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Ars Technica Tours Mono 465

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the git-some-edumacation dept.
Kevin Francis writes "Over the coming weeks, Ars Technica will be taking a look at Mono, including a basic introduction to Mono, MonoDevelop, and C#, and then branching out to GTK#, database access, ASP.NET, advanced C# topics, and conclude with a discussion of the future of Mono, and the C# standard. All the examples will work on Windows and Linux, with OSX support coming shortly. Part 1 of the series is online now."
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Ars Technica Tours Mono

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  • by garcia (6573) * on Thursday July 15, 2004 @12:55PM (#9709295) Homepage
    As you can clearly see, Mono brings almost limitless possibilities in breaking down the barrier between desktops: a commercial software provider would target Mono and it would "just work" on all platforms that Mono supported. How is this different from Java? In my opinion Java makes things harder than it needs to be. For starters, enforced exception handling can't auto-box/unbox primitive types and doesn't support arbitrary length parameter lists String.Format() style.

    The framework of Mono provides the ability to make a very tedious task in C/C++ almost trivial in C#. As the above example, RegEx, shows, it helps the programmer concentrate on the program itself, rather than the logic supporting the code.


    Yes, it is very exciting to have developers be able to easily write code that will work both on Linux, Windows, and OS X (obviously with the correct libraries) but will the coders utilize Mono when doing their work? Will they be concerned enough that Linux and OS X users are worthwhile supporting to make sure it is cross-platform?
    • by AliasTheRoot (171859) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @01:01PM (#9709386)
      Clearly one of the biggest concerns is the degree of compatability between .NET and Mono & the lack of many of the API's that exist on Windows - which face it will be the primary development environment.

      I'm sure someone will point out that MS will extend .NET beyond the standards thus marginalising Mono, but i'm sceptical of whether this will happen - it's in their interests to keep the core platform and language specs consistent, the API's are another matter...
      • by dekeji (784080) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @02:11PM (#9710131)
        Clearly one of the biggest concerns is the degree of compatability between .NET and Mono & the lack of many of the API's that exist on Windows - which face it will be the primary development environment.

        You are operating under the assumption that the main use of Mono is going to be to allow people to write .NET software. If it were, that would be a serious concern.

        But most Mono software will likely be developed using OSS libraries for OSS platforms. It makes no difference to that kind of development what Microsoft does with .NET. Mono is simply a good implementation of a good language that allows them to reuse vast amounts of OSS software with less hassle than if they were writing C/C++ code.

        The fact that Mono can also be used to easily port .NET software to Linux is an added bonus.

        I'm sure someone will point out that MS will extend .NET beyond the standards thus marginalising Mono

        There is no "standard" for .NET; the only standard there is is ECMA C#. Mono's effort to re-implement the .NET APIs is analogous to the Wine/Willows efforts to re-implement the Win32 APIs: it's tracking a moving target. Everybody working on, and using, Mono knows that, and it just is not a problem for the uses people put Mono to.
        • by alext (29323) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @02:34PM (#9710367)
          You are operating under the assumption that the main use of Mono is going to be to allow people to write .NET software

          Strangely that assumption is quite widespread. I think I've tracked down the source [mono-project.com] though.

          Lucky that for you portability from Dotnet to Mono is an added bonus. Let's hope that other Mono users will have an equally chilled attitude!
          • by dekeji (784080) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @03:26PM (#9710861)
            Strangely that assumption is quite widespread. I think I've tracked down the source [mono-project.com] though.

            Yes, you have correctly tracked down the source of that misconception. It's an easy misconception to have, given what the Mono project writes about itself.

            Now, dig down a little deeper and go to the downloads [ximian.com]. What do you see? A "Mono Stack" on the left, consisting of OSS libraries and APIs, and a .NET stack on the right, consisting of .NET libraries and APIs. You can pick one or the other, or both. Neat, huh? Now, also note the relative sizes of the Mono and .NET stacks.

            Now, turn to the FAQ:

            Question 132: Is Mono only an implementation of the .NET Framework?


            Mono implements both the .NET Framework, as well as plenty of class libraries that are either UNIX specific, Gnome specific, or that are not part of the .NET Framework but people find useful.


            Question 50: Can mono run the WebMatrix?


            No. That requires System.Windows.Forms support which is not currently implemented.


            Question 40: Do you fear that Microsoft will change the spec and render Mono useless?


            No. Microsoft proved with the CLI and the C# language that it was possible to create a powerful foundation for many languages to inter-operate. We will always have that.

            Even if changes happened in the platform which were undocumented, the existing platform would a value on its own.


            What does that tell you?

            • A lot of Mono software (most, in fact) already is completely incompatible with Microsoft .NET, since Mono doesn't even implement important parts of .NET, but does provide extensive non-.NET libraries that are being used by Mono applications. So, .NET compatibilty just doesn't matter to most Mono developers.
            • People know that Microsoft could change .NET, and it generally doesn't matter to them.


            Why is the Mono project seemingly saying one thing and delivering another? Well, in part, it's because the term ".NET" is really ambiguous. In part, it's because where their money comes from and where their commercial interests are (they aren't doing this out of religion, they are in it for commercial purposes).

            So, your confusion is understandable. I wish the Mono project were clearer on their front page, too, but I suspect they have reasons for what they are doing. Either way, you should really dig a little deeper.
    • Will they be concerned enough that Linux and OS X users are worthwhile supporting to make sure it is cross-platform?

      I will. And you?
    • obviously, there's no way of knowing, but as the linux and mac userbase grows, it seems likely. as soon as managers hear that it's easy to write code that will work on these other platforms, it'll become a standard aspect of software. it has to not crash, not fuck up, and work just as well on one platform as any other. java is certainly popular (granted, not as popular as c++), and this is apparently easier. so my official answer to your question is yes. :)
    • by Random Web Developer (776291) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @01:06PM (#9709436) Homepage
      I am writing an app for mono that is supposed to run on linux mac and windows in the end. From what I see it's nowhere near just starting a .NET app on linux using mono.

      The app clearly has to be written with crossplatform execution in mind. (I know this goes for c and java too, but some people seem to think they will run office on mono in the future.).
      You need to steer clear of anything that depends on a platform.
      - if you define a path, make sure you use path.combine or path.directoryseparatorchar instead of a / of \.
      - don't depend on environment variables
      - pay attention to casing, don't say "file.ext" when it's "File.ext"

      I know it should be ovbious to any cross platform dev out there, but I just thought I'd bust some bubbles with some of the less informed.
      • don't depend on environment variables

        Why, because they don't work the same way in both Windows and Linux? Is there some fundamental difference I'm missing...?
      • Don't forget the plugin type facilities some of these languages provide, like java and JNI, or perl and XS. I work someplace that does jsut that to get IE in their app to display 1 web page. Kinda lame when java has an text editing widget that does html. Not super spiffy, but it works.
    • by Kithraya (34530) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @01:06PM (#9709441)
      I certainly am. I am required to use C# in a Windows environment, and since I've discovered mono for my at-home-just-for-fun stuff, I'm able to leverage the experience and education from my day job. I find myself doing far more of this for-fun work in the linux environment now. For me, this has been the greatest boon of having mono, and hopefully other developers forced to work in Windows will also leverage mono to bring even more great software to other platforms.
      • Cool! I'm starting a job in October coding C# in an entirely Microsoft-based environment. I'm glad to see someone who uses Linux enjoy C#, because I was kind of worried that I would be wasting all my skill on a pure Windows lock-in. I really don't want to see OSS getting killed off. Your post was somewhat of a reassurance. Thanks.
      • What a coincidence!

        I discovered Mono for my at-home-just-for-fun-stuff and I'm now able to leverage the experience by replacing non-Microsoft technologies at my day job with Dotnet.

        For Bill Gates, this has probably been the greatest boon of having Mono. Hopefully other developers forced to work in Java or Python will now be able to bring more great software to Windows.
    • I'm currently building a nice web server, much like Tomcat for .NET in C# (yes, I realize a lot of it could be done currently using ASP.NET and/or Apache with mod_mono or XSP -- but this server has some features I really like; plus it's a good exercise). I hope to build some web app's for the server after it's complete (I'd say its just about ready to enter alpha stage), but so far developing between VS.NET during the day in my office and MonoDevelop at home at night on FC2 is a really fun process. They bot
    • Yep, linux coder here and moving to mono for new development.
      So far, it is pretty damn cool and I am very happy with it. It is exciting starting fresh in a new language. I recommend it.
    • by moonbender (547943) <moonbender@NoSPaM.gmail.com> on Thursday July 15, 2004 @01:59PM (#9710022)
      How is this different from Java? In my opinion Java makes things harder than it needs to be. For starters, enforced exception handling can't auto-box/unbox primitive types and doesn't support arbitrary length parameter lists String.Format() style.

      Right. Of course that's all about to change - from the Java 1.5 ("5") new features site [sun.com]:
      Autoboxing/Unboxing

      This facility eliminates the drudgery of manual conversion between primitive types (such as int) and wrapper types (such as Integer). Refer to JSR 201.
      Varargs

      This facility eliminates the need for manually boxing up argument lists into an array when invoking methods that accept variable-length argument lists. Refer to JSR 201.
      You still need to deal with exceptions - that's a bad thing?
    • by dekeji (784080) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @02:04PM (#9710062)
      Will they be concerned enough that Linux and OS X users are worthwhile supporting to make sure it is cross-platform?

      Unlike Java, Mono doesn't try to shove cross-platform development down people's throats. If developers want to use Mono to develop Windows-specific applications, that's cool. If developers want to use Mono to develope Linux-specific applications, that's cool, too. If developers want to develop cross-platform applications with Mono, that's cool, too, and Mono supports that, too.

      I suspect the biggest use of Mono will be the development of Linux desktop apps using Gnome/Gtk+. Many of those applications will be difficult to port over to Windows because they will rely on Linux-specific features. But that's no different from Gtk+ applications written in C or C++; Mono simply makes it easier to develop such applications by giving developers a choice of using C#.

      The second biggest use of Mono will likely be the deployment of applications and libraries developed for Windows on Linux machines. Those applications were not originally written with cross-platform portability in mind, but by supporting Microsoft's APIs well enough, those applications will either work out of the box, or port over easily.

      So, Mono gives the programmer the choice between writing cross-platform apps or taking advantage of platform-specific features. That's where the choice belongs, IMO.

      • Unlike Java, Mono doesn't try to shove cross-platform development down people's throats.


        Yeah, that whole JNI for plugging into java, definitely cross platform. :P That whole C# compiled to byte code? Nah, no one is pushing cross platform.


        And as for porting over easy, don't forget, interpreters will inevitably have bugs which cause them to act differently.


        -s

  • by urbieta (212354) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @01:04PM (#9709419) Homepage Journal
    Time for coders to take a closer look!

    What are the methods currently used by GIMP, OpenOffice, Mozilla among others that already support multiple OS's?

    Maybe Ill start learning coding with this and kill more birds with the same shot :)
    • by Graelin (309958) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @01:14PM (#9709550)
      What are the methods currently used by GIMP, OpenOffice, Mozilla among others that already support multiple OS's?

      Those projects are all written in C++. They all use libraries that are cross-platform but they're littered with #ifdef WINDOWS ... do_win32_specifics(); #endif.

      The theory is that with .NET you won't need ANY platform specfic code. If that turns out true, I will be completely amazed.

      Maybe Ill start learning coding with this and kill more birds with the same shot :)

      That's a really good idea. Mono and DotGNU make .NET really cross platform (which is neat) but a lot of companies will switch to .NET platforms. I know some pretty big ones that already have and are loving it.

      What I *really* want to see is mod_mono with class wrappers for the identical IIS hooks. Imagine being able to develop web apps on your WinXP laptop on the road and push up to your Linux server farm without any worries. I'm crushing already.
      • AFAIK Gimp is written in C, not C++
      • by FooBarWidget (556006) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @01:42PM (#9709803)
        I don't know about OpenOffice and Mozilla but your claims are definitely not true for Gimp.

        First of all, Gimp is not C++, it's written in C. And Gimp contains very little to no platform-specific code. Gimp uses Gtk and Glib as portability layers. The Gimp maintainer strives to have as little platform-specific code as possible. He even wants to eventually get rid of all of the remaining little #ifdefs.

        Gtk and Glib are also not littered with #ifdefs. Gtk uses Gdk as portability layer. Gdk has several implementations: X, Win32 GDI, DirectFB, etc. An implementation is automatically chosen by the configure script (or something like that, not really sure about this one), but there are very little #ifdefs.
        I don't know about Glib.

        "The theory is that with .NET you won't need ANY platform specfic code. If that turns out true, I will be completely amazed."

        My theory is that it will end up with something like Java or all the other portability frameworks for C/C++. The simple things are portable but when you want to do some more complex things, you suddenly face the limitations. And you also have limited ways to really integrate with the platform's desktop.
  • RAD tools (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BillsPetMonkey (654200) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @01:04PM (#9709421)
    What mono needs is a good RAD tool for developing GTK# based apps. I know you can reference GTK# libraries in VS.NET but there's no support for cross platform forms design.

    The syntax for building Winforms is completely different to GTK# (as one might expect) but the documentation I've found doesn't really map types and methods for developers familiar with existing RAD tools such as MonoDevelop and the excellent SharpDevelop.

    Tool designer support for GTK# is crucial.
  • Bull (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tgrigsby (164308) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @01:06PM (#9709437) Homepage Journal

    As you can clearly see, Mono brings almost limitless possibilities in breaking down the barrier between desktops: a commercial software provider would target Mono and it would "just work" on all platforms that Mono supported. How is this different from Java? In my opinion Java makes things harder than it needs to be. For starters, enforced exception handling can't auto-box/unbox primitive types and doesn't support arbitrary length parameter lists String.Format() style.


    I find this kind of claptrap irritating. Java is one of the easiest platforms to jump into. If you found it harder than it needed to be, you needed more coffee.
    • Re:Bull (Score:5, Informative)

      by cbiffle (211614) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @01:40PM (#9709787)
      And, of course, there's the fact that his latter two complaints are kind of sort of fixed in 1.5.

      So... :-)

      Personally, I think the C# folks make too much of a big deal about the mandatory exception handling in Java. Heard a fellow from Microsoft say "Frequently, Java folks just put an empty catch() block to catch the exception they know won't happen, so why make it mandatory?"

      I've got bad news for you. I find situations like that about once a week when auditing my programmers' code, and it's almost always a situation that -can- happen, but the programmer couldn't see it.

      Don't trust the programmer. I know, I am one. :-)
      • Personally, I think the C# folks make too much of a big deal about the mandatory exception handling in Java. Heard a fellow from Microsoft say "Frequently, Java folks just put an empty catch() block to catch the exception they know won't happen, so why make it mandatory?"

        I've got bad news for you. I find situations like that about once a week when auditing my programmers' code, and it's almost always a situation that -can- happen, but the programmer couldn't see it.


        I agree. And that's exactly what makes
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Ars Technica will be taking a look at Mono...

    ...because most geeks no nothing about it :P
  • Fills a needed gap (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ars-Fartsica (166957) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @01:14PM (#9709541)
    Novell is banking on making Windows->Linux migrations simple as a selling point for their tools. Providing a viable supported .net platform is a key. Do I think that this will become the de facto Linux dev kit? No. Too many users love their kit of choice (perl,pythong,java,etc) and in any case the open source community abhors being told how to develop. Nonetheless having one more option is a benefit. The only downside is potential bloat of distro CDs, but hey we crossed this line a long time ago and its what you have to do if you want to support N dev toolkits.
    • I dont think the goal of mono is to replace all the other dev kits. Wouldn't it make more sense to write your Windows application in C# and just compile it for Mono while you're at it? Seems to me that this is a very easy way for developers to make their application cross-compatable without any extra work.

      So no, this WON'T replace X, it will make it a better decision to use C# in the future. A plus to both Windows application devs, and Linux users alike.

  • blech! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by shralpmeister (708291)

    What was the reasoning behind making the first letter of the method names upper case?

    ...and .exe on my executables?

    When is Miguel going to port the windows registry?

    I'm sorry but the thought of microsoft's mangled conventions polluting the linux/unix world is making me ill. :-(

    • What was the reasoning behind making the first letter of the method names upper case?

      It's Microsoft's coding conventions. They apparently go back to some people the hired from other well-known research labs in the distant past. I think it's mostly an indication of the kind of insulation Microsoft has grown up in.

      I'm sorry but the thought of microsoft's mangled conventions polluting the linux/unix world is making me ill. :-(

      It's not pretty, but, frankly, from a traditional UNIX point of view, neither
  • by PommeFritz (70221) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @01:29PM (#9709697) Homepage
    What I don't understand is that when people are talking about "cross platform" programming, it almost always is about Java or .NET/Mono. What is it that those 2 seem to be mutually connected to "cross platform"?

    I mean, take Python! (my favorite high level cross-platform programming languate)
    • Python has been around longer than Java (it's from 1991)
    • Python has been ported to a lot more platforms than Java (and certainly .NET!)
    • Python has various powerful language features that Java, C# can only dream of (metaclasses, generators, list comprehensions)
    • Pure python programs will run everywhere a suitable Python is available
    What's so special about Java or .NET that makes them the talk of the day, while other much more interesting languages seem to be ignored in this matter?
    • by turgid (580780) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @01:34PM (#9709732) Journal
      The only thing that Mono/.NET has going for it, as far as I can see, is that it is designed to be targetted from multiple languages. Python and Java are both languages and run-time thingies.

      It will be a sad say indeed when developers are tied to a specific language for a specific platform just because that is what someone has mandated from on high.

      I look forward to the legal and security issues with .NET, Mono and .GNU. We live in interesting times.

      • by Cereal Box (4286) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @02:30PM (#9710327)
        Python and Java are both languages and run-time thingies.

        Not necessarily. People have targetted other languages for the Java runtime, including Python (Jython) and Scheme (Kawa). Basically, as long as you can spit out Java bytecode it doesn't matter language what you compiled to get it. Same basic idea with .NET.
      • by killjoe (766577) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @03:39PM (#9710978)
        "The only thing that Mono/.NET has going for it, as far as I can see, is that it is designed to be targetted from multiple languages."

        So is parrot. But what is the point anyway? Are you going to have a project where each member of the team is going to program in a different language? Are you going to have an open source project which accepts patches in 10 different languages?

        I never did understand why this was a desirable thing. It sounds like a nightmare to me.
        • Are you going to have a project where each member of the team is going to program in a different language? Are you going to have an open source project which accepts patches in 10 different languages?

          Maybe you will, but not likely. What's more likely is VB programmers using a .net library and not having to worry about what language it was written in. The alternatives are to either write the library for every language (SVG rendering for VB, C, C++, Python, Javascript, etc), or to write your libraries in
          • "Maybe you will, but not likely. What's more likely is VB programmers using a .net library and not having to worry about what language it was written in."

            You mean like using activeX controls in VB while not caring about what language they were written in. Or maybe you mean using DLLs from VB while not caring about which language they were written in.
    • For one, .NET has the Microsoft marketing machine behind it, allowing Mono to piggy-back off of that. Technical merits aside, this gets .NET/Mono more developers, which helps.
    • "What's so special about Java or .NET that makes them the talk of the day..."

      Marketing.
    • Python lacks enterprise backing.
    • Because of the great power of mono! Behold:

      The great power of Mono and .NET lies in the ONE line of code:

      bool matches = Regex.IsMatch( input, regex );

      I mean, in Python, it'd be like:

      matches = re.match(regex, input)

      That doesn't look like great power to me.

      (all joking aside, I found the article interesting, and if it weren't for the (potential) legal issues, I would probably be playing with C#)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 15, 2004 @01:36PM (#9709749)
    The Mono project was conceived in the Summer of 2001 as an Open Source alternative to Microsoft's .NET development platform. Since then, it has come all the way to a 1.0 release among a flurry of controversy from mostly inside the Open Source community itself. Although we will not outline the reasons here, most of the criticism stems from the fact that .NET is Microsoft, and "we" don't like them.

    What a stupid simplification!! There are legitimate concerns over how MS exerts it monopoly power, and many of the resultant concerns with Mono and its support of MS' .Net are not satisfactorily answered. What about MS total control of the standard? What good will the standard be if the company that owns 95% of the desktop starts shipping a .Net that deviates from the standard? What about the parts of .Net that are not covered by the the standard, and in fact have intellectual property encomberances?

    Mono's main pull for developers is that it is cross-platform and makes writing applications very fast because of its extensive framework. Mono also has the concept of garbage collection. Gone are the days of using malloc() and free() and recording where you allocated memory and making sure you free() it. Java has GC as well, but Java never really caught on as an application language.

    Another biased statement; has C# caught on as an application language? Why not point out that C# is pretty close to a clone of the Java language, and that .Net is essentially the Java runtime environment, with MS additions. Why is .Net any better than Java for application development. Is its speed any better? Is Mono's speed any better than Java's?

    I don't mind a review of Mono. I was interested in reading it, and would like to know more about it. But, when the author so casually dismisses the concerns with MS and Mono, or dismisses the legitimacy of Java, I question his objectivity.
    • What about MS total control of the standard? What good will the standard be if the company that owns 95% of the desktop starts shipping a .Net that deviates from the standard?

      I should think the answer to that would be obvious: In any industry, if a company with 95% market share decides they're going to do something a certain way, whatever they've decided? That's the standard now.

      A standards committee can go a different direction if they like, but it's akin to that guy in Hitchhiker's Guide to the
    • There are legitimate concerns over how MS exerts it monopoly power, and many of the resultant concerns with Mono and its support of MS' .Net are not satisfactorily answered. What about MS total control of the standard?

      It doesn't matter because that's not what Mono is about. Mono has two sets of APIs: OSS APIs and .NET APIs. You use the .NET APIs only if you either are trying to port Windows software to Linux or if you are a masochist. Most OSS developers are going to stick to the OSS APIs and never eve
    • Who said it was intended to be objective? I didn't get that impression at all.
  • This is gobily-gook! How can the Ars Technica crew POSSIBLY provide me with insight (and a possible cure, please?) to mono! These guys have been a member of the biggest sausage party since 2000! (Besides the Bush/Cheney whitehouse). I don't trust a group of hackers to my mono research, no-sir-ee
  • by kollivier (449524) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @01:47PM (#9709880)
    I've already been doing this sort of cross-platform programming for years with wxWidgets/wxPython. I'm not waiting on Mac support - I'm already using it (and improving it!). What amazes me is that the authors act like Mono is breaking new ground by having a portable programming language that can do GUIs but is easier than Java. Hello? Apparently no one ever told them about Python/wxPython?

    And not only can I use it today, I get better results than I would with GTK# or Java in terms of cross-platform interfaces. If you've ever seen the GIMP on Windows, you'd know that GTK apps don't quite look like professional Windows apps. Emulated interfaces will always look out of place, particularly as themes get more common.

    I'd encourage anyone who is interested in cross-platform programming to download Python and wxPython, then run the wxPython demo on Windows, Linux or Mac OS X, and then explain to me exactly how it is that Mono is breaking new ground. (Note also that the wxPython 2.5.2 release on Mac will sport a number of nice improvements and is due out soon.)

    The only new and unique thing that I see about Mono is that it uses and is compatible with APIs designed by Microsoft. As a compatibility layer, that has some value, but they will always be two steps behind Microsoft and MS will always ensure that the best .NET experience comes from using Windows. And as the Ars Technica article shows, it's going to be a while before anyone can really write sophisticated cross-platform GUI apps using this toolkit. (And will it be GTK# on Mac? Does that mean X11 is needed there? Ugh.)

    Anyways, time to go back to making my native, cross-platform apps. ;-)
    • You're of course welcome to use wxNet (wx's C# bindings) instead of GTK#. Mono doesn't force you to use a toolkit, they just make it easy to use GTK#.
    • it's not either/or (Score:3, Informative)

      by dekeji (784080)
      Mono isn't all about cross-platform development, it's about giving you a more modern general purpose programming language than C/C++ and providing lots of useful bindings for it. Some of those bindings happen to be cross-platform, others don't. You really just get a choice.

      As languages, C# and Python are simply different. Both have their uses, and neither is better. C#, for example, lets you do pointer manipulation and its implementations are efficient enough even for writing low-level loops. Also, pe
    • I've already been doing this sort of cross-platform programming for years with wxWidgets/wxPython. I'm not waiting on Mac support - I'm already using it (and improving it!). What amazes me is that the authors act like Mono is breaking new ground by having a portable programming language that can do GUIs but is easier than Java. Hello? Apparently no one ever told them about Python/wxPython?

      The advantage I see is allowing .NET developers to easily develop for linux. It may be a while (or forever) before ma
    • by StarfishOne (756076) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @03:20PM (#9710816)

      I've been playing around with (wx)Python as well lately and it rocks!

      Especiall combined with:

      Boa Constructor:
      'A cross platform Python IDE and wxPython GUI Builder. It offers visual frame creation and manipulation, an object inspector, many views on the source like object browsers, inheritance hierarchies, doc string generated html documentation, an advanced debugger and integrated help.'

      http://boa-constructor.sourceforge.net/

      And the Twisted framework for network programming. http://www.twistedmatrix.com/

      "Twisted Matrix Laboratories is a distributed group of open-source developers working on Twisted, an event-driven networking framework written in Python and licensed under the LGPL. Twisted supports TCP, UDP, SSL/TLS, multicast, Unix sockets, a large number of protocols (including HTTP, NNTP, IMAP, SSH, IRC, FTP, and others), and much more."

      I've now got a fully asynchronous and very fast custom server running.. in less then a day from a clean start with the Python language!

      I really recommend checking this out!! ^_^

  • by Junks Jerzey (54586) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @01:51PM (#9709931)
    First off, realize that I'm not anti-Linux. I've used Linux both professionally and at home. UNIX, too. And I also know C++ and C#, among other languages.

    What has always struck me about .net, C#, and okay Java too, is that they're essentially playing catch-up to what's already out there. People who've only used C++, and the people who can't shake the "everything has to be optimized down to the last microsecond" mindset, tend to really like C# and .net. After all, now they finally have real modules, a clean string syntax, hidden memory management, and so on. Just that the article makes a big deal about the power of this line:

    bool matches = Regex.IsMatch( input, regex );

    is telling. After all, you could do this--with a cleaner syntax, mind you--in Perl fifteen years ago. Don't like Perl? Well, Python then. Or even old clunky TCL. And so to me, the furor over .net and C# appear to be coming from people who spent the nineties thinking that C++ was the pinnacle of software development. If you look at Perl and Python, though, they still have lots of wins, like no noticible compile times, no need to jam everything into an object framework, less bulky syntax, a lot less fussing about types, and generally more malleable ways of programming. From that point of view, C# doesn't offer much, unless again you stay up late worrying about shaving cycles out of your button handler callbacks.

    Perl and Python have always been better supported under Linux than Windows, and I'd even call them the Linux way of approaching software development. Leverage the best tools available so you can achieve more in less time. Microsoft has been playing catch-up here, and .net and C# are what they came up with, a solution that's still far behind what was already available. A solution that feels like something that would have been stunning in 1990 or 1992, but now is mired in an earlier generation of software development. The weird part is that dragging this over to Linux, making it an across the board cross-platform solution, is looked at as a good thing. The effort would be better spent elsewhere, like coming up with a lighter weight GUI toolkit for Python that breaks from Tk and behemoths like WxWindows.
  • Some silly points (Score:4, Insightful)

    by I_Love_Pocky! (751171) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @02:00PM (#9710025)
    The article mentioned that the C# makes things simple that would be complicated in C/C++ (the example was RegEX). This is kind of a screwy way of looking at things, and not much of a selling point for C# in my book. Something like RegEX is provided to C# through a library (or framework if you prefer), and isn't part of the actual language. If you want such a simple interface to a RegEX, it would be easy to get a similar thing for C or C++.

    Overall I thought the article was pretty devoid of any meaningful reason for why we should use mono. It doesn't sound better than Java (not worse either), and it isn't a replacement for C/C++.
  • by SuperKendall (25149) * on Thursday July 15, 2004 @02:00PM (#9710027)
    While an interesting (if very simple) article, it never adresses the elephant in the room - why not Java?

    With Java you can do everything in the example, with ease. From the article:


    The great power of Mono and .NET lies in the ONE line of code:
    bool matches = Regex.IsMatch( input, regex );


    Wow! Well, in Java it looks like this:

    boolean b = Pattern.matches(regex, input);

    Is the great power of Mono then that they have screwed up the name of the matching method to FunnySound?

    Or what about GTK support in Java - you could use Java-Gnome [sourceforge.net]. Or you could use AWT. Or you could use Swing. Or you could use SWT if you prefer native performance.

    And using all this, you don't have to wait for OS X support - it's here now! Chances are you don't have to wait for support on whatever OS you are using in fact, as the JVM is now pretty much everywhere.

    So why ignore the elephant? Why does this article not go into the reasons why you would want to consider a platform years behind an exisitng one with similar capabilities, better cross-platform support, and way more tools. Instead it just pretends that corss-platform wasn't even possible before MONO.
  • by David Ishee (6015) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @02:20PM (#9710225) Homepage
    There is nothing special in general about .NET that doesn't apply equally to Java. They are both VM languages that have good library support.
    The great power of Mono and .NET lies in the ONE line of code:

    bool matches = Regex.IsMatch( input, regex );

    .NET and Mono are actually a collection of libraries that form a framework which allows you, the programmer, to write the logic of your application. I can call one line of code to do input validation on a string which saves you possibly hours of time.

    The description of the power .NET here isn't .NET specific. Actually, any language with good library support will meet this criteria of "power".
    As you can clearly see, Mono brings almost limitless possibilities in breaking down the barrier between desktops: a commercial software provider would target Mono and it would "just work" on all platforms that Mono supported. How is this different from Java? In my opinion Java makes things harder than it needs to be. For starters, enforced exception handling can't auto-box/unbox primitive types and doesn't support arbitrary length parameter lists String.Format() style.
    Give me a break! Autoboxing and the String.Format() comment are very trivial things to complain about. Enforced exception handling is a little more complex and the debate will probably never end on which is better.

    I think the success of Java vs .NET will depend on how it is distributed and the "user experience" of installing and using .NET vs Java applications. Sun doesn't have the same level of control over the desktop experience that Microsoft has for desktop applications so that may be a deciding factor for most users.

    On the server, Java is already very popular and installation/launching headaches are tolerated more because admins are willing to put in a little more effort than most users.

    Other issues such as relative performance and the "look and feel" will also play a big role with users.

    In the general theoretical sense, there isn't much difference between Java and .NET. The success of each will depend on the implementation.

    • There is nothing special in general about .NET that doesn't apply equally to Java


      Except those
      A. Polymorphic instruction set
      In JVM most instructions have the types of their arguments hardcoded (faster interpretation but harder to create a compiler to emit the correct one)
      In CLR has polymorphic instruction set, only the result type is hardcoded (compilers have much easier job but JITer has more work to do)

      B. Extensible convention for emitted members using attributes
      C. Assembly packaging vs JAR
  • But, why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gillbates (106458) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @04:17PM (#9711408) Homepage Journal

    So instead of targetting the Windows platform, or the Linux platform, or the Java platform, I can now target the Mono platform, which has *GASP* a regular expression library.

    Excuse me if I'm not a little underwhelmed by this. We're supposed to get excited about Mono because of the libraries? As if a good C or C++ coder couldn't write a regular expression parser in less than a week?

    But no, I'm converting to Mono because (pick one or more):

    1. I hate Microsoft. But I like their software. So, instead, I'll use a cheap knockoff of .NET, and won't pay Microsoft any money. And I'll never admit that they had a good idea with .NET, even though I'm using what amounts to a copy of it. Instead, I'll call them all sorts of names and say that .NET sucks, just because it's made by Microsoft.
    2. I love to reinvent the wheel with every new project. I'm going to throw out all of those C and C++ function libraries and classes I've built so I can now reimplement them in Mono.
    3. I hate fast code! How am I supposed to write slow code in C++ when my users have a 3 GHz Pentium 4s? Oh, I know, I'll use a virtual machine!
    4. I love to learn. In fact, now that I've mastered C and C++, I'm going to throw away all of my effort invested in these languages and learn a new one.
    5. I hate to write clean code. All my programs have memory leaks because I could never be bothered to actually follow good design principles, nor keep track of the memory I'm using. So instead, I'll just switch langauges, where I can continue to write sloppy code.
    6. I love to file bug reports. There's nothing like using a new technology before it is fully debugged and tested. In addition, I'll complain that the garbage collector slows my program down too much. Granted, if I understood how it worked, I could write code that would minimize the work it had to do. But that would require effort, and I'd rather complain about than clean up my coding style.

    I really don't see the big deal here, folks. The fact that the binaries are portable without recompile isn't going to make up for the fact that C++ is a mature, very powerful, fast, portable language.

    • I can't write kernel drivers in Mono. Only apps.
    • I couldn't write an OS in Mono, but I could in C++.
    • I can target Macs, Linux, and Windows now with C++, but I'll have to wait if I want to use Mono.
    • Mono is not sufficiently different in terms of ease of programming to justify the switch from C++. In fact, as the example code demonstrated, Mono apps often involve more lines of code simply because every single detail of the GUI can, and must be, set by the programmer. In Windows, 9 times out of 10 I can simply use the defaults and everything comes out fine.

    Okay, if you've got counterexamples of the points above, I'd like to hear them. But save it if you're going to flame me for broiling your sacred cow. I'd rather see a few good reasons to switch from C++ than a flame war, and right now, Mono isn't making a compelling case. To me, it seems like its Yet Another Algebraic Language With Libraries.

  • by Qbertino (265505) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @05:59PM (#9712184)
    1.) .Net was and imho still is - to a large extent - a joke. What MS did was rename the .obj files from all their developement stuff to .net and start a big marketing boohey. Those laughing the most about .Net weren't the OSS people, it was the veteran MS developers, noticing all the vaporware about it. MS added a nice and neat VM, which in parts is so close to the Windows lowlevel stuff that it's hardly a VM and they 'invented' C#, pronounced C-Hash or Cash (=$$$) for short, a nice PL that rids some downsides of Java and C in one stroke. Well big fat hairy deal. The OSS community invents neat and inovative PLs every other week. Nothing new here, move on.

    2) A group of OSS people saw some nice things to the whole 'plattform' and started programming it themselves. More power to them. I would've considered their time more worthwhile spend on a proper Font system for X or a layer that leverages Motif, QT and GTK into one big engine as to rid the Toolkit bloat of OSS, but it was their decision.

    3) Mono is 'finished' into a solid 1.0. Great. People say it sports some cool stuff. That's nice. Thanks for the great work. I'm going to look at it sometime. NOT because it is a redoo of MS stuff. I for one don't give a doo-doo about Mickeysofts software products anymore since... well a very long time.
    But I do like new tech-frontier OSS software so I'll probably support it. Looking at the way things are going just now it could very well be that .Net disapears to were it came from and Mono becomes the one-size-fits-all technology for future OSS products. Who knows? I wouldn't be suprised. Just as I wouldn't be suprised if the Mono project at one time decides for themselves that they can do things better than MS (which they evidently can) and screw .Net compatability alltogether. After all, .Net was and still is mostly just a marketing gag anyway.
    • .Net was and imho still is - to a large extent - a joke. What MS did was rename the .obj files from all their developement stuff to .net

      You don't know the first thing about it, do you? Go read [everything2.com].

      NET langages compile to plaform-independant bytecode. Shure it's ripping off Java, but it shows good taste in plagarism.

  • by Nailer (69468) on Thursday July 15, 2004 @08:43PM (#9713090)
    White is the hyperlink color. Clicking the big white link named after the article takes me to the same page.

    The phrase we've got other stuff lined up inside would imply the link goes to the other stuff. The url for it seems like it'd show an index of all their linux content. But the word 'inside' actually shows the article.

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