On this day 10 years ago I was sitting in my home office in Abbotsford, BC, preparing for Christmas with my family, when a crazy idea came to me...
During the prior year, I had been working on a software application in my spare time which was partially motivated out of career necessity as a software engineer to get up to speed with the the new Microsoft ASP.NET technology, and partially motivated by a passion for sports and a desire to allow amateur sports teams to maintain their own functional club websites. I had utilized a reference application offered by Microsoft, call the IBuySpy Portal, as the basis of my application and I had also participated extensively in a discussion forum on the www.asp.net website, sharing ideas and code with other developers. Maybe it was the Christmas spirit, or maybe it was the rum and eggnog, but I decided that I should package up all the source code for my application and make it available for free as an open source gift to the community.
At the time, the terms “Microsoft” and “open source” were seldom used in the same sentence, but when they were, they usually conjured up some very extreme reactions. So offering an open source application built on technology that was native to the Microsoft platform was really going against the accepted industry practices at the time. In hindsight you could say that this was a very clever and disruptive move on my part, but at the time I am sure a lot of people simply regarded it as crazy. I remember having a difficult conversation with my wife in the weeks following, as she could not see any valid reason why it made sense to give away something of value for free. And I will be the first to admit that I really had no long term strategy or expectations for how the open source application might evolve.
Well, it turned out that there was a significant demand for a functional open source web application on the Microsoft platform. The downloads piled up and an early community of software developers and end users began to form around the project. These were exciting times but at the same time quite challenging times as I struggled to keep up. It was during this time that some of the longest serving members of the project became involved, offering support and wisdom in a volunteer capacity to help ensure the success of the project. We are all deeply indebted to folks like Scott Willhite and Joe Brinkman ( and others ) for their dedication, commitment, and passion in helping us reach this 10 year milestone.
DotNetNuke was an early pioneer of open source on the Microsoft platform. And it is great to see how the landscape has changed over the years. Today there are thousands of native open source projects for the Microsoft platform. There are also thousands of Microsoft developers participating in these efforts, sharing code and ideas with the broader community. And Microsoft itself has undergone a serious transformation as well, in terms of both supporting and embracing open source technology and practices as a standard part of their business. The future of open source looks very bright indeed and it is amazing to think how a simple web application originally offered as a gift on Christmas Eve 2002 could have had such a profound impact on the industry.
I would like to thank all of those people who have contributed over the years in making DotNetNuke the vibrant ecosystem that it is today. And here is to another 10 years of growth and prosperity.
In commemoration of this event, please take a moment to view our infographic.