For several years, SourceForge has been the standard for open source projects. There wasn’t any competition as fulfilling the needs of a demanding open source community is anything but simple. SourceForge has done exceptionally well for so long, but now there’s an alternative.
Google Code Hosting was launched last week and it predictably takes a Googlish approach to code hosting, by focusing on making things simple. If you start creating a new project in SourceForge , there’s a long drawn process involved that will involve a lot of form filling and also take up quite some time. With Google Code Hosting, your project will be ready in 2 minutes.
Google Code Hosting features are:
* Project workspaces with simple membership controls
* Version control using the popular Subversion version control system
* Issue tracking
* Integration with mailing lists at groups.google.com
You can define a project blog and also label your project on similar lines to the labeling in Gmail or tagging on del.icio.us.
The Google Code Hosting FAQ says “Our project-hosting service is simple, fast, reliable, and scalable, so that you can focus on your own open source development.”. It certainly is simple and fast, the other two aspects will be evident as more and more open source enthusiasts try it out. As far as documentation is concerned, there’s only an FAQ and that too has no screen captures.
A bug we noticed was that your Google (Gmail) Id appears in the project owners list and you cannot edit it from the administration section. That’s like an invitation for spam.
So should you use Google Code Hosting instead of Sourceforge?
* Definitely yes, if you just want to create an open source project for fun and don’t have any grand plans of having 100 developers on board and creating a new OS or something. As is evident from the number of dead projects on Sourceforge, most open source projects are created for fun and for the experience. In this case, Google Hosting is a much better option than Sourceforge.
* If you are creating a open source project for your business or for some serious collaborative development, you should stick with Sourceforge. Google Code Hosting neither has the features, documentation or community that Sourceforge can offer. Also now that there’s some competition we should soon see SourceForge get simpler, faster and nicer.
No doubt Google Code Hosting will have a big impact on open source project hosting, but everything said and done, Sourceforge still has 24 million unique visitors, 2 million downloads a day and 125,000 active projects. That will take some beating.