Open Source

Is open source no longer a differentiator?

In this programming news roundup, read about Mango SDK beta, PHP 5.4 alpha, IronPython 2.7.1 beta, a Git cheat sheet, StackOverflow DevDays, and more.

Matt Aslett at the 451 Group has an interesting analysis of commercial open source vendors, showing that they are increasingly distancing their marketing and PR messages from the label of open source. Jaspersoft's Brian Gentile (Jaspersoft is an open source vendor that dropped the open source marketing in 2008) followed up on Matt's comments, and added that his perception is that many people in the open source community don't give back.

First and foremost, the people who care about whether something is open source (i.e., developers who need access to the source code) are, more than likely, not the people making purchasing decisions. The truth is, open source as an adjective is only as valuable as the community around a project, other than for a developer who may need to modify or inspect the source code for that application. And open source is no guarantee of community — just look at the number of dead or abandoned projects on SourceForge (it makes the 70% failure rate of commercial projects look great). Conversely, plenty of commercial products have fantastic communities.

Open source hasn't meant "free as in beer" in a very long time for many projects. They may offer free community edition versions, but the vendors ride a fine line with making those useful enough to be used, and crippled enough to encourage you to spend money. Many open source applications cost so much for a support contract that their closed source brethren actually have a lower total cost of ownership (TCO). If you don't believe me, go check the list price on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and compare it to the cost of support for Windows Server. It's shocking, right? Furthermore, companies have finally discovered that the license cost is usually one of the smaller costs of a project. It's the hardware and the people that make or break the budget most of the time. So if your team is trained in a closed source product, moving to an open source product is very, very expensive.

For quite some time, I've believed that open source is an adjective and not a noun. This means that just because something can be described as open source does not mean that it is automatically faster, most reliable, more secure, less expensive, etc. It is more likely to be those things, but there are no guarantees. I think that customers figured this out too, and vendors are finally catching on as well. There was a time when being an open source vendor could net you a huge IPO, but now the magic has worn off.

Language/library updates

Windows Phone 7 "Mango" SDK beta

Along with making the "Mango" beta update available to developers, the SDK beta is out now too. The Mango update brings Windows Phone 7 much closer to feature parity with Android and iOS, with multitasking and better access to the hardware, so this update is of real interest to current and potential Windows Phone 7 developers. There is also a new advertising SDK.

PHP 5.4 alpha

The PHP team has an alpha (as in, "don't use anywhere near production") release of PHP 5.4. It has been a long time coming.

Improved PlayBook support from Adobe

Adobe updated its AIR and Flash Builder products to fully support the BlackBerry PlayBook.

WebWorks SDK for Tablet OS 2.1

RIM released version 2.1 of its WebWorks SDK for Tablet OS (which means it is for the PlayBook). It offers more access to the hardware and in-app payments.

Kinect Windows SDK beta

Microsoft released a beta of the Kinect SDK for Windows. It is restricted to non-commercial use.

IronPython 2.7.1 beta

The first beta of IronPython 2.7.1 is available. It has new modules, bug fixes, and updated library support.

Tools and products

Zend Server 5.5 beta

Zend has a public beta program of version 5.5 of its PHP application server. This upcoming version has a number of improved management items, particularly around deployment.

Pervasive TurboRush for Hive

Pervasive Software released TurboRush for Hive, which dramatically speeds up Hadoop Hive queries.

Eclipse Indigo

The Eclipse Foundation announced that Eclipse Indigo is now available, with a large number of updates.

NuGet 1.4

NuGet 1.4 has been released.

Postgres Plus Advanced Server 9.0

EnterpriseDB released Postgres Plus Advanced Server 9.0, which improves Oracle compatibility, replication with SQL Server, and other new features and improvements.

AppHarbor's add-on API

AppHarbor (which offers .NET as a platform-as-a-service) now has an add-on API that allows services to be easily made available to its platform.

Apigee with PCI-compliant cloud payments

If you are doing business on the Web, you need to be aware of Payment Card Industry (PCI) rules on handling money. Apigee now has a cloud based, PCI-compliant tool for managing transactions.

CloudBees offers partner services

CloudBees (which offers Java platform-as-a-service solutions) has a new partner system that allows the company to deliver one-click solutions to common problems.

Real Studio 2011 Release 2

Real Software announced the second release of Real Studio 2011. Real Studio is a tool for creating cross-platform desktop and Web applications much faster than traditional systems that compile down to native code. It looks like an interesting system that you should definitely check out.

JetBrains YouTrack, dotTrace, and dotCover updates

Version 3 of JetBrains' YouTrack bug tracking system is available. The updates are primarily to improve usability of the application. dotTrace (their performance profiler) 4.5 and dotCover (their code coverage tool) 1.1 are also available.

ASP.NET MVC Mini-Profiler

There is a performance profiler for ASP.NET MVC out now, and it is open source.

Editorial and commentary

Five reasons to hate WPF

Richard Mitchell at Simple Talk hates WPF. I agree about the tooling, especially since a lot of developers don't seem comfortable with Blend yet. A bigger issue is the current cloud of doubt over the future of WPF and Silverlight.

Tips and tricks

Git cheat sheet

If you are using Git, here is a cheat sheet to help you out.

Implementing the Asynchronous Programming Model with Tasks

Stephen Toub shows how to implement the Asynchronous Programming Model (APM) with the Tasks in .NET 4.

Using jQuery to quickly filter ASP.NET GridView controls

Joe Stagner has a tutorial showing how to use jQuery's Search Plugin to filter GridView displays as the user types.

IE 9 and trusting downloads

Scott Hanselman has a write-up of what goes into IE 9 giving your downloaded executable content a clean bill of health.

Events

StackOverflow DevDays

StackOverflow is holding a number of its DevDays conferences later this year. It looks like a good way to get caught up on current technologies.

BlackBerry DevCon in Asia and Europe

The BlackBerry DevCon is coming to Bangkok and Amsterdam in December and February, respectively.

J.Ja

About

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

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