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Miguel de Icaza on ASP.NET MVC, Moonlight, and the Android Lawsuit

| Wednesday, May 30, 2012
We had a chance to catch-up with Miguel de Icaza, founder of the Mono project and it’s new parent company, Xamarin. Some of the topics we covered include the future of ASP.NET MVC on Mono and the end of the Moonlight project.

InfoQ: Mono has supported ASP.NET since the early days. Do you see it as just a checkbox feature or is there a lot of interest in ASP.NET on the Mono platform?

Miguel de Icaza: We have not done a survey in a while, but on the last survey that we ran, ASP.NET on Unix was still a feature that people cared about. I would say that the interest declined when Microsoft fixed their licensing for Windows Servers, so the financial appeal of Mono was reduced in those cases. Nowadays, the main driver is to run ASP.NET when the rest of the stack is mostly centered around Linux.

InfoQ: ASP.NET MVC has been open source for a while now. In the past, how much effort was needed to make it compatible with Mono?

Miguel: It was very easy to get MVC 1 and MVC 2 running with Mono. With MVC3 things changed, since MVC3 was open source, but took a few dependencies on libraries that were not open source at the time, or were transitional libraries. So supporting MVC3 was easy, but deploying it was. It was a very rare to see an MVC3 site deployed with Mono, it was just too difficult.

With the recent opening up of the Microsoft ASP.NET libraries this has changed, and we managed to make MVC3 work out of the box with Mono.

Finally, for MVC4, we won’t be able to run this for a while, since MVC4 requires us to upgrade the core ASP.NET engine to support the new async pipeline and currently nobody is working on it. It will be a matter of whether people care enough to contribute those changes to Mono and make this run.

InfoQ: Do you see the ability to contribute directly to ASP.NET MVC as a significant advantage for maintaining compatibility?

The main benefit of the open sourcing of ASP.NET MVC is for its own community: for too long innovation, bug fixing an extensions has been limited to what the developers at Microsoft did, could do, or were able to specify. This will bring ASP.NET in line with other open source frameworks that evolved quickly and responded quickly to change.

InfoQ: Right now, there are four different XAML-based UI technologies: WPF, Silverlight, Silverlight for Windows Embedded and Silverlight for Windows Phone. With the introduction of Windows 8, we will be seeing a fifth version? What is your opinion of this diversification?

Miguel: We are currently focused on C# for Android, iOS and Mac so we do not tend to interact much with XAML based frameworks.

There are interesting parts to XAML, but I was never completely bought into XML for the markup. I wished for a very long time that they had adopted something simpler for humans to produce, like using Json for the markup, or the markup that was part of JavaFX. It was just as easy to consume and maintain with tools, but it was also easier on the eye for programmers and easier to type.

At one point we implemented an open source rendering engine that was capable of rendering Silverlight 3/4 markup.

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