[Mono-osx] Menu Bar for Mac OS X?

Joanna Carter cocoasharp at carterconsulting.org.uk
Sun Apr 4 19:35:49 EDT 2010

Hi Elfen

> Expecting every single application developer to rewrite the entire GUI would be a huge waste of effort.  If we have 10,000 people write applications that use Mono GTK#, they should not all write two copies of their GUI's.  The GUI framework (such as Java Swing, or Mono GTK#, or Qt, etc) should do the 99% of it that is possible (such as the look and feel for Aqua)...  Then the application developers who use the GUI API would only have to do the last 1% that is application-specific (such as  application-specific menu bar / application bar, application-specific app bundle config).  Unless I am completely confused, I think Apple's "Java Development Guide for Mac OS X" clearly agrees?
> Java Swing does the Aqua interface look and feel for you.  This is the responsibility of Mono GTK#, so that every single application developer that wants to use Mono GTK# does not have to reinvent the wheel.  Right?

The GTK# frameworks do not support the generation of either the correct Winforms or the correct Aqua L&F UIs. GTK# UIs look like what they are, GTK# UIs. There are some frameworks that allow the compilation of GTK+2 programs on OS X but none, that I am aware of, for Mono applications.

The truth of the matter is, if you want to design a Winforms application, you have to either use the Winforms designer or design all your applications in code, using the Mono Winforms UI libraries, but the resultant UI will look "wrong" on Linux or OS X.

If you want to design a GTK# UI for Linux, it will be based on the Carbon widget libraries, which is no longer considered the "norm" for OS X where Cocoa is the "standard"; and it will look "wrong" on both Windows and OS X.

If you want to design a Cocoa UI, then it can only be deployed on OS X.

Whichever way you try to design a "one size fits all" UI, you will end up with a UI that will not look "right" in some way on some platform. The Apple HIG specifies a different layout for OK/Cancel/Apply buttons than you would expect for Windows. There is no Windows equivalent to Cocoa's NSBrowser control. There is no Cocoa equivalent to Microsoft's Ribbon interface. Not only is the menu placement different in OS X, there are many other style differences that cannot be accommodated in a single design.

Take a look at the screenshot in the link from Michael's post. You will see that the tabs and scrollbars are not true Cocoa and thus the application looks wrong, even though the menu is in the right place.

Trying to design a single UI, in code, will result in an enormous amount of conditional, platform detecting, code that will, eventually become harder and harder to maintain and extend. Unlike traditional Winforms applications, where much code ends up being written in the main form class, Apple have opted for the clean separation of concerns by using the MVC design pattern. If you wrote your .NET/Mono applications using that same MVC pattern, then you would only need to rewrite the controller classes for each platform, using the relevant UI designers to make laying out the forms a lot easier than having to write them all in code.

Certainly, there are frameworks like Qt, that can be used, but that requires that the application is written in C++ and that the Qt libraries are deployed to the target machine.

The installation of Mono is also a requirement on all machines if you intend to write an application that uses the Mono framework.

I recently ported a "native" Objective-C application to Delphi Prism, using the Monobjc framework to talk to a Cocoa UI, designed in Interface Builder. The native Mac app bundle came out at around 147KB. The Mono/Monobjc app bundle came out at over 2MB, and that didn't include the requirement to install Mono, which comes as a 58MB download.

Now, Windows users may be used to having to install the .NET frameworks but Mac users expect a simple xcopy type of installation wher all they have to do is to drag the application bundle from the download .dmg image to the Applications folder.

There are many, many differences between a Mac application and a Windows application, other than simply replacing the menu.


Joanna Carter
Carter Consulting

More information about the Mono-osx mailing list