Google Code now a general open source repository

Open source projects of all types now have four good choices on where to put their developing code, in Google, CodePlex, Sourceforge, or a corporate forge.

When corporate repositories like CodePlex and Google Code first emerged, they were mainly sandboxes for projects associated with the parent companies.

If you were supporting Microsoft stuff, you went to CodePlex and used a Microsoft-friendly open source license. Same if you were on Google Code -- chances were you had an Apache license and your code's target was fixed on a larger Google project.

This has been changing over the last year. We have covered the move by Microsoft to make CodePlex independent, targeting corporate code repositories rather than just .Net-friendly projects. Now Google is doing the same, announcing it will accept open source projects under any license, even the AGPL.

This is considered a concession, although some are calling it a birthday present, given that Google Code has now been online five years. (Time flies.)

I think it's just another example of evolution in action. Legal papers were never really needed to show that a project on Google Code was Google-centric, nor that one on CodePlex was Microsoft-centric. This was implied in the hosting.

Now open source projects have five serious choices for handling their central code repositories:

  1. Put it at Sourceforge. Still a valid choice.
  2. Go to CodePlex. If you're in the Fortunate 500 it won't get you fired.
  3. Put it on Google Code.
  4. Align with a project-centric repository like Apache or Eclipse.
  5. Open your own forge and control your community.

Only the last costs any serious money, but for many it will also remain the option with the greatest benefits.