It’s that time of year again, where some apocalyptic headline crosses my news feed and I shake my head in silence at the lack of foresight most of my peers seem to have. I don’t claim to have some magical insight into the future, but some common sense goes a long way in preventing anxiety.
As some may know, Microsoft is in the process of acquiring GitHub for a whopping 7.5 Billion American smackaroonies. While this may come as a surprise to no-one in the developer community who sniffed this possibility on the horizon of last weekend, this does come with some questions about GitHub’s future.
I’ve watched, disappointingly as the forums I frequent devolve into a bitter debate over whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. On the one hand, the anti-Microsoft people claim that GitHub’s acquiring is the ultimate betrayal to the open source community, and that eventually it will be locked down until it’s nothing more than a paid service with little transparency. While pro-Microsoft developers argue that this will ultimately be a good thing and bring more features to the already fantastic platform.
But as always, both sides of the spectrum are wrong… and right?
While I ultimately confess to be in the former camp, I believe credit should be given where it is due. For corporate most likely .Net developers this is a good thing as currently Microsoft doesn’t have any tool on their platform that has anything remotely close to GitHub(and neither does Amazon while we are on the subject). So those developers will rejoice as GitHub ultimately becomes more friendly with MS Azure services, and more integrated with their IDEs. So if you lie in this camp, you are most likely going to be glad for this change.
The problem then, is if you reside in the other camp, the much larger and more vocal camp: Open Source Developers. These developers are going to get the short end of the stick. Microsoft is historically unfriendly to open source development and in most cases is anti-competition. I’ve seen some heft accusations about the possibility of code theft with no attribution, and while those are more than likely, I’m not going to speculate on those. But know that based on previous actions, Microsoft is more than likely going to lock GitHub down more, probably create more tiered services favoring those who can spend more, as well as other things.
So now the question is where will developers host their code? This is the question that I roll my eyes at as I see countless posts about how open source development is done for.
People seem to forget that as long as America is a free market, there will always be someone to fill a need. Case and point, an overwhelming number of projects have been migrated to GitLab. A Code repository service with a free tier and pretty much identical feature parody to GitHub. And…Get this.. not owned by Evil Microsoft!