Today a quite heated debate opened up on twitter on a number of questions concerning open source development in .NET Doing a full recap of all the points being made would be rather tedious but have a look at Glenn Block's twitter feed most of the question and arguments raised boiled down to:
- Does Microsoft do enough to promote OSS projects?
- Should Microsoft even step up or should the community do more?
- Is there even a OSS .net community?
This also sparked quite an interesting conversation on Jabbr that i sadly just missed out on. I went back to preserve the conversation here if you'd like to read it back. You'll have to scroll down to Wednesday, April 03, 2013, forgive my laziness here.
I've been running an open source project for the past two years with success, I've had many people contribute and submit issues and the project is in use at some great sites out there and I couldn't be happier with the community. The fact remains though that I am still the project's only main maintainer and the only one answering questions on github and stackoverflow.
The only exposure I get is through making sure my documentation is on par and the project looks like its stable and still maintained when people hit the readme page on github. People have tweeted kind words, like this or this, for which I'm super grateful!, that helps create a possitive buzz when someone googles for a .NET elasticsearch client.
To be honest though I think this is too be expected and I am OK with this. Unless you are lucky to have someone on board as a second maintainer, opensource means you have to do all the hard work. I don't write code to please Microsoft so I ask for nothing in return. I write code because I need it, I share it so that others may benefit. If enough people do, which I believe to be the case even in the .NET dev world, you get a community going.
Although I dont expect anything from Microsoft I really don't get anything from Microsoft either. jetBrains donated a free Resharper license, my awesome employer Q42 even donates a day a week of my time to the project. Microsoft does not hand out MVP's for doing well in opensource, no msdn subscription, no reach outs from community managers.
To be fair as a community I do think we too can do better, we don't have a go to website everybody goes to for daily updates on whats going on in the .net world. Finding like minded developers is an exercise in who follows who on twitter.
If we're too thrive as a community doing .NET OSS development it should be despite of Microsoft, not because of it.
Which is also why I'll refrain from bullet-listing everything Microsoft does wrong..
As a closing note I like to think if my project, that serves quite a niche, gets so many involved either through raising issues or sending pull requests I am anything but pessimistic about the community. Even if C# is only the 11th most popular language on github.
Comments on this post are linked to this post's issue page on GitHub