A reader asks “What is this about?” pointing to the new Microsoft CodePlex site, which mentions NUnit.
For more info on what Microsoft is trying to achieve with the site, keep an eye on Jim Newkirk’s blog. What I’ll try to do in this article is describe what the NUnit team is doing on CodePlex and why we’re there. Just for fun, since we started out with a question, I’ll organize it as a sort of imaginary interview…
So what is this about?
Microsoft has announced a new open source project repository called CodePlex. They invited a number of non-Microsoft open source contributors to help them in designing the site and to place projects on it during the Beta period. I was one of that group and I’ll be working with other members of the NUnit team to put the new site through its paces.
Why is Microsoft doing this?
I have no inside info on this one. I do know that a number of people at Microsoft would like to see the company come to a better understanding of the open source community and have championed this site as a way of drawing closer to it. It most likely has something to do with competitive advantage as well.
Why was NUnit invited to participate?
Because we’re one of the most widely used pieces of open source software used on the .Net platform.
Why Did You Agree to be Involved?
Because it may be an opportunity to be part of an “opening up” of Microsoft to a community toward which it has been less than welcoming in the past. Because being involved is the only way to have any influence at all. Because being involved is the only way to judge how welcome the open source community really is at Microsoft.
Do You Have Any Reservations?
You’re kidding, right?
So, that’s a Yes?
Well, Microsoft has said some very strange things about open source in the past and continues to do so. On the other hand, the people we’re working with do “get” it. We don’t know whether they will succeed in influencing others in their company, but we hope they will and we plan to help them.
What about technical issues?
The biggest one seems to be how well a VSTS-based site will work for folks using the free clients that Microsoft is distributing – or the future open source clients that we imagine will spring up. This is a good example of the kind of issue that we can only resolve by putting some code on the site.
Will you be moving NUnit to CodePlex?
Maybe, but not at present. We’re just beginning the release cycle for NUnit 2.4 on SourceForge. We expect to complete the release there over the next few months. In order to evaluate the site more critically, we want to do an entire project and have selected the NUnitLite project for that purpose.
What is NUnitLite?
I envision it as a light-weight version of NUnit that people can add right into their projects. There are many purposes for which the full NUnit framework is overkill. I’ll be blogging more about how I see this project but utimately the community will decide what it needs to be.
Does moving to CodePlex mean you will be using a Microsoft license?
While I like the Microsoft Common License, it hasn’t been reviewed by OSI so many people won’t consider it a valid open source license. Also, it’s not a template license, which is an approach I’ve come to appreciate and would prefer in future licenses I select.
NUnit is still using the zlib/libpng license. We’re currently planning on GPL for the NUnitLite project and that’s what it says on the Microsoft site. There could be some issues with the GPL for those folks who like to distribute their tests with the code, so we’ll be seeking input on that question.
Will you continue to support Mono and other non-Microsoft runtimes?
NUnitLite will support Mono and NUnit will continue to support it, no matter where we host our project.
So what’s next for NUnit?
We’re considering starting a project for discussing and writing stories for NUnit 3.0 on CodePlex. This could go on in parallel with the hands-on development of NUnitLite. If all goes well with our evaluation of the site, we might then start the next major release of NUnit on CodePlex. Right now, however, the focus for NUnit is on the 2.4 release, which will be on SourceForge.
I’ll be bloggin more on NUnitLite, NUnit 3.0 and our use of the CodePlex site over the coming months.