Google Code is more powerful than Sourceforge

Google Code is more powerful than Sourceforge

Summary: Google Code has become off-Broadway. Sourceforge is Philadelphia.


When I joined ZDNet back in 2005 there was one obvious place to host your new open source project. Sourceforge was the most powerful site in open source, and had been since the dot-boom.

Almost as soon as I started writing here, however, this idea was challenged. Companies began building their own custom forges.

One reason was conversion. If you have control of the site where they get their software, you can contact them immediately and start turning them into paying customers.

Google Code was launched early in this process, 5 years ago now, and for a long time I categorized it alongside these custom forges. Its annual summer of code event sounded gimmicky and highly Google-centric.

As custom forges evolved, most large companies launched their own open software repositories. It was becoming clear that many new projects would no longer stand on their own, they would be attached to some larger project, so it made sense for developers to align.

Microsoft, as always the bull elephant in the china shop, illustrated this evolution quite well. Its CodePlex began as a corporate forge, a place for Microsoft developers to gather under Microsoft "open source" licenses.

But CodePlex also evolved. Its licenses were approved by OSI. Projects with non-Microsoft licenses came in. The site evolved its own niche, as a place where corporations could safely open their own software repositories for view and extension.

Last year it launched a CodePlex Foundation, seaparate from Microsoft, to direct its growth. The idea was to go beyond the corporate umbrella and be seen as a force in the wider world.

Why do this? One reason might be to compete with Google Code.

The site has been controversial, but always on the side of openness. It cooperated on the expansion of existing projects, like Yahoo's Hadoop, which launched companies of their own.

Examples like this now make Google Code more powerful than Sourceforge, in my opinion. If you're an ambitious programmer, you want to be working where your work might be seen by people who can do you some good. Google Code has become off-Broadway. Sourceforge is Philadelphia.

But there is one thing I am certain of, as Google Code celebrates its fifth birthday. Forges will continue to evolve. Forges are far from their climax state.

What do you think their next evolution will be?

Topics: Open Source, CXO, Google, Microsoft, Software, IT Employment

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  • This post is rubbish

    Dana claims that Google code is somehow more
    powerful that SourceForge, yet he never proves

    As an anecdote, I have downloaded many open source
    projects from SourceForge (e.g., phpESP,
    PDFCreator, etc.) and seldom ever one from Google
    code (being the exception a half backed Mozilla
    extension that could return the Windows handle of
    a XUL window if I remember correctly).

    Sure, that proves nothing, but Dana's post doesn't
    prove anything either
    • I think he meant....

      power in terms of stature maybe. I'd dare say the newest headliner projects seem to be on Google Code or GitHub. I'm just looking at a glance and could be wrong. But it does seem like those are the "hot" places to host your code at the moment. Nothing is wrong with Sourceforge. Its all just mind share I guess.
      • Again, anecdotes like yours or mine, prove nothing

        Besides, how can you know he meant "stature"
        (whatever that means?) or simply wrote some crap
        blog post? He never explained that.

        It sounds as though you are on the "I want to
        believe" status of mind.
        • Well first off...

          How do you know he DIDN'T mean stature if you don't know what it means...

          According to Webster...

          Stature - quality or status gained by growth, development, or achievement

          I believe that fits what I believe he is saying. I think he clearly explained that when he talked about some of the projects that have been hosted there.

          I'm not saying I agree and I do think the post isn't that clear. I'm simply pointing out what I believe he is trying to convey. It doesn't take much more than a survey of top projects to see whether he is right or not. Either they have the top projects that people are interested in or they don't. Either the latest big name projects decide to host there or the don't. Its not rocket science man.
          • Here's how I know

            1) he did NOT mention anything like that
            2) he did NOT explain how Google Code has more
            power than Sourceforge

            The only evidence of the contrary are your
            conjectures. Thus, those can be safely dismissed
            unless you are Dana in disguise or got a brain-
            reading machine.

            On the topic of the "top projects". Tell me how
            the best projects at Sourceforge are of less
            "stature" of those at Google code? in terms of
            usage? hype? or what exactly? Sourceforge has
            probably millions of very useful open source
            projects. I have downloaded and used many. In
            terms of usefulness for me SourceForge beats
            Google code. Maybe it's the same for other
            millions people. If what you are saying were true,
            then probably the Apache foundation is the more
            powerful of any other open source project
            sponsor/repository, but it really is?

            [i]I'm not saying I agree and I do think the post
            isn't that clear.[/i]

            I think you agree, and have provided an argument
            of why Dana said is the case. That isn't bad of
            course, but the reasons you provide (and that Dana
            didn't provide :P) are not very convincing (to me
            at least)
          • Actually, I think what he meant was..

            ..even Microsoft are unable to dismiss open source.
    • RE: Google Code is more powerful than Sourceforge

      If youre an ambitious programmer, you want to be working where your work might be seen by people who can do you some good. Google Code has become off-Broadway.<a href=""><font color="LightGrey"> k</font></a>
  • RE: Google Code is more powerful than Sourceforge

    If you look at the wealth of tool SourceForge has, Google
    Code pales in comparison
    • Sourceforge has the legacy

      Sourceforge is still going on momentum, but it
      lost a lot of support when it went closed source.
  • Because Stone Cold said so!

    Dana has just published a case study in asserting a point while offering no substantive support for it whatsoever. Hat's off to you, Dana! Not every writer can start a discussion that goes 'I think he meant to say...'.
    • Case Study?

      This is a series of observations gleaned from following a beat for 5 years, concerning the evolution of part of that beat.

      But yes, my original headline was hedged. I changed it at the last minute.
  • Another poorly thought out ZD article

    Yet another hastily dashed, off the top of the head (or the nether region), "this is my poorly thought out opinion" article - no substance and not even a definition of what he thinks he means by "power"

    Geez, ZD keeps getting less and less useful
  • Maybe, maybe not...

    I have noticed in recent years that more major
    projects are being placed with forges other than
    sourceforge. There was a forge boom a few years ago
    that has solidified into maybe 4 or 5 major players.
    Google is one of them. By placing Google's name
    behind the forge and, by contrast, Microsoft
    distancing their name from CodePlex, they have
    increased their presence in the open source forges of

    Sourceforge is still the biggest player in the arena,
    but far more regular people will recognize the Google
    name and automatically believe that a project hosted
    by Google Code is a legitimate project. Sourceforge
    has been around so long that the vast majority of
    projects currently hosted there have been dead for

    Sourceforge is the first place I look before starting
    from scratch on anything. Why should I reinvent a
    widget when someone else already abandoned theirs.
    All I have to do is polish it a little and add a few
    missing features. That is the power and
    attractiveness of open source. That is power that
    will take Google several more years to achieve.

    Until Google Code hosts 2 million dead projects, I
    just don't see them being more powerful than
    Sourceforge. Those dead projects are where the real
    power is. The ability to just snap up all that talent
    for my own project and cut weeks, months or sometimes
    even years off my own development cycle. That is
  • Mad props to SourceForge

    Come dudes, give SourceForge its dues!! It is a remarkable feat. I've downloaded lots of great apps from over there. So many FREE goodies over there. I think it'll remain THE PLACE for downloading open source apps for a long, long time.
    But I also take my hats off to Google because they have LOTS of MONEY and they've done a good job funding some key projects that will benefit EVERYONE. Nothing evil about that.

    Max "The IT pro"
  • Re: If you?re an ambitious programmer, you want to be working where your wo

    Huh? Can't you write the code on your own computer, and upload it to [i]both[/i]?
  • RE: Google Code is more powerful than Sourceforge

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  • Google Code has become off-Broadway. Sourceforge is Philadelphia.

    Regardless of the context the Subject, a line from the article, I disagree with the article. This is a case of semantics where the attempt to describe an orange is munged until it calls it a kumquat, but it's still an orange and the other, well...a kumquat.

    They are NOT the same things IMO as implied here, and I don't think they ever will end up with the intimated results. Different audience, different grades of SW, different wants, different outcomes, different expectations, etc. etc. etc..

    Just my opinion.
  • GoogleCode doesn't get a look in.

    I've downloaded and made many hundreds of Linux apps and libraries; virtually all have come from SourceForge and none from GoogleCode.
    • Seconded

      I've downloaded quite a few free apps, for Windows, from SourceForge (nothing from GoogleCode or CodePlex).

  • RE: Google Code is more powerful than Sourceforge

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