Dot Net is Open?

Thu 13 November 2014

Courtesy of +Robert Butterworth comes the news that .Net is now open source. Future development will be done out of GitHub (!). Is the timing - on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall - just a coincidence?

In the short term this probably only means that some projects which have avoided .Net for being closed-source may consider using C# or other .Net languages. Over the medium term it probably presages a 3-6% decline in the use of the dollar sign in derisive online references to Micro$oft. What’s most interesting, though, is what it might mean for Unity, which is hard to predict but tantalizing to speculate on.

Mono is an impressive effort but it’s always been rough around the edges (particularly in the supporting toolsets - nothing makes you appreciate Visual Studio like a few hours with MonoDevelop! Since MS picked up SyntaxTree and made UnityVS available to all, the editor situation has been a lot better. But the guesswork around different DotNet subsets (and some general wonkiness in the deep-down internals of building big Unity projects) is a blemish on Unity’s otherwise nicely polished cross-platform credentials.

A lot of the reason for that is that Mono was developed in a ‘clean room’ - for legal reasons neither the Mono team nor the MS .Net team were allowed to actually look at each other’s code. It’s quite impressive that the result works as well as it does. but throwing open the curtains has got to have some benefits as we move forward. It’s particularly cool that the .Net tean are actually working with de Izcaza and Xamarin on creating future cross-platform implementations,

It’s even possible that this will benefit Maya, by making it possible to do a full-stack .Net port for Maya’s running on Linux and OSX. And maybe, just maybe, this might make things better for the Silverlight IronPython web tech, which would be pretty cool, given the lame state of Python in the browser.

Of course, it’s hard to see how any of these things will really play out. It’s not like no big company has ever “Open-Sourced” something before as a PR friendly way of ending support for it. But it’s always more fun to be an optimist.

Interesting side note: even they don’t use TFS for version control. See, optimism is sometimes justified - every tyranny falls some day.