de Icaza: I'm Miguel de Icaza and I work on a project called Mono. It's an open source implementation of the .net framework that runs on non-Windows platforms. It runs on a Mac, on Linux -- It runs on interesting devices like the Playstation or the iPhone and we're also working on Silverlight implementation for Linux. So, that's kind of where my passion is: .net for other platforms.
Spolsky: Cool. Silverlight is sort of like a subset of .net, isn't it?
de Icaza: Yeah, that's right. It's kind of a -- yeah, they picked a small interesting subset of both .net and WPF and made it into a plugin for the web and they added video and audio.
Spolsky: So it's supposed to be a Flash equivalent?
de Icaza: Yeah, exactly. You know, to me it's interesting because I get to write code in C# and I just happen to like the language. Silverlight is interesting from that perspective. Also because when Microsoft did that thing it's also a subset of WPF, it's a subset you can actually learn as opposed to WPF which I find [laughs] ginormous. [Continues...]
Spolsky: So it's the only port of WPF that the Silverlight guys could figure out [Laughing]
de Icaza: Exactly, exactly. It's like the good subset instead of the over-engineered version of it. So, I really like Silverlight and what I wanted to do, since the very beginning was to not oly use it for the Web, but also use it for desktop Linux. You know, using the traditional Unix APIs - just using Silverlight as cross-platform desktops apps. That's kind of where the motivation came from - ah - we get the APIs and we make the developers from the .net platform to also make their apps available on Linux that way.
Spolsky: And they're going to look better than all those TK things that are ...
de Icaza: We hope so! [Laughs] You know, we have some nice-looking applications these days on Linux, but nothing compares to the amount of designers that the other platforms have...
Spolsky: Well, it also matters if you want to make a cross-platform... I mean the choices that people have had to make cross platform GUI applications usually resulted in something that look ugly or look wrong on one platform, I guess.
de Icaza: Yeah, that's right. As a matter of fact, we're facing that problem right now, ourself. We built our own IDE, and it was very Linux-centric, with our very own GTK APIs - and it looks great on Linux, and it looks a little out-of-place on Windows and Mac OS. The thing is, we don't really have the time or the man power to make native applications for each platform. But, I think we're going to have to bite the bullet and just look "off" in other platforms. It's... [garbled]
Splosky: It's interesting that programmers are the first ones to notice when something looks "off" like that [de Icaza laugh], but when you actually show it to users - they don't even notice when you say "Doesn't his look weird to you?" [de Icaza more laughter] It's like, you go to the File menu and under Exit it says "Alt +F4" and, of course [both laughing], you do that on a Macintosh and people think you're crazy.
de Icaza: There are people using, well, I guess I... I'm not supposed to say this unless it's for a partner, umm... I'm not supposed to say the brand of this game, but there's a major blockbuster game that came in the last couple of months... um... very large, very popular, that you can see on the Novell website, um.. (laughs nervously) that is powered by Mono. But the agreement prohibits me from saying that in public. All I can say is ...
Spolsky (interrupting): You can only put it on the website?
de Icaza: I can.. the agreement allows me to say that it is... if you go to Novell/products/mono, I believe... you will see... you will see the logo of said popular game. But I can't say its name. So, you know, I think it's being used in a lot of very interesting places, um, beyond what we originally intended it for. We thought, you know, "Linux desktop" and now, you know, it's used for server, ASP.NET, it's used for... you know
Spolsky: Hey, how about those SimCity programmers? How do you like their new game?
de Icaza: Uh... yeah, yeah! I really liked that game!
Spolsky: What's it called, "The Sims" or something?
de Icaza: Yeah I like that game! That's... it's pretty sweet, it's pretty sweet. Have you tried it yet?
Spolsky: Yeah no, you know I haven't really since I, uh, I would kill my characters...