.NET Goes Open Source and Catches Mono

Microsoft’s .NET Framework has won many converts since it was first released with even the open source community now appearing to embrace it. There are currently at least two open source projects that are developing implementations of the .NET Framework, the Novell Ximian-led Mono and the DotGNU project.

Mono has been making the rounds with Novell at Brainshare and at Real World Linux, among countless other shows. Mono released its 1.0 version Beta 1 this week. Mono’s creator and leader Miguel de Icaza told internetnews.com that the response to the beta version has been strong, noting that in the first few hours of its release it had tallied over 40,000 downloads.

The Mono Project was begun by Ximian co-founder de Icaza in 2001 and was originally expected to have been released by the end of 2003. Essentially Mono is an open source implementation of Microsoft’s .NET 1.1 specifications that are now under the standardization control of the EMCA standards body.

Mono includes a C# compiler, CLR (Common Language Runtime) and class libraries as well as numerous bindings. In particular Mono has bindings for the GTK+ GUI toolkit that is an underlying and core GNOME open source technology.

Mono includes tools that allow for a degree of language and platform independence for the creation of production API’s and SDK. For example, a developer may use C#, Python or PHP as their language of choice and deploy on GNU/Linux or Window without issue.

During a demo at the Real World Linux show in Toronto, Eric Dasque, Mono senior project manager at Novell, demonstrated to an audience the ease with which he was able to create a simple cross platform .NET Help application in Mono in a matter of minutes.

Nat Friedman, Ximian’s other co-founder, demonstrated in his keynote address at Real World Linux his Mono developed dashboard application that, among other things, allows an IM, mail and web client to “talk” to each other. The consolidated metadata allows users to view all their information on a single topic/individual whether that information is a web site visited, an IM message or an e-mail. And all that is viewable inside of a single dashboard sidebar window.

For its part,. NET’s creators are encouraged that the .NET framework is being endorsed and used by others. “I think it’s great that people are building on .NET no matter what platform it is,” Robert Scoble, Microsoft’s platform evangelist said. “The more that people see the advantages of the platform, they’ll want to use .NET.”

Another Microsoft spokesperson told internetnews.com that, “Mono is just one example of the level of excitement within the developer community around .NET,” he said. “At this point, we have millions of developers building .NET connected applications.”

The .NET Framework specification is part of Microsoft’s Shared Source program and according to Microsoft’s spokesperson, “with the Shared Source CLI implementation, Microsoft is demonstrating its commitment by making the source code to an implementation of the ISO/ECMA standards available through a shared-source license.”

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