Friday, July 28, 2006

Google Launches Open Source Code Hosting Service

I made my first contribution to the Open Source community back in 1989 when I contributed CVS to the Free Software Foundation. That was before we started calling it "Open Source". CVS is the backbone of Sourceforge.net and has been home to over 100,000 Open Source projects, has more than 1 million registered Open Source developers, and serves up more than 19 million unique visitors each month. CVS has stopped being maintained and Subversion takes its place - the natural evolution of Open Source projects continues. SourceForge has owned the mind-share for Open Source developers for many years, but the service has not given the developers everything they need for full software lifecycle management.

At OSCON, Google announced that they have put together a service, similar to SourceForge.net, that can be used for hosting Open Source projects. Enter Google Code. It has built-in support for Subversion access (controlled through a special password that appears to be linked to your Google account, so they can track what you're downloading) and issue/defect tracking. It's pretty darn basic now, and a new Open Source project would definitely be better served by using an existing service (like SourceForge.net or Trac). Hopefully, Google will continue to enhance this and build out a whole set of hosted capabilities, like:

  • Project Management

  • Requirements Gathering

  • Release Management

  • Packaging & Distribution Tools

  • Integration with Eclipse

  • Automated Test Harness


A hosted service with full software lifecycle management will do very well and win the mind-share of the 18 million Open Source developers out there.

Ars Technica has done a nice review. Slashdot and TechCrunch are talking about it. Mad Penguin covers more of the technical details. I'm all for activities that ease and support the development of the Open Source community. My thanks to Google for giving back to the community.

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