Microsoft angers the open source .NET community with controversial decision

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Microsoft has spent the past 10 years embracing open source software and, on several occasions, even admitting that it loves Linux and the open source community. The Linux Foundation even praised Microsoft for its collaboration with the open source community after the company joined the foundation nearly five years ago. All that goodwill could be on the verge of collapsing, thanks to a storm brewing in the .NET community – Microsoft’s flagship developer toolkit and core software framework.

A controversial business decision within Microsoft has left many people questioning the company’s commitment to open source. Several sources at Microsoft tell The edge that it also angered many developers within the company, but were effectively told not to complain.

Microsoft has declared its love for Linux in the past.

Microsoft quietly removed a key part of Hot Reload in the next release of .NET 6 this week, a feature that essentially allows developers to get instant feedback when they create a project and edit the code to immediately see the results. It’s a big selling point for Google’s rival Dart programming language and Flutter Toolkit, and Microsoft has caught up to bring it to .NET and Visual Studio.

Microsoft described its initial plans as “an ambitious project to bring Hot Reload to as many .NET developers as possible,” but a last minute change left it primarily limited to Windows and Visual Studio developers instead of being open. and available on multiple platforms. . Microsoft has tested near-final “Release Candidate” versions of .NET 6 that have allowed developers to use Hot Reload in a variety of environments and platforms with dotnet watch, including the popular Visual Studio Code development environment. . A Release Candidate typically means Microsoft considers it production-ready, complete, and users just need to beware of bugs before it’s fully released.

But a last-minute change announced earlier this week means that Microsoft will “enable hot reload functionality only through Visual Studio 2022 so that we can focus on delivering the best experiences to the greatest number of users.” Dmitry Lyalin, a program manager working on the Hot Reload feature at Microsoft, said the company “had to prioritize” and therefore ditched Hot Reload as a feature of the dotnet monitoring tool. A thread on GitHub questioning the deletion highlights the community’s frustration, along with comments on Hacker News and Microsoft’s own blog post.

“It’s even more disappointing looking at the source code to see that the support was around 1 to 2,000 lines of code, and that code has now been ripped off at the last moment,” says Phillip Carter, a former Microsoft employee within the company. The F # team. “It’s a clear rollback, especially because hot reload didn’t start out as just for Visual Studio. I really hope this is not the start of a model.

The edge understands that the decision to remove functionality from .NET 6 was made by Julia Liuson, head of Microsoft’s developer division. Sources describe the move as a business decision, and it’s clear the company thought it would go under the radar and generate no backlash. Microsoft engineers who have worked on .NET for years with the open source community feel betrayed and fear this decision will have lasting effects on Microsoft’s open source efforts.

“If you want a good developer experience, you are forced to use Visual Studio, which seems to defeat all the cross-platform efforts of the .NET team,” says Reilly Wood, an independent developer who initially raised the issue of deletion on GitHub. .

The move also comes after weeks of unrest within the .NET community over Microsoft’s involvement in the .NET foundation. The foundation was established in 2014 when Microsoft made .NET open source, and it’s supposed to be an independent organization that exists to improve open source software development and collaboration for .NET. A resigning board member recently questioned the role of the .NET Foundation, asking if it is “here to uphold Microsoft’s desire for .NET Open Source, or are you here to help foster and to promote a healthy community? “

Microsoft has also locked down and limited a pull request to remove this hot reload feature in .NET 6 for dotnet watch. This effectively prevents the community from commenting on or rejecting last minute changes. The community has now submitted its own pull request to roll back Microsoft’s changes, but it is unlikely to be approved.

A recent controversy has also led to the recent resignation of the Executive Director of the .NET Foundation, Claire Novotny, and others questioning the independence of the .NET Foundation given Microsoft’s special privileges. This latest .NET 6 controversy will not improve the brewing storm in the .NET community.

We have contacted Microsoft regarding the changes to .NET 6 and the .NET Foundation, and the company was unable to issue a statement in time for the release.

Update, 5:18 p.m. ET: Article updated to clarify details of Microsoft’s pull request lock on GitHub.



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