Microsoft open-sources .Net build system

The MSBuild engine is now available on GitHub, and Microsoft intends to bring it to Linux and Mac OS X

MSBuild, the build platform for Microsoft's Visual Studio toolset and the .Net Platform, is now open source, marking the software giant's latest embrace of the open source movement.

Made available on GitHub and contributed to the .Net Foundation, MSBuild, or Microsoft.Build, serves as a platform for building applications. It's the default engine for Visual Studio and the .Net community on the Windows platform.

"By invoking msbuild.exe on your project or solution file, you can orchestrate and build products in environments where Visual Studio isn't installed. For instance, MSBuild is used to build the .Net Core Libraries and .Net Core Runtime open source projects," Microsoft's Rich Lander said in a blog post on Wednesday.

"We will be adding Linux and Mac support soon (perhaps with your help!) so you can use MSBuild to build the open source .Net projects on your preferred platform," Lander said. "We'll initially start with Mono and look to port the code to run on .Net Core. But we're really just getting started on our ports. We wanted to open up the code first so that we could all enjoy the cross-platform journey from the outset."

MSBuild provides an XML schema for a project file controlling how the build platform builds software. The MSBuild sources published Wednesday are closely aligned with the version to ship with Visual Studio 2015, Lander said. For now, Visual Studio is required to build the first time.

While initially gaining a reputation as an open source opponent some years ago, Microsoft has been taking steps to embrace the concept in recent years. The .Net Foundation, for instance, was formed nearly a year ago to promote .Net technologies in the open source vein. The company at that time also made its Roslyn compiler project open source. Last November, Microsoft revealed intentions to offer its server-side cloud stack via open source through its .Net Core initiative. In February, Microsoft open-sourced CoreCLR, the .Net execution engine in .Net Core.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.