempt to provide a definition for software vendors who offer a packaged enterprise mobile solution. Currently Microsoft is listed as something of a “niche player” on Gartner’s MEAP Magic Quadrant due to their support for only a single platform. Mono would make support for multiple platforms simple, and greatly strengthen their MEAP offering. I for one hope Mr. Tiffany is successful in the bid to make his vision a reality.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2011 in Android, iOS, Mobile Development, Windows Phone

 

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C#/.NET: The New Mobile Standard?

Miguel de Icaza made a bold statement last month after Nokia announced they would be replacing Symbian with Windows Phone 7. He made the assertion that C# and .NET, via the ECMA CLI standard, is becoming the de facto language for cross-platform mobile development. As you can imagine, this resulted in some rather lively discussion in the open source and mobile development communities.

Politics and Religion aside, I think he makes a strong argument. Despite their recent troubles, and their virtually non-existent U.S. market share, Nokia still has more mobile devices in the market worldwide than any other manufacturer. The WP7 announcement advances the portability of C#/.NET code to these devices, and offers a world of possibilities across all of the major players in mobility today, as Miguel’s chart clearly shows:

Portability of C#/.NET code

Now I can already hear the arguments that HTML 5 provides the same portability, and is an open standard without all the excess baggage, (read: Microsoft), of C#/.NET. In fact, many clients I speak to today hail HTML 5 as the answer to their mobile prayers, but the reality is often not so rosy.

Don’t get me wrong, I love HTML 5. It brings incredible flexibility and power to mobile devices, and the apps you can write with frameworks like SenchaTouch, and JQuery Mobile are truly impressive. But there are just some things a web-based application cannot do. The HTML 5 Cache Manifest standard provides for disconnected capabilities, but it is still difficult to support full offline transactions without some intelligence to manage them outside the browser. Access to the device’s native features, (GPS, Camera, Accelerometer, File and Storage), all require native interaction via frameworks like PhoneGap; and despite the advances in the HTML 5 user experience it still cannot provide the same richness that the native platforms can.

HTML 5 can provide an elegant, cost-effective solution to many cross-platform problems, and I counsel my clients to take a long, hard look at it as a first step in any assessment of their mobile application strategy. Most enterprises already have an army of web developers who can be re-trained to develop mobile-optimized web applications, and this often provides a critical first-step for many of them into the mobile world. But as soon as the problem at hand requires disconnected transactions, or access to the device, or a rich user-experience that HTML cannot provide, native options have to be considered.

C#/.NET and Mono are my first suggestion for organizations who already have a significant investment in Microsoft technologies. They offer full access to the device, and all the native capabilities of Obj-C on iOS, and Java on Android — plus C# and Silverlight for WP7. What’s more, they can still deliver HTML 5 web applications via ASP.NET while leveraging existing investments in the .NET platform.

Time will tell if C#/.NET and Mono will become as Miguel puts it the “lingua franca of all major mobile operating systems”, but for most of my clients it is their best solution for their cross-platform mobile problems.

 
 

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