Friday, March 18, 2011

OSS Project hosting woes of a first-timer

Being a long time OSS Project user/supporter but not having setup or developed any of my own projects previously, I'm having to navigate unchartered territory with regards to how and where to setup my projects.

At first I looked at because I'd seen a bunch of other projects using it, however, when I discovered they didn't have many of the supporting features I wanted - mainly wiki, I decided to look elsewhere.

It was then I checked out good ol' (apparently I'm still living in the past, because someone commented to me the other day something like "Oh.. you mean sourceforget?") So I guess even geeks have stuff that's "in" and stuff that's "out" ;-)

Anywho.. I liked what I saw on, it seemed fairly easy to setup and had a lot of features that seemed like they would be useful for a project. So I setup the project on sourceforge(t).net and continued my work.

About 2 revision commits in I started thinking the project was getting to a point that it could be used - so of course I needed to make some quick and dirty documentation about how to use and set it up.

It was then that I came to realise my mistake -- I was apparently so blinded by the various _other_ features on, that I neglected to notice that they don't have a wiki space provided. Sure, I could set one up in the web hosting space, but I want to spend my time on actually working on the project, not managing the infrastructure around it. (It's a nice way of saying I'm lazy..)

So now I'm thinking about Google Code and Github.

I went to Github and went to check out some of the project hosting pages. Honestly, I think I touched git a long time ago in a galaxy far far away and any information other than it's name has long since evacuated my brain. 

The first thing I did was try to browse through some of the existing projects -- How does it feel to browse? Can I find the things I would want to find easily?

The answer was "No." most of the time I couldn't tell if I was in a project or a branch or a fork or whatever and I struggled to find an easy link for wiki or documentation or even downloads. Github might be a great tool if I knew git and knew what I was doing, but if I imagine a DBA like myself coming to the page to find my tool and use it, they would likely feel an equal level of confusion. They don't necessarily want the source code or to contribute, they want to download and use it.

So for now Github is out.

Then came Google Code - It seemed like a breath of fresh air. I could see clear links to Source, Downloads, Wiki and Issues ( bugs ). Yes, this would do just fine. The problem then became that when I logged in with my gmail account, I saw that it was not my display name that came showing up against the project, but my gmail account ID. 


Call me vain, but I like putting my real name against things that I do in the community. I don't want people to have to learn that "" is actually Lachlan Mulcahy. (That's not my gmail by the way -- I'm attempting to avoid spam here). 

A quick google search and it seems this issue is something people have complained about since 2008 sometime. I guess it is not going to get changed anytime soon, so I'll just go any make myself a gmail account with my real name in it more visibly and use that.

It is a bit of a pain, but out of the available options, it seems like the best choice.

Now I'll hop off the soapbox and get back to work :)



  1. You can enable various different applications for a account, and you can actually enable a wiki software.

    That being said, I've begun migrating my SF based projects to google code. I love the wiki markup, and I can server HTML right out of SVN for things like the manual.

    Note, you have to change the mime type via SVN properties to make serving the HTML bit work :)

  2. I also find it annoying that there isn't parity between the different google services on this. For example, the Blogger account lists me as 'Swany' where google code lists 'greenlion'.

    oh well.

    --Justin Swanhart :)

  3. I realy like google code. For me the email address isn't an issue - I chose mine to be look like my real name a long time ago, and I don't really mind spam since gmail really does a very good job filtering it.

    I plan to look into github in the feature. It seems to become more popular, esp. in javascript coder's circles.

  4. @Justin - I couldn't see an option anywhere in the Project Admin to enable a wiki feature? Maybe I was missing something. I just started on some documentation today and although the markup is a little different from the wiki we're using in-house here, it seems fairly easy. I'm liking the ease of setup and use factor in Google Code a lot so far, so steady as she goes!...

    @Roland - Actually Google Code does offer a feature that allows you to obscure your email address to those who are not a part of your project, which should cover the spam angle.

  5. I love Google Code. I hate sourceforge. The more you learn about sourceforge, if you're like me, the more you'll hate it. They just make everything so damned hard. Did you know you have to do your own backups on sourceforge? That's right, they will host your project, but they won't back it up. FAIL.

  6. That is a real shame, Baron. I think one of the assumptions that one might make as a developer is that wherever you choose to host your source repo is backed up.

    If the central repo for a whole project is lost for some reason, that could be a really big issue! Urgh!

  7. I found it on sourceforge:
    Go to Admin->Features and click MediaWiki (should be above piwik)

  8. Baron,

    That policy may have changed:

    Backups ¶ performs routine backups for all of our servers and will restore from these backups in the event of catastrophic server failure. We encourage projects to make their own backups of project web data as that data restore can be performed by the project in the event of accidental data destruction by a member of the project team.

    Backups of project web data may be made using the File management service.

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