The Demise of NDoc and A Challenge For Users Of Open Source Software

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My goodness. Today is Open Source News Day for me.

I just read the sad news that Kevin Downs, the leader of the NDoc project, announced that NDoc 2 Is Officially Dead. NDoc is a wonderfully useful tool for generating nicely formatted CHM and HTML documentation from XML comments within your source code.

What is really troubling about the news is the attitude by some members of the community that was a contributing factor to Kevin calling it quits.

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!

Kevin

I cannot understand the mentality of someone who demands for developers to hurry up and release a new version of a free software product. If you are in such dire need of the new version, why not hurry up and contribute?

Having said that, I feel particularly bad that I never contributed to NDoc, yet enjoyed so much use out of it. As the manager of an open source project myself, I understand the inherent difficulty in generating interest and contributions from the community at large.

In general, I try to contribute to Open Source projects when I can. I have contributed a tiny bit of money and some documentation and code to RSS Bandit, I bought a domain name for MbUnit, and of course I contribute to Subtext. But I realized today that I am quite haphazard in how I contribute to useful open source projects. I contribute to some when the mood strikes, but not others.

Challenge

So I offer the following challenge. First, ask yourself these two questions:

  1. How much money do I save because of Open Source Software?
  2. Considering how many people spend three bucks for a useless ring tone, is a single dollar too much to contribute to a useful Open Source project?

So let’s ban together and declare today, July 26, 2006, Contribute To Open Source Day. Look at the open source software you use and consider making a tiny contribution to the project if you find it useful. The contribution could be a small monetary contribution such as a buck (or five). Even more valuable is contributing a single bug fix. If you want to contribute to Subtext, consider writing a Unit Test to cover a case that isn’t tested. What better way to learn about writing unit tests?

Gee, using GIMP alone saves me a few hundred that I would otherwise pay for Photoshop. My goal now is to at least contribute something everytime I download a new open source product, whether it be some useful bug reports or feedback, a bug fix, a buck...anything. Just as long as it is something.

I will check back with you next year on July 26 and remind you again to consider contributing. It is worth it.

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