It’s been a busy couple of weeks for Mono, the Novell-backed project that’s developing a port of .NET for Linux/Unix OSs. Last week saw the release of Moonlight 1.0, a Linux port of Silverlight 1.0 that has passed all of Microsoft’s regression tests. This week, the group released the first beta of MonoDevelop 2.0, its C# IDE for Linux.
For all its recent talk about interoperability, Microsoft has focused fairly exclusively on Windows as it’s built out its development platforms. Visual Studio is a Windows-only product, despite rumors to the contrary, as is Silverlight. (We should note that Microsoft has helped the Mono group, both with the development of Moonlight and with Mono, the open source implementation of the .NET runtime.)
Of course, interoperability isn’t easy or clean. As I noted on the blog for our sister site SearchSOA, even the communications protocols can raise challenges as you start talking between Linux and Windows computers.
But a truly interoperable world, where Linux and Windows servers work side by side harmoniously and cohesively, won’t be possible until programmers can unify their development efforts across platforms. That’s where MonoDevelop fits in.
The new beta introduces some much-needed basics, like a built-in debugger, but it’s also improving its ASP.NET support. The IDE is also more compatible with Visual Studio; for instance, it now uses msbuild-style project files.
Projects like MonoDevelop will be crucial if companies want to really mix and match Linux with Windows, but that’s a big “if.” For now, as far as I know, the vast majority of .NET development isn’t on Linux, and the vast majority of Linux development doesn’t use .NET. As laudable as Mono’s goals are in trying to tear down that wall, I have to wonder how much demand there is for that level of interop in the mainstream.