Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Horn web is alive

The hornget website is a tangible landmark in horn’s journey from fun project to something of actual potential and use. It has been met with a predictable, muted response for something I genuinely believed was lacking in the .NET space. Horn is in OSS terms, very much an itch that needed scratching. One only has to look at the figures at the end of the post and the lack of publicity surrounding what could and should be a worthwhile community initiative for .NET OSS. It is easy for me to overstate the need for horn as I have been its most vigorous and active member since its inception. We now have a windows service that not only builds many of the favourite .NET OSS offerings but also sets out to resolve the dependency maze that is so intricately mapped out by the various rogue library versions that are now interspersed among the many lib folders of .NET OSS.

We have provided this and a DSL dialect for specifying the build and dependency instructions. As is usual with defined and set goals, we have over reached our initial expectations. This is very much a time to stop and review where we are and why this does not seem to be an interesting subject for .NET. I have been on a ruby on rails course this week and the use of ruby gems has obviously had a resonance with me.

The jury is very much out on whether this was a cause worth championing. I cannot justify my time on this project and I hoped this would be my way of repaying the massive debt to OSS. I am not even sure I learnt anything during the process apart from getting contributors to submit code to your OSS project is damn hard.

I will leave you with the horn scores on the doors via google analytics.


  1. Unfortunately, I think that the majority of the Open Source movement just isn't about using .NET. I'm not saying it's not important, nor is it not useful. Merely that people don't seem to have nearly as much of a vested interested in open source .NET projects as they do in things written in C/C++ or PHP.

    This is more of a historical problem stemming from the closed source nature of Microsoft. People who started the OSS movement didn't like the closed source nature of Microsoft, so have largely ignored anything that is Microsoft in nature.

    I could forsee this getting better over time, but not for a long time. The influence of Mono is eventually going to change that, but it's going to take quite some time. If you really wanted to continue down this road, you might want to try and piggyback onto Mono somehow.

    I wouldn't expect to see this equate to any sort of financial reward though. Remember, this is OSS. People don't do it for the money.

  2. Thankfully I had no financial goals for horn :-). It was more of a challenge than anything else until it actually proved that it might be useful.

    You only have to see now useful these types of things are by looking at ruby on rails. Dealing with all the different build engines (nant, psake ) etc. make it tedious and less likely to succeed anyway and the existing open source big gun's indifference to making it all fit together.

    I am pretty much switching to ruby on rails anyway after getting hooked on how frictionless it is there.

    Horn was fun and in some ways the end of .NET for me.

  3. Wish I'd have discovered this sooner, looks like exactly what we need. For anyone just stepping into the altnet space the myriad of dependencies and versions all make for a very frustrating experience until you get up and running.

    Nice effort shame it's your last with .net!

  4. Looks great! unfortunately my first experience with it wasn't the greatest - appears to be unavailable "A git pull failed for the package". Great idea though - this has a LOT of promise!