Microsoft walks away from dynamic language projects

IronPython and IronRuby moving to other jurisdictions, enabling the community at large to make source contributions

Microsoft is turning over its IronPython and IronRuby projects, which enable the Python and Ruby dynamic languages to run on the company's .Net software development platform, to others outside the company, a Microsoft official said this week.

The move enables the community at large to make source contributions to the two projects, said Jason Zander, corporate vice president of the Visual Studio team at Microsoft, in a blog post. Meanwhile, Jim Hugunin, who had worked on IronPython at Microsoft, has departed for Google.

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"IronPython and IronRuby are two dynamic language implementations that we have incubated internally the last few years. We have released several versions of both language environments, and all of the source code has been released under open source licenses (recently moved to Apache License V2.0)," Zander said.

New leadership and a new development model  for the projects "will enable the broader community to contribute to their development," said Zander. Changes can be made to the two projects on the CodePlex open source project site to allow community members to make contributions without sponsorship by a Microsoft employee, he said.

Also, Microsoft has done ground work for future versions of the projects, Zander said.

IronPython will feature as coordinators Miguel de Icaza, author Michael Foord, and .Net programmer Jeff Hardy along with blogger Jimmy Schementi. De Icaza and Schementi will coordinate IronRuby.

"All of these guys have worked with or on the Iron projects since their inception, and I have nothing but trust and respect for the new stewards of these community projects," Zander said.

"Overall, I hope the effect of the changes is to dramatically increase the opportunity for community members to contribute their own code to IronPython and IronRuby, and to actively participate in these projects," Zander added.

"Both IronPython and IronRuby will be developed like other open source projects without any of the limitations that previously existed," de Icaza said in his blog. "In particular, from my very Unix-centric view, we will be able to get the proper fixes into the Iron* languages to make them work out of the box on Linux and MacOS.

In a blog post, Hugunin said he was excited to go work for Google.

"Microsoft's decision to abandon its investment in IronPython was a catalyst but not the cause of my leaving the company. While most of you know that I haven't been directly involved in IronPython for quite some time, the decision still provided a spur to cause me to reflect on my time at the company and realize that it was time to explore other career options," Hugunin said.

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