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What is Grasshopper?

For most .NET developers, there is simply no substitute for the Visual Studio® IDE, the .NET Framework, and either C# or Visual Basic. With Grasshopper, you can use your favorite development environment from Microsoft® to deploy applications on Java-enabled platforms such as Linux®.


Mainsoft® for Java EE (aka Grasshopper), a freely available Visual Studio plug-in that you can use to create server and ASP.NET applications, or port existing .NET applications to Linux and other Java-enabled platforms, without having to re-write your code in the Java language. Grasshopper 2.5 is a plug-in for the Visual Studio 2008 development environment and provides full support for ASP.NET AJAX, including Microsoft's ASP.NET 2.0, the AJAX Extensions, and the AJAX Control Toolkit. In addition, version 2.5 supports new language features for C# 3.0 and Visual Basic 9, such as Local Type Inference, Object and Collection Initializers, Anonymous Types, and Auto-Implemented Properties.


Key features

.NET to Java: MSIL to Java bytecode compilation

Grasshopper provides a patented cross-compiler that compiles Microsoft Intermediate Language (MSIL) into standard Java bytecode. The cross compiler is based on the ECMA 334 and 335 standards and the Java Virtual Machine specification.

Java EE compliant applications

Grasshopper produces pure Java deployment packages that can be deployed on any Java EE compliant application server, on any platform, using regular Java EE deployment tools. Applications compiled with the Grasshopper cross compiler can be validated using the SUN Application Verification Kit (AVK) for the Enterprise.

Visual Studio integration

All Mainsoft editions are seamlessly integrated with the Visual Studio IDE, making Linux development as easy as any IIS development.

  • Enhanced Visual Studio editing capabilities

    The cross-platform development solution maintains all the functionalities of the enhanced Visual Studio editor and extends it to Java components. So advanced productivity features like IntelliSense, code navigation, and automatic errors detection are available even when accessing referenced Java components.

  • Cross-platform debugger

    It also extends the Visual Studio integrated debugger to Java bytecode running on Apache Tomcat. Advanced debugging features of the Visual Studio IDE, such as Watch windows, dynamic expression evaluations, and conditional breakpoints, are supported.

  • Web application and Web services support

    Grasshopper enables the creation of interactive Web applications and Web services using the ASP.NET model and RAD tools, including ASP.NET Web controls, provided by Visual Studio.

  • Help system

    The help system integrates into the MSDN collection of books and provides support for search, index, content, and dynamic help. With the help system you can determine if a .NET class or member is supported and if there are any usage limitations. In addition, Grasshopper provides an MSDN book that describes the Java runtime classes and interfaces.

Access to external Java components

You can access external Java components regardless of the Java development environment in which they were originally developed. You can also reference and use Java JAR files, from your C# or Visual Basic code, which may have been developed by your colleagues or by a third party. Referenced Java classes are first-class citizens in the Visual Studio environment, taking full advantage of features such as the Object browser and IntelliSense.

Open source .NET Framework

Mainsoft provides the .NET Framework class library on top of Apache Tomcat, implementing ASP.NET, ADO.NET, XML, Web services, and .NET server-side runtime services. Its .NET Framework sources are shared with Mono, the open source .NET implementation. The C# Mono sources are compiled to Java bytecode, using Mainsoft’s cross compiler.

Mainsoft packages the Mono sources as Visual Studio projects. You can download the source code, modify it, compile, debug, and test the code, all from the Visual Studio IDE.

Powered by Grasshopper

All new Web projects, created with Grasshopper, include a logo on the first page entitled "powered by Grasshopper", which links to the Mainsoft Web site. If you enjoy our free product and want to promote its usage, you can display the Mainsoft logo prominently in your Web applications. The logo may be used at your discretion on other pages of your Web project

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