// Internet Duct Tape

Google Code Project Hosting – A replacement for Sourceforge?

There is a new entry into the open source software code repository space: Google Code – Project Hosting. This will hopefully be a long awaited kick in the pants for Sourceforge.net which hosts many, many projects but it can be difficult to find the cream of the crop, compare similar solutions and weed dead projects from the results.

Update: I assume that the reader is already familiar with Sourceforge and I focus on what Google is bringing to the table.

Update: I wrote a guide on getting started with Subversion and Google Code hosting

Google Project Hosting Features:

The interface is clean, compact and concise. It is missing the abundant clutter that permeates Sourceforge and most programming tools. Avoiding “too many options” is something Google understands well.

After the break, all the features of Google Code Project Hosting as of launch 2006/07/28.

Storage and Version Control

Google is offering 100 mb storage, and uses Subversion (currently kicking CVS’ butt) for version control. Subversion access control is tied to your Google Account (using a password that is generated by Google). Guide on using it here.

Update on 100 Mb: The comments section has a response from Ben Collins-Sussman from Google.

We had to set a quota somewhere, to prevent spam/abuse (people using subversion to host photos, music, porn, etc.). If a project legitimately needs more than 100MB for source code, we can easily increase that quota per-project. See code.google.com/hosting/faq.html for more.

Defect Tracking

It also includes a custom defect tracking system with fields for: Type, Status, Priority, Milestone, Owner, Summary + Labels. The defect tracker also lets you Star bugs to be notified of issue changes. I assume that it will be an email update, but upon testing with two Google Accounts I wasn’t able to get bug notifications for either of them.
Status Values and Issue Labels for defects can be configured by the project administrator.

New = Issue has not had initial review yet
Accepted = Problem reproduced / Need acknowledged
Started = Work on this issue has begun

Tagging Support (called Labels)

Each project can be tagged with various categories by the project adminstrator. Note that tagging will end up being pretty arbitrary unless there are some kind of moderators going around and cleaning it up to achieve a common folksonomy. Users can enter any labels they choose, although some are banned (like “google“).

Creating Projects

Creating projects is simple and anyone with a Google Account can do it. All you need to do is enter a project name, summary, description and as many labels as your heart desires.

Project Administration

Once a project is created, the administrator can change the initial settings, add urls for links, discussion groups, and blogs as well as setting up an email notification for Subversion activity. The discussion group has to be a Google Groups.
The project admin can change settings for the defect system (mentioned above). S/he can also add/remove members or administrators.

There is an advanced option for deleting the project. It is unknown if the project name immediately becomes available again or if it is locked from re-use.

Non-administrators can’t add/remove themselves from projects. All project membership changes have to be done by a project administrator. A hassle, but ultimately less prone to abuse since you’ll have to contact an administrator to manually ask them to allow you to join the project. I was able to switch project ownership between accounts.

One thing I noticed is that when someone is added to a project, they don’t receive a notice. They also don’t receive notices when adding bugs to their name.

Supported Licenses

Code licenses supported are: Apache License 2.0, Artistic License/GPLv2, GNU General Public License 2.0, GNU Lesser Public License, MIT License, Mozilla Public License 1.1, New BSD License. Clicking on the license associated with a project brings up the full description.

User Profiles

Clicking on a user profile displays owned projects and projects they are a member of. There is no link to an email address, profile description, website or a list of message topics. That should all be feasible since they are all tied to the Google Account.

You can access the user profile of any Google Account even if they have yet to join a project. i.e.: http://code.google.com/u/engtechnology/

RSS Support

They have RSS feeds for updated projects and featured projects.

Infancy

The associate discussion group is currently being flooded with suggestions and bug reports: http://groups.google.com/group/codesite-discuss

Note that the Google Code FAQ hasn’t been completely update yet:

Why are you releasing code through Sourceforge?
Well, because they were nice enough to oblige, and because developers here like Sourceforge. Future homes for new projects might include Tigris.org or language specific sites like the Vaults of Parnassus and CPAN.

Overall

This looks like a very good first stab at a FOSS project repository. Ultimately, I think the labelling will need some kind of moderation to try and achieve a common folksonomy/semantic markup so that common tags are used and similiar projects have similiar tags.

Updated: Only the projects administrators can change the labels on a project. So the “wisdom of the crowds” effect where the best tags rise to the top (like with del.icio.us, technorati, flickr, etc) will not apply. Something will be needed to find a common semantic mark up. It will not be found by individual administrators self-tagging.

I would really enjoy it if they could use their algorithms to suggest alternatives when investigating a particular project.

It is very user friendly and the only necessary feature I think it missing (other than the obvious option of downloading precompiled binaries) is some metrics on code development and stability, as well as a mechanism for differentiating the great FOSS projects from the merely good.

It doesn’t have as many “developers, developers, developers” features as SourceForge (and probably never will with Google approach to clean and simple layout), but that isn’t a bad thing. At the very least it lowers the barriers for project management. That might means more FOSS projects, but also a lot more crap to sift through.

Related Posts

External Links

>> Google Code – Project Hosting

>> Google Code – Project Hosting Frequently Asked Questions
>> Announcement on TechCrunch

>> Ben Collins-Sussman’s write up on his part of Project Hosting (subversion backend)

>> Andrew Whitchock’s discussion of BigTable


Unrelated Links


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31 Responses

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  1. generex said, on July 28, 2006 at 1:14 pm

    Sounds like a good thing overall, though I’m wondering why project only get 100MB space, whilst gmail customers get like what, 2GB?

  2. [...] There is a comparison of features between SF and Google Code over at Engtech.  There is also an article on Newsforge. [...]

  3. engtech said, on July 28, 2006 at 4:23 pm

    generex said,

    Sounds like a good thing overall, though I’m wondering why project only get 100MB space, whilst gmail customers get like what, 2GB?

    Good question. The 100 MB figure I saw was from the TechCrunch article, I haven’t actually seen it displayed on the website.

  4. Ben Collins-Sussman said, on July 28, 2006 at 7:54 pm

    Ben Collins-Sussman worked on Google Code Projects Hosting

    We had to set a quota somewhere, to prevent spam/abuse (people using subversion to host photos, music, porn, etc.). If a project legitimately needs more than 100MB for source code, we can easily increase that quota per-project. See code.google.com/hosting/faq.html for more.

  5. engtech said, on July 28, 2006 at 9:22 pm

    Thanks for the clarification, Ben.

  6. Google Code Hosting at ebyblog said, on July 29, 2006 at 2:34 am

    [...] There’s an overview at engtech. Definitely not a replacement for sourceforge but a nice compliment, especially for smaller projects. The most useful feature will likely be the 100MB subversion per project (more at request). This might increase the number of small, but useful projects that are out there available for download. Take a look. Those libraries creating hacks for their systems might find it useful. I still like the idea of a centralized library subversion server though. [...]

  7. [...] But it’s the massive data-serving infrastructure that we’ve not really used much — until now. Our big product announcement was Open Source Project Hosting on our team’s main website, code.google.com. You can read all the gritty details in our FAQ, and there are many blogs and news posts that talk about our new service, as well as folks posting screen shots. [...]

  8. Balakumar Muthu said, on July 29, 2006 at 2:58 pm

    Very good clear explanation !! thanks :)


    Balakumar Muthu
    http://i5bala.blogspot.com

  9. big3 said, on July 29, 2006 at 10:29 pm

    this is good entry , looking forward for its success

  10. Brent said, on August 03, 2006 at 12:16 am

    Wow cool! And it uses labels, but it only makes me wonder one thing:

    They can implement labels in this, but not in Blogger? I think this is going to irritate some people.

    Anyway, thanks for pointing this out. Way cool! :cool:

  11. engtech said, on August 03, 2006 at 1:22 am

    They can implement labels in this, but not in Blogger? I think this is going to irritate some people.

    I switched from blogger to wordpress because of labels/tags/categories. I’m kind of hoping that they’re working on some killer blogger 2.0 that is going to impress the hell out of anyone, but I kind of doubt it.

    I still don’t agree 100% with wordpress’ implementation of tags/categories (I think they should be seperate things), but wordpress kicks blogger’s ass so hard.

  12. Jeff Lindsay said, on August 03, 2006 at 4:21 am

    There’s also… http://devjavu.com : )

  13. engtech said, on August 03, 2006 at 8:18 am

    This post is currently #12 on google for http://www.google.com/search?q=photo+hosts+that+allow+porn

    I’m going to take that as their subconcious approval that people subvert Google Code Hosting for nefarious means.

  14. [...] This is the best post I’ve found on Google’s new Code Project Hosting. From //engtech. Author unknown, he keeps his name off the blog for fear of hurting his career. Bummer, this blog is very good. I’d hire whoever did it. [...]

  15. [...] Nichts destotrotz gibt es ein interessantes Projekt für die Entwickler unter uns, Google Code, eine alternative zu SourceForge.net. Einen guten Artikel, über den ich auf Google Code aufmerksam geworden bin, findet man bei //engtech: Google Code Project Hosting – A replacement for Sourceforge?. Posted in IT by Basti [...]

  16. [...] [//engtech] Tags: opensource, google, web2.0, ajax, programação, site, tools Tags:ajaxgoogleopensourceprogramaçãositetoolsweb2.0 [...]

  17. Brent said, on August 05, 2006 at 3:56 am

    wordpress kicks blogger’s ass so hard

    Agreed. I came from Blogger too. And I also noticed what such invalid code it spews. Is Google like Microsoft, in the sense, that it feels that it does not need to comply with International Web Standards?

    It kind of pisses me off.

    Blogger has some good points, don’t get me wrong. If I could combine my favorite features of WordPress.com and Blogger, I’d be in blogging Heaven!

    The best feature of Blogger is the customization. However, when on Blogger, I found myself spending more time tweaking my template, and adding little hacks, than I did actually posting to my blog.

    Another great feature of Blogger is comment previews. WordPress.com needs this badly. A built-in (ajax) spellcheck utility for comments, would also be nice. I have mentioned this to the development team, many times.

    I find my current template on WordPress.com to very satisfactory, so now I can concentrate on my actual blogging!

    But I appreciate the insight. I imagine that Google has something in the works for Blogger 2.0.

    Besides labels/tags/categories/whatever, it would be nice if the editor actually used valid xhtml code. That is one of my worst peeves about Blogger.

    At this point, I don’t see myself going back to Blogger for my personal blog. I am really in love with wordpress.com. I have been using it since I was invited last November, and despite some bugs, I love it. I see improvements, literally every day.

    The Google code thing is going to be very cool. Couple this with Google Base, and that is really something I think.

    Cheers :)

  18. engtech said, on August 05, 2006 at 4:51 am

    I like using the Google toolbar for spellcheck. It allows me to spellcheck forms in a consistent manner no matter what website I’m using.

    Just don’t try to use the WordPress Rich Editor spellcheck and Google spellcheck at the same time.

  19. [...] Google Code Project Hosting – A replacement for Sourceforge? – A good overview of google code base. [...]

  20. Brent said, on August 05, 2006 at 8:43 am

    I also use the Google spellchecker, but I’m afraid that some of the readers of my blog, who leave comments do not.

    I mentioned that bad or invalid code is a peeve of mine. Well, another is bad or invalid spelling.

    It would be nice to have a spellchecker there to remind people to check their spelling.

    But I do find the Google toolbar to be nice for spellcheck. It has the best that I have tried so far. In fact, it’s the only reason that I use it.

    We’ll see what Firefox 2.0 offers in terms of spellchecking.

  21. [...] UPDATE : Google Code Project Hosting – A replacement for Sourceforge? [...]

  22. varun said, on August 09, 2006 at 7:09 pm

    Great article ..

  23. [...] //engtech » Google Code Project Hosting – A replacement for Sourceforge?: “There is a new entry into the open source software code repository space: Google Code – Project Hosting. This will hopefully be a long awaited kick in the pants for Sourceforge.net which hosts many, many projects but it can be difficult to find the cream of the crop, compare similar solutions and weed dead projects from the results.” Saturday, August 12, 12:09 am [...]

  24. Andrew Chilton said, on August 12, 2006 at 2:58 am

    Great info and I agree with you, there should be a download area for binaries, tars and other packages (like deb). I’ve created a project at http://code.google.com/p/phliky/ and it was SO easy to do.

  25. website monitoring man said, on September 06, 2006 at 1:29 pm

    Google Code Project Hosting is a good alternative to Sourceforge. Any alternative is good as it provides the freedom of choice.

  26. [...] Google Code Project Hosting – A replacement for Sourceforge? [...]

  27. Google searches source code « //engtech said, on October 05, 2006 at 9:51 pm

    [...] Google Code Project Hosting >> Google Code Search >> Google Code Search goes Live >> Google crawls into source code search >> Coders, start your (search) engines [...]

  28. [...] Keep your primary Gmail login that you use for all your mail devoid of any identity. This will ensure your privacy in situations where you accidentally reply with the wrong email address. Don’t use this primary email address for public sites like Google Homepage, Project Hosting, Co-op Custom Search Engines, etc. [...]

  29. [...] and TortoiseSVN without feeling like an Idiot I’ve been using Google’s open source project hosting to distribute my Tag Cloud Generator, but I haven’t been using the source code repository [...]

  30. [...] and TortoiseSVN without feeling like an Idiot I’ve been using Google’s open source project hosting to distribute my Tag Cloud Generator, but I haven’t been using the source code repository [...]

  31. [...] 15, 2008 Great article on Google Code + SVN integration: I’ve been using Google’s open source project hosting to distribute my Tag Cloud Generator, but I haven’t been using the source code repository [...]


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