Yesterday Microsoft announced their plans to acquire GitHub. As expected, the Internet blew up, with some projects even leaving the platform all together. Here are my thoughts, optimistic hopes, and an alternative code sharing service.
First of all, if you know me, you'll know that I am a big open source advocate.
If you are angry at GitHub for this deal, please keep 2 things in mind.
- GitHub is a business, which provided a service which allowed us to share our code easily. Most of us (me included) opted to use their free accounts, compared to their paid subscription. Even if GitHub wasn't bought, they would have still had to make changes to the platform in order to gain revenue and to continue providing us with a free service.
- Although GitHub was a huge fan and supporter of open-source projects, it itself was not completely open source. I always found irony in this. A big percentage of open source projects are hosted on GitHub, which is not open source itself.
So I can't be mad at GitHub for agreeing to this deal. I was however a little surprised at first. After thinking about it though, it kinda makes sense.
Microsoft does not have a good reputation within the development community. We know this, and so do they. In recent years they have been making strides to improve this. They created one of the most popular text editors currently - Visual Studio Code. They put a lot of work in, although not finished yet, into the Windows Subsystem for Linux which allows us to run native bash and Linux Apps. They also made the core of the .NET framework open source. Most recently, they even announced Azure Sphere OS - which is a Linux based OS they are working on for IoT devices. As I posted on Twitter yesterday, change takes time and trust is not earned overnight. It would be silly to think that Microsoft is going to become a open source company (especially Windows OS), because its not likely to happen. But you are lying to yourself if you can't see them trying to be more open within the development community. The question is, what are their motives?
The more people that develop for a specific platform, the more popular that platform will become. It is obvious that Microsoft wants more people to develop within their platforms. This, in turn, will increase Microsoft's market share and add more revenue. but my hope is that this is not the only reason they are going through the effort of being more open.
Here's my very optimistic hopes. I'm hoping that Microsoft sees the advantages of open source, is genuine about their motives, continues to contribute, and most importantly learns from the GitHub community and adopts the culture of the many projects on GitHub. I know, I know. I'm being very optimistic here, but I'm hoping at least some of this will come true.
Now, if you want all of your code off of GitHub. I would recommend you checking out GitLab. I personally like GitLab over GitHub. It is a open source code sharing platform. You can choose to self-host or use their service. One of the best features I enjoy is that you can have private projects on free accounts. On GitHub, you had to be have a paid subscription to get this feature. It wasn't as popular as GitHub, but now that a lot of projects have already moved their repo, it is gaining traction.
Would love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to leave your comments below, or message me on Twitter.
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