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With the upcoming release of the .NET Framework 3.5 and Visual Studio 2008, Microsoft will reveal the source code for the .NET Framework Libraries. Licensing terms, however, do not allow changes or redistribution of the .NET Framework source code.

That source code will be scrubbed of some comments and will be released under yet another of Microsoft's several software licenses, this being the Microsoft Reference License, or MS-RL.

Microsoft's Scott Guthrie said in a blog entry entitled Releasing the source code for the .NET Framework libraries that making the source code available will aid in debugging and provide developers added insight into how .NET Framework libraries are implemented.

The ability to set the debugger to dynamically download the .NET Framework debugger symbols (and corresponding source code) from a web server hosted by Microsoft will come with the formal release of Visual Studio 2008, according to Guthrie.

For its part, Microsoft describes Ms-RL as ''the most restrictive'' of the Microsoft source code licenses. The license prohibits all use of source code other than the viewing of the code for reference purposes. The license is meant to enable the company to release, for review purposes only, "more sensitive intellectual property assets."

What is the order of release? Guthrie says the plan is to start with the following:

  • .NET Base Class Libraries (System, System.IO, System.Collections, System.Configuration, System.Threading, System.Net, System.Security, System.Runtime, System.Text, etc.)
  • ASP.NET (System.Web)
  • WinForms (System.Windows.Forms)
  • ADO.NET (System.Data)
  • XML (System.Xml)
  • WPF (System.Windows)

Microsoft will then, he writes, ''be adding more libraries in the months ahead (including WCF, Workflow, and LINQ).''

More on the .NET Framework Library source code release
Making .NET Framework source Aaailable to developers (Shawn Burke)
Source code for the .NET Framework (Mike Harsh)
Reports of snowballs in hell... (Ted Neward)

Dig deeper on .NET Framework 3.5 and Visual Studio 2008 development

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