“.NET is all about dashboards” or “Where is the open source in .NET”?

Disclaimer: I work at Microsoft. I also love open source.

I don’t consider myself a typical reader of MSDN magazine – to play to stereotypes, I imagine the average MSDN magazine reader as an enterprise dev who spends his days architecting WCF RIA services or building SharePoint Workflows (I, on the other hand, don’t even know what that means, and I write my own data hacks using little more than C# or Python).

So imagine my surprise when I cracked open July’s MSDN Magazine and noticed that every other ad was for a .NET dashboard charting solution. I counted at least 7 ads. Yikes!


What does this mean?

  1. The suits demand dashboards. This much is clearly true. Sadly, this conjures up images of pasty dudes building sparkline charts and gauges (who the hell even uses gauges in a dashboard?) Yuck.
  2. The demand for dashboards continues unchecked! I remember cracking open an MSDN Magazine almost a decade ago and it was rife with the same types of ads. Clearly dashboard control makers are living off the fat of the land.
  3. As an open source / former startup guy, I can see how a casual reader of MSDN Magazine can draw a more insidious conclusion: .NET is boring, and there is no open source presence.

On casual inspection, startups have all these delicious options at their disposal like RubyToolbox and PyPi packages. Where the heck is all this stuff in .NET? Scratch the surface of .NET and you will find plenty of exciting open source developments:

  1. Do yourself a favor and get NuGet. NuGet is to .NET what gem is to Ruby. You will get access to thousands of unique packages (as of this writing, 2,314). Installing and updating packages is a snap – you can do it all from a PowerShell console. It even adds the right references to your project. Open source FTW. I recently wrote a data mining tool for my own use, and ended up using LinqToCSV and HTMLAgilityPack.
  2. Check out Orchard Project. Orchard is to .NET what Drupal is to PHP. In other words, it’s a very powerful CMS engine. It’s new but it is already cleaner than Drupal in some ways. I like what I see here.
  3. Start a project on CodePlex. Windows Phone 7 open source projects seem to be all the rage these days.
  4. Check out Mono. Mono is an open source, cross-platform CLR runtime. I saw a cool demo on my friend’s laptop where he ran an F# script on his Mac using Mono. Rad.

I hope I haven’t offended any enterprise WCF RIA architects – for all I know you guys hack open source in your free time For everyone else who thinks .NET is not about open source, I suggest you try these links out.

Happy hacking!