A couple of days ago we had a bit of drama on twitter. Nothing too shocking or serious. someone complained about the state of OSS in the .NET ecosystem and the discussion has turned very quickly to other issues, namely what Microsoft is doing to encourage OSS and its MVP program. The main discussion turned around some of the more active and contributing members of the .NET OSS community and their frustration with what MS are trying to push and advocate for. They were suggesting that part of the problem with OSS in the .net world is the fact that Microsoft tend to favourite and nominate as MVPs developers with preferences to solutions created by Microsoft over open source and community driven solutions. It was very easy to understand and sympathise with the arguments that were made. These were developers who spent a lot of their own time to create solutions to problems many of us experience every day at work, some of them only to see their efforts reduced to nothing by the eventual rise of a Microsoft alternative. However at the same time it made me, personally, feel abandoned. Well, I say personally, but I suppose what I'm really talking about is the dark matter.
Now, at the time this took place on twitter, I was attending in the real world a talk about .net core and the future of asp.net, which was delivered by a Microsoft technical evangelist. The talk had a really impressive turnout in local terms and was a big success . It seems most attendees were really keen about where Microsoft are heading with .net core. The speaker being an evangelist, prompted in me the urge to pose a question on Microsoft engagement on bringing these ideas and technologies to everyone - including the more oldie worldie developers who swear by the older MS vision and stack, that of wcf, webforms, soap and so on. I made the point about the immense difference between what he showed us and the grim reality of the everyday of so many of us, living on the "technological outskirts" of our ecosystem, working under or with archaic decision makers, the dark matter. I argued that while the talk was inspiring, he was preaching to the choir, and wished to understand what he, as an evangelist, and Microsoft as a company were planning to do to get those archaic decision makers on board with the new. While I had the chance and the privilege to spend some years in London, working in highly innovative, enriching and cooperative environments with the latest technologies and open source solutions and truly enjoying myself, today I'm in a place where open source is rather frowned upon, synonymous with insecure, untrustworthy tools, simply because I am a .net developer. That lack of support for OSS felt by those highly talented community members is ten times more difficult for the average developer who wishes to actually use these tools. I suppose this is our modern take on a squash and a squeeze.
Needless to say, the answer I received was along the lines of officially we cannot push these technologies on every client, we're hoping to appeal to them with the performance gains and the higher security they will achieve by migrating their applications to .net core. I was thanked for the question and basically got brushed off. I know this was a naive question. I know I couldn't have expected a real answer. I mean, what did I expect, the poor guy was just an evangelist. And I was left thinking what I, just another dark matter developer, could do to try and change this situation or at least make it just a tad better in my local community. I suppose this blog post is a good start as any. We need to start somewhere.
The story however didn't end for me there on that night. It took a bit of a twist when I went out from that meetup and found myself in the underground bumping into another .net dev with whom I chatted a couple of months ago at another DNUG meetup. I remembered the last time he told me he was looking for a job and trying to figure out where should he go next. So I asked him where is he with his job hunting and did he find anything yet. Thinking back now, his answer was not all that surprising. Apparently he found a great team of highly enthusiastic senior developers, working for a company that puts a lot of focus on its technology, the quality and maintainability of its software, pushing its technical team to look for original and always better solutions to their problems, especially when they come from the open source world. Oh, and it's a Java shop. I was genuinely happy for him as he seemed truly happy and at the same time sad for our community, especially that I know for myself, from experience, that this exact setup can be easily achievable in the .net world.
Should I finish this post on such a note though? I really don't want to, to be honest. I believe things can and will change. I believe Microsoft are on the right path to making .net as exciting as it can and should be for ALL of us and it would probably take some time before we see any real change coming. However, at the same time, I'm using this platform to call those guys who work for MS and care about this stuff not to forget about us.
Yours truly, The dark matter.