Why JetBrains should make a Mono IDE

If you haven’t seen the news already, Miguel de Icaza announced yesterday that the Mono team, having been cut loose by Novell’s new Attachmate overlords, had started their own company, Xamarin, to continue the great work they do for the .NET community beyond Microsoft. They’ve got some angel investment and a business model based around their MonoTouch, MonoDroid and MonoXYZ stacks, plus a bit of consulting.

This is welcome news indeed following a couple of weeks of fear, uncertainty and doubt over the future of not only the Mono product line but also the personalities whom many of us "know" through Twitter, mailing lists and so on.

The day after this announcement, I caught this tweet from @agileguy:

They could partner with a certain dev. tools maker and make the bestest mono/.NET IDE evar!! MonoStorm FTW

I don’t know if Daniel was serious, but I think this is a truly awesome idea. JetBrains IDE offerings are the best out there (with the possible exception of Visual Studio + Resharper). I use RubyMine, which is based on IntelliJ IDEA, and I love it.

But a Mono IDE, written in Mono, would be a smart move for JetBrains. At the moment their flagship product is written in Java and runs on the JVM. Since long before Oracle’s acquisition of Sun, Java has been drifting, and has fallen behind C# as a language and the CLR as a runtime. Now that Oracle have taken control, Java’s future seems even less uncertain, whether you believe that’s due to apathy, incompetence, litigiousness or downright malice.

By contrast, Mono is now under the safe stewardship of a passionate and capable team who are pushing C#, .NET and the CLR in amazing directions, often further than Microsoft seem to manage.

Porting IntelliJ to C# and Mono would result in that amazing JetBrains IDE know-how, still running cross-platform, but on a runtime that is fast and stable, and under active, enthusiastic development. It would mean that MonoTouch development could be done in exactly the same environment on OSX as Android (and other) development on Windows or Linux. It could become the de facto choice for anybody doing cross-platform mobile device development, with built-in support for sharing code between MonoTouch, MonoDroid and WP7 apps. And it would be an IDE to challenge Visual Studio for the hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands of .NET developers worldwide.

This is an opportunity for an established, respected company to work with and support a fledgling start-up, and for a small team of some of the best developers on the planet to really hit the big-time. I hope that opportunity isn’t missed. If you agree, please take a minute to add a comment below.

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