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You might have missed it in amongst all the “phone hacking” coverage but there’s been quite a lot of news around the Mono project over the past few weeks and I’ve seen a few announcements go by and thought it would be worth capturing some of that in a brief post here along with pointers which you can use to go and read more.
In case you’ve never come across it – Mono is a cross-platform, open-source implementation of C#, the Common Language Runtime (CLR), the .NET Framework Base Class Library (BCL) and some of the .NET Framework. It started life at an organisation called Ximian around 10 years ago with the aim of bringing .NET to other platforms like Linux and the supported platform list today is a long one.
Mono doesn’t include the whole of .NET but the support is pretty rich and the compatibility page gives you the details about a lot about aspects of the Framework that are included like ASP.NET (and MVC), Windows Forms, LINQ to SQL, etc.
Mono is not just a pure subset of .NET though – it bridged the C#/.NET world to other libraries that make sense on the platforms where Mono runs. For example – support for libraries like Gtk+ and OpenGL.
That “bridging” aspect of Mono seems to have taken it on some interesting journeys over time including Mono being used as the basis for an open-source version of Silverlight (Moonlight) and more recent developments that took .NET development to iOS devices (via MonoTouch) and to Android devices (via Mono for Android).
I’ve met quite a number of .NET developers who are either building with these technologies or have at least evaluated them to see how their .NET skills and code might translate onto other platforms and I saw quite a bit of a “kerfuffle” when recent news stories hit…
Mono has been subject to a number of “acquisitions”. Back in 2003, Novell acquired Ximian and gave Mono a home for quite a few years and all seemed pretty stable.
Recently though there was quite a stir amongst quite a number of .NET folks as the news came through that Attachmate was buying Novell and the Mono project lost its home as Jack Schofield reported at the time on ZDNet and a lot of people were questioning whether this might be “the end”?
Last week saw another development in Mono’s story. From the blog post that went out just a few days ago it looks like Mono is back and alive over at Xamarin with the primary focus being around device development for iOS and Android.
It’s going to be interesting to see where this goes – the Mono guys do amazing work so I think it’s good for the .NET community to see this getting back on track and to follow where Mono heads next…