Today when I woke up and started skimming my twitter feed, I was stuck by a flood of comments about IronRuby being somehow discontinued. Not really killed, but, as Jimmy Schementi says in his post that announces his change of job, moved out of the pool of opensource projects that Microsoft is directly funding. Justin Etheredge already commented on what it means for IronRuby itself, but I want to analyze the fact from an another angle.
Maybe I'm just paranoid, and unfunding IronRuby is just... unfunding IronRuby, but the facts are leading me to think (and might lead also other people to think the same) that Microsoft is going back 2-3 years in time, back investing in tools for Morts and undoing all the good they did to push OpenSource as a viable option.
In the next lines I'm going to tell you what led me to these conclusions.
Back to Morts
In the last month Microsoft released the WebMatrix, a new platform for building web applications, targeted to junior/hobbyist developers. Then they announced Visual Studio 2010 LightSwitch edition, something similar to WebMatrix but to produce Silverlight applications with extensive use of drag&drop and wizards (you can read more about this on Introducing LightSwitch). And finally they also announced Microsoft.Data.dll, a PHP-like data access layer, with lots of sql statements strings mixed with the code, still targeted to the so-called "Morts" (or even pre-morts).
And together with the silent unfunding of IronRuby, this leads me to think that after a few years of trying to make people developer better software, they are back in the business of building tools to help people that have no/little background build applications "quick and dirty".
I hope this is not their new strategy because, while this is good for Microsoft because more developers using .NET means more income, helping Morts build "enterprise" applications is just going to harm the IT market at whole: "good" developers that build well-crafted, easy to maintain and evolve applications will have to compete with these hobbyists that charge 1/4th of the price to build crap. And since most of the clients care only about the cost, we will end up with the IT marked collapsing, even more than now.
OSS is something you cannot trust
But even worse, people might think that OpenSource projects, even the ones developed inside the big corporations like Microsoft, cannot be trusted because they suffer the same problems of the "normal" opensource projects: the main developer can loose interest in it, and the project will slowly die.
What will happen now to people that heavily depend on IronRuby and that fully embraced it because it was "supported" by Microsoft? But a bigger question is: what if Microsoft will start removing resources out from ASP.NET MVC, Ajax Library, MEF, and the still to be released Orchard? Can developers and companies invest in the other opensource projects from Microsoft?
Microsoft made many good steps in the right direction, but with this I think they went back to their original position about OSS.
What do you think? Am I just paranoid? Or do you also think this more than just un-funding IronRuby? I'd love to be proven wrong and to hear your opinions.