Welcome to the first TechNet Wiki article in a planned series of articles that are going to be published under the title of “The CodePlex Corner.” The article author has had the idea of a frequent column focusing on the Open Source SharePoint options for a while; with the original article on in July 2012.  Since the initial publication, a new version of SharePoint has been released; new MVP's have been nominated and of course, new CodePlex projects have been started and launched. This TechNet series of articles is intended to help SharePoint users who  predominantly use Microsoft Communities as their source of information.

Please note that an index of the Project Discussions and their related tutorials can be seen here.

What is CodePlex / Brief history of Open Source Software

To properly understand the aims of communities like CodePlex, a brief detour down history lane is necessary. Most technology orientated readers will have heard the phrase “Open-Source” before and will likely have a few examples from their own experiences. But having exposure to a term or a phrase doesn´t necessarily confer understanding of it. Let´s have a look shall we?

On a basic level, the notion of Open-Source can be perceived as a philosophy that encourages the no-cost redistribution and free access to a product´s design and implementation details. Whilst for people such as you and I, this translates to software source code, it has translated into a few other industries, such as OpenCola (Open Source Cola) and Brewtopia (Open Source Beer).

Specifically for software, this will pertain to having access to the source code under specific licenses (the most famous of which is the GNU General Public License (GPL)) under which further development and distribution are permitted, so long as any future advancement are made available under the same license. Another common feature of Open-Source software is that it is frequently developed in public, collaborative environments such as

Conventionally the public and free nature of Open-Source software goes against the proprietary licensing model many commercial software firms (such as Microsoft) are built on. Regardless of whether an IT Professional perceives Open-Source software as a methodology, a design philosophy or cost-saving measure, it is a movement that cannot easily be ignored. Historically some quarters have championed Open Source software as a successful alternative business model to proprietary licensing (such as Linux Red Hat) they´re not as mutually exclusive now as they may have been a few years ago.

It´s on this basis that CodePlex has been born, it´s a Microsoft Project site for Open Source projects, many of which can complement and extend licensed Microsoft Products. It´s important to note though, that even though some Microsoft employees and MVP/MCC level members of the community contribute to CodePlex projects, Microsoft don´t support them in any way.

Structure of the Articles

This series of articles aims to help fill an educational gap by exploring specific CodePlex projects, with each article highlighting a projects use and examining its target audiences (end user, administrator, developer). There are many great projects on Codeplex, and with clearer explanations, hopefully the community as a whole will continue to gain.

The following format for each featured CodePlex product has been settled on to ensure consistency between articles.

  1. Introduction to the project.
  2. Link to product review (If it has one)
  3. Show where the project sits on the “End User – Developer” scale
  4. Discuss potential pitfalls / problems plus example scenarios in which a project can be used
  5. Tutorial and example usage
  6. Conclude and add any relevant links

Categorisation of the articles

In looking to maintain a form of synergy with SharePoint Reviews, I’ll be categorising the solutions discussed in each article into the same categories.  These are

  1. Content Management
  2. Administration
  3. Deployment
  4. Business Productivity
  5. Business Solutions
  6. Look & Feel
  7. Social & Mobile
  8. Search & Findability

Conclusion / Comments

As the TechNet Wiki is an open forum, please use the comments field for suggestions and criticisms. Should any member within the community have something in particular they´d like to see, please leave a suggestion via the comments.

See Also