Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Rapid XAML in the future

This
Rapid-XAML-Toolkit forked from the Microsoft organization
Before
has become this
Rapid-XAML-Toolkit repo now in my org
After

Yes, ownership of the repository has transferred to me.

Background

A little under two years ago, I was thinking about how more can be done to help developers building software. I was contributing to Windows Template Studio, which is a great way to get started in creating an app but wondered what could be done after that. I saw that there was a big gap in the tooling for developers working with XAML, and I had several ideas about ways this could be improved.

Skip forward a couple of months, and I had a proof of concept that I showed to some people in Redmond.
I received a positive response.
They asked what I wanted to do with it, and the conclusion we came to was to make it an "official" Microsoft open source project. And so, open-sourcing processes were followed (Yes, Microsoft has such things), a repository was created, and I began working away in my "free" time.

Fast forward to earlier this year.

I reached the point where it became realistic, practical, and necessary to start getting the functionality out to people who could use it.
In a case of bad timing, the primary advocate for the project within Microsoft left for another job.
The person who took over responsibility for the project within Microsoft then faced several months of me asking them questions. Questions like:

  • When can we get this in the marketplace?
  • What do you need from me to help this progress?
  • What progress is happening?
  • What can I do to help this progress?
  • Etc...

To try and encourage things along and provide a way for people to see what I'd been working on, I released a preview via my own publishing account.
I did a small amount of extra work in response to feedback from the preview, but the uncertainty of the project meant progress on the project slowed.

Eventually, I got an answer. This wasn't going to be something Microsoft would publish.

Not totally dejected (or surprised--given how long things had taken), I asked about my continuing the project away from Microsoft. Primarily, this meant transferring the ownership of the repository to me. As there were only minor contributions from other people and I had no plans on changing the licensing, this was agreed to, in principle, subject to approval from legal.

Cue several months of me repeatedly asking, first, "Have you asked legal yet?" and then "Have you heard from legal? Can you follow up with them?"

Until.

Yesterday I received an email that the legal department had no objections and so I made the transfer.


I've definitely learned a lot from this process.


What's next?


  • Time for me to get to work.
    While work had stalled concerning development, I've been keeping track of more and more ideas for what could be done to help developers and features to be added to the product. More details to follow...

  • Get a "proper" version released.
    I'm also going to revisit how it's packaged, so developers need only install the bits they want.

  • It will remain free and open source! An original goal was to gain experience in managing such a project, and that's still possible. While the direct Microsoft association would undoubtedly have helped, I still believe this can be a valuable tool for developers working with XAML. While Microsft continues to focus their effort on improving tooling within the visual designer, that leaves a lot of opportunities to offer tools to help within the editor.
    And, free because of not being a name that can sell the tool, I'd instead gain experience and knowledge from having a lot of people use it rather than make a small amount of money from a few users. Having spent the last 7-8 years doing work under NDA, it's getting harder to find work without any portfolio. Hopefully, this will start to show what I'm technically capable of and my knowledge of what developers want and need. This may aid in securing future consulting/contract work. I'm also hopeful the lessons and experience here may allow me to create other, paid, tools in the future.
    In a moment of what's hopefully excellent timing, I've also been approved for the GitHub sponsors program, so you can financially support this project too.

  • A new website - probably.

  • Merch/SWAG - eventually?

exciting times!




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