Novell gives me hope, then dashes it to pieces

Well, not really. I received welcome news today about Novell’s new iPhone development library, MonoTouch, which “allows developers to create C# and .NET based applications that run on the iPhone and can take advantage of the iPhone APIs as well as reusing both code and libraries that have been built for .NET as well as existing skills.” Since I’m a .NET developer that hasn’t splurged on a Mac yet, I was nearly ready to shell out $399 for the MonoTouch Personal developer license, until I glimpsed the following caveat conveniently stashed at the bottom of the splash page:

“MonoTouch requires a Mac and Apple’s iPhone SDK to test on the emulator and deploy on the device. And you will need to be an Apple iPhone developer to deploy on the device.”

Why Novell? Why do you hurt me so? Why can’t I just develop an iPhone app on Windows, in Visual Studio? It’s not really Novell’s fault though; Apple keeps all of its technology on a tight leash. I wonder if MonoTouch will represent a watershed in mobile device development, however. Consider:

  1. Even though Mono typically trails the .NET framework by at least one major revision, it has the maturity of at least .NET 2.0, which is still in use by a significant number of .NET developers.
  2. The allure of C# development on the iPhone might just be the catalyst that justifies cross-platform development for many traditionally “Windows-only” developers. The popularity of the iPhone, and the iTunes App Store, are certainly tempting prospects for freelancers who want to make some additional income.

It may be time for me to revisit my technology budget.