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Mono Gets a Big Commercial Win

ISVs continue move to Mono

Völcker Informatik AG has switched from Microsoft to Mono.

Völcker was traditionally a Microsoft shop using VB and C++ to built its enterprise-level user management and authentication products. But when the city of Munich, one of its largest clients, decided to switch to Linux, Völcker needed technologies that would work in a cross-platform environment. It felt it had two options - Java or Mono; it decided to recode everything in C# using Mono.

In nine months it recoded seven million lines of VB and C++ code into two million lines of C# that run on both Windows and Linux. Even for a project of this size and complexity, Völcker found Mono "very stable and easy to learn." It also reduced the testing time by 60%, and of course saved a bundle on server licenses. (See www.novell.com/success/volcker.html)

A big advance for Mono has been the release of development version 1.1.4. Now, if you've been following the Mono releases you are might associate the word "stable" with the 1.0.4 release. Nope. Not anymore. The last few releases of the development version have been mainly bug fixes (besides .NET 2.0 features), so it's improved to the point of replacing the "stable" version, and the 1.1.x versions will lead to the 1.2 release. The Mono team now recommends that only those folks who can't do a large upgrade stay with the old 1.0.3 release. Everybody else should upgrade to the 1.1.4 development release.

Some of the changes are improved security and cryptography, optimizations in both the JIT and Ahead of Time (AOT) compilers; ASP.NET 2.0 support now includes master pages, dynamic menus on pages, and dynamic trees on controls. More functions have been added to the Console classes. The new Managed System.Windows.Forms (SWF) has replaced the old WINE-based version, and it runs on OSX. GTK# runs on Windows and there's a new tool to convert Visual Studio projects to Unix make files as well as a statistical profiler. And embedding Mono is easier. (For SWF's status see http://svn.myrealbox.com/mwf/class-status-System.Windows.Forms.html)

The mono roadmap has been updated. Mono 1.2 is now due 2Q05, and Mono 2.0 will track .NET 2.0 and be released in 2Q06. (See www.mono-project.com/about/mono-roadmap.html)

Novell, Mono's corporate "keeper," has also been on an open source hiring spree. Niels Bornstein, known to Mono users as the co-author of Mono: A Developer's Notebook and .NET and XML, joined Novell as a consultant to work in the Linux and open source practice group. Tor Liqvist, who brought GIMP and GTK+ to Windows, is joining the desktop group. Besides continuing to port GTK+ applications to Windows, Tor will help port Evolution to Windows. David Reveman, one of the two programmers who developed Glitz, an interface to OpenGL and the back-end of the Cairo imaging library that Mono bases SWF on, will continue that work. Finally, Robert O'Callahan of Mozilla fame has become part of the desktop team and will continue working on Mozilla's SVG support, multi-column layout for Web pages and MonoConnect. I would say welcome to the team, but one way or another, these guys have been a part of the team for a long time. (See sample of Glitz at www.cs.umu.se/~c99drn/pics/xgl-shot.png)

Portable.Net Release 0.6.12
Portable.NET has released rev 0.6.12. Most of the improvements are in SWF like the TrackBar and ListBox. Work has started on NotifyIcon, RichTextBox and PrintDialog.

XML and Xsharp received several of the more than 80 improvements listed in the release notes at http://getdotgnu.com/article22 (download source and binaries at http://getdotgnu.com/modules.php?name=Downloads&d_op=viewdownload&cid=1).

PhpGroupWare saw significant activity. (See gotdotgnu.com for more information)

Odds and Ends
Microsoft has released a new language based on C# that integrates the .NET type system, XML and SQL. It also supports concurrency between multithreaded applications and applications running over a wide area network. The language is called C (say C-Omega). For details see http://research.microsoft.com/comega/doc/comega_startpage.htm.

Last month I mentioned that Dissecting a C# Application: Inside SharpDevelop was one of my favorite books. Apress has released it as a free ebook that can be downloaded at www.apress.com/free/. Apress will also be making a few other books available for free over the next year.

More Stories By Dennis Hayes

Dennis Hayes is a programmer at Georgia Tech in Atlanta Georgia where he writes software for the Adult Cognition Lab in the Psychology Department. He has been involved with the Mono project for over six years, and has been writing the Monkey Business column for over five years.

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