October 08, 2005

Getting a lot closer to Gnome on Win32 and Mono

The process to revitalize some of the offerings that I have produced in the past has started to bear fruit. Two new renditions (runtime and SDK) of the Gtk# Win32 Installer for Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1 are now available at their usual hosting location. The Microsoft GAC will now be outfitted with Gtk# assemblies that use the 2.4 version (all Gtk# versions higher than 1.9.5).

I have also revised the Windows Mono Runtime Selector System (MonoLaunch) to reflect the new location of the mono.exe file now located in the bin directory rather than the older lib directory location it used to be prior to Novell's Mono Combined Installers for Windows. As you know, this utility facilitates the testing of binaries on systems that sport multiple versions of Mono installed. It also helps hide or show the Win32 console on those applications that may have been compiled with mcs /target:exe as opposed to /target:winexe.

However, the biggest portion of my professional time has been devoted to a rather ambitious undertaking to bring a lot of the GNOME and Gnome-sharp libraries to the masses in a simple and repeatable installation and unnstallation package. For that purpose I have been taking a lot of the binaries packages that Tor Lillqvist have been putting out and supplementing the great works of Ivan Wong to produced the new Experimental Mono Combined Installer for Wind32. When finished, this new installer will include working copies of the current versions of MonoDoc as well as MonoDevelop while also providing such libraries as gnome-sharp, Gnome-vfs-sharp, gtkhtml-sharp, GtkSourceViewSharp and many others that *NIX users have enjoyed for a while but the Windows world has not been privy as of yet. This installer package would naturally have a bigger footprint than usual (around 55 MB as opposed to the typical under 48 MB -- all highly compressed archive) and will likely become a multi-file installer as opposed to the monolithic exe file of yore. This new change in the packaging of the installer caters to Novell Forge rules (no single downloadable file should be bigger than 50 MB) and may prove to be a welcome decision for those users with limited bandwidth.

The new experimental installer does NOT try to replace or supersede the official Mono Combined Installer provided by Novell at the standard Mono project download page. Neither should experimenting users take this opportunity to clog the mono mailing lists with questions and complaints about the Experimental installer at least not until some of the technologies that may pioneer in it mature enough to make their way into the official Mono Combined Installer issued by Novell.

Still to come are the overhauled versions of Prj2Make and even more important for the Visual Studio Users, VSPrj2Make -- the Mono Visual Studio Add-in. When updated, these programs should take into account the new project and solution formats that MonoDevelop has incorporated recently, as well as added support for Visual Studio 2005 and its new solution and project formats.

Keep watching this forum for updates on all of the above. Now that I am bringing things up to date, I should comment about Joseph Hill's last presentation to the North Dallas Dot Net User Group. This presentation pickup where our March 2005 presentation to the Plano Dot Net User Group left off. The central topic to the presentation was cross platform .NET development with Mono.

The session was well attended and when he asked how many people had attended the first installment 75% of the attendees raised their hand. I say that shows that Mono is well liked in the North Texas theater of operations. True to Joseph style he delivered a light on slides heavier on demos presentation without neglecting to address some of the trickiest aspects of cross platform development with Mono -- aspects like case sensitivity, file path best practices and the pros and cons of using specialized libraries on a particular platform that may not exist on another target platform.

He made use of the all to brilliant Mono Live CD and later handed many to the attendees. For me, one of the high points of the presentation took place when he demo the creation of a Gtk# application in SharpDevelop using BOO. The audience as well as me, sheered and awed at the flexibility that this technique displayed. Some pictures of the event can be seen here.

Us "Monoitos" are very grateful to the North Dallas .NET User Group and special thanks go to my friend Scott Dockendorf for his help in making this session possible.

Posted by martinf at October 8, 2005 02:40 PM