CodePlex poses an apparent and interesting contradiction in principles, if not in terms: it is an Open Source Project Community, but it is also a Microsoft-supported Web site. You will get some sense of the strength of the Open Source terminology, however, when you read this language from the home page: "Microsoft does not control, review, revise, endorse, or distribute the third-party projects on this site. Microsoft is hosting the CodePlex site solely as a Web storage site as a service to the developer community." It might be useful to understand CodePlex as being about Microsoft, and even, Microsoft developer focused, but it is definitely not an official organ nor an extension of the Microsoft empire.
What will you find on CodePlex? Nearly anything and everything of potential interest to Microsoft developers, with over 4,500 projects defined on topics that range from an Ajax Control Toolkit, a set of samples and components built atop the Microsoft Ajax library, to ZuDoKu, a Sudoku game for the Microsoft Zune media player. Projects range from the super serious, with items like the patterns & practices – Enterprise Library and BlogEngine.NET, to entertainment or fan oriented items, such as Rawr, A .NET Winforms tool for customizing specific World of Warcraft personae, or an AddOn Studio for the same virtual world.
Things get more interesting when you start taking advantage of project tagging to look for specific versions of .NET (2.0, 3.0, and 3.5 most particularly). For the latest and greatest version of .NET (3.5), there are already over 100 projects at work, including useful items built around Visual Studio 2008 and nearly 30 .NET Reflector add-ins, which feature some pretty interesting tools and utilities such as numerous disassemblers, a Silverlight assembly loader, a code dependency grapher, a class diagrammer, and even a widget that renders output in the form of a Windows PowerShell script.
In short, CodePlex is a fabulous repository for all kinds of interesting Open Source projects, and home to an active and vigorous Microsoft-oriented (but not MS-dominated) developer community. It is definitely worth several visits, and some serious browsing, to see if there is anything going on there that might interest you -- or perhaps better, save you some time and effort.
Ed Tittel is a writer and trainer whose interests include XML and development topics, along with IT Certification and information security. E-mail Tittel with comments, questions, or suggested topics or tools to review. Cool tools rule!