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09 April 2010, 09:52

Microsoft's CoApp to bring package management to Windows

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Microsoft developer Garrett Serack, has announced the development of CoApp, the Common Opensource Application Publishing Platform which "intends to bring a little joy into the hearts of Open Source aficionados on the Windows platform". CoApp is planned to be a Windows native equivalent of Unix/Linux's tools for building applications. On Windows, it is more common to use pre-compiled binaries of libraries when building an application. This is, according to Serack, because of the variation in development environments, tools and practices between Windows developers. On Linux/Unix systems, much of this variation is already handled by years of community consensus and tools such as configure scripts.

CoApp plans to offer a distributed community driven package management system, but, rather than adapt a Linux/Unix system which would bring its own conventions, Serack plans to create a Windows specific system. This means it would allow the use of IDEs rather than forcing Windows developers to use make at the command line, create MSI based installer packages, allow coders to create optimised binaries using Profile Guided Optimization and allow for integrating Windows Error Reporting. Serack believes this is a "Tall order", but has spent several months working on proof-of-concepts while developing the currently fluid specification.

In a later blog posting, Serack explained that he had begun reaching out to open source developers at ApacheCon last year. He says that Microsoft have recognised the value of the project and have offered to let him work on it full time. The project will be run as a community development, with no vetting of it by Microsoft. "This really makes my job a dream job", he added, "I get to work on a project that I'm passionate about, make it open source and let it take me where it makes sense".

The project has a Launchpad project and a wiki at and Serack invites interested developers to offer input and contributions. CoApp will be released under the Simplified BSD licence.


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