On Wednesday, S. Somasegar, the corporate vice president of the developer division at Microsoft, announced that Microsoft is opening up access to .NET and Visual Studio — a move that will lead to universal access of Microsoft’s industry-leading platform and tools.
In the coming months Microsoft plans to continue to open source the full server-side .NET Core Stack: ASP.NET 5 down, the Core Runtime, and Framework, Somasegar said.
In addition, the open source .NET will be expanded to run on Linux and Mac OS X in addition to Windows.
As of Wednesday, several components of the core .NET framework have been released and are currently available to engage with on GitHub. This is the starting point for engaging with new (and previously added) components.
For WordPress, open source has proven itself to be an effective, motivating, and successful model both for cultivating a healthy ecosystem and for building powerful software. That said, the WordPress community is filled with people who’ve developed a personal understanding of open source.
In this article, Jake Goldman, president and founder of 10up, Joost de Valk, founder of Yoast, and Josh Pollock, community manager of Pods Framework share their thoughts on Microsoft’s open source news.
Here’s what they had to say:
Torque: What lessons could Microsoft learn from the WordPress community about open source?
Jake Goldman: WordPress’s flavor of open source isn’t just about the source code itself; it’s about the potential for a vibrant community that feels a sense of ownership that open source can enable. Think stock market for engineers. Accept outside contributions, rally around and champion outside contributors just as you would major stock holders, and listen to their input. By sharing a feeling of “ownership” at the depth of code, you can elevate passion and championing of your product.
Joost de Valk: Open Source is not just about putting a license on a piece of code. If it’s to work, it needs a community. I was involved with WebKit back from the early days of it being open sourced and I’ve been involved in WordPress for quite a while too now. I’ve seen other open source projects begin and die. They didn’t die because of being too early or too late, or even because of choosing the wrong license. They died because of a lack of community.
Josh Pollock: Microsoft needs to see a return on investment for Microsoft and that means better software for less cost. That’s only going to happen if other companies can see a tangible benefit from participating in the project. That’s the lesson they can learn from WordPress. WordPress exists so Automattic can run WordPress.com, but it only works so well because so many other companies needed it to work well in order so they can use it for their own businesses.
Torque: In your opinion, is opening .NET too little, too late?
Jake Goldman: Not at all. .NET is still hugely popular in enterprise software development. Honestly, WordPress comparisons are a bit silly; .NET is a programming language and an alternative to PHP, not WordPress, and Microsoft’s developer tools still leave IDEs for PHP in the dust. PHP’s growth has more to do with its ease (its more akin to Visual Basic), and the ability to easily write code using different platforms (like Mac OS X or Linux).
You can argue that its potential has been seriously curbed on the public web by limiting those rich developer tools to Windows platforms (and licensing costs for servers that can run .NET), and it may be too late to dominate that space, but I don’t think those problems are inherently about an open code base. How many people really open (or contribute to) PHP’s source code?
Let me add a point (unaddressed by your questions): my first reaction was that this should definitely put the nail in the coffin of the “open source = insecure” mythology. Is anyone going to argue that .NET is inherently insecure?
Joost de Valk: I don’t know whether open sourcing .NET is too late, I don’t think it has to be. The question is whether Microsoft can build up community around it.
Josh Pollock: I think it’s a step in the right direction, it’s never too late to go open source. If this is going to be a success it can’t just be a different way of distributing their product. They have to get invested in creating a community. It can’t be like how Apple used open source for OSX and Safari, but didn’t create an actual open-source project.
What was your initial reaction to Microsoft’s open source news? What lessons do you think Microsoft could learn from the WordPress community about open source?