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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

NDoc 2.0 is Dead!

I just got an email from Kevin Downs, chief of the NDoc project, saying that he is no longer supporting development of the 2.0 version of the software. His primary reasons for quitting are (1) a lack of community support (read: $$$) for the project, and (2) a mail-bomb attack directed at him personally, apparently related to the fact that he's not working as fast as someone would like him to.

I love NDoc, I consider it to be the standard for documenting .NET class libraries, and I'm sad to see it go. I really hope that someone is willing to pick up the project, since it really is (at least so far) the best thing out there to cleanly document custom assemblies. But I cannot fault Kevin for his choice, since I have a family to feed and relate with as well, and I can't spend all of my spare time working on massive software projects for free.

Here's the text of the email that Kevin distributed to his alpha tester group:

I have decided to discontinue work on NDoc 2.0 and no longer participate in any open-source development work.

The development and release of NDoc 1.3 was a huge amount of work, and by all accounts widely appreciated. Unfortunately, despite the almost ubiquitous use of NDoc, there has been no support for the project from the .Net developer community either financially or by development contributions. Since 1.3 was released, there have been the grand total of eleven donations to the project. In fact, were it not for Oleg Tkachenko’s kind donation of a MS MVP MSDN subscription, I would not even have a copy of VS2005 to work with!

To put this into perspective, if only roughly 1-in-10 of the those who downloaded NDoc had donated the minimum allowable amount of $5 then I could have worked on NDoc 2.0 full-time and it could have been released months ago! Now, I am not suggesting that this should have occurred, or that anyone owes me anything for the work I have done, rather I am trying to demonstrate that if the community values open-source projects then it should do *something* to support them. MS has for years acknowledged community contributions via the MVP program but there is absolutely no support for community projects.

Once ‘Sandcastle’ is released, it is my belief that it will become the de-facto standard and that NDoc will slowly become a stagnant side-water. This will happen regardless of technical considerations, even if Sandcastle were to be less feature-complete. It's just an inevitable result of MS's 'not-invented-here' mentality, one only has to look at Nant and NUnit to see the effects of MS 'competition'.

This is not, however, my only reason for stopping development work - I have a big enough ego to think I could still produce a better product than them :-)

As some of you are aware, there are some in the community who believe that a .Net 2.0 compatible release was theirs by-right and that I should be moving faster – despite the fact that I am but one man working in his spare time...

This came to head in the last week; I have been subjected to an automated mail-bomb attack on both my public mail addresses and the ndoc2 mailing list address. These mails have been extremely offensive and resulted in my ISP temporarily suspending my account because of the traffic volume. This incident has been reported to the local authorities, although I am highly doubtful they will be able to do anything about it.

This has was the ‘last-straw’ and has convinced me that I should withdraw from the community; I’m not prepared to have myself and my family threatened by some lunatic!


P.S. If anyone wants to take over as admin on the SourceForge NDoc project - contact me. If not, I'll be removing myself in 14 days.

kick it on


At 8:35 PM, Anonymous said...

how sad! poor fella really didn't need a mail-bomb attack on top of all the pressure and lack of support.

i guess in the .net community we take open source work for granted -- and see it as someone else's job to write it.

from a business point of view: think of all the companies that can benefit from NDoc. Yet this work is entirely unrewarded. Tragic really.

lb. (

At 7:10 AM, Anonymous said...

Support these great projects you use and like, donate some funds.

At 12:19 AM, A. W. said...

A sad situation, but this is not an uncommon situation in open source. Even when you have many developers working together, there is a weird dynamic where non-contributors will come in, insult the lead developers, and redistribute the project with a new icon and their own name in 72 pt font. I finally gave up and now I stick with closed source only and it means money is coming in to pay for things.


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