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Microsoft's Answer To SourceForge Goes Live

Microsoft took a stab at an open source community for Windows developers this week with the launch of CodePlex at the Open Source Business Conference in London.

The community development site went into public beta last month, providing a dozen Microsoft open source projects and another 18 Shared Source-related projects with a single place to call home.

"One thing we really wanted to do with CodePlex was to provide an environment where developers can collaborate with the Microsoft community and external developers," said Jon Rosenberg, director of community source programs at Microsoft.

As part of the project, Microsoft is helping open projects get set up on the steps of Shared Source licensing, how to manage the project and deal with all of the licensing and source code control issues, he said.

Microsoft gets around 150 requests per week to host projects, but for the time being is only adding around five to 10 per week.

CodePlex is built on Microsoft's Visual Studio 2005 Team Foundation Server and provides source control, bug tracking, discussion forums and RSS feeds in and out of each project.

Prior to CodePlex, Microsoft's open source projects, such as its Atlas extensions for AJAX and IronPython language, were scattered around MSDN. And three projects –- Windows Installer XML (WIX), Windows Template Library and FlexWiki –- were hosted on SourceForge, an open source hosting site on which CodePlex is modeled.

Based on experience gained with the SourceForge experiment, Microsoft decided to create its own community for developers who follow its Shared Source Initiative.

SourceForge is mostly home to more relaxed open source projects that follow the GPL and other unrestricted licenses.

CodePlex participants will need to download a small client for code check-in and check-out, which is available for free, said Rosenberg.

There will be some cross-linking and referencing between CodePlex and Port 25, Microsoft's open source lab. There will be connections between the two and sharing of links back and forth, said Rosenberg.