I heard about http://code.google.com from Dare. Seems like an interesting “olive branch” offered to the OSS world after they took heat for “taking everything and not giving anything back”. The top claims “Welcome to Google Code, Google’s place for Open Source software”. I’ll be very curious to see how this evolves over time.
If you read the FAQ it seems that they are encouraging their employees to nominate their “20% Spare Time” projects for inclusion on the site. I’ve been trying to push teams at Microsoft to do this for a while with the internal tools we develop. Check out the new version of the VBCommenter project . This tool already had over over 30k downloads with no marketing and the newest version has been greatly enhanced by the community!
If you look you’ll find a LOT of shared source Microsoft employee written applications all over the web beyond what is listed on our shared source home page. The problem is that most of them are scattered and not well categorized onto one site. Something that I hope Jason would like to reconcile. Our shared source home page also doesn’t offer RSS feeds to find out about new projects. (Maybe Scoble can beat them with his RSS stick.) Hey Jason, you should start by just getting your blog feed pulled onto the site.
Discovery #1: I was browsing our shared “developer tools” offerings today and just now discovered that the first product I worked on as an SDET straight of our college has now been been code shared! I shared an office with the developer and the PM was across the hall. I have no idea how long this has been available, but its a great example of something that I don’t think we productized well that is now being offered up the community. The products in question are the “Visual Studio .Net Academic Tools” that include our Assignment Manager Server with faculty and student VS client tools. With these tools you can set up, what many Schools home brew, a computer science project submission system fully integrated into VS. The Professor would create an assignment with skeleton code, publish it to the server, students download the assignment in VS, fill in the blanks, and submit it back to the server that builds and runs a series of IO tests on the code submitted. Ok, enough reminiscing.
The second thing I like about what google is doing is highlighting community contributions to the open source world. Obviously they seem to highlight projects that take advantage of their APIs, but its what they should be doing. This was my motivation when I started the Developer Powertoys Blog… to highlight customers that build things to support windows developers… because they deserve it. Now, if only our main shared source page started highlighting non-MS contributions.
Discovery #2: The number of projects available is only one metric. Perhaps not even the best one, but so far MS is in the lead in this category. Get this… Google is following rather than leading here! Google started with four projects that are designed to help developers write better code. I haven’t personally used the tools, but I think this is the right direction. Anyway, off the top of my head, I started thinking about the tools with shared source that Microsoft employees have made available.
- Academic Tools
- Powertoys for VS2003 including VBCommenter, VSWindowManager, OnlineSearch, VSMouseBindings, VSTweak, VSEdit, and the VSCmdShell.
- Various Patterns and Practices Libraries
- Visual Basic Powerpack (package of winforms controls)
At this point I hit a wall. Unfortunately I believe there are a TON more projects scattered across the Internet beyond samples that Microsoft employees have made available, but its difficult to find them. I can’t make a judgment over who is offering more value for developers, but this exercise made it clear to me that we (Microsoft) need a better umbrella to capture all of our projects under one roof.
Disclaimer: I do not work on the Shared Source team at Microsoft. My name is not Jason Matusow (despite already being mistaken for him once). This is purely the opinion of someone that has been trying to push Developer Division to release projects like this for a while and sincerely wants to see Microsoft, as a company, pursue more engagement like this with developers because I truly believe it will be to the benefit of the community, Microsoft, and to our stock price. But hey, if you are at Tech-Ed and want to talk to me more about this feel free to vote for my BOF session.