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Unity Replaces Mono-Based IDE with Visual Studio

The popular Unity game development platform has dropped its default Mono-based IDE in favor of Visual Studio products.

With the latest release, Unity 2018.1, the platform used for many of the most popular games in the world has unbundled the MonoDevelop-Unity IDE from its installer package and is discontinuing support for creating Unity games with it.

Visual Studio for Mac will replace MonoDevelop-Unity as the default C# IDE for using Unity on macOS, while Windows installations will continue to feature the free Visual Studio 2017 Community edition and will no longer include MonoDevelop-Unity as an alternative.

Reasons for the change, Unity Technologies said, include taking advantage of new features in the C# programming language starting with version 6.0, and the ability to leverage an upgrade to the .NET 4.6 scripting runtime, which is still in the experimental stage.

The company said MonoDevelop-Unity 5.9.6, the latest version of the open source IDE to ship with Unity, doesn't support many of the new C# features and can't debug C# scripts in the new experimental scripting runtime. "It [is] very important for us at Unity that we also provide a great C# IDE experience to accompany the new C# features," Unity Technologies said.

Microsoft yesterday noted that Unity development was one of the first scenarios supported out-of-the-box when Visual Studio for Mac was released last year and applauded the move to make it the default IDE for Unity going forward.

"This means that everyone will be able to utilize the benefits of the .NET 4.6 scripting runtime upgrade in Unity (currently an experimental feature) , including all the goodies of C# 6.0 and access to the Microsoft Azure SDK to add powerful cloud services to your games," Microsoft said. "This is all in addition to the existing one-click debugging, customized solution pad, IntelliSense autocompletion, and many more productivity features."

The MonoDevelop Project is a GNOME-based IDE primarily designed for C# and other .NET languages. Its description reads: "MonoDevelop enables developers to quickly write desktop and web applications on Linux, Windows and Mac OS X. It also makes it easy for developers to port .NET applications created with Visual Studio to Linux and Mac OS X maintaining a single code base for all platforms."

It's based on the original 13-year-old Mono project that provided .NET support on non-Windows platforms and formed the foundation for what became Xamarin, subsequently acquired by Microsoft for its cross-platform tooling capabilities. While later creating Visual Studio for Mac, Microsoft borrowed heavily from the Xamarin Studio IDE. So, in effect, Unity is replacing one Mono-based IDE with another Mono-based IDE.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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