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Peeking Under the Lid of Open Source .NET CLI Implementations

Cross-platform .NET development is imminent, but the purpose, the feature set, and the platform support varies. We were curious about the development of the various open source implementations of Microsoft .NET's Common Language Runtime, so we talked to the key developers in charge of each of three CLI implementations—Mono, Rotor, and Portable .NET—to find out what exactly they've built, how they did it, and how they compare. What we found might surprise you.


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David Stutz,
Microsoft
Francois Jacques,
Corel's Rotor
Jean Claude
Batista,
Corel's Rotor
Miguel de Icaza,
Mono (Ximian)
Rhys Weatherly,
Portable .NET

As the new open-source implementations of the .NET platform take shape, developers targeting .NET face an extremely welcome challenge—creating applications that run on multiple platforms. As developers, we wanted to know what you can expect from each of these implementations. How are they alike? How are they different? What are their goals and problems?

To help answer these questions, we contacted several key members of Ximian's Mono, Corel's Rotor and the Free Software Foundation's Portable .NET projects, and also Microsoft itself. To make the results comparable, we asked all the open-source representatives the same set of questions. Microsoft's questions were slightly different, to cover both the commercial and the Shared Source CLI (SSCLI) versions of .NET.



The results are both fascinating and problematic. Depending on your interests, you may wish to compare the answers to questions across projects, or you may wish to read the answers for a specific project. Therefore, we've arranged the interviews both by question, with each project spokesperson responding, in turn, to each question, and also by project, which is the way we originally conducted the interviews. You can view either version by selecting a preferred view from the list below. You can switch views at any time by selecting a view from the right-hand column.



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