Plus one on Ayende’s OSS post

Posted by Chris on December 11, 2006

Ayende Rahien recently wrote a very well thought through post discussing The Problem of Open Source in the Microsoft World. This is a must-read for any .NET developer who has reached the stage of looking for tools outside of Microsoft. As Ayende describes, a big part of the problem is that there is one major vendor, Microsoft, who not only gives us the basic framework we use to create applications on but also the tools we use to do so with. This means that we can never expect to see built-in support for creating and running NUnit tests. Microsoft has the strength to respond to a need of .NET developers (unit testing their code in this case) by creating their own framework (MS Test) and promoting that, instead of using (or at least including support for) existing de-facto standards (NUnit and MbUnit in this case) already being used by .NET developers.

While I can hope that this might change (as said by others, some IDE competition would be great) I am afraid that it will not happen anytime soon. So what can we do in the meantime? I think it is important for those of us who are using OSS tools (or simply tools from other vendors) to promote them in the .NET community. I am not saying that there always exists a better alternative to Microsoft products, often there does not, but it is important that we help the rest of the community see and evaluate the alternatives. I think some good work is being done here. At öredev, the largest developer conference in Sweden, the .NET track consisted of ten seminars and two half-day workshops. Half of these (one workshop and five seminars) discussed some new technology from Microsoft (Atlas, .NET 3.0, Linq etc), but half of them where mostly about educating the .NET community about professional development using TDD, domain-driven design and AOP. These are competencies that are much more common and standard knowledge in the Java community than what they are in .NET.

At the latest SNUG meeting I did my presentation on testable user interface code and Joel Fjordén and Richard Houltz discussed tools for developer productivity (CodeRush/Refactor and Resharper was also mentioned), coding guidelines (from outside of Microsoft, sort of) and how to enforce them using Joel’s CodeStyleEnforcer plugin. This is what we need to do, getting the .NET community together at meetings and facilitating discussions about professional development and creating better code, by showing what tools are available. This of course includes Microsoft tools, but we should not be limited to this one major vendor.

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