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I began contemplating how the .NET open source community compares with others today. There is no real way to compare apples to apples because most languages and projects are cross-platform today. Probably the best comparison is between Java and .NET but I will list stats from most of the major languages. Also, there is no single place to gather statistics from. Probably the most popular .NET Open Source Community is GotDotNet while SourceForge is probably the most popular for Java and C++. So, I will give a list of statistics from each site and how they compare:

Source Forge3 GotDotNet3
C++1 14,946 C++ 882
Java 14,272 Java 0
C# 2,243 C# 5,687
VB.NET2 113 VB.NET 3,363
PHP 10,560 PHP 0
Delphi/Kylix 14,445 Delphi/Kylix 0
Assembly 1,509 Assembly 0
Perl 5,730 Perl 0
Python 3,815 Python 0

  1. SourceForge does not distinguish between C++ and C++.NET.
  2. There are some projects that are listed under the Visual Basic language that use VB.NET.
  3. Many projects on SourceForge are written using multiple languages (such as C++ and Java) though they can be browsed per language. This may also be the case for GotDotNet.

So, where do we stand? I do not think we will ever match the C/C++ communities for the simple reason that we will never have an open-source operating system written in .NET like Linux. This community has an open source operating system written with open source tools running thousands of open source applications written with those same tools. We have Microsoft who have published several top-notch operating systems with what I would call the best IDE ever comprised (though Eclipse is outstanding in it's own right and a closer match than what you may think) and they are only getting better. Also, the .NET community, in many respects, duplicates what has all ready been done in the other communities. (NUnit, NAnt, many different bug collection apps duplicating BugZilla, etc. This DOES NOT undermine the value of the projects or the work put into them, they are valuable contributions.) Where is the innovation? There are some exceptions, but it is generally the rule. Finally, we do not have a strong open source repository like Source Forge for the .NET community. GotDotNet is great but it is ONLY the first step. And, it should be a site not created and operated by Microsoft. What do you think it will take? Posted on Thursday, March 10, 2005 8:08 PM .NET , Open Source , Musings & Ramblings | Back to top


Comments on this post: How does the .NET Open Source Community compare?

# re: How does the .NET Open Source Community compare?
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A couple of thoughts...

Although GDN has a number of C# and VB .NET projects, most are just power toys or someone's class library. I don't think GDN and SourceForge can be compared. Although GDN attempts to serve the same context as SourceForge, it really doesn't - the content focus is quite different.

I don't believe the success of open source is stronger in non-.NET communities becuase those communities have open source operating systems and tools, etc. The big issue is how .NET culture looks to Microsoft first for approval on tools/approaches. Even though there's a vibrant thrid-party market for .NET tools, most .NET developers wait till Microsoft ships something before getting engaged. It's only recently that Microsoft developer culture started to emulate Java culture and to look to itself for tools. It's early yet. Many still believe that only the Official Tools are safe. They would rather wait for VSTS than to download NUnit and begin learning now.

The reason why the .NET open source community is porting Java tools is that .NET practice maturity has a lot of catch up to do. Although the technologies might be similar, the way that the Java community uses technology typically reflects a much deeper understanding of software development. The tools that the Java community has created to support their practices are being ported to .NET as .NET culture wakes up to the realizations of why these tools exist. Microsoft doesn't provide much practice guidance, and doesn't ecourage practice maturity as part of its core value proposition as much as it encourages the purchase of their products - and that's ok, it's what they do after all. Open source is a new focus in Microsoft developer culture and it'll likely be a while before we're innovating in open source at the rate and depth of the Java community.

Why do we need a separate community for .NET open source? Keeping to SourceForge will bolster the cross-pollination of knowledge and practice. It's this cross-pollination that brought about NUnit, NAnt, etc. It's necessary to the innovation.

-s
Left by Scott Bellware on Mar 12, 2005 4:08 PM

# re: How does the .NET Open Source Community compare?
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I agree with much of what you say but there are a few points that I think are invalid. Mainly that SourceForge is a necessity. I don't think it is. With the accessibility of today's search engines, any thing you want, you can find. There are MANY features that could be plugged into VS.NET that SourceForge will never provide like GotDotNet's source client.

Your point about 'catching up' is very valid but are we not approaching that scale? Surely, there are many more Java projects than .NET projects but many are slightly altered copies of previous development efforts. How many more projects are left that are essential to the developer community. I also wonder what will happen when Mono becomes widely adopted by Linux developers waiting to make the jump. I think that will bring about real innovation.
Left by Jason Bentley on Mar 16, 2005 2:27 PM

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