Playing with Monodevelop

This week I've been looking at Mono a bit more. I've been trying to spend more time on one technology at a time rather than jumping back and forth between a bunch of different things. So for this week, I'm putting off Ruby on Rails and doing Mono.

To me, being both a Windows and Linux programmer, Mono is a very good thing. If nothing else, it has the benefit of making mainstream Windows programming knowledge usable on Linux. And really, C# and the .NET framework are pretty good in their own right. Mono means that we have another good language and framework that brings with it a high degree of source- and binary-compatibility with Windows. It even has a GUI that isn't horrifyingly ugly like Java's Swing. What's not to like? Unless you're a rabid Microsoft hater, nothing.

So far, my complaints are mostly with the development tools. I'm using Monodevelop 0.12 from the Ubuntu Feisty repositories. While Monodevelop is a fork of SharpDevelop, it is, sadly, not quite as good. It's missing many of the nice little features #Develop has. However, my main complaint is those damn panels. You can't easily minimize groups of them and the positioning gets screwed up when you close them. And if you leave them open, you get stuck writing in a tiny code window.

It's also somewhat annoying that there is no WinForms designer for Mono. Apparently this is because appropriate designer surfaces haven't yet been implemented in the framework, but it's still annoying. After all, if you want to write a cross-platform GUI, WinForms is the choice.

My other complaint is gnunit2 version 1.2.3 that's included in Ubuntu. It has no options, doesn't reload the assembly between test runs, and includes a "preferences" menu item that doesn't do anything. Of course, there's always the NUnit plugin for Monodevelop, but the aforementioned panel annoyance means that isn't significantly better.

On the up side, a new version of Monodevelop came out today. I'll have to try it out and see if it's any better. I only hope that I don't end up having to recompile huge numbers of packages in order to get it working.

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