NDoc 2.0 - R.I.P

According to an email from Kevin Downs, the developer behind NDoc2, he is no longer going to be developing or supporting NDoc2.  Kevin has put in an extraordinary amount of work putting together NDoc2 and has done so despite some family emergencies i the past year.

This is sad news for a lot of us in the development community.  Although Microsoft is coming out with Sandcastle any day now, it will probably take months if not years for this product to be at a level that NDoc2 is at now.

Many thanks to Kevin for his work on NDoc2 and I hope that the development community comes together to continue the work he started. 

From: Kevin Downs
Sent: Wednesday, July 26, 2006 1:32 PM
Subject: NDoc 2.0 - R.I.P.

I have decided to discontinue work on NDoc 2.0 and no longer participate in any open-source development work.


The development and release of NDoc 1.3 was a huge amount of work, and by all accounts widely appreciated. Unfortunately, despite the almost ubiquitous use of NDoc, there has been no support for the project from the .Net developer community either financially or by development contributions. Since 1.3 was released, there have been the grand total of eleven donations to the project. In fact, were it not for Oleg Tkachenko’s kind donation of a MS MVP MSDN subscription, I would not even have a copy of VS2005 to work with!


To put this into perspective, if only roughly 1-in-10 of the those who downloaded NDoc had donated the minimum allowable amount of $5 then I could have worked on NDoc 2.0 full-time and it could have been released months ago!  Now, I am not suggesting that this should have occurred, or that anyone owes me anything for the work I have done, rather I am trying to demonstrate that if the community values open-source projects then it should do *something* to support them. MS has for years acknowledged community contributions via the MVP program but there is absolutely no support for community projects.


Once ‘Sandcastle’ is released, it is my belief that it will become the de-facto standard and that NDoc will slowly become a stagnant side-water. This will happen regardless of technical considerations, even if Sandcastle were to be less feature-complete. It's just an inevitable result of MS's 'not-invented-here' mentality, one only has to look at Nant and NUnit to see the effects of MS 'competition'.  


This is not, however,  my only reason for stopping development work - I have a big enough ego to think I could still produce a better product than them :-)


As some of you are aware, there are some in the community who believe that a .Net 2.0 compatible release was theirs by-right and that I should be moving faster – despite the fact that I am but one man working in his spare time...


This came to head in the last week; I have been subjected to an automated mail-bomb attack on both my public mail addresses and the ndoc2 mailing list address. These mails have been extremely offensive and resulted in my ISP temporarily suspending my account because of the traffic volume. This incident has been reported to the local authorities, although I am highly doubtful they will be able to do anything about it.


This has was the ‘last-straw’ and has convinced me that I should withdraw from the community; I’m not prepared to have myself and my family threatened by some lunatic!






P.S. If anyone wants to take over as admin on the SourceForge NDoc project - contact me. If not, I'll be removing myself in 14 days.

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  • its sad but I agree with Kevin, whats the point of spending time on a project were he doesnt get any support or donations. Its not the first project like this that sadly ends and I wonder how long other projects like for example fckeditor will last without finding a viable commercial alternative instead of going to die in the long run when the developer will have better things to do.

    What's bad is that if Kevin would have choosen a commercial atlernative he might have come with an even greater product than ndoc is now, and who knows he would have been the next sandcastle from MS ...

  • Disheartening email.

    Such great work and appreciated by many. I know our company would have gladdly paid a licensing fee for the software if it were required.

    If you release something for free it is generaly not good form to expect payment or be offended by lack there of. And if you think lack of donations equals lack of appreciation then perhaps you should instead look at the number of people that are using it.

    Please dont take my comments as a lack of appreciation for one of the better open source projects out there. I simply want to point out that had he desired to make money from the his hard work then money could have been made (something I am all for).

    Contributing a donation for a development tool is rather hard to deal with accounting wise especialy when you have to explain your budget to higher ups.

    NDoc is increadibly useful for large development teams and for code management, as such we probably would have paid a decent amount for a product like this.

  • I tried sandcastle today and it's pretty poor compared to the NDoc 2.0 alpha that has been floating around. Sandcastle doesn't emulate the look and feel of the VS2005 docs as closely as NDoc 2.0 was doing which is kind of odd when it's comming from Microsoft. Come back Kevin! Anyone who doesn't have a good word to say about your efforts must be a nutter!

  • which damage , I loved NDOC :(

  • Speaking as a shareware author of many years standing I believe it's hard enough getting customers to pay for shareware which times out after a given time period. With a product like NDoc released as donationware I'm really not surprised to find that it hasn't raised the shekels. You got into double figures. Wow! That's above what I would have estimated.

    Also, in my long experience in the industry the people I've found least likely to "buy" software licenses are software developers. They either have to have their employer buy it for them (most won't as they can't see the value it would add to the delivery chain), or their magical status of being a software developer means they should get it for free. Software developers somehow want to be paid for their work, but never want to pay for someone else's in the same line of business. I have even witnessed software developers spend hours on the internet looking for crack codes rather than buy a $30 license. I am the only software developer I know who has ever bought a shareware license. And in the last couple of months I have spent a couple of hundred bucks on new shareware products which I needed - my own money, I am a regular employee these days. I see something which will help me, it is relatively inexpensive (that is, within my personal budget), I buy it.

    I then invariably get quizzed by my co-workers to let them have a copy of that great product so that they can make use of it - naturally as a free gift to them because they cannot possibly put their hand in their own pocket. I refuse point blank to share license codes with anyone.

    Sorry to hear about this demise Kevin. I know how it feels to devote hundreds of hours and see nothing in return. I didn't contribute to NDoc because I couldn't get the darn thing working with .NET v2. If I had managed to do so there would have been a guaranteed contribution from me.

    Anyway, your family is far more important than the labour of love that a product like NDoc is so you've made a good decision.

  • From what I have seen of Sandcastle so far, NDOC2 is much better

  • Here's what I don't get: why not take NDoc proprietary? Charge US $29.95 for it. Who wouldn't pay that for NDoc?

    If you want to get paid, you have to put a price on the product. If it's "pay if you want to", who wants to pay?

  • If you put a price on it I will buy it immediatly even if it would be $100 as I use it within my company.

    Unfortunately, many people won't offer any support. I never saw the donate link on NDoc page.

  • TO: Kevin Downs

    Please, Please bring back NDOC in some form, I used it, I loved it and I would gladly pay $29.99 - $99.99 for it!!!!!! Screw MS and their inferior products.
    Products like NUNIT and NANT and NDOC are much better then the tools they are offering.



  • We still use the NDoc 2.0 alpha and it works well for our purposes. Sandcastle is not a solution for us, because we need the HTML Help 2 format to integrate our help with VS 2005.

    As a tool manufacturer, we did what a tool manufacturer does: We asked Kevin, if he could imagine a business model to develop and sell NDoc as a commercial product. We got no answer.

    I also wonder, why Kevin doesn't make the sources of the NDoc 2 alpha available to the public -- it would be an affordable amount of work to complete the work.

  • Please kevin if you read this, EMAIL me to thomas _at_ frostinnovation.no and I guarantee you that we'll manage to pick the threads up in a way you would be able to earn MONEY on this...!! ;)


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