Microsoft Offers New Shared Source Tools on CodePlex

Microsoft delivers new development tools under its Shared Source program, while enhancing an open-source project and releasing new tools projects on its new community development Web site.

Microsofts Developer Division has launched a series of new Shared Source tools to help developers build applications more efficiently.

S. "Soma" Somasegar, corporate vice president of the Developer Division at Microsoft, said the Redmond, Wash., software giant released the new tools, including a set of "Power Toys for Visual Studio," at the end of May.

In a blog entry on May 25, Somasegar said Microsoft released three of the "power toys" to its Shared Source program, including MSBee, an addition to MSBuild that allows developers to build managed applications with MSBuild using Visual Studio 2005 projects that target .Net 1.1.

MSBuild is the new extensible, XML-based build engine that ships with Visual Studio 2005 and the .Net Framework 2.0.

The other "power toys" are the TFS (Team Foundation Server) Admin Tool, which allows a TFS administrator to quickly add and modify user permissions to all three platforms utilized by TFS, and the Managed Stack Explorer, a lightweight tool that provides a quick and easy way to monitor .Net 2.0 managed processes and their stacks.

Somasegar said that in the tools first week there were nearly 1,000 downloads of MSBee and almost 700 downloads of Managed Stack Explorer and TFS Admin Tool each.

In addition, Microsoft released, under Shared Source, its "Atlas" Control Toolkit—a collection of reusable components to be used with Microsofts framework for delivering richer and more interactive Web applications, known by the code name Atlas.

Somasegar said the tool kit "is more than just a set of great components, its the start of a community effort to build the best set of Web-client UI [user interface] pieces available anywhere."

Through its Shared Source Initiative, Microsoft shares source code with customers, partners and governments around the world. Microsoft officials said the company has learned from the open-source community about the benefits of deeper collaboration and increased transparency, and the companys Shared Source Initiative is a result of that.

IBM announced on June 6 at its IBM Rational Software Development Conference in Orlando that it would pursue what the company called an "Open Commercial Development" scheme for commercial tools to support a collaboration and governance platform IBM will contribute to open source.

IBMs Open Commercial Development scheme has some similarities to the Microsoft Shared Source program, but also differences, in that Shared Source sets limits on who can see the code.

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Meanwhile, a team of Microsoft developers introduced a new component to the first open-source tool to come out of Microsoft. The WiX (Windows Installer XML) team introduced a new component called Heat for the latest version of the installer, WiX 3.0, in April.

Derek Cicerone, a developer on the WiX team, said Heat has the capability to quickly capture files and directories from a computer and turn them into WiX authoring. The tool improves on previously used methods, he said in a blog post from April.

"Heat makes creating simple setup authoring faster than ever before with a templating capability," Cicerone said. "In the past, each time you create a new setup, you also had to create new product, package, etc., elements."

Rob Mensching, project lead for the WiX toolset, said WiX was the first open-source project to come out of Microsoft in 2004 when his team built the technology in their spare time. WiX is a tool set that builds Windows installation packages from XML source code. The tool set supports a command-line environment that developers can integrate into their build processes to build MSI (Microsoft Installer) setup packages.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read more about CodePlex, Microsofts code repository Web site.

Mensching, also a software design engineer on the Windows Component Platform, said WiX is the installation platform for applications. "Its a compiler and linker that generates the MSI packages," he said on a Microsoft Channel 9 video blog from April.

Mensching said WiX is broadly used across practically all the Microsoft development teams.

"The grand majority of Microsoft uses it," he said. "Visual Studio is in the process of moving to WiX…and the next generation of Office is shipping with WiX. All the P&Ls [profit and loss centers] from mobile to services are using WiX."

Meanwhile, Microsoft has added some new development projects to its CodePlex community development site.

One recently added project is Windows SharePoint Services Site Directory Web Part Project, a security-trimmed Windows SharePoint Services Web Part project that will display to the user the sites that he or she has access to.

Other new CodePlex projects include SQL Server Web Tools, a Web-based administration tool for managing SQL Server databases; the MVP.XML project, developed by Microsoft MVPs (Most Valuable Professionals) in XML technologies and XML Web services to supplement .Net Framework XML processing; the AJAX.Net Professional Starter Kit, a tool to help developers better use AJAX.Net Professional to build rich client-side AJAX-enabled Web applications; and the Tao Framework, a collection of bindings and libraries to facilitate cross-platform development using the .Net and open-source Mono platforms.

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