I'm trying SharpDevelop to develop c# applications. Regardless of the language and the IDE, is it free to deploy applications that use WinForms?

I've been developing with MonoDevelop just because it has a designer for Gtk# (client doesn't want to pay more for licences as to use VS...), but it's too buggy and it's making us lose lots of time. SharpDevelop looks great at first sight, but I wouldn't like the user or us to have problems with legal software.

Thank you for the data! Warm regards.


2 Answers 2


There are no legal constraints to deploy, distribute, sell or give away applications you have created with the .Net framework, whether in C# or VB.net even if those programs use WinForms (or aspx for that matter). You could license such applications as you see fit, be it under a closed source license or open source software license.

You could develop such apps without an IDE (although it could be argued that it would be less productive). The reason you are paying when you buy Visual Studio is for the tool itself, which in my opinion is quite good, not to have some right to distribute your apps.

If you do not want to pay for Visual Studio or work without an IDE, there are alternatives like you mentioned; MonoDevelop, SharpDevelop and Visual Studio Express being some of them.

Regarding the purchase of the license

On another note, I noticed you mentioned the client is not willing to pay for Visual Studio licenses.

Unless these are out of the ordinary or very specific, I would expect an independent contractor or a software development company I would hire to develop software to provide it's own tools like Visual Studio or Resharper. I say that as an independent contractor myself.

Of course, I do not know your specific situation. You may be working integrated in the client existing team and required to use his hardware and software. In that case, disregard this last statement.

  • I didn't mean the client to pay the licence, but to pay more for the development. We're not a big company, if we have higher costs, the development will be more expensive. I don't want to be stingy, there's other problem: if I make the client install paid software to run our application, I know they won't pay it, and I don't want to be—or feel— guilty of their piracy. Thank you very much!
    – Gabriel
    Sep 18, 2012 at 19:50
  • @Gabriel: sorry for my comment which may have been out of line. I currently work with the Microsoft stack so Visual Studio is a given for me, but if your company is geared towards an other devlopment platform, VS is pretty expensive for a one time deal.
    – Gilles
    Sep 19, 2012 at 0:36
  • Probably worth mentioning that you can go so far as to use msbuild.exe directly and do all your coding in Notepad. It's a bad idea, but it is, technically, an alternative to Visual Studio.
    – Bobson
    Jul 8, 2013 at 21:45

A quick look at SharpDevelop's website would indeed imply that it's a free IDE and compiler. I didn't find anything that would create a legal encumbrance.

For your broader question, what makes you think that it would not be free to deploy a windows application? Yes, you have to put the programming effort into it, but you are free to deploy your creation for free. And yes, you have to find some sort of hosting site in order to distribute the binaries, but there are a number of free sites that will help you out there too.

  • Okay. My doubt come from thinking that if I develop using Microsoft things, like with this IDE that makes use of WinForms, I should have some kind of licence (besides the legal copy of Windows, of course). Thank you!
    – Gabriel
    Sep 18, 2012 at 18:14

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