Why not support SharpDevelop?

In his great post about ORMs, EF, eSQL and data access in general, Sahil Malik wrote something about Visual Studio 2005, that I would like to comment on.

  • The VS2005 IDE is stuck in a rather unfortunate monopolistic situation.
    • There is no incentive for any other company to create a better IDE because the IDE costs some serious $$$ to create, and MSFT gives it away for peanuts. It is impossible to compete with such a model, so I don’t expect google or adobe to come out with a Visual Studio.NET that is better. 
    • And I don’t expect the community to do it either, because when people who have tried to improve certain SKUs of the IDE get sued, it serves as a very big discouragement for the community. While I am terribly disappointed to see lawyers involved in suing someone who is really a developer/member of the community/one of us, I don’t want MSFT lawyers on my ass either, so I’ll just stay quiet on the whole “who is right” portion of that incident. I just wish nobody gets hurt in the process, and I wish both parties settle on a mutually amicable solution.

    Well, Sahil – unfortunately you’re right, no other company is going to develop IDE that would compete with VS. That’s a sad thing, because no competition means stagnation. There is however one thing that amazes me. There are commercial IDEs in Java world, in PHP world, but despite of this they have free, open-source IDEs like NetBeans, Eclipse, Aptana (that works also as Eclipse’s plugin), with big, active community developing plugins and main products. As a result, those free IDEs are not worse, and often better, than commercial ones (to make things clear: it’s my hardcore Java friend’s opinion – not mine).

    If Java people can contribute to community and support development of the most basic tool every developer uses, why all .NET world seems to be happy with VS? It strikes me why very good open-source IDE we have – SharpDevelop, gets so little attention, both in support, and in creating buzz.

    Come on – it has most of the tools you need, out of the box support for other OSS tools (nDoc, nUNIT, nAnt and more), so why not use it? Almost no refactorings you say? Did I mention that it’s open-source? Why then not support it and add something from you? SharpDevelop is MUCH underrated, and if it was other way around, I think it would be a win-win situation. People using it, would get yet better product, with more capabilities, and people staying with VS would benefit too, since if VS had real competitor, it would put pressure on Microsoft to really improve it.

    And one more thing: if you’re a developer (I guess, most people coming here are Wink) you can contribute to the project, either by writing some code for the IDE itself, or by writing a plugin, without fear that you will be sued for it.