Microsoft’s.NET Foundation under fire as resigning board member questions its role

Microsoft's.NET Foundation

Interview The function that Microsoft’s.NET Foundation, set up to oversee and facilitate the development of open source.NET as well as related initiatives, was doubted by one of the former board members who quit in anger.

Rodney Littles II is a software engineer at Megsoft Consulting and the core maintainer of an open-source initiative, ReactiveUI, which is part of the.NET Foundation project. The.NET Foundation was formed in 2014 and defines itself by calling itself “an independently-operating, nonprofit organisation that was established to help support the development of a commercially-friendly, innovative open-source, open-source ecosystem centre that is built around the.NET platform.”

Littles will join the.NET Foundation board of directors in August 2020. In his campaign pitch, Littles declared the “serious discord within the.NET ecosystem” in the sense that Microsoft supports.NET open source but the community that supports it isn’t healthy.

“Maintainers of.NET Open Source Software, which Microsoft hopes to support in their growth, are not in good condition,” he said. The longevity of projects that are open source was a primary issue, as was the expansion of the.NET open-source community.

Littles was removed from his position on the.NET Foundation board ahead of the elections scheduled for September. He planned to refrain from speaking publicly about it. However, he changed his mind after the foundation announced that “we would like to wish him the best while he focuses on his own life.”

Friends concerned about him have contacted him, which led to this blog in which he discusses some of the reasons behind his resignation. Aside from that, he expressed that he was fine and that nothing in his personal life had taken him off the board.”

According to Littles’ blog post, “the.NET Foundation was not worried regarding its members” as well as “hasn’t been open to the community regarding everything.”

We asked the foundation: “Do you want to make Microsoft’s demands clear in .NET Open Source, or do you want to foster an environment that is healthy?”

As he put it: “The scoreboard doesn’t look great for the latter… When I watched Microsoft destroy the Open Source Project, my fellow community members wanted to see the Foundation succeed. I was left in a position of powerlessness to take action. It was obvious that the main motives for joining the foundation were not important.

We asked Littles what he thought of his experiences serving on the board. He was on the board. He told us, with the knowledge that the board prior to his appointment “was not an operational committee… It was not coherent. It didn’t seem like it was moving towards an objective. They introduced the maturity model that I had a huge problem with.

Project Maturity was an experimental project that featured “maturity profiles” intended to enhance the quality of software. It was removed shortly after its debut when community members complained that it was too broad, and the board’s chairman, Ben Adams, acknowledged that “we didn’t open the discussion to all projects to see if it was acceptable for them, or the best method. It was a mistake. “

Littles shared with us: “My problem with the maturity model was that it seemed to be too Microsoft and bureaucratic.” Members of the projects had to sign an agreement on service levels. It was exclusive and unwelcome. The model I found to be inadequate. I’ve focused more on what we can do to create an opportunity for a small open-source library to grow from a hobby project to one on which the community can rely. I was of the opinion that the emphasis was more on controlling and dictating rather than caring and helping. “

Microsoft was caught up in some odd behaviour regarding its WinGet project, revealing all the details about an existing open-source project known as AppGet by promising the possibility of a position at Microsoft for its creator and then essentially destroying the open-source project by using many of its ideas. Little did not seem to be dissatisfied.

“The open source foundation, which is supposed to advocate for open source software, did not say anything,” Littles told us. The foundation was silent, and for me, that was incredibly high-pitched. This is the reason I woke up to realise that the foundation isn’t interested in the community or issues such as these. People were angry over this, and the foundation that is supposed to serve as Microsoft’s official open source arm did absolutely nothing.

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AppGet was not an.NET Foundation project, but Little believed it was “if you’re here to promote free software, then you shouldn’t be excluded, and you can’t declare that it’s not a foundation-related project, therefore we don’t have to care.”

“I have joined the Foundation board because I am concerned about the sustainability of open source,” Littles said. “I don’t want someone to burn out. They’ve got this massive open-source project that all of the.NET community is dependent on, and they don’t wish to keep doing it anymore. What then? There’s no one overarching organisation that is focused on this specific issue.

“I believed that I could create the basis for an organisation to be concerned regarding its projects and sustainability. However, everything I hear isn’t about sustainability; it’s about maturation, and maturity is a reflection of the corporate. It needs to be a mature concept for corporate executives to embrace, and this is something that we are creating for the benefit of our community. “

Littles is now planning to concentrate on his work with ReactiveUI. “I believed it was best to concentrate on one project I could make a real impact on,” he told us.

He is still a fan of.NET technology. I’ve been an.NET developer all my life. I am a huge fan of C# and I love.NET, especially ASP.NET Core. I find it to be amazing. The things that Microsoft is trying to do to be a part of this open-source development as well as be a company that’s treating performance as a first-class citizen are things that make me extremely happy. It’s an exciting time to be an.NET programmer. “

From Littles’ viewpoint, the.NET Foundation is insufficiently independent from Microsoft, does not do enough to assist its members, and does not have a clear sense of purpose or mission. “There is no public purpose.” “There isn’t a single, unifying direction the foundation wants to take,” he told us.

In October, the most well-known open source.NET project, IdentityServer, changed tack, reporting on GitHub that “As of October 1, 2020, we launched an entirely new business. The new company will be in charge of developing new features.

The latest IdentityServer project is open source, but it’s under the terms of the RPL (Reciprocal Public Licence) and is restricted by this licence to non-commercial use for organisations with more than $1 million in annual revenue. Littles believes this is an utter failure.

“I was a member of the Board at the time IdentityServer quit the foundation. There was no mention of it in the meeting of the board. I had to inquire about the matter. I’m still not sure of the full truth. There was no openness. I would like to know what was discussed in the closed-door meetings.

“A project that, in my view, was among the top and most stable initiatives it could’ve had The IdentityServer is the most effective way to secure the.NET space. The licence was changed, and is that the reason why the foundation is unable to help anymore? It’s not logical in my mind. “

Littles believes that other projects might try to quit the.NET Foundation, though that isn’t always easy, especially when they’ve assigned their copyright. This is an option available when an organisation joins.

“I’ve seen a number of member projects contact me in the last year and tell me that they do not want to stay here and we’d like to go away. I’ve advised them that if the foundation owns your code , you aren’t able to leave the foundation. ” Code can be forked , and an entirely new project can be started. However, it is an extremely risky procedure since momentum and energy might be lost.

Why are some projects agitated? As per Littles: “Some of us were a bit agitated about maturity models and all they meant, but there’s no gain. One of the biggest changes that happened recently was that our business is now part of the supervision of the Microsoft enterprise organisation on GitHub, which makes it more difficult for us to conduct things like sponsorship. We decided to create another company, which we controlled and owned, in order to be able to accept donations from our community. There’s lots of bureaucracy and there’s no communication.

The absence of any benefit in this.NET Foundation accords with what certain of its projects have shared with The Register before, such as Avalonia, the maintainer of which has stated: “It hasn’t really had any impact in the past.” The only exception is that the projects receive free Azure credits, which can be useful. Other benefits may be difficult to determine.

Littles stressed that he is not trying to discredit the efforts of those working for the.NET Foundation. “There are good people working in the foundation working to accomplish positive things. “This isn’t anything sinister,” he said. The issue has been related to the relationship with Microsoft and a lack of understanding of the foundation’s mission.

“I’m completely in agreement with the foundation, saying that it exists to make Microsoft open-source software a reality and not saying that the foundation isn’t valuable in this area. Don’t claim that you’re in the community and then get back to your business as Microsoft. The two don’t go together, and I’m feeling it’s happening. “

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