.NET Foundation: My Take

It’s been a long week. I mean a really long week. As many of you know, I’m a board member of the .NET Foundation. This hasn’t been an easy week for the foundation.

Some Perspective

But I think it’s important to have some perspective of what I think is happening. Here are a few clarifying notes first:

  • This blog post is my view, my message, my opinion.
  • I don’t speak for the board, Microsoft or Open Source development in general.
  • This post wasn’t cleared, authored, or word-smithed by the board. It’s just me talking here.

Part of my reputation, perhaps even my ‘brand’, is about my ability to say the hard things. I would like to believe that, on average, I speak truth, no matter the consequences. I’m no angel or perfect, but I strive to not be a fan-boy or sycophant. You can judge how effective I am at that.

With that said, I’ve come to believe that my silence this week has been deafening to some. With this post I mean to break that silence. Ok, let’s get to it.

.NET Foundation

To me, the goals of the .NET Foundation are important and laudable. I think that the outreach successes we’ve had, especially during Covid-19 (the live stream services and the Meetup support for user-groups has been a help to the community) have helped the community leaders keep communication and learning happen in the worst of times.

I’ve been the chair of that committee and that’s where I’ve been focused on. To be honest, while the Projects Committee is important, it hasn’t been at the forefront of my mind.

But to be clear, I think that these are the two most public faces of the .NET Foundation. And with that I mean that they both provide services to .NET Developers. The foundation does other important work, but these are the core pieces to the community right now.

While Microsoft has ownership of .NET, C#, and tooling - I think our goal at the foundation is different. It’s a delicate balance between being a extension of Microsoft and being an asset to the community. I still don’t know how I feel about this gray line.

Blame

So, here we sit with a lot of emotions. Feelings are hurt. Mistakes were made. But I want to find a direction forward.

Here are some facts that I think are true:

  • The .NET Foundation and it’s board are all well-intentioned people that are trying to do what they can to improve the overall .NET ecosystem.
  • Mistakes were made inside the .NET Foundation about how specific projects and policies were enacted and executed.
  • Likewise, I think that the community and projects may have not understood what they were agreeing to when they were brought under the .NET Foundation umbrella.

Am I saying that everybody’s right and everybody’s wrong¹? For what it’s worth, I think the answer is yes. Asking for resignations and for the .NET Foundation to be scrapped it an emotional response. I believe blame isn’t as important. Change is important.

Does that mean I want to absolve accountability? No. But I do want a bridge forward. I want to understand and learn how we can be of service to the community. What do Open Source .NET projects need from us (and the answer may be nothing)? If we’re fighting with the community, then we’re not accomplishing what I ran for when I was voted onto the foundation board.

Moving Forward

I’m hoping that our planning this week is going to result in some fruitful change. I expect more of this to be public soon, but I don’t speak for the board so I can’t promise to ‘fix’ anything.

I just wanted to let the community know where I stand.

¹ “For What It’s Worth”, Dusty Springfield