Suffice to say, Microsoft still dominates. When it comes to the Web, many business websites and applications are built using its .NET (dot NET) Framework. Doing so often makes it easier to integrate many aspects of a business that runs on Microsoft. People unfamiliar with open source applications, and even more unfamiliar to object-oriented programming that is Microsoft, may decide to hire a Web development company to build a .NET website so that, in the future as the company grows, integration will be seamless…or close to it
There are, however, open source alternatives built on the .NET Framework that are easy to install and customize on your own, or that a .NET programmer can customize for you. One in particular that I have used is called DotNetNuke. I found it while still gainfully employed. My boss at the time, the CTO, agreed an Intranet was needed, but was hesitant as the cost of set up, installation, training and maintenance was more than the company was willing to spend. While searching for an alternative, I found DNN, which was used to build the corporate Intranet. That was more than two years ago now, and DNN has only matured and improved since. It now comes in a Professional Edition, and an Elite Edition, for a small fee, which is still considerably less than what you’d pay for SharePoint.
Another .NET open source option is a blogging platform called BlogEngine.NET. A client of mine, for whom I am writing a technical manual for online time tracking software, introduced me to it. Its website describes it as “a full featured blogging platform that is a breeze to setup, customize, and use.” Such phrases are not often associated with Microsoft, so some skepticism is expected. Judging from its install documentation, though, it really does sound like a breeze to setup, customize and use. And just like any good open source project, it has an active, robust forum.
Forums are good places to find information. I used the DNN forum often when building out the Intranet. More often than not, someone had a similar problem, and someone found a resolution. Over time, those issues get corrected in new releases, which I continue to find helpful. And people are more than happy to share their successes, as well. They like to show off their work, and some of it can be quite stunning.
So if you’re on the fence about jumping ship from Microsoft, rest assured you don’t necessarily have to do that. DNN and BlogEngine.NET are two examples of open source applications built on the Microsoft .NET platform, giving you the benefits of open source while maintaining the familiarity of Microsoft.