The Future of .NET Reflector
by Bob Cramblitt

Simple Talk asked freelance writer Bob Cramblitt to sit down with the two people behind the agreement that Red Gate will be responsible for the future development of .NET Reflector, and discuss with them what it means to the community and the future of Reflector.


Red Gate will
continue to offer
the tool for free
 to the community.
                 ”

Under an agreement announced on Wednesday 20th August , Red Gate will be responsible for the future development of .NET Reflector, the popular tool authored by Lutz Roeder. Red Gate will continue to offer the tool for free to the community.

Lutz Roeder is a well-known .NET developer. His software, .NET Reflector, is one of the most widely used .NET development tools. Roeder works at Microsoft and is one of the original developers of Expression Blend.

James Moore is general manager of .NET Developer Tools at Red Gate. He has extensive programming experience and worked on the user interface of Red Gate’s SQL Compare and SQL Backup tools before taking over the .NET division. Moore has previous experience developing large open source code through his involvement in the PHP project, where he worked on quality assurance, engine extensions, and PHP-GTK documentation.


BC:
“First off, please explain what .NET Reflector is and what it does.”
LR:
“Reflector is a browser and analysis tool for .NET.  It allows developers to navigate, search, disassemble and analyze .NET components.”
JM:
“Like thousands of other developers, I find Reflector to be an indispensable tool. Reflector allows you to peer beyond the public API and gives the developer a chance to really understand how the underlying classes work (or don’t work in many cases). It can save you hours when looking for a workaround to some quirk.”
BC:
“Lutz, Reflector is recognized by Scott Hanselman as one of “The Big Ten Life and Work-Changing Utilities” and MSDN magazine named it “one of the 10 must-have tools every developer should download now.”  Please describe your experience with .NET Reflector.”
LR:
“I wanted to write a tool that made it easier to browse and navigate components. When .NET was announced I started to work on Reflector and kept improving it. Users provided lots of feedback and other developers started creating add-ins to make it even more useful.”
BC:
“How did this deal come about?”
JM:
“I’ve used .NET Reflector for years and it’s at the top of my list of great .NET tools. It’s also one of the few tools every developer here uses, so I knew I was not alone. A few months ago, I dropped Lutz an email introducing myself and it just kind of went from there.”
LR:
“When James emailed me and we spoke about the future of Reflector and the resources Red Gate could make available to the project, it made the decision easy for me.”
BC:
“How can it be good news that a commercial software company is taking ownership of a free community tool?”
JM:
“I think we can provide a level of resources that will move the tool forward in a big way.  The first thing we are doing is continuing to offer the software to the community for free downloading.  The second thing is giving our product management and usability teams the task of going out into the community to get suggestions on how we can make this amazing tool even better.
We accept the fact that there will be scepticism, but we can point to a good track record of support for the community. People were wary a couple of years ago when we purchased the SQL Server Central community site, but over time we have won over many of our critics by investing heavily in the site and boosting its readership, while allowing it to maintain editorial independence. I’m hoping I will be able to sit here in a few years time and claim the same level of success with Reflector.”
BC:
“You’ve already said, James, that .NET Reflector is easy to use and works exactly as it should.  How can you improve on that?”
JM:
“I don’t know yet; this is what we’ll glean from the community. We know we have a responsibility to the development community not to ruin a tool that is so widely used and so valuable to developers in their day-to-day jobs. But, we also know that Red Gate has the in-house expertise to translate user desires into simple, elegant products.”
BC:
“Will you continue to be involved with .NET Reflector, Lutz?”
LR:
“I will be using Reflector and I’m sure I will be emailing James every so often asking for new features.”
JM:
“Over the past eight years, Lutz has built up a unique understanding of the .NET developer community. I hope he will continue to provide us with valuable input into the future of .NET Reflector.”
BC:
“Will Red Gate still encourage the community to write and use add-ins?”
JM:
“Yes, that won’t change and we encourage and value all the .NET Reflector add-in writers.”
BC:
“Any other thoughts?”
LR:
“What is going to be in Reflector 6.0? I’d like to know…”
JM:
“Uh oh, the pressure is on already. Enough talk, I need to get to work...”

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Bob Cramblitt :
Bob Cramblitt, based in Cary, N.C., writes about issues that impact the day-to-day work of IT and database professionals. He can be reached at info@cramco.com

bobc@cramco.com
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