Now, let’s talk about why WiX was released as Open Source. First, working on WiX has never been a part of my job description or review goals. I work on the project in my free time. Second, WiX is a very developer oriented project and thus providing source code access increases the pool of available developers. Today, there are five core developers (Robert, K, Reid, and Derek, thank you!) regularly working on WiX in their free time with another ten submitting fixes occasionally. Finally, many parts of the Open Source development process appeal to me. Back in 1999 and 2000, I did not feel that many people inside Microsoft understood what the Open Source community was really about and I wanted to improve that understanding by providing an example.
After four and a half years of part-time development, the WiX design (and most of the code) matured to a point where I was comfortable trying to release it externally. So, last October I started looking for a means to release not only the tools but the source code as well. I thought GotDotNet was the place. However, at that time, none of the existing Shared Source licenses were flexible enough to accept contributions from the community. Then, in February, I was introduced to Stephen Walli who was also working to improve Microsoft’s relationship with the Open Source community. Fortunately, Stephen was much farther along than I and had the step-by-step plan how to release an Open Source project from Microsoft using an approved OSS license.
Today, via WiX on SourceForge, you get to see the results of many people’s efforts to improve Microsoft from the inside out. I’m not exactly sure what is going to happen next but I’m sure there are quite a few people who are interested to see where this leads. Personally, all I hope is that if you find the WiX toolset useful then you’ll join the community and help us improve the toolset.
Of course the relevance is not the WiX toolset itself, but the fact that something from Microsoft is released under an approved OSS license (the Common Public License).