Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Fixing GotDotNet?

It looks like James Newkirk (of NUnit fame) is switching jobs. He's going to be helping to develop the next generation of GotDotNet.

I say, fantastic! First of all, you all know that I think GotDotNet sucks. I like SourceForge much better, but not so much that I would mind seeing someone do something even better.

Mr. Newkirk, if you're listening, here are my suggestions:

  1. Support automation. GDN currently has no good ways to automatically check in/out. As an NUnit guy, I can imagine this is high on your list. :)
  2. Switch to a edit/merge/commit source control model. The SourceSafe lock/edit/checkin model has no place on teams where people sit more than three feet from each other. I'm pretty sure I know what you're using on the back end for source control, and it's awesome. Expose it.
  3. If you absolutely must support lock/edit/checkin (to pander to all those frightened by the word “merge“), for the love of all that is technical, make it something I can turn off.

That would be an excellent start. If you can additionally

  • Provide an interface for automating releases.
  • Provide built-in continuous integration with excellent integration points.
  • Provide well-integrated bug and feature tracking.

Then you'll be a leg up on SourceForge, and I might consider switching.

One piece of advice: avoid the Microsoft trap of thinking you have to write the whole thing from scratch. That's one of the reasons GDN sucks now. There are tons of good bits out there that already do a lot of what we need (e.g. CruiseControl.NET). Note: I will be highly suprised if this actually happens. Microsoft culture is pretty bad on this count - I think you get sprayed with NIH spores when you walk through the door.

In any event, I wish you the best of luck. The worst-case scenario for me here is that SourceForge steals some of your ideas and makes my experience even better. So I win either way. :)


  1. wkssync provides command line access to GDN workspaces: http://www.gotdotnet.com/Workspaces/Workspace.aspx?id=b3fb58ff-363b-4d0d-9f42-4946d86a19eb

  2. I'm aware of wkssync. It sucks. No offense to the guy that wrote it.

  3. Jim Newkirk is moving to a new role within Microsoft, and as part of that he will be taking on a role to enable the next generation collaborative software development using Microsoft tools. Or in other words, he'll be fixing...

  4. I tried to use GotDotNet Workspaces and they are pretty bad. I am not sure what the actual goal of Workspaces are but I imagine it's supposed to be like sourceforge.

    1 - Make it easy to find projects you are interested in, uh how about a search? If there is a search then redesign the website so I can find it.

    2 - This isn't really a workspace only idea but a general software configuration management issue and goes along with the idea of continuous integration... (ala CrusieControl.NET). Why do we have to diff files and remember to checkin files? Couldn't there be some type of automated background task (like autosaving the file on my local machine) that checks that the file builds and passes unit tests and fxcop test and if everything looks good it's checked in for me? As long as it doesn't break the build it's okay to checkin. Maybe this is too space age, somebody tell me if I'm off my rocker.

    3 - Uptime and responsiveness! I can't recall the number of times I've tried to get on GOTDOTNET and had it greet me with either unresponsive page loads or a technical difficulities message. Eeek!? You could do all the ASP.NET performance whitepapers you want but if you can't build an awesome asp.net app you aren't doing yourself any favors!

  5. Okay I am a rube... there is a search and it's not that hard to find. Although it'd be nice if it were always present, more like sourceforge I guess. It just shouldn't be a chore to find the hot open source projects.