The Web Gambit

Thoughts on Web Development

The open letter to Microsoft from the .NET Community

David Starr, of Elegant Code, wrote an open letter to Microsoft’s Scott Guthrie (General Manager of software development) where he expressed the community’s frustration with MS regarding their approach to using open source tools/solutions for the .NET platform and copying them (albeit poorly) for future releases of the .NET platform. Guthrie’s most recent admission of a Microsoft supported MVC framework has lit the fire again in this debate as anything coming out of Redmond would be a clear competitor to the MonoRail Framework which is now gaining ground.

Most of the time the MS branded version of development tools is far less powerful than its open source equivalent. A perfect example is the .NET Unit Testing Framework within Microsoft’s Visual Studio Team System. It is clearly a copy of NUnit, but it can’t test User Interface level components even though the UI is where most development projects need the most testing. As a result, few developers are even using it.

David also compares Microsoft’s approach to Sun’s approach. Sun supported a number of open source solutions in their in publications and conferences. Sun recognized that the open source community would best be able to develop innovative ideas for the Java platform and it was in Sun’s best interest to support these efforts. As a result we now have very good solutions for testing, frameworks, and automated builds like jUnit, Struts, and Ant. Java’s success as a platform is very clearly tied to these solutions and Microsoft should realize that bringing down the wrath of the developer community is the quickest way to kill your platform.

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