Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Giving back

I feel like the software development industry has provided a lot of opportunity for my family to be happy and successful. In general, I try to live by the idea that if a group helps you out, you should do something to help that group out in turn.

The way that works in the software industry is generally to get on an open source project. For those who don't know (and don't want to read the linked entry), open source software is software that is developed by volunteers, and provided for free to the community (meaning anyone in the world who is interested in the problem the software addresses).

The ideal (at least for me) is to find an open source project that deals with a pain point that you experience. For me, that pain point is software installation. The setup builder that comes with Visual Studio is nearly useless, and the commercial applications that address the problem are all really expensive for cheapos like me.

I'm not the only person who feels this way. There's a group at Microsoft, started by a single guy, who build a tool that makes good setup authoring available to the masses, for free.

I've decided to start helping with this community effort. I contacted Justin Rockwood yesterday, and asked how I could contribute to making Wix work better within Visual Studio. He sent me a long email that detailed his ideas for where the Wix VS integration is headed. Today, he posted nearly the same thing on his blog.

I'm going to try to contribute to a hierarchal designer that shows the features, components, and files/registry keys and their relationship to each other, and the Richer IntelliSense support. This post serves as my dibs on those projects, at least for getting them started. So there, I beat you to it.

This is the thing that is going to consume some of my Tuesday evenings. See honey, there's an altruistic, nice, well-thought-out reason for me to contribute. You thought I was only doing it because I think it's cool.

1 comment:

haacked said...

Nice! I started looking at Wix for Subtext and abandoned it for the web-based approach, though I may return to it later.

I wanted to contribute to Wix, but I was already overburdened with RSS Bandit and Subtext, not to mention how I wanted to contribute to MbUnit. I'm overextended. ;)