Project Mono, an effort to create an open-source version of the Microsoft .net framework, expects to release version 1.0 of its software later this year.
The project, which launched in July 2001, aims to create a runtime environment for Microsoft's .net framework for a variety of operating systems, including Linux, Mac OS X, Windows and Unix.
By providing a set of open-source tools for building .net applications that run on Windows or any Mono-supported platform, Mono should allow open-source developers to build .net applications quickly that are operating-system independent, said leader Miguel de Icaza, chief technology officer at Ximian Inc., a Linux vendor spearheading the project.
Achieving this would be remarkable, in part because it would lower the cost of deploying .net applications by making available an open-source alternative to Microsoft's technology, said Forrester Research analyst Stacey Quandt. The challenge now is for the Project Mono team to build confidence for the software at the enterprise level, she added.
Ted Schadler, another Forrester Research analyst, said Project Mono is intriguing because, if successful, it will validate the Microsoft architecture in the eyes of open-source developers.
The Microsoft .net framework is a key component of the company's .net architecture. It is designed to simplify Windows software development, deployment and maintenance by giving developers a single approach to building desktop and Web-based applications, according to Microsoft.
The first component is a common language runtime (CLR) with common services for applications that can be built using various languages, including C, C++ and C#. The second component is a class library with prepackaged sets of functionality made up of three components: ASP.net for helping to building web applications and web services; Windows Forms for user interface development; and ADO.net for connecting applications to databases.
Mono 1.0 will not emulate all the functions in the .net framework, such as Windows Forms or enterprise services such as message and transaction queueing, de Icaza said.
It is also unclear yet whether it will feature support for Soap (Simple Object Access Protocol), for letting applications running on different platforms to communicate, a key ingredient for web services applications.
The Mono software, now on version 0.24, already includes implementations of ADO.net and ASP.net. It also has a C# compiler, a CLR runtime and a set of class libraries. Users can see a full list of features, peruse information about the project and download the software at http://www.go-mono.com.
Some big names supporting Mono include Intel and Hewlett-Packard.