Microsoft Updates CodePlex Development Portal

Among the changes is a new feature allowing visitors to view source code directly on the site, without downloading files to their PCs.

The simplified, online source-code viewing was the single most-requested feature in CodePlex's issue tracker, the mechanism that CodePlex's developers are using to collect feedback. CodePlex users are invited to vote on the issues they consider most critical.

"I can't tell you how helpful the voting has been in helping us prioritize the work that we do," James Newkirk, CodePlex's program manager, said in a blog post about the recent update.

Another new feature is optional advertising. Project managers can include ads on their project pages, with all of the proceeds going to project owners to support their development work. Unsurprisingly, Microsoft is steering clear of Google's AdSense: CodePlex advertising will be run through Kanoodle's BrightAds.

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Microsoft opened CodePlex in beta form in May, inviting developers to host "shared" source projects on the site. The site is part of Microsoft's broader effort to tap into some of the advantages of the open-source software development model, such as the enthusiast community that forms around popular projects.

More than 800 projects are now live on CodePlex, ranging from technical undertakings like creating a Python implementation for .Net to more lighthearted projects, such as a .Net version of Tetris. The most popular project is an AJAX Control Toolkit.

Microsoft is deploying new versions of the CodePlex on a roughly monthly schedule. The next update is due Feb. 20.