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Release of ASP.NET MVC Under Open Source License Draws Mixed Reviews

Microsoft is drawing mixed reactions to the release last week of the source code for its ASP.NET Model View Controller (MVC). The tooling was released under the Open Source Initiative (OSI)-recognized Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL).

The move came just two weeks after the release of ASP.NET MVC, Microsoft's design pattern for test-driven development of enterprise-scale Web applications. It also comes as Microsoft last week continued to emphasize its open source initiatives.

"The Ms-PL contains no platform restrictions and provides broad rights to modify and redistribute the source code," said Scott Guthrie in a blog post last week.

"It is one of a number of small technology projects that Microsoft has released using OSI-approved licenses, and as such it is representative of Microsoft's growing using of, and contribution to, open source," said 451 Group analyst Matthew Aslett in an e-mail.

ASP.NET MVC joins other Microsoft-spawned open source projects, including the Managed Extensibility Framework, Dynamic Language Runtime, IronRuby, the AJAX Control Toolkit and the Silverlight Toolkit. "These are all baby steps, but more and more folks at the company are starting to 'get it,'" wrote Microsoft Senior Program Manager Scott Hanselman in his blog. "We won't rest until we've changed the way we do business."

Telerik Chief Strategy Officer Stephen Forte is concerned about giving MVC to developers to freely modify and redistribute. "Does this mean that there will be several different implementations of MVC out there, one supported by Microsoft and others not?" asked Forte, who is also a Microsoft regional director in New York. "How will my software run on each implementation? I am afraid of fragmentation."

Steve Michelotti, a principal software engineer at Applied Information Sciences, said in an e-mail that he welcomed the move. "The development lifecycle of the MVC framework really demonstrated a mindset shift," said Michelotti, who authored a January cover story in Visual Studio Magazine on ASP.NET.

"The involvement of the developer community in a much more transparent development process resulted in great innovation and a higher-quality product overall," he noted. "I'm hopeful Microsoft will continue similar approaches on other development projects."

David Christiansen, a senior developer with Collaborative Software Initiative, which helps companies and public organizations build solutions based on open source software and methodologies, said he looks forward to seeing if different flavors of MVC emerge as people tweak it for their own purposes. "People often underestimate the power of the open source license in driving adoption, but I think it's a critical part of marketing a platform," he said.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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