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04 May 2010, 15:22

Miguel de Icaza: .NET technology for web browsers

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In a blog post prompted by a comment by joe Hewitt, Miguel de Icaza offers the suggestion that If the Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) developed by Microsoft were integrated into current browsers, it would allow developers to write substantially better applications. According to Icaza, CLI would allow developers to use a variety of programming languages, from the strongly typed to the loosely typed. He says It would give developers a choice between "performance and scriptability" and would generally make web pages faster by moving performance-sensitive code to strongly typed languages.

Icaza therefore suggests integrating the CLI directly into the browser. According to the developer, this can in theory be achieved by linking the free Mono .NET implementation into the browser and would enable developers to write code such as:

<script language="csharp">
from email in documents.ElementsByTag("email")
   email.Style.Font = "bold";


<script language="csharp" source="ImageGallery.cs"></script>

in web applications, allowing the browser to compile the C# code. Common Intermediate Language (CIL) binary files could also be embedded in this way, removing the compilation step from the browser for better start-up performance. According to Icaza, the Gestalt project is an example of what can be done with a CLI implementation in the browser. However, the project's technological advantages are limited, said the developer, because Gestalt requires a Silverlight plug-in to execute something like Ruby code in the browser and access to the browser's API is limited. Icaza calls for CLI to be implemented directly in the browser without requiring a plug-in and with a deeper integration to the browser's API. "The only question is what browser to target first, Firefox or Chrome", writes the developer.

Miguel de Icaza created the Mono project, which aims at creating a free implementation of Microsoft's .NET framework; CLI has been published as an ECMA standard.


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