Thoughts on .Net Reflector Being Acquired by Red Gate

, 2008-10-29

This is an unpaid/unsolicited comment about a product now owned by Red Gate Software. Purely my opinions, and I'll try to make clear my biases as I go.

It's been a while since the announcement, but it was interesting to hear about the acquisition of Reflector by Red Gate. For those of you (like me) that are mostly SQL, essentially Reflector is a decompiler. Point it a .Net assembly and it will generate C# or VB code as you prefer. Useful if you're missing the source code, or just need to dig deep into the .Net framework to see what is really going on. I can't think of a tool in the SQL world that is as well known or as useful as Reflector is in the .Net world, and Reflector has always been free.

From a marketing perspective my first thought was that it was a very nice move. It's a hugely well known product, just putting their corporate logo up in the corner (ala SQLServerCentral) would do a lot to increase brand recognition into a larger market (one that in my view they are not as big a player as they are in the SQL market.) As far as long term investment I would guess (don't know) that ongoing maintenance would be straight forward as the .Net languages evolve.

From a community perspective, I'm less sure it's a good idea, say compared to making it open source and finding a few hard core .Net guys to own the project. I'm not a huge open source fan because I think software writers need (ultimately) to get paid for their efforts directly (not via support agreements that seem to support Linux), but this just feels like it should be open source.  As long as Red Gate can maintain the tool at it's current price (free) and not try to monetize by creating a 'pro' version or other approach, I don't see that it makes much difference of course. A bigger worry is that I can see this becoming the trend of the month, bigger companies snapping up all of the credible tiny players and then arguing the merits of free advertising vs charging for what was once free. It's not a dumb idea, I'm mildly inclined to go see what we might buy too! I like having a lot of smaller vendors to even things out with the big guys. I know it's a natural evolution for companies to grow and acquire/be acquired, but I have to wonder if that's not short term thinking (and could easily be applied to the sale of SSC to Red Gate).

Will be interesting to see how it turns out.






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