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Microsoft And Open Source: Hoping For Better Collaboration

By now, you've probably all heard that Microsoft is moving to an open development model for ASP.NET MVC and some other ASP.NET projects. Even though the source code of ASP.NET MVC has always been available under an open source license, its development followed a closed development model. This meant that outside contributions weren't possible, nor were we able to follow the actual commits in the MVC source code repository. With the recent announcements, this is no longer the case and I think this is fantastic news. It finally enables collaboration between Microsoft employees and people outside of Microsoft on a strategically important Microsoft product. This is good for Microsoft as well as the open source .NET community.

I hope that this newfound appreciation for Open Source within Microsoft will lead to another huge improvement in collaborative development in the open source .NET community. While Microsoft is now open to accepting contributions from the community, it would be a tremendous step forward if Microsoft would also contribute to other prominent open source .NET projects in the future. In the past, we've seen numerous open source .NET projects become popular and widely used. And unfortunately, Microsoft responded to some of those projects by producing their own libraries and frameworks that basically do the same thing. Except that, for most of those projects, they never quite matched the quality of the open source projects they were inspired by. If only all of that effort spent on duplicating already existing libraries would've been spent on improving what was already there, the entire .NET community would've been better for it.

I'd love to see a Microsoft that works with open source developers and encourages them, instead of trying to duplicate their efforts whenever they feel they need to provide their own library or framework for something that's already covered by a superior open source alternative. These duplicated projects only alienate people that at one point were passionate enough about the .NET platform to work on improving it for free, in their spare time. These are the people that Microsoft needs to cherish and nourish instead of competing with them. Microsoft has shown some interesting signs of better understanding of open source development and collaboration in the past year or so. Here's to hoping they take that critical next step as well.

Written by Davy Brion, published on 2012-04-09 16:04:48
Categories: opinions

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