NDoc 2 is Officially Dead

So this afternoon, I received an email from Kevin Downs (as I’m on his mailing list), the developer of NDoc with the following:

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

It’s kind of upsetting how this has panned out as I can certainly understand Kevin’s displeasure at how he was treated by a few members of the community.  But at the same time, I’m curious as to why the project, while surely utilized by many .Net developers world wide, never picked up more developers to help share the load.

While it is quite disappointing as I really liked NDoc’s simplicity and ease of use, I had felt that this would be the likely end once I started reading about Microsoft’s Sandcastle project.

As for the individual(s) who perpetrated the email bombs, all I can say is WTF?  That’s a terrible and childish way to get what you want.

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14 Responses

  1. Haacked says:

    Sad news indeed.

  2. Jim Holmes says:

    >>As for the individual(s) who perpetrated the email bombs, all I can say is WTF? That’s a terrible and childish way to get what you want.<<

    I’d say those fools most definitely did /NOT/ get what they wanted. Instead they’ve killed off a terrific project.

    What dolts.

  3. Chuck says:

    "What dolts"

    Pretty much…

    I’ll be pretty upset if Sandcastle ends up a disappointment 🙁

    But nonetheless, I for one, appreciate the work that Kevin did and applaud him for giving the community an option when there were no others.

  4. Eric says:

    I’ve got money that says the email perpetrators are examples of what you get when someone spends wayyyyy to much time in front of his CRT and not enough time being socialized with real flesh and blood people.

  5. Marcos says:

    I completely understand Kevin. I´m in the open source world for less than a year now and I´m developing a smaller project and is a lot frustrating to know that the people wants that you finish some feature now and don’t contribute at all in that or other part of the library.

    There are BTW a lot of other people that try to help and that suggest new features, thing that is the "open source" idea and I live of these feedback.

    But at the end we all need money to leave, so if you have two jobs like me and also develop an open source project, your family, your girlfriend and your friends become agains you and you lose somethings that if you was getting some donations and can dedicate full time to the projects, all parts win.

    Anyway just my view of the open source.
    Best Regards

  6. Mike Gale says:

    I did send an email to Kevin volunteering to do some work several months ago. Unfortunately I never got a reply.

  7. hammett says:

    What? Kevin’s playing the victim? I’ve subscribed to the list and stayed there for a few months. Hardly questions were answered, hardly patches were applied. No support, no discussion, no construtive criticism. There’s no way to foster a community in that way. The same thing applies to NVelocity and probably many others projects out there.

    Open source is about technical and social engineering, the continuous search of the balance of both of them…

  8. Sri says:

    It is sad, a great project should never die like this.

  9. Ryan says:

    How can you complain about support from the community when you don’t let anyone contribute via code? If you pay lip service to "any contribution" but scoff at anything non-monetary then you’re just a pan handler….

  10. Tris says:

    A great shame… Typical to see M$ tagging on to the OS community yet again.

  11. This is great! One question: Is there any way around the authentication issue? I have a portal which requires a login/password. Am I out of luck?

  12. Rustam says:

    Out of curiosity, is anyone aware of offers/scenarios from developers out there in the big-wide-open community to pick up development from the 1.3.1 NDoc codebase from Kevin Downs?

    I’ve been using Sandcastle, and am super unthrilled about it.

  13. Rick Rustad says:

    I’ve been useing NDoc for quite a few years. Lately I’ve finally upgraded my systems to VS2008 and I couldn’t use the latest NDoc because I also have Server R2 x64 installed for the OS. Current research shows that SandCastle is basically dead and flawed. I feel that NDoc still has life since Microsoft’s research project doesn’t look like it will make it out of the lab.

    I downloaded the last good source and reassociated a few missing libraries, compiled, and I’m able to create NDoc documentation. I have not even scratched the surface on testing but if there’s a place I can upload either the install or source I would be happy to help.


  14. Chuck says:


    Perhaps have a look at the NDoc3 project?