Wayne Kelly, leader of the open source Ruby.Net development project, announced last week that he intends to discontinue development of Ruby.Net and join up with Microsoft's IronRuby open source efforts. This might sound good on the surface, but it is a bad idea.
Development of .Net compatible Ruby outside of Microsoft is very important to continue, particularly a non-Microsoft open source project. Microsoft has this funny habit of co-opting technologies and then evolving them into something very Microsoft-ish. Can you say Internet Explorer, or (sorry to do this to you) recall back to Microsoft's Java? Microsoft loves to diverge technologies into their own direction, leaving behind and alienating communities of users and developers.
Even though IronRuby is under Microsoft's own -Ms-PL open source license, IronRuby is too close to Microsoft and runs this same risk. I'm concerned that again we will have Ruby as most of the world knows it, and then Microsoft's version of Ruby, shunned by those who haven't drunk Redmond's Kool-aid.
Microsoft shouln't let Ruby.Net die on the vine. IronRuby's leader, John Lam, should encourage Wayne and others to develop Ruby.Net in the open, outside of the thinking of Microsoft. This will lead to further innovation beyond IronRuby which can be incorporated into IronRuby as it's proven out in the world of open source.
Rather than assimilating Ruby.Net into IronRuby, John and the IronRuby team should leverage Ruby.Net's passion and knowledge, including tasking out areas which would better happen in the broader non-Ms-PL open source community.
Now that Microsoft has an OSI approved open source license with the Ms-PL, I hope we don't see every current open source related project co-opted into a Microsoft directed effort. We need thinking, innovation and development outside of Microsoft's open source efforts.