Improving Microsoft's CodePlex by contributing Microsoft's own dog food

Microsoft's CodePlex is not a bastion of great code, says eWeek. That's a problem, but one that Microsoft can solve by contributing its own code.

Wow. Double wow. I haven't seen Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols this worked up since, well, ever. He could almost be writing for The Register with the way he smacks around Microsoft for its top-25 (most active, mind you) open-source projects on CodePlex. It makes for very fun reading.

It doesn't, however, accurately portray the projects--there are some that actually sound useful and interesting --but I don't want a little (just a little, mind you) accuracy get in the way of a good ol' cage match between Microsoft and SJVN.

My favorite (and probably most apt) comment:

OK Microsoft, you want to be taken seriously by open source? I know that's a rhetorical question, I don't believe for one moment that you're ready to really embrace open source. You just want to be able to confuse the market by being able to say that you're "open source friendly." What a crock. Microsoft is open-source friendly in the same way that a butcher is friendly to a cow.

But, let's assume that Microsoft really wanted to be open-source friendly. How about instead of flapping your lips, you release some code under your b.s. community licenses that's actually not built from Microsoft proprietary parts, trashy example code, or is just a pointless "me too" project.

Agreed, for the most part. Microsoft needs to engage with the community, and the currency of the community is code. Code licensed under Open Source Initiative-certified licenses. That's it.

If Microsoft were to do this, I think it would find that the community will follow. SJVN's criticisms may be a bit strong, but his central thesis is right: the code on CodePlex isn't worthy of Microsoft, or of any strong open-source community, on the balance. No, Microsoft isn't wholly to blame for this; after all, developers can contribute what they like to CodePlex, and there's all sorts of worthless shrapnel on Sourceforge, too (in fact, the vast majority of it).

But if Microsoft were to release quality, market-leading code on CodePlex, that would up the ante and create a platform for better contributions. Microsoft, in other words, needs to lead, not follow, on CodePlex, if it wants serious open-source contributions.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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