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.NET Foundation at the Reactor

By Shaun Walker on 4/6/2016

Last week I attended the //build conference in San Francisco. On Thursday evening, Microsoft extended an invitation to user groups around the Bay Area to come to their new open space for developers at 680 Folsom Street known as the Reactor. The party was focused on open source and community engagement and I was privileged to kick off the Lightning Talks with a short presentation about the .NET Foundation. The goal of my presentation was to promote the Foundation and try to clear up any misconceptions which may exist about its purpose or mission. I also used the opportunity to share a story about how a presentation that I did for a Bay Area user group ultimately led to the initial round of funding for DotNetNuke. 


.NET Foundation

To set the stage it was important to note that there would be no need for a .NET Foundation if Microsoft had not created the .NET Framework. Since its release in 2001, the .NET Framework has had tremendous adoption - with current estimates of more than 1.8 billion active installations worldwide. There are more than 6 million professional software developers that make their living using the .NET Framework today. And based on the recent strategic announcements from Microsoft related to cross platform and multi-device support, I expect the growth of the .NET Framework will only accelerate in the coming years.


.NET Foundation

Microsoft created the .NET Foundation in 2014. Its mission is to be "an independent forum to foster open development and collaboration around the growing collection of open source technologies around the .NET development framework". It is important to note that although Microsoft created the .NET Foundation, the Foundation is an independent legal entity with its own Board of Directors and governance model. In fact, one of the primary reasons for creating the .NET Foundation was to allow Microsoft to contribute some of its intellectual property under an open source license so that Microsoft employees could collaborate openly with third party organizations and developers. 

.NET Foundation

This photo of Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, is symbolic of the recent and profound cultural shift which has occurred within Microsoft. In Satya's short tenure as CEO we have already seen the rapid evolution of a strictly proprietary software company into an open services company that is embracing technology and devices in a way that few could have ever predicted.


.NET Foundation

The .NET Foundation was created with 3 core pillars in mind... openness, community, and innovation. Open source projects which are part of the .NET Foundation are expected to adhere to some consistent open source principles when it comes to governance and methodology.


.NET Foundation

The .NET Foundation fulfills its mission by offering a variety of valuable services to .NET open source projects. These include assistance with legal matters such as licensing, trademarks, and copyright. In addition, it provides mentorship and guidance on the best practices for managing open source projects. And it also offers support in the form of infrastructure and marketing channels to allow its open source projects to grow and flourish.


.NET Foundation

At this point there are more than 40 open source projects that are members of the .NET Foundation family. Many of these projects originated within Microsoft, but many of them were also created by third parties. New projects are constantly being considered for inclusion into the Foundation, curated based on formal acceptance criteria. At this years //build conference the big news was that Mono had become a member of the .NET Foundation ( changing its license from GPL to MIT in the process ) as well as the Xamarin SDK which allows Microsoft developers to create mobile applications that will run natively on iOs, Android, and Windows.

.NET Foundation

There is significant development activity across the projects that are part of the .NET Foundation. If we look at Github, which is where the majority of these projects are managed, we see 179 distinct repositories, more than 24,000 forks, 72,000 stars, and 4,200 contributors.


.NET Foundation

Another significant announcement at //build was the creation of a Technical Steering Group for the .NET Foundation. The initial members of this group include Red Hat, Unity, and Jet Brains. The idea behind the Technical Steering Group is to provide a variety of organizations with technical input into the direction of the projects within the .NET Foundation.

.NET Foundation

Shaun Walker has 25+ years professional experience in architecting and implementing enterprise software solutions for private and public organizations. Shaun is the original creator of DotNetNuke, a Web Application Framework which is one of the pioneering open source software applications native to the Microsoft platform. He was one of the original founders of DNN Corp, a commercial software company providing products, services, and technical support for DotNetNuke, which raised 3 rounds of venture capital from top tier Silicon Valley investors. Based on his significant community contributions he has been recognized as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) as well as an ASPInsider for over 10 consecutive years. He was recognized by Business In Vancouver as a leading entrepreneur in their Forty Under 40 business awards, was a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Outercurve Foundation, and is currently the Chairman of the Advisory Council for Microsoft's .NET Foundation. Shaun is currently a Partner and CTO at Arrow Digital.


Shaun Walker
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 DNN is the most widely deployed open source .NET web content management platform that allows you to design, build, and manage feature-rich websites, web applications, and social communities.

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