CyberTech Rambler

June 27, 2006

CodePlex – Long overdue initiative from Microsoft

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 1:20 pm

CodePlex is Microsoft soon-to-be-announce initiative to host projects using Microsoft’s platform.
However, I have reservation with Mr LaMonica characterisation on ZDNet that “[CodePlex] is a venue for Microsoft to provide programmers with tools available under its shared source licence”. The phrase “to provide” suggests that the site is to be a unidirectional thing (Microsoft give, others take) but the second sentense on CodePlex Website (“You can use CodePlex to create new projects to share with your fellow developers around the world…”) suggests Microsoft wants it to be a place where people create and share codes on Microsoft. If you read the legal notice, there is nothing that restricts the licensing for the software to Shared Source License. Having said that, the wording of the website’s legal notice strongly suggest it is indeed designed as a unidirectional thing and I cannot discount the fact that one might be restricted to share source licenses when creating new projects.

Is it Microsoft’s answer to sourceforge.net? No. It falls significantly short of it. In Sourceforge you finds end users programs as well as development tools. With CodePlex you get only the latter. Since it is concentrating on development tools, how does this compare with eclipse.org? So far, all projects listed seems to have one way or another linked to Visual Studio. This is not surprising as Visual Studio is one of the heavy weight in Windows Software Development (not forgetting to mention, a Microsoft product). This makes it analogeous to eclipse.org gyrating around the Eclipse Platform. Like eclipse.org, CodePlex concentrates on providing development tools. However, important Eclipse projects such as Eclipse Tool Projects and Eclipse Technolgy Projects have a more rigid top-down command architecture, with formal procedures and voting  process for new project creation and commitees of workers, CodePlex takes a more natural-evolutionary approach.

My first take is it is a hybrid between sourceforge.net and eclipse.org. It is a long overdue initiative from Microsoft. Microsoft needs a site to act as a center of activity for itself and partners on share source initiative. It should also harness the strong community sense among the developers.

Should Microsoft had used sourceforge instead? No. Arguing that Microsoft should use sourceforge will be like arguing Eclipse or Apache should use sourceforge as well. All three are strong enough to stand on their own and benefits from having their own site if only for branding purposes.

I do not think Microsoft has sourceforge in its cross-hair but eclipse.org and Netbeans. First of all, they are the direct competitors on development tools front. Sourceforge.net has been around for so long and the lack of any triggering event that focus Microsoft’s attention on sourceforge.net.

How will CodePlex evolve? Only time can tell. It is an (perhaps more) alternative for Microsoft Tooling developers to use CodePlex rather than sourceforge. Whether they migrate or not will depends on the management of the website. There will be teething problems in the coming few months but lets see how it gets on in a year’s time.

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