A company that helps developers find, track and manage open source components has partnered with Microsoft to include projects from CodePlex, Microsoft’s open source portal.
Black Duck Software helps companies find reliable open source projects and comply with their various licenses. Although the source code for open source software (OSS) is free, various licenses have different restrictions, ranging from simple attribution to obliging developers to publish any improvements they make back to the OSS community.
It’s not easy to manage those licenses, and companies will sometimes try to find an alternative OSS project if the one they currently draw from has a relatively restrictive license, said Peter Vescuso, executive vice president of marketing and business development at Black Duck. Black Duck can also help companies gauge OSS projects’ quality by providing information about their developer community and version history, he said.
By bringing CodePlex projects into its KnowledgeBase, which catalogs open source projects, Black Duck is underscoring Microsoft’s relatively new push to embrace open source. Microsoft has made several overtures toward open source: it recently released ASP.NET MVC as open source; several of its Silverlight components are open source; it’s making sure its Azure cloud OS will work with PHP; and its CodePlex site provides a repository for open source projects. Most projects on CodePlex are Windows applications written in .NET, although that isn’t a requirement for putting a project on the site.
The partnership with Microsoft will give Black Duck access to projects’ metadata, letting it automate its information gathering process, Vescuso said. For Microsoft, the deal will help it get out the message that it’s a true, committed player in the open source world, he said.
Open source is often associated with Linux, but most developers in the last decade — including Windows developers — look to open source to help them as they write applications, Vescuso said. Those uses range from just copying a few lines to using whole components or tools.