The vibrant ecosystem that stands on Java is flush with opportunities for new ventures – but amidst the stampede of new companies coming to market, there are inevitably concepts which founder along the way. Today the creators of RoboVM – an innovative tool for converting Java into binary code for iOS, Mac OSX and Linux, as well as enabling LibGDX apps to work on Apple devices – have announced that they will be joining these unfortunate ranks, and have started the process of winding down operations.
In a post on the company blog, Co-Founder and CEO Henric Müller explains that, having conducted extensive research with teams at Xamarin and Microsoft, “ After looking at the complete landscape for mobile development with Java, the decision has been made to wind down development of RoboVM.”
RoboVM was first visualised as a concept back in 2010, and hit its 1.0 GA release milestone in March of last year. Having attracted the attention of the JavaFX community, Team RoboVM went on to partner with Gluon to help make JavaFX “a first class citizen in the Java on iOS world.”
The company was later acquired to bolster the profile of mobile app development competitor Xamarin, who were in turn swallowed up by Microsoft earlier this year – though not before Xamarin had hiked the price for business customers. Nested within this Russian doll like stack, RoboVM failed to thrive, and although it’s been a couple of months coming, some commentators saw the writing on the wall when C# loving Microsoft failed to pay any lip service to RoboVM at the time of the Xamarin acquisition.
Although RoboVM was originally an open source offering, due to lack of “meaningful” contributions, combined with competitors taking the code to their own advantage, latterly, the software has been offered on a solely proprietary basis. This may serve to complicate matters for users who were hoping that RoboVM would just throw their code out the community at large. Team member Mario Zechner writes that as of today, there will be no further bug fixes or updates to the software, and whether you’re using RoboVM now, or thinking about using it for a new project, in both cases, the advice would be to start thinking about alternatives as a matter of urgency.
So what are the options for those left floundering by this shuttering? Well for starters, there’s the option of porting your work to Xamarin, or exploring tools like J2ObjC, Avian, or Intel Multi-OS Engine. For a fuller look at these, Zechner provides an expert (and only slightly biased) breakdown of the best alternative options out there. Customers who’ve purchased licences for RoboVM are entitled to apply for a full refund, and paid subscribers are also entitled to a free six month Xamarin Test Cloud Start subscription or a one-year HockeyApp Business S plan subscription.