If you were born in the 70’s like I was, you may remember a show hosted by Leonard Nimoy called In Search Of… that explored unexplained phenomena and some of the theories behind it. Being young and impressionable, I soaked in the theories that this show presented about things supernatural and odd and I thought it was fascinating. As I got older, I realized that it was highly unlikely that many (if not all) of the theories the show presented had real merit, but it was good television (including the wicked 70’s fashion Leonard sported). In comical kind of way, you might feel that finding open source code targeting Windows might make for a great episode for a modern day In Search Of… You may feel that they are unnatural together and finding FOSS creations for Windows is an elusive challenge. Well, we have an answer for you that is a lot more solid than the often vapid theories the original show. There is a site that Microsoft (yes, Microsoft) created that is solely dedicated to allowing you as a developer to consume, create and host FOSS that benefits the entire developer community. That site is Codeplex.
If you’re familiar with Codeplex, you are probably already familiar with the value of the site. Some of the best open source software for Windows can be found here, including NuGet (if you don’t have and use it yet, you really need to check it out), JSON.net and even Windows Phone tools (which I’ll list later on in this post). Some are actually created and provided by Microsoft itself and some are provided by the open source community. All in all, it’s a great repository that you as a developer, whether you are targeting Windows Phone, Windows Azure, Windows 7 or even other platforms that work with Windows.
As I referenced above, there is a lot of goodness that Codeplex provides for you if you are targeting the Windows Phone platform. If you are building apps for Windows Phone, there are some projects on Codeplex that are nice to have access to as they make your life easier as a developer, but there are actually some tools on Codeplex that I consider absolutely essential to have in your belt before you even start building your app. Below are some of my favourites:
Now, of course there are a lot more projects available on Codeplex to support your Windows Phone application development and you may have your own favourites. If you have one you use a lot that isn’t listed, feel free to share on this post!