Serving Developers *and* Users at SourceForge

My last post might have left some folks thinking that we’ve been focused entirely on “end user” experience at SourceForge and have been ignoring the developer side of the equasion, if that’s you, and you’ve felt a bit left out, there’s very good news. In the 7 months since I’ve been here, there have been a significant number of developer focused changes at sf.net, and there are more coming before OSCON.

Hosted Apps

One of the biggest changes is the new Hosted Apps system. We’re an Open Source hosting company, and we want to provide some of the best tools available for Open Source developers, so it only makes sense to use Open Source tools to do it. So, we now provide two dozen applications that you can install and use to help develop and manage your project, including trac, mediawiki, dotproject, a microbloging system, phpbb forums, an app for brainstorming ideas, and lots more.
trac hosted on sourceforge

From the perspective of an open source project maintainer, I think the best part of this is that I don’t have to manage them, do upgrades, backups, or worry about downtime — there are other people responsible for all that.

Have it your way

Part of the plan here is to make SourceForge more modular, and to let project managers use the tools that make sense for them and for their project. I think we’re the only open source hosting solution that provides svn, git, hg, bzr, and cvs source repositories. And with Trac, you’ve definitely got a far more full featured bug tracker than is available in most other open source project hosting.

One of the other advantages is that if you want new features in SourceForge, there’s now a clear and obvious way to do it. For example if you want some new ticket tracking feature you can add that feature to Trac, and once there’s a new release, it’ll be added to your sf.net project for free.

How the Consume side fits in

If you saw yesterday’s post, you’ll remember this diagram.
sfconsume

We’ve created the summary page based on the idea that projects have data in various places, in SourceForge developed apps, in hosted apps, on freshmeat, and out on the web in various places. In fact, all the the data on the sf.net project summary pages and download pages is fetched from the existing php apps via feeds and public API’s.

We still have lots of work to do, but all of this means that we’re changing the way SourceForge works to serve our developers better. We’re giving up on the assumption that we can provide the one right set of tools for all open source projects, and we’re also trying to leverage and improve existing open source solutions rather than reinvent the wheel.

To be fair, lots of this stuff wasn’t available when sourceforge got started, so back then we had to do some inventing, but the open solutions have passed us in lots of areas, and we’re taking advantage of that.

Developers need users too

And that brings us full circle, we want to grow project communities. In the end this means serving two sets of people well, and it means bringing those two communities together, serving developers means they get the tools they need to make better software, and serving downloaders and end users means the overall community grows. But the real growth happens when the line between developer and user begins to blur, with non-developers triaging bugs, writing documentation, doing translations, and sometimes even becoming developers themselves.

7 Responses to “Serving Developers *and* Users at SourceForge”


  1. 1Foo B.

    Whoa! It seems Sourceforge is back in competition. Great job guys.

  2. 2Florian

    I couldn’t care less, I’d be happy if sf.net would just stop operation instead of luring hapless developers on their crappy platform.

    Yes, I hate sf.net, with a passion. I’d recommend anybody to stay the heck away from sf.net as far as they possibly can. Use github, gitweb, bitbucket, hgweb, http://code.google.com/hosting/ or setup your own server.

  3. 3Foo B.

    Florian, did you read the article? It appears sf.net is not the same crappy platform anymore.

  4. 4Florian

    @Foo B

    Even if it is any better then before, that’s today, tomorrow they’re going to shuffle everything around again, place the links you always navigate somewhere else you don’t find them and add more advertising and also break any software that relies on them. sf.net has been the same for 10 years, and it won’t change.

  5. I just noticed the refresh too. It’s certainly a lot nicer to look at, and I like some of the new features, like targeting the application listing to the visitor and a “looking for help” section.

    I’m quite excited to see Trac available as a hosted app too.

    By the way, the link to the hosted apps in the post is broken. It starts with http://http://. I think you want http^2:// :-p

    Martin

  6. Hey Florian,

    I’m not speaking as a sourceforge employee here, but I think it’s fine that you don’t like sf.net, and I’m glad there are other options for you. In the python web world I’ve been quoted as saying “biodiversity is the sign of a healthy ecosystem” and I think that’s the same with Open Source project hosting.

    I’ve only been at SourceForge for 7 months, but I can tell you that the people we have now are very committed to making things better, and we’re working very hard to earn back the trust and respect of the community.

  7. 7n002213f

    Congrats, some great work there !

    @Florian
    It would be helpful / constructive to highlight parts that you hate so that they can be addressed.

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