Microsoft bolsters Ruby efforts

Company unveiling initiatives accommodating popular language

Microsoft on Thursday plans to delve deeper into Ruby programming, with plans to ship Ruby libraries and participate in a testing project for the language.

The libraries are akin to any other software library, helping developers build software.

The company at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) also will announce intentions to participate in the RubySpec project, which features a standard test suite used to define a compliant Ruby implementation.

In a prepared statement, Microsoft's John Lam, program manager for the company's Dynamic Language Runtime team, stressed the company's Ruby backing.

"All of these [OSCON] announcements underscore our commitment to listening to customer feedback and ensuring that we are true to Ruby as a language while still bringing the full benefits of .Net programming to the Ruby user base," Lam said.

IronRuby, a version of Ruby for Microsoft's .Net platform, is in development at the company, which as of Wednesday morning had not yet announced a release date for the 1.0 version.

Also at OSCON, Microsoft will unveil IronRuby-Contrib, a Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL) open source project for collaborative development of code supporting IronRuby or the underlying platform, but not part of the IronRuby distribution. An example of such a project would be the Ruby on Rails plug-in built to make it easier for Rails developers to add Microsoft's Silverlight rich Internet application technology to their applications, a Microsoft representative said.

Under Ms-PL, licensees can change source code and share it with others. They also can charge a licensing fee for modified work. Microsoft uses this license most commonly for developer tools, applications, and components.

While often criticized by open-source advocates, Microsoft nonetheless has established a presence at OSCON this week, with its sponsorship of the Participate08 session at OSCON, which was focused on boosting dialogue about open source and other collaborative communities.

On Friday at OSCON, Sam Ramji, Microsoft director of platform strategy, is scheduled to present on "Open Source Heroes." His brief talk will cover Microsoft community participation and ways in which Microsoft plans to contribute during the next 10 years of open-source development, according to the conference program.

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