Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Microsoft launches open source .Net package manager

Microsoft began offering on Wednesday an early version of NuPack, an open source package manager for its .Net software development platform.

Also, Microsoft is providing a beta version of its ASP.MVC (Model View Controller) 3 technology and a second beta release of its WebMatrix Web site-building tool.  [ Keep up with app dev issues and trends with InfoWorld's Fatal Exception blog and Developer World newsletter. ]

The company's NuPack technology works with .Net project types, including ASP.Net WebForms, ASP.Net MVC, and others. "NuPack is a free open source package manager that makes it easy for you to find, install, and use .Net libraries in your projects," said Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Developer Division, in a blog post. A developer preview is available at the Codeplex website.

"Our goal with NuPack is to make it as simple as possible to integrate open source libraries within .Net projects. It will be supported in all versions of Visual Studio," said Guthrie. Microsoft anticipates NuPack serving as a fundamental component of the .Net stack and that it will encourage more .Net developers to use open source libraries.

Developers maintaining open source projects, such as Moq and NHibernate, can use NuPack to package up libraries and register them with an online gallery, or catalog, that is searchable, Guthrie said. Dependency management between libraries is handled.

"The client-side NuPack tools, which include full Visual Studio integration, make it trivial for any .Net developer who wants to use one of these libraries to easily find and install it within the project they are working on," Guthrie said.

NuPack has been accepted as an addition to the Outercurve Foundation's ASP.Net Open Source Gallery. Outercurve is an open source projects organization formerly known as CodePlex and launched by Microsoft.

Microsoft on Wednesday also launched a beta release of ASP.Net MVC 3, which is an update to the ASP.Net MVC 3 Preview that shipped two months ago. The beta release includes enhancements to the Razor view engine option, including cleaner MVC integration. New view helper methods are supported as well.

The beta release is accessible at Microsoft's website. AJAX and Validation helpers in the package use an unobtrusive JavaScript approach by default. NuPack integration also is supported as well as extended dependency injection. Helpers and classes are featured to improve "everyday coding," Guthrie said.

Microsoft's WebMatrix Beta 2 offers Web page enhancements as well as improved templates and NuPack integration. WebMatrix is a tool for building Windows Web sites. The release is available at the WebMatrix website.

"Today's releases further evolve and enhance the Microsoft Web Stack," Guthrie said. "All of the above capabilities work with .Net 4 and [Visual Studio]  2010 and do not modify any existing files that ship with it -- they are all additive and safe to install on your machine."

This article, "Microsoft launches open source .Net package manager," was originally published at Follow the latest developments in business technology news and get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter.

Read more about developer world in InfoWorld's Developer World Channel.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Open Source: No one is working for free

People continue to wonder how to make money in the free and open source software world. It’s dressed up in discussions of how one makes money when you give away the software for free, or why developers are working for free. It can likewise lead to a management backlash of not contributing to FOSS projects because some think their developers are working on FOSS instead of their own work.

Here’s a different way to think about it. Everyone is familiar with the idea of a normal "bell curve" distribution representing R&D investment over time. As a technology is better understood and a product succeeds in the marketplace R&D investment increases, and over time as new technologies advance the R&D investment in the original technology and product wanes. The function can also represent the "knowledge" gained or the increase in the intellectual asset base. Taking the integral of the normal distribution gives us the total investment and is the “S”-curve that is familiar to many when discussing technology innovation over time.

Good companies develop and invest in new successive waves of sustaining technologies. Microsoft’s success in PC operating systems started with DOS, then Windows, and finally enormous investment in Windows NT. Strong companies are good at sustaining innovations and know how to jump from technology to technology along the sustained innovation path. This is easily seen when looking at a single company’s R&D investment. These observations come from Clayton Christensen’s work as described in “The Innovator’s Dilemma.”

The R&D investment curves for projects like Linux and Apache still look like bell curves despite lots of individual and corporate contributors. These contributions, however, might best be viewed as a stacked bar chart. Individual contributors invest to meet their specific needs. As a project gains wider use, more contributors get involved. Because there is enormous overlap in their common needs, the sum of the investments remains the same but everyone is sharing the costs.

Individual contributors get enormous return on their investment. (One gives a few bug fixes to the Apache httpd team, but gets an entire HTTP server in return.) Organizational contributors give for the same ROI. They get enormous return in the technology they use as a complement to their products and services or as a component in their overall solution to the customer when compared to the investment in their contributions.

One can see this with the continued growth in the Linux community as it is adopted by more and more embedded device and mobile handset manufacturers. One only need read the Linux Foundation report charting the growth statistics in the Linux kernel to understand the enormous shared value generation happening release-on-release, four times a year.

The economics of open source works. The value gained by each contributor is enormous when compared to the cost of contributing. Nobody is working for free.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Open source could be a success story, too: Red Hat CEO

MUMBAI: From airlines to open source software, Red Hat’s global CEO Jim Whitehurst has made a smooth transition. Mr Whitehurst, who was the chief operating officer(COO) of Delta Airlines in his earlier stint, and helped the bankrupt airline return to profits, is now at the helm of open source software vendor Red Hat, which competes with firms several times its size such as Microsoft and Oracle.

Mr Whitehurst’s focus has been to change Red Hat from what he calls a one-trip pony selling, supporting open source operating system Linux to an enterprise infrastructure software firm, competing on technologies like cloud. “If you look at how we are positioned now with our customers and how analysts view us, we’re an enterprise infrastructure company.

That’s been a great transition. One of our biggest contributions to open source is our growth in profitability. It demonstrates you can have a successful model around open source,” Mr Whitehurst told ET in an exclusive interview.

Coming from an airline, the 42-year-old Mr Whitehurst is an unlikely CEO for a technology company, and more so, a company that makes profits from selling free software.

When he left Delta, he was approached to do a lot of additional turnarounds, but Mr Whitehurst said rather than trying to fix something, he wanted to build something, where there was a buoyant canvas to be painted, and Red Hat fit that bill. Red Hat was also looking for someone from a non-tech background and Mr Whitehurst’s profile, with his interest in geeky stuff, matched it well.

Other than expanding Red Hat’s portfolio, Mr Whitehurst worked on diversifying its customer base to include more than just banks (NYSE Euronext is one of its customers) and telecom firms, that are typically early adopters of technology.

“When I joined, our top customer list was great — all major banks and telcos. But where’s everybody else? Where are the big mainstream users of IT? That’s one of the key things that we worked on,” said Mr Whitehurst. Red Hat today has railroads, utilities, airlines and petro chemical firms on its top 25 customer list.

“The most powerful force in technology is not Moore’s law, its inertia,” said Mr Whitehurst, who beefed up support from systems integration partners and independent software vendors to extend its presence among customers.

“People want to feel confident they can deliver what they promised. And we generally feel more confident doing something we’ve done before. So if you are a systems integrator and you want to deliver for your customer, you feel more confident using things you’ve delivered before. So there is an inertia out there that we’ve to just overcome,” he added.

Even as Microsoft and Google get more aggressive in the consumer space, Mr Whitehurst is clear that Red Hat will not dabble in the consumer business.

“We’re an enterprise software company and we will stay focused there at least for the medium term... Look at Apple, they’re a consumer company. Look at Oracle, they’re an enterprise company. Very few companies have been able to do both well, and not just in technology but in business in general.” Red Hat is participating in India’s ambitious Unique ID project through its partners.