22 January, 2008

.NET Reference Source project launched!

Moving away from tradition, Microsoft has launched the .NET Reference Source project. Yeah, Microsoft has gone "open-source". Basically, this new feature would allow developers and enthusiasts to view / debug the .NET Framework source code in Visual Studio 2008 IDE.

What's in it for me?
  • Guidance: The source code would reveal the patterns and practices followed (and preached) by the Microsoft team. This would help architects and developers to follow (or customize) these best practices for their solutions.

  • Defect identification: The source of an application defect can be traced inside the .NET Framework source code (and not just upto the user code, previously). System defects can be reported to Microsoft and alternative code flows can be used temporarily.

  • Community feedback: The biggest advantage of "open-source" concept is the feedback received from the community. Microsoft could incorporate developer feedback in their further releases and make the .NET brand more robust.

  • Out-of-the-box: Once the small hotfix (see suggested readings below) is installed, the source code (.NET 2.0/3.0/3.5/further) can be viewed or debugged in Visual Studio 2008 (only). I admit that few one-time configurations (to download symbols to local cache) are required, but it is still a one-time activity. Currently, most of the Framework classes are supported and indications are that more / all classes would be added in the future.
  • Suggested readings

    • Scott Guthrie introduces this concept nicely in his blog.
    • Shawn Burke's blog is a detailed write-up on this concept and illustrates technical details step-by-step.

    Hope this post and the references encourage you to appreciate (or utilize) Microsoft's initiative.

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