Thoughts about the CodePlex Beta

I am back from a lovely long weekend with Jenny in Vancouver. It was great to get away from the day to day and recharge for a little longer than 48 hours. Of course, being gone when everyone else is working means there's a fair bit of catch-up reading to do.

One of the more interesting things I found was Mary Jo reported that CodePlex Beta went live Monday. Korby points at James Newkirk who seems to have the most official looking release notes. I'm a little surprised that there hasn't been wider pick up of the story but that just goes to show how little I understand about marketing. That said I really had hoped for a slashdotting of CodePlex for reasons I'll explain below.

I've been following CodePlex's development for a while now. After the first three Open Source projects were released from Microsoft (WiX, WTL, FlexWiki) there was a hiatus in releases while people digested what we were learning. One of the early decisions was that future community projects should be released on a site that showcased Microsoft technology. Historically, that was gotdotnet and IronPython actually released there.

However, somewhere along the line it was agreed that gotdotnet wasn't going to scale and something better should be built. Enter Visual Studio Team Server and what we now call CodePlex. Now we just need some content up there. It looks like IronPython is going to move.

Which leads me to the question that everyone always asks me first:

Will the WiX toolset move from SourceForge to CodePlex?

My immediate answer is always, "That isn't up to me. It is up to the community. If they believe that the WiX toolset will be better served by CodePlex me can investigate moving." In fact, if you had asked me two weeks ago I would have told you that I wasn't even considering moving off of SourceForge because things were working.

However, in the last couple weeks a few issues have popped up. First, there have been some very disturbing outages and poor communication from SourceForge. Benjamin Reed and the comments in this blog entry sum it up pretty well. Second, Frederik Carlier (our newly instated Release Manager) informed me that it doesn't appear possible to release a file with the same name in different releases. This bugs me because you really should keep your MSI filename consistent across a major release (see this old blog entry for more information why renaming your MSI is troublesome).

So, I've been thinking about what CodePlex would need to be before I would try to move the WiX toolset there. For example, the one question I was hoping would be answered today:

Can CodePlex take a pounding and keeping on running?

It would be very bad to move from one provider with problems to another provider with problems. This is why I was hoping to see CodePlex get slashdotted. I was curious to see how the site behaved under duress. If the site performed well even while in Beta then I had high hopes. For now, I'll just have to wait and see.

I guess "wait and see" pretty much describes everything about CodePlex right now. Some of the projects are starting to get releases posted and the rest of the details filled in. It will be interesting to see where things go from here.