What more could Microsoft be doing to support open source projects on its platforms?


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9 comments

Robert Greyling
2/4/2015 9:31:38 AM
I’m interested to see where this move to opensource the CoreCLR takes us – does it spell the end for mono? Or are they joining forces in terms of teams and will there be a cohesive output that works cross platform once and for all? I don’t know, but it feels like the right ingredients are there now.

Paul Wheeler
2/4/2015 2:11:49 PM
I've also been wondering what the future of mono is now that the CoreCLR will be cross-platform. I'm hoping this is just the start of the direction Microsoft will be going, and we'll begin to see more support for community open source projects. If Microsoft wants their platform to succeed in the long term, I think that is critical.

Robert Greyling
2/4/2015 4:38:30 PM
I agree with you @paulwheeler. Speaking from personal experience, Microsoft did a heck of a lot (possibly unknowingly) to completely crush other open source View Engines written for ASP.NET MVC when it brought Razor to the market. There were a number to choose from including NHaml, NDjango, NVelocity as well as the project I personally look after – the Spark View Engine. For some reason we’ll never know, the choice to embrace and extend one of these was never made my Microsoft. I wonder what the fate of Mono will be in this context given that it's SO popular.

Jeremy Morgan 
3/11/2015 9:41:25 PM
What more can they do? At this point it is a culture problem. There is the whole "Wintel/M$/Bill Gates is evil" thing from the 90s hanging over their head still. They are a for profit company whose primary business is selling software. This is not a good fit for the open source community, and may never be. But does that mean Microsoft is wasting their time or making a mistake? Not at all because these latest moves are already attracting new developers. Personally I've always kept one foot in each boat (.Net/Windows and Open Source/Linux stuff) and I see the difference in the crowds and feel like I understand the culture of each camp. The crowds are very different. I have seen more movement towards the .Net stack, mostly from curious open source people but I don't know that they'll ever move over in large amounts. I try to push people there because I honestly think the ecosystem is awesome. I'd put .Net up against Ruby or Python or Node any day of the week. But many open source people simply don't care because Microsoft killed their pappy. I have no idea how to win them over. Overall if Microsoft wants to succeed in open source, they are on the right track. Keep pushing and building awesome stuff so when a curious developer starts tinkering they get hooked. But as far as getting more developers on board I'm not sure what more can be done.

Robert Greyling
3/11/2015 9:50:06 PM
I think you're right @JeremyCMorgan, and in my personal experience, it was very much *the Titanic crushing a passing row boat rather than an ice berg* type scenario - I just don't think they knew they did it, they just ploughed through and kept on going. I'm just hoping that Mono is more of an iceberg in this particular case and rather than running head first blindly, that they consider the consequences and work with rather than against this time. In all fairness, that does seem to be happening more and more lately as their eyes have been opened by the like of the Hanselman's and the Gu's working at it from the inside. In short - I have high hopes :)

Jeremy Morgan 
3/11/2015 10:14:03 PM
Definitely! I think Mono should either be absorbed slowly into the MS stack or at the very least MS should throw some paid developers at it to keep it going. And yes, the Scotts have been crucial to all this happening. There is simply no way they would have even made it this far without the work of those two, who truly "get it" when it comes to OSS.

Matthew Adams
3/11/2015 10:06:32 PM
I'd be interested to know how many of the (many!) people who are contributing to MS OSS were previous OSS contributors. I also think you have to look at the internal directive that teams -must not- build tech if it already exists in the OSS world, but pick the best of breed and contribute to it. e.g. Source control, make tool etc. That magically coopts a whole host of OSS developers into the MS world whether they like it or not.

Jeremy Morgan 
3/12/2015 9:22:33 PM
Any directive that asks you don't reinvent the wheel is a smart move and this could create some mixing for sure. "Traditional" OSS items get pulled into a Microsoft project, are improved and pulled back. This kind of mixing and blurring of lines is nothing but beneficial to everyone.

Robert Greyling
3/11/2015 10:13:52 PM
That's true Matt - but it wasn't long ago I recall having talks with mates who worked at Microsoft, and *their* internal directives were that even looking at OSS code would open Microsoft up to legal disputes, and so they were banned from even looking at it for fear of producing something internally that looked a lot like something already in the OSS landscape. The funniest part is how many times they actually did that anyway before realising that the path they've taken now is much more sane...