getline.cs: Partying like its 1988

In an age where the Unix shell is more relevant every passing minute, we need to have proper command line editing tools everywhere.

For a project of mine, this weekend I put together a command-line editing class for .NET shell applications. The Mono.Terminal.LineEdit class can be used by shell applications to get readline-like capabilities without depending on any external C libraries.

To use it, just do:

	using Mono.Terminal;

	LineEditor le = new LineEditor ("MyApp");
	while ((s = le.Edit ("prompt> ", "")) != null)
		Console.WriteLine ("You typed: " + s);
	
	

It supports the regular cursor editing, Emacs-like editing commands, history, incremental search in the history as well as history loading and saving.

The code is self-contained, and can be easily reused outside of my project. To use it, you just need to include the getline.cs file in your project. This is built on top of System.Console, so it does not have external library dependencies and will work on both Mono and .NET (finally bringing joy to people using command-line applications that use Console.ReadLine).

It is licensed under the MIT X11 license and the Apache 2.0 license so there are no annoying licensing issues and can be mixed with anything out there.

Posted on 26 Aug 2008 by Miguel de Icaza

Second Life Demos

Cool performance demos comparing SecondLife's LSL engine vs LSL running on Mono's VM.

Posted on 21 Aug 2008 by Miguel de Icaza

SecondLife rolls out Mono-powered servers

Big news for the Mono team today.

Linden has started the roll out of their Mono-powered simulation servers.

Users can now opt into having their LSL scripts executed using the Mono VM (it remains an opt-in feature, because some scripts are timing sensitive and the performance increase could break code).

Some choice quotes from Jim Purbrick's blog post:

As well as providing immediate benefits, the integration of the Mono virtual machine makes many future improvements possible: the use of mainstream languages to script Second Life alongside the existing LSL language; the removal of arbitrary per-script limits on script resource usage and the use of mainstream libraries and tools for scripting to name a few.

And:

The integration of Mono is the first step in the evolution of Second Life into a true software development platform. Thank you to all the residents who have helped us take this first step.

Congrats to Linden on their launch!

The Technology

From a SecondLife developer perspective, some of the technical details about how Mono is integrated into the Second Life simulators can be found on their Wiki.

When a user opts into using Mono, a special LSL compiler that generates ECMA CLI byte codes is used. The resulting CLI byte codes are then instrumented with some magic (more below) and then the code is exectuted using the Mono VM which translated the bytecodes into native x86 code.

I find the SecondLife technology fascinating. Embedding Mono into SecondLife was not an ordinary task, it was not just a matter of linking with Mono and writing an LSL to CIL compiler.

SecondLife distributes the virtual world on hundreds of servers, and as visitors move through the virtual world, their inventory, character and scripts migrates from server to server.

This migration requires that running scripts be suspended, serialized to a database and their execution resumed on a different server. This means that all the state of a script, including the current location must be preserved while the user navigates across servers.

The technology to do this is absolutely brilliant. I strongly recommend the Lang.NET presentation that Cory and Jim did in 2006.

The first half of the video is an introduction to Second Life, the second delves into the hackery necessary to make it happen.

This are clearly hugenormous news for us, and for everyone that worked with Linden, for everyone that fixed bugs and implemented new features in Mono to run under the conditions that Linden has.

Posted on 20 Aug 2008 by Miguel de Icaza

OSX Development with Oxygene, Cocoa and Mono

The RemObject folks have been doing some tutorials on how to build applications with Visual Studio and Interface Builder to target both Windows and MacOS with .NET and Mono respectively.

Check out their tutorial and their notes on cross platform development. The lessons in the tutorial also apply to C#-based development.

It is also worth noting that recent versions of their Oxygene compiler now support generics.

Posted on 20 Aug 2008 by Miguel de Icaza

Pleo Days

I just got my Google Android present! An awesome Pleo Dinosaur!.

So cute. SO CUTE!

Posted on 20 Aug 2008 by Miguel de Icaza

Dynamic Method Invocation Performance

Jon Skeet has an in-depth explanation of how to improve the performance of code that needs to dynamically invoke methods through reflections.

The bottom line is that if you have performance sensitive code that needs to invoke methods that you fetch from reflection, you should avoid using MethodInfo.Invoke() and instead create a delegate from the MethodInfo, and perform the invocations that way:

[...]Using a delegate invocation is only about 10% slower than direct invocation, whereas using reflection takes over 600 times as long. Of course these figures will depend on the method being called - if the direct invocation can be inlined, I'd expect that to make a significant difference in some cases.

This is a well-known trick, but Jon provides a great exploration of the subject.

Protocol Buffers for .NET

Additionally, you can see that Jon's effort to port Google's Protocol Buffers to C# are almost complete.

There are currently three separate approaches to support Protocol Buffers in .NET. Jon's effort essentially mimics the existing support for C# and integrated with the Google implementation and compilers. The other efforts have taken slightly different approaches, one of them is designed with the WCF approach in mind: use C# classes/interfaces as the actual public contract, as opposed to the .proto files.

Posted on 14 Aug 2008 by Miguel de Icaza

First preview of Mono 2.0 is out

Our first preview for Mono 2.0 is out; It has been almost six months since we branched version 1.9 so this is a gigantic update to Mono.

Many of the features are listed on the release notes, but the release notes do not even begin to capture the enormous number of fixes, performance improvements, tuning and work that went into this release.

As usual, this is our "best release ever", but it is also the longest we have gone without doing interim releases, so it is possible that we might have regressed where our test suite lacks tests. We would love to get folks to test this, with their code, and to bug reports on any issues they find before our final 2.0 release.

See our Roadmap for more details on the release schedule and the upcoming post-2.0 releases.

Posted on 01 Aug 2008 by Miguel de Icaza
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