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Top 25 hottest open-source projects at Microsoft

Microsoft's Codeplex keeps getting better, and showcases a world of opportunity for the traditionally closed-source vendor.

Bayarsaikhan has posted the top 25 most active open-source projects on Microsoft's Codeplex site. Looking at the list, it looks like Microsoft developers spend their time doing much the same as the rest of the Java/other world: play games and make the Web world pretty with AJAX. You can see the top project interests below in the Codeplex tag cloud.

Codeplex is interesting to me for several reasons, but primarily because it demonstrates something that I've argued for many years now: open source on the Windows platform is a huge opportunity for Microsoft. It is something for the company to embrace, not despise.

And it does several things well (better than Sourceforge, in my opinion):

  1. Codeplex projects are real, living projects. The site doesn't house myriads of project orphans, which Sourceforge unfortunately does (the vast majority of Sourceforge "projects" are nothing of the sort.

  2. While I think a universal site like Sourceforge is helpful in providing a bazaar of diverse open-source projects, Codeplex offers a compelling one-stop shop for open source on Microsoft platforms. This wouldn't be nearly as interesting if the Microsoft platform weren't so big and widely adopted, but given that it is, it's a convenient place to find Microsoft-related open source.

  3. Codeplex requires its projects to be licensed under OSI [Open Source Initiative)-approved licenses. So does Sourceforge (sort of, most of the time), but I think it's significant that Microsoft made this a condition. Codeplex is trying to play by the open-source community's rules.

Anyway, back to what is most active on Codeplex. As shown in the tag cloud here, a lot of it is geeky stuff (frameworks, extensions of Web scripting languages, etc.):


...and a big component is Sharepoint. I've warned about the dangers of Sharepoint to end-users, but developers aren't taking the hint, apparently.

Here are some of my favorites from the top 25:

  • Vista Battery Saver - A small program that can help you save up to 70 percent of your battery life by disabling some CPU-heavy Vista features.

  • Community Kit for SharePoint - A set of best practices, templates, Web Parts, tools, and source code that enables practically anyone to create a community Web site based on SharePoint technology for practically any group of people with a common interest. (This is the sort of thing that makes Drupal interesting, too--something that makes a content management system very easy to grok and from which to derive value.)

  • Facebook Developer Toolkit - While I still don't have a clue as to how or why to use Facebook, this project contains .Net wrappers to the Facebook API, which helps .Net developers write applications that leverage the Facebook platform.

Microsoft has consistently lowered the bar for developers, and Codeplex seems to be doing a good job of doing the same thing for open-source development on the Microsoft platform.