September 30, 2008 spout

MS + jQuery: This Is Huge!

Yesterday, the ASP.NET team announced that they were going to ship jQuery, a small, populate open source web client library. And not only is Microsoft going to ship this library, as is, but we’re going to build support into Visual Studio for it, build future versions of our web components assuming it and support it via PSS like any other Microsoft product.

This is huge.

Of course, is it useful for developers using Microsoft tools, because they get another supported library out of the box for them to use to build their applications. But that’s not what makes it huge.

What makes it huge is that, instead of seeing the functionality in jQuery and thinking to themselves, Wow. jQuery is really great. Let’s build something from scratch like that into our products,” the ASP.NET team, in what is the first time in Microsoft history afaik, decided to reuse something from the world that was already working, adding only the thing we do better than anyone else: integration into a suite of libraries and tools.

But isn’t this just ’embrace and extend?’” I hear you asking. Isn’t Microsoft just going to absorb jQuery, thereby killing it for folks not using Microsoft products?”

There are two ways forward at this point. One, we could push on jQuery in a Microsoft-centric way until the project owners” (which is a slippery concept with an OSS project anyway), decide to either give up and let Microsoft own” it or they decide to fork jQuery, thereby creating jQuery-classic and jQuery-MS. This would not be good for the jQuery community.

The other way to go, and this is the way I hope it goes, is that Microsoft learns to play nicely in this world, submitting features, changes and bug fixes to the jQuery source tree in a way that’s consistent with the vision from which jQuery sprang, making it work better for Microsoft customers and non-Microsoft customers alike.

If we can learn to do that second thing, then we’ve turned a corner at Microsoft. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.