April 14, 2003

The future of WTL

Interestingly, Pranish Kumar posted to the WTL discussion group on yahoo trying to gain opinions on how MS could best support the WTL developer community. You can find his message there, and I've copied my reply to him below:


> and the addition of knowledgeable support personnel to the Microsoft 
> official support channels.

I think it would be a great start for Microsoft to provide some form of officially sanctioned discussion forum. Yahoo groups is advertising supported, incredibly irritating to use (IMHO) and extremely unprofessional. I think microsoft could at least fund the provision of a mailing list / news group combination (with web archives) that would give people a little more confidence in believing that microsoft aren't ignoring WTL.

> There would also likely be significant 
> changes to the library itself as we moved it forward to the latest 
> version of ATL and the compiler. 

Hopefully this will happen - I'm sure nobody here wants to be unable to use WTL with the new ATL. If Nenad has managed before, surely it doesn't cost you _that much_ to do this.

> Related to this the team is investigating various ways that we can 
> improve the experience for WTL users without incurring the 
> prohibitive overhead. Some of the possibilities we are investigating 
> include modifying the licensing for WTL so that the WTL community 
> could support itself with a shared-source project.

Shared-source: please define.

Ignoring the precise definition of this term, some form of open development (a product able to live without Nenad - god forbid) could be important so that WTL can live on beyond the interest-span of one developer. However, a complete Open Source project could turn into a nightmare unless it is properly managed. Many open source projects suffer from the old "too many chefs spoil the broth" problem. A project like WTL could be especially succeptible to this because it is highly technical underneath the polished cover.

What would be ideal (it seems to me) would be some form of public project sponsored by microsoft - a web site explaining it, proper discussion groups and somewhere that community members can post examples etc. Contributions of source would be welcome from community members, but would have to be approved by a few key developers (preferably members of the MS ATL/MFC team). This retains some level of quality control, but doesn't suffer from the speed and cost problems of product-izing WTL.

Somebody else mentioned code documentation - I would like to add my voice to that plea. Some form of standardised code commenting mechanism that could be parsed with either Doxygen or NDoc or equivalent would be particularly helpful in providing better WTL documentation.

Just my two english pence,


Simon.

Posted by Simon at April 14, 2003 02:21 PM
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