Northwest Open Source Hackathon: Making Open Source Projects on Windows Easier

Posted by Garrett Serack
Senior Software Developer, Microsoft Open Source Technology Center

This past Friday, developers filled the room for Outercurve’s first annual Northwest Open Source Hackathon. With a special focus on the recent NuGet 2.5 release, the event brought together developers from open source projects like NuGet, CoApp, and Orchard, along with engineers from groups across Microsoft.

All too often, open source developers work together ‘virtually’ – we collaborate, design and code – all without working in the same room together. Hackathons bring us face-to-face, which helps us work on big ideas.

“Hackathons and plugfests in general are a staple of the open source community,” said Sam Ramji, Outercurve’s Board President. “Developers get together and test out new product ideas. New developers who are interested in contributing to one of the existing Outercurve-hosted projects get a chance to work with the architects of the projects directly.”

Rob Mensching, Project Lead for the WiX toolset, was hacking on integration between WiX and NuGet packages. WiX is a powerful set of tools to help developers create smooth Windows installation experiences and was the first open source project released by Microsoft, back in 2004.

“A lot has changed since I tried to do the first open source project at Microsoft,” Rob said. “Microsoft had a lot to prove to the community, but is getting to a better place. Just look at the Linux distributions Microsoft is supporting on [Windows] Azure today – that shows a lot of growing up.”


There was a lot of energy in the room focused on recently released NuGet 2.5, including the CoApp PowerShell Tools. Jeff Handley, Senior Development Lead for the NuGet project, was excited to get real time feedback and generate some new ideas for how NuGet can continue to grow and improve in future releases.

Commenting on the momentum behind the NuGet project, Jeff said, “We had more external contributions to our last release than we’ve had in six or seven releases before that, coming from both CodePlex and GitHub. We went from the first line of NuGet code being written to it being in every single edition of Visual Studio in less than 18 months. Now open source apps are much easier to maintain on Windows.”

Thanks to all of the hackathon participants for coming out for coding and camaraderie. We’re very fortunate to have this ecosystem of developers actively engaged in efforts to make open source projects easy on Windows. Need some help? Find a bug? Have an idea how to improve something? Wander on over to the CoApp and NuGet community sites, and join us!

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