Will Google Run Writely on Mono?

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One of the more interesting subplots of Google’s acquisition of Writely is the Microsoft technology it’s built on. Writely, judging from the URLs, is an ASP.Net application. And while I’ve been hearing a fair number of folks talking about ASP.Net, a point the O’Reilly folks recently validated, the technology is clearly not aligned with Google’s Linux investments.

The question then, as Dan Ciruli asked in the comments to my piece above, is what will Google do? Port the technology? Host it off of their own .NET infrastructure? Rent hosting from .NET infrastructure provider? My answer was, I have no idea whatsoever.

It could very well be that Google was primarily interested in the JavaScript front end to Writely, and the experience and people who designed a collaborative editing product. It could also be that with some of the existing office developer engineering resources they have in house, they don’t anticipate having much difficulty porting the ASP.Net components into another, more Linux friendly language.

But what if Google instead had decided to forgo porting entirely, and chose to run the application off of the open source Mono stack? Sounds crazy, perhaps, but it’s not impossible. Their Summer of Code program actually contributed resources to the Mono project, so there is some history there. And just yesterday, I ran across this link in Zac’s blog to a video of a talk given to Google by the creator’s of the popular Second Life game. One of the subjects, about 16 minutes in? How Second Life is cutting over from .NET to Mono.

Pure speculation here, but interesting nonetheless.


  1. What did they do with Orkut? They’ve been running it for years and it’s still ASP-based.

  2. Good question, Rafe – answer is, I don’t know. In the original post, Dan had actually asked that question, but I’d actually thought that Orkut was homegrown and maybe it was. Would love to see some answers though.

  3. I think that Google looked more than platform in its acquistion of Writely. Google has found the potential in writely to get a dedicated base of users.

  4. Hey Sogrady,

    Okrut is currently a .NET based solution and they host windows servers among the same number of linux servers that cache things from the .NET Windows boxes. Google has no trouble hosting Windows.

    Also the link about second life is about second life choosing Mono, not about switching really. .NET wasn’t a choice for Second Life since all their servers are Linux based. Mono was choosen because they have scripting language in SL that runs horribly slow in their current interpreted mode, and using Mono allows them to JIT their scripts on the server side.

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