Distributing and promoting Open Source projects
Posted by Matt Rajkowski on January 31, 2011, 9:00 AM EST
The Open Source files for ConcourseConnect (OSI approved AGPL license) are being hosted by Google Code and Sourceforge.net. The reason we went with Google Code is initially for reliability and then later because the Open Source code base is synchronized directly to Google Code and you can review the changelog in near real-time. The reason we went with Sourceforge is because Sourceforge has a large inventory of Open Source software and for that reason it makes sense. Here's how I feel about the choices today...
Google Code is perhaps the simpler of the two. With Google Code projects, Concursive is able to synchronize a portion of the ConcourseConnect code base (currently version 2.0 + a changelog of 3.0) with basic Subversion utilities. When we're ready to upload a new binary, we just use an Ant script that automates the upload.
Google Code also provides many tools that we don't use. It has a wiki, bug tracking and discussions. We think those are a duplicate of what Concursive.com has so we use Google Code for distribution.
Google Code has been very stable and consistent for us. In contrast to Sourceforge, it has looked and functioned very much the same over the years.
SourceForge.net has transformed itself over the years. The website itself used to be focused on the content, and less on design. Well, not too long ago the site got a makeover which made navigating and finding Open Source projects much easier. In contrast to Google Code, Sourceforge is a directory of Open Source projects and encourages ratings and comments. I find it difficult to find new projects on Google Code unless another site links to them or they happen to show in Google search results.
What I don't like about Sourceforge.net are the administration tools. There are lots of choices and over time it's clear that Sourceforge is trying to reduce them. Another complaint is that the directory browsing doesn't have a good category for Enterprise 2.0 software.
So why did Concursive choose two?
There's several answers to this... I'll start with visibility. We chose Sourceforge so our project would get visibility. This has absolutely worked. The feedback is positive and there have been over 10,000 downloads that come directly from Sourceforge.net users. Google Code has received over 2,100 downloads.
Reliability. When we launched 1.0 we had high hopes for using Sourceforge only. In fact Google Code was relatively new and the visibility issue concerned us. Well, when 1.0 launched, Sourceforge coincidentally went down. We quickly decided that a dual download option was necessary and we setup shop on Google Code. We really like the reliability of Google Code and we've learned a lot about the Google Code source code repository features.
These services require that your product is distributed with an OSI approved license. We had hoped to use Sourceforge (or even Google Code) with ConcourseSuite CRM, but our Centric Public License didn't qualify. We currently host ConcourseSuite ourselves and endlessly debate the license.
One more issue is that Sourceforge recently sent me an email, dated Jan. 28, 2011, stating that my account information may have been hacked. As a precaution they are resetting all account passwords. While I generally applaud confessing to these situations, what has ensued is that the Concursive account is now locked out. I've tried to reach Sourceforge to correct this but have yet to find a resolution. In essence things would have worked if we hadn't changed our company name and had taken the appropriate action with Sourceforge at that time.
I really like using Google Code for the basic capability of project hosting. It is simple, efficient and reliable. On the other hand, I like Sourceforge's directory. Concursive also uses Freshmeat.net and Ohloh.net to post information about our products.
Another option to look into these days includes github.com for distributed source code repositories.
What other sites exist that help distribute and promote your software? whether it is Open Source or commercially licensed?