Microsoft Lets Go Of The Iron Languages
Written by Mike James   
Friday, 22 October 2010

Microsoft has called time on its backing of the Iron  projects, a move that has had repercussions for Microsoft as well as for IronRuby and IronPython.

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Having reported Microsoft's Dynamic Languages Are Dying  in August we can now follow up with the news that Microsoft has bowed out of the project and handed it over to "the broader community", a move that might give Iron Ruby and Iron Python a second chance.  

In the announcement on his blog, Jason Zander writes:

The IronPython project will have Miguel de Icaza, Michael Foord, Jeff Hardy, and Jimmy Schementi as Coordinators. Miguel de Icaza and Jimmy Schementi will be the Coordinators of IronRuby. All of these guys have worked with or on the Iron projects since their inception and I have nothing but trust and respect for the new stewards of these community projects.

However, although the two Iron projects may have the commitment and expertise they require what they will lack in the future is the financial backing that Microsoft provided them with.

 

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Although the decision was only was announced on 21 October 2010 it transpires that it had been made months earlier. Jeff Hardy's blog records:

As best I can gather, the team was officially kaput on September 1st, or thereabouts.  I found out in late September, and since then the former DLR team has been working to make the handoff as smooth as possible.

Lack of commitment to the Iron languages was was the reason that Jimmy Schementi left Microsoft in August and now Jim Huginin has announced his departure.

Huginin joined Microsoft 6 years ago to work on IronPython. Although he hasn't been directly involved in the project for some time Microsoft's decison to abandon its investment in Iron Python has acted as a catalyst to his move to Google.

So what of the future?

Jeff Hardy writes:

The future of IronPython and IronRuby is entirely in the hands of those who use it, which is a new experience for those used to Microsoft calling all the shots.

So what's next? As a group, we're still hashing that out. Now that the cat is out of the bag, we're going to involve the community as well ... I and other coordinators can't do it alone. We need help. We need people to contribute code, libraries, documentation - anything. From this point on, IronPython and IronRuby will live or die by their communities.

Further reading

Microsoft's Dynamic Languages Are Dying

IronPython

.NET languages

Book reviews

IronRuby Unleashed

The Ruby Programming Language

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