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Mono 3.0.4 is out! Features include Improved garbage collection, Async bug fix, and Xamarin studio support.

Mono 3.0.4 released Greetings to all of you open source patrons out there! I've just received news of the latest release of Mono (3.0.4). The new release includes several major improvements and bug fixes. In this article, I'd like to provide a brief overview highlighting the major changes in the latest release of Mono. So without further ado, here is a quick overview of what's offered in this version of the Mono project. Improved garbage collection The GC implementation has been given a makeover. These changes include: A new approach called "cementing" has been added to the SGen concurrent garbage collector. Mono allocates all new small objects in a defined memory space referred to as the nursery. When a collection occurs, the surviving objects become root objects and are copied to the major heap. Typically, few references that are allocated to the nursery survive to become roots, so the majority of the objects are instantly collected which leaves plenty of allocation space for new objects. These nursery collections minimize the work that must be done by the collector. One of the problems with the garbage collection in previous versions of mono involved instances in which objects are "pinned" in the nursery (due to managed/unmanaged references or other operations). Objects that are "pinned" cannot be moved to the major heap. Typically the collector must keep track of these "pinned" objects (and their relationships) and it rescans them on each collection attempt to try to see if they have been released and are able to be moved. This approach was an inefficient practice of the collector. This is where cementing comes in to play. Cementing is a process by which references in the nursery that are pinned are simply marked as root objects, but they remain in the nursery since they can't be moved to the heap. This dramatically reduces overhead related to pinned nursery objects and their relationships. There are also several bug fixes related to garbage collection including #9928 pointer free deadlock problem and bugs in mono_gc_weak_link_get Improved StreamReader/StreamWritter asynchronous operations The asynchronous operations have been rewritten to resolve bug #9761. Which caused the operations to fail on subsequent calls. OSX Homebrew installation conflict resolution Mono no longer installs a /usr/bin/pkg-config file on OSX, which resolves an issue that effected Homebrew installations. The installation only contains the new Gtk+ stack that allows the new Xamarin Studio to run on OSX with 3.0. This is exciting news! Conclusion (for now) Well that about wraps it up.  Oh, one more thing..   In case you haven't heard, Xamarin has released Xamarian 2.0 which includes iOS development from within Visual Studio, a brand new IDE called Xamarin studio that is geared toward developing mobile apps for Android, and iOS. The IDE runs on Windows, Linux and OSX! I would like to mention that I will be delivering a detailed refactorthis.net product review on the new and exciting features of Xamarin 2.0. So check back for my review and thanks for reading! Buddy kick it on DotNetKicks.com  


Mono 3.0 released. New improvements include asynchronous programming, Mac OS X and iOS support, ASP.NET MVC 4, Entity Framework and more

Mono 3.0 released On 10/22/2012 Miguel de Icaza blogged about the latest release of the Mono .NET project.  As you may already know, the Mono project is an open source port of the Microsoft .NET framework which allows cross platform support for .NET applications with support for such systems as Linux and Mac OS X / iOS. The Mono 3.0 release includes improved support for asynchronous programming which was introduced in .NET 4.5.  These improvements help developers to create fast, responsive applications.  The ability to keep the user interface of an application responsive while executing time consuming tasks is extremely important as applications are moving to smart phones and tablets.  The release also includes improvements that will strengthen Mono's support for Mac OS X and iOS development. Developers can also look forward to added support to Microsoft's open sourced stacks which includes technologies like: ASP.NET MVC 4, ASP.NET WebPages, Entity Framework, Razor View Engine, and System.Json. You can read about other improvements to the garbage collector and more here: Miguel de Icaza's blog post http://tirania.org/blog/archive/2012/Oct-22.html The offical Mono project's release notes http://www.mono-project.com/Release_Notes_Mono_3.0  kick it on DotNetKicks.com        


Introducing System.Threading.Tasks namespace. Exploring Action<>, Task<>, and the BusyIndicator.

Introduction The Microsoft .NET framework class library has provided many classes to facilitate complex programming tasks.  Topics like I/O, database management, and sockets were once incredibly tough to implement in languages like C, C++ and VB6.  When .NET was released, it brought with it many classes that abstracted these complex concepts and allowed the developer to concentrate on the business task at hand.  Multithreading is a way of providing asynchronous code execution and is an advanced concept that the framework has greatly simplified.  The System.Threading namespace The System.Threading namespace contains classes to abstract the complexities of multithreaded programming away from the developer.  Multithreading allows you to spawn worker threads to accomplish a unit of code execution.  System.Threading includes classes for synchronizing thread activities as well as accessing shared data .  These classes include; Mutex, Monitor, Interlocked, AutoResetEvent and more.   At the heart of the System.Threading namespace is the System.Threading.Thread class.  This class represents an asynchronous thread of code execution.  The Thread class accepts a delegate to specify a method that returns void and is to be executed independently in regards to the thread that spawned it.  This was one of the first methods of asynchronous programming that was offered to .NET developers. Here's an example using System; using System.Threading; namespace AnsycThread { class Program { delegate void LongRunningComputation(); private static void LongRunningMethod() { //Add a long running computation here for(var loopCounter=0; loopCounter < 100; loopCounter++) { Console.WriteLine(string.Format("The value = {0} ", loopCounter)); } Console.ReadKey(); } public static void Main(string[] args) { LongRunningComputation codeBlock = LongRunningMethod; Thread spawnedWorker = new Thread(new ThreadStart(codeBlock)); spawnedWorker.Start(); Console.WriteLine("The thread has started."); Console.ReadKey(); } } } This code is not very complicated, especially when compared to the same take written in a language like C or C++.  The System.Threading namespace has been around since the first release of the .NET framework. Enter the System.Threading.Tasks.Task class With .NET 4 came the System.Threading.Tasks namespace.  The idea of a Thread is a low level concept.  To think in terms of processes, threads, and thread management is to think at the level a computers processor.  The Task class was created to abstract these machine level ideas away from the developer so that we could achieve the same solutions that multithreading offers but from the viewpoint of task and workflows instead of threads and processors.  Much like the System.Threading.Thread class, the Task class is simply an asynchronous operation represented by a delegate.  However, there are some key differences.  For instance, there is a generic Taks<T> where T represents the return type of the delegate.  The Task class also handles a lot of the manual aspects of multithreaded programming such as picking a thread from the thread pool, as well as optimization with multicore/multiprocessor systems.  The System.Threading.Tasks namespace event offers functionality to support parallelism, but I'm getting ahead of myself. We are going to examine an example that makes use of the Task class as well as the System.Action class. The System.Action class represents a delegate that takes no arguments and returns void.  There is a generic version of the Action class as well.  It greatly simplifies the syntax of delegates. Consider the following example which is essentially the same as the prior example, except this example uses the Task and Action classes instead of Thread and delegate. namespace AnsycTask { class Program { private static void LongRunningMethod() { //Add a long running computation here for(var loopCounter=0; loopCounter < 100; loopCounter++) { Console.WriteLine(string.Format("The value = {0} ", loopCounter)); } Console.WriteLine("Press a key"); Console.ReadKey(); } public static void Main(string[] args) { Action codeBlock = LongRunningMethod; var spawnedWorker = new Task(codeBlock); spawnedWorker.Start(); Console.WriteLine("The thread has started."); Console.ReadKey(); } } } Accessing the UI from another thread using Dispatcher.BeginInvoke As you can see, multithreaded programming and allow you to complete multiple computing tasks simultaneously.  One of the draw backs of this approach is the fact that you can't directly access controls that were instantiated on the UI thread from your Tasks or Threads.  This is where the System.Windows.Dispatcher class can help.  When you call the BeginInvoke method of the Dispatcher class, it allows you to execute an asynchronous delegate on the same thread that the Dispatcher is associated.  I've included an example that uses the Task, Action, and Dispatcher classes in a WPF application.   This example will execute a Task when the user clicks a button.  The task will open a text file and read the contents of the file.  We use the ContinueWith method of the Task object to specify another Task to run when the first task has completed.  In the ContinueWith Task, we will use the Dispatcher class to set the IsBusy property on a BusyIndicator object.  The BusyIndicator class comes from the WPF Extended toolkit.   Here's the example.. <Window x:Class="FileReadBusyIndicator.MainWindow" xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml/presentation" xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml" xmlns:extToolkit="clr-namespace:Xceed.Wpf.Toolkit;assembly=WPFToolkit.Extended" Title="MainWindow" Height="350" Width="525"> <extToolkit:BusyIndicator x:Name="busyIndicator"> <Grid> <Grid.RowDefinitions> <RowDefinition Height="78*" /> <RowDefinition Height="78*" /> <RowDefinition Height="106*" /> <RowDefinition Height="50*" /> </Grid.RowDefinitions> <Grid.ColumnDefinitions> <ColumnDefinition /> <ColumnDefinition /> </Grid.ColumnDefinitions> <Button Content="Load File" Grid.Column="1" Grid.Row="3" Height="23" HorizontalAlignment="Left" Margin="118,9,0,0" Name="btnLoadFile" VerticalAlignment="Top" Width="75" Click="btnLoadFile_Click" /> <TextBlock Height="45" HorizontalAlignment="Left" Margin="32,15,0,0" Name="txtDescription" Text="Click the button below to asynchrnously load the contents of the text file specified in the textbox." VerticalAlignment="Top" Grid.ColumnSpan="2" Width="390" /> <TextBlock x:Name="txtContents" Grid.Row="1" ScrollViewer.CanContentScroll="True" Height="183" HorizontalAlignment="Left" Margin="6,0,0,0" Text="rwaraadsadsdsasdafsdfsdafsdaf" VerticalAlignment="Top" Width="491" Grid.ColumnSpan="2" Grid.RowSpan="2"> </TextBlock> </Grid> </extToolkit:BusyIndicator> </Window> And for the codebehind using System; using System.Collections.Generic; using System.Linq; using System.Text; using System.Windows; using System.Windows.Controls; using System.Windows.Data; using System.Windows.Documents; using System.Windows.Input; using System.Windows.Media; using System.Windows.Media.Imaging; using System.Windows.Navigation; using System.Windows.Shapes; using System.Threading.Tasks; using Microsoft.Practices.Unity; using System.IO; using System.ComponentModel; using System.Threading; using System.Windows.Threading; using Xceed.Wpf.Toolkit; namespace FileReadBusyIndicator { /// <summary> /// Interaction logic for MainWindow.xaml /// </summary> public partial class MainWindow : Window { private void LongRunningMethod() { //Add a long running computation here for (var loopCounter = 0; loopCounter < 100; loopCounter++) { using (var streamReader = new StreamReader(@"c:\development\openme.txt")) { var contents = streamReader.ReadToEnd(); Dispatcher.BeginInvoke(DispatcherPriority.Background, (SendOrPostCallback)delegate { this.txtContents.SetValue(TextBlock.TextProperty, contents); }, null); } } } public MainWindow() { InitializeComponent(); } private void btnLoadFile_Click(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e) { busyIndicator.IsBusy = true; Action readFile = LongRunningMethod; var spawnedWorker = new Task(readFile); var completedTask = new Action<Task>((t) => { Dispatcher.BeginInvoke(DispatcherPriority.Background, (SendOrPostCallback)delegate { busyIndicator.SetValue(BusyIndicator.IsBusyProperty, false); }, null); }); spawnedWorker.ContinueWith(completedTask); spawnedWorker.Start(); } } } As you can see, the button's click event handler sets the BusyIndicator's IsBusy property to true which will show the ProgressBar.  Next the event handler will create a Task and set it to execute an action that points to a method to read the contents of a file.  The method will use the Dispatcher class to set the TextProperty dependency property of a textbox to the contents of the text file.  When the task completes its execution, it will proceed to execute the task specified in the ContinueWith method which uses the Dispatcher class to set the BusyIndicator's IsBusyProperty dependency property's value to false, causing the ProgressBar to be hidden. You can download the source to the example projects here AsyncTaskExample.zip (352.19 kb). This concludes my introduction to the System.Threading.Tasks namespace. Thanks for reading. ~/Buddy James   kick it on DotNetKicks.com    


About the author

My name is Buddy James.  I'm a Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer from the Nashville, TN area.  I'm a Software Engineer, an author, a blogger (http://www.refactorthis.net), a mentor, a thought leader, a technologist, a data scientist, and a husband.  I enjoy working with design patterns, data mining, c#, WPF, Silverlight, WinRT, XAML, ASP.NET, python, CouchDB, RavenDB, Hadoop, Android(MonoDroid), iOS (MonoTouch), and Machine Learning. I love technology and I love to develop software, collect data, analyze the data, and learn from the data.  When I'm not coding,  I'm determined to make a difference in the world by using data and machine learning techniques. (follow me at @budbjames).  

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