Open Source Web Parts, XBox 360, and VS2005 Launch

A bit of a mish mash (miss mash? miss match? Alicia Silverstone?) today as my brain recovers from an incredibly boring orientation session yesterday that I was forced to attend. Note to HR peoople, even though I got paid for my time, I would like those 4 hours of my life back somehow. The thought of reading through another policy manual in a class just sends shivers down my spine.

I'm thinking about dropping by the local Future Shop/Best Buy/etc. to see if there are any 360s for sale. They hit the stores today but I'm the type that would never pre-order something (instant gratification is key). So I'm wondering if I'll be able to find one in Calgary? Is the "shortage" all hype or would all outlets really be sold out? If you're in Calgary let me know.

Next up is about Web Parts (and SharePoint tools). I have amassed in my little collection about a dozen little tools that I've put together for doing various SharePointy stuff (like applying themes across an already themed farm) and other goodies like Web Parts. For example I have a Web Part that I built after being inspired by the FabriKam Multi-Doc Viewer so it rolls up multiple documents on multiple document libraries on multiple WSS sites.

Anyways, while sitting on a gigabyte of code might be a cool thing to boast about (I wouldn't know because I think it's a little too over the top in the geek factor to do this), I'm trying to gauge what would happen if I release this stuff into the wild. These are things that I've put together on my own time as I found gaps in what SharePoint does, wanted to try out a new control, or in response to a quip in a newsgroup where someone spouts the magical words "does anyone have a web part that...". The Visual Xml SharePoint Builder tool is one of these.

The dilemma is that I'm not sure the response that might result from some established vendors who have similar products out there where they are making revenue from it. Far from me to step on anyone toes (commercial product or otherwise) and I'm not saying my simple little things are something an Enterprise should bet the farm on (for example, I'm not in any position to provide support for this stuff). It's just that as I look across the "commercial" SharePoint Land I can see a lot of vendors that might be peeved if Bil opened up the flood gates and unleashed the hounds.

Maybe I'm just overthinking all this so looking for some feedback from you on this. If you sell a SharePoint Web Part or tool, what would your reaction be if a similar (or better) tool shows up, for free, on the wub wub web? Or a Web Part that did pretty much the same as one that's making you money? Should I expect a nasty email or would you just ignore it? Inquiring minds want to know.

Finally the VS2005 Canadian Launch in Calgary is coming up on Thursday. From the rest of the Canadian events, John Bristowe and co. have been doing a killer job on the launch and it just gets better with each city. Having Calgary later rather than sooner and after a few other big cities like Toronto and Vancouver just provides us with more cool factor (take that T.O.). Hope you have your tickets and we'll see you at the Cabana (remember to bring any extra organs you might have).


  • I am new to sharepoint; but a .NET programmer for years (I ran into your blog looking for sharepoint info and webparts).

    I believe you cannot have enough samples and code online.

    I like to start a project by seeing what other people have done similar, without buying anything. I will buy a product if developing something similar is not feasible.

    If I want support, I will pay for a supported product.

    If I want to see what webparts can be created I will download demos/create samples.

    You get what you pay for.

    My POV

  • Bil, screw the vendors. Sure, if I wrote an app that I charged money for, then someone else opened it up and released it for free, I'd be a bit peev'd... but not that much.

    While there are always free tools out there, vendors have their place. Gary's comment is proving my point: vendors are in the business to, when you boil it down, not to go out of business. In order to do this, you have to support your products. As an indie, you don't really have to support your stuff... only say "here's what I did, maybe it helps you."

    You could also release your tools to some "forge" site *wink* to create an open/free/shared source project.

  • I don't really mean "screw the vendors"... that was too off the cuff. That was my quick way of saying "don't factor their financial future into your plans to release to the community."

  • Bil,

    There is always room for new, innovative ideas and FREE code to demonstrate them. Free Web Parts are a great way to contribute to the SharePoint community. I have never been a big fan of the over-priced Web Part vendors that are out there today.

    Bob Mixon

  • Do it! Competition increases innovation.

    Plus if you are not going to provide support for your tools then that is what component companies will be able to offer.

  • I have some comments on this one...

  • If a vendor is betting on a few single products only they are really putting themselves in a bad place. That is the difference between open source and vendors, documentation, support etc.

    I think more code out in the wild as you put it, just forces vendors to work harder.


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