Microsoft offloads IronRuby and IronPython languages to external developers

Microsoft offloads IronRuby and IronPython languages to external developers

Summary: The handwriting was on the wall: Microsoft was leaning away from supporting the IronRuby language. It turns out that was true. And ditto with its complement, IronPython.


The handwriting was on the wall: Microsoft was leaning away from supporting the IronRuby language.

It turns out that was true. And ditto with its complement, IronPython.

IronRuby and IronPython, until November 1, are Microsoft-supported and .Net-targeted versions of the Ruby and Python dynamic programming languages. After November 1, they will belong to the community and won't be Microsoft properties any longer.

For a while, it looked as if Microsoft was moving full-steam-ahead with dynamic languages. Adding the Dynamic Language Runtime to the Common Language Runtime made the Redmondians seem even more committed. Earlier this summer, Microsoft made IronRuby and IronPython available under the Apache 2 open-source license. Around the same time, Microsoft released version 1.1 of IronRuby and an alpha of IronPython 2.7.

But there were signs problems were afoot. There was talk Microsoft might be convinced to move IronRuby to the CodePlex Foundation (now known as the Outercurve Foundation) or to release it to the community in some way. Microsoft officials would not talk about their plans for the languages.

On October 21, the future became clear. Microsoft said it is donating both IronRuby and IronPython to the open source community. Microsoft is not killing off its support for the Dynamic Language Runtime, however; that will continue to be part of the .Net Framework, as it is currently, officials said today.

("Donating to the community" is what Microsoft did with Visual FoxPro and the .Net Micro Framework, as well, as Microsoft watchers may recall.)

Microsoft isn't simply casting off these languages, officials insisted. And, indeed, it does look like there's been some forethought as to what to do to make sure they don't simply whither. According to a blog post by Jason Zander, Corporate Vice President, Visual Studio:

"As part of these changes I’m happy to announce new project leaders external to Microsoft who will take over the projects and provide leadership going forward.  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."

Any IronRuby and/or IronPython developers out there? What's your take?

Update: Jim Hugunin, the creator of IronPython, has just announced he is leaving Microsoft for Google. He says Microsoft's decision to discontinue its support of IronPython was "a catalyst but not the cause" for his decision. Some good stuff from Hugunin's eloquent goodbye post:

"I will suffer some pain when I have to write code in Java now that I've learned to love the elegance of C#. I will suffer some frustrations when I have to use Google Docs instead of the finely polished UI in Microsoft Office. More than anything, I will always value the chance that I had to work with and learn valuable lessons from some truly great people.

"As I leave Microsoft, I'm incredibly excited to be going to work for Google. I like to build projects with small talented teams working on quick cycles driven by iterative feedback from users. I like to have a healthy relationship with Open Source code and communities, and I believe that the future lies in the cloud and the web. These things are all possible to do at Microsoft and IronPython is a testament to that. However, making that happen at Microsoft always felt like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole - which can be done but only at major cost to both the peg and the hole."

Topics: Microsoft, Enterprise Software, Open Source, Software, Software Development


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • I never understood IronRuby or IronPython

    The people that were drawn to and popularized both Python and Ruby are usually the type of people that have little love for Microsoft.
    • Should unload visual basic as well

      No point to support it while C# is good enough.<br><br>As for Ruby and Python, you could see it coming as functional languages are seldom suitable as large scale app development.

      Btw it's funny seeing Hugunin?s honest opinion about Google Docs. LOL. Careful, he's not supposed to call a pig a pig.
      • RE: Microsoft offloads IronRuby and IronPython languages to external developers

        @LBiege Ruby isn't a functional language, much less Python...<br><br>They have functional features, but C# 3 does moreso at this point.<br><br>Microsoft's more heavily invested in functional languages now than ever.<br><br>Also, C# is a strongly typed language; Ruby/Python are dynamic/weakly typed. They often serve different purposes, so to say that "C# is good enough" makes no sense at all.
    • RE: Microsoft offloads IronRuby and IronPython languages to external developers

      @mikefarinha Many on the .Net stack are drawn to Ruby and, to a lesser extent Python. A mature IronRuby stack would, can, and hopefully will, provide another fantastic language on the platform.

      @LBiege Good enough doesn't cut it. The difference between a craftsman and a hacker. Your comments on functional languages are made without insight and, most obviously, experence.
      • The myth about Ruby, Python and Javascript

        Every time I hear someone touting the elegance of those languages, I know it must be someone barely writing programs more than 10K lines of code. <br><br>The only thing good about those wannabe languages is that they are fast to code. That's about it with a price to pay when it comes to full life cycle of software development. Those languages bring in a whole bunch of hidden errors that a strong-type language would not allow. Time saved in during development will be overwhelmed by time wasted in error checking and maintenance and so on.<br><br>Then there are issues of tooling support, refactoring, intellisense, performance and so on. It's just not worth it for large-scale software development.
  • Well, when Microsoft finally figured out it could hijack neither Python nor

    Ruby, they had to dump them. Almost all deployments are on Linux, since deployments are faster, more secure, and also less expensive.
    • They didn't have to do anything.

      I suspect it is just cost cutting. They don't need to pay people to support it. Those who are interested and like the languages will continue to support it.
      • Cost cutting??? They have everything to lose, and this is a drop in the

        bucket. What happened, is that the realized it was hurting them, not helping them, so they got out of it the most graceful way possible. There are much better platforms on which to deploy Python and Ruby, and they could not convince anybody to do anything Windows specific that would preclude deployment on other platforms. Period.
    • RE: Microsoft offloads IronRuby and IronPython languages to external developers

      @DonnieBoy I'm sorry, how much work have you actually done with .NET?
      • RE: Microsoft offloads IronRuby and IronPython languages to external developers


        If you look at his past comments against MS, I'd say nil or null actually in C#.
      • Guys, this is nothing about .net specificially, this is about MS dropping

        support for Python and Ruby on .net. MS could NOT talk developers into writing Python and Ruby applications with Microsoft specific code. Without that, THERE IS NO REASON TO DEPLOY ON WINDOWS. It is cheaper, faster, and more secure to deploy on Linux.

        And, speaking of .net, it is a bloated piece of sheeet that requires and expensive, insecure OS.
  • Jim Hugunin will be very happy at Google with the creator of Python.

    A match made in heaven.
  • I'm more shocked that Jim's leaving...

    ... than that they're giving away IPy and IRuby. Miguel's the right man for that job, and the DLR is arguably a sufficient abstraction of dynamic languages -- so that's all they really should need to maintain.

    Next thing you know, Hejlsberg's going to leave.

    What do you think of the way so many big people are leaving Microsoft?
    • RE: Microsoft offloads IronRuby and IronPython languages to external developers

      @reinux - I doubt Anders will leave MS - there's too much there for him.

      And as for the other recent departures, I think J. Allard is the only one MS will miss.
    • Not surprised at all that he left to go where they really will embrace the

      cloud and specifically Python. He will be with the creator of Python at Google.
  • Free yourselves Microsoft: You can still profit with FOSS

    It's just that you have to put aside proprietary, exploitative means and open up your source code.

    There is plenty of evidence that businesses using open source can profit. It's just that dang proprietary, patent thang you've got going that is holding you back.

    Do the right thing. GPL and let the community truly do the innovating for you, yes?

    I hope you get it soon before it's too late.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
  • Iron C#

    Ever since I saw Anders Hejlsberg's talk "The Future of C#", I've had a feeling IronPython was doomed. It was in Microsoft's interest to get the DLR developed but they ultimately want us to use tools and languages they control. After all, isn't C# a response to Java?

    So what will a Microsoft dynamic language look like? How about dynamic, interpreted C# (Iron C#)? Hejlsberg's talk made it clear it isn't that far away. He even had a console window with a REPL interface. Maybe we?ll even see Iron VB (GW-BASIC lives!).

    On the plus side for us programmers, Iron C# also potentially solves another problem that I have trouble with -- the existence of two parallel object environments, one of .Net objects, one of Python objects. It takes work to get from one to the other. I assume an Iron C# would utilize the .Net class structure.

    Hopefully, when Iron VB or Iron C# happens, it'll be a quick, maybe automatic, language translation from Python.

    Max Yaffe
    • RE: Microsoft offloads IronRuby and IronPython languages to external developers

      @Max Yaffe I highly, highly doubt that they would make C# a dynamic language. It wouldn't even make sense to call it C# or even Iron C# at that point.

      F# has always had a REPL interface, and it's more statically typed than C# is even.

      They could possibly create an "Iron C#" by simply replacing marking all the objects in the BCL with "dynamic" -- but that would quite frankly suck.

      Even within the same paradigms, some languages are suited for one-liner REPL interaction, some are suited for semi-long expressions and statements, and some are suited for longer things.

      Setting aside whether dynamic typing is better than static typing (which, as one of my profs would put it, is a "holy war"), turning a static language into a dynamic language or vice versa is almost as scary as surgically turning a dog into a cat.
  • Another example of irresponsible journalism

    Microsoft did not "drop support" for IronPython and IronRuby. They simply made them open source, which makes tons of sense given that these are built to the spec of open source languages to begin with.

    Please understand these concepts before reporting nonsense and generating unnecessary FUD.
  • RE: Microsoft offloads IronRuby and IronPython languages to external developers

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