RoboVM Java-to-iOS dev tool meets its end

RoboVM, which brought Apple iOS mobile application development to Java programmers, has  been discontinued.

The tool translated Java bytecode into native ARM or x86 code, featured a Java-to-Objective C bridge, and supported Android development. It was acquired by cross-platform tools vendor Xamarin in October, which in turn was bought by Microsoft in February. Now, the technology is being nixed altogether.

"Over the past few weeks, we've been working with the teams at Xamarin and Microsoft to assess the technology and business conditions of RoboVM to determine the path forward for the products," said RoboVM CEO and co-founder Henric Muller. "After looking at the complete landscape for mobile development with Java, the decision has been made to wind down development of RoboVM."

Discontinuance, Muller said, would have no impact on apps developed with RoboVM that were already shipping. "If your app is currently working, it should continue to work unless Apple introduces a breaking change in iOS -- just like any other iOS app." For Android projects and apps built in RoboVM Studio, developers can open and compile these in in Android Studio or IntelliJ Idea. Any cross-platform RoboPods used on Android and iOS should continue to work in those projects, subject to breaking changes, he said. RoboPods are code libraries and bindings for third-party services.

For applications still in development, RoboVM is recommending alternative Java SDKs that target iOS. Developers also can port Java source code to C# and use Xamarin tooling for Android applications. Complementary or paid RoboVM licenses can be used until April 17, 2017, and refunds are available.

The cessation follows a decision in November to take RoboVM out of open source, citing a lack of community contributions and competitors taking advantage of the code. RoboVM, though, had once been viewed as a promising mechanism for Java developers to build for iOS even as Apple refused to allow the Java Virtual Machine on its popular mobile devices. Microsoft on Monday morning declined to provide further comment on the fate of RoboVM.

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