Saturday, March 14, 2015

Sigh. Google Code project hosting closing down

Google has just let us know that Google Code's project hosting will be shutting down.

On a story over on Ars Technica, there were a lot of misconceptions about why Google chose to provide project hosting. I posted a long comment there, but want to repeat that here for posterity:

As the Engineering Manager behind Google's project hosting's launch, I think some clarifications need to be made here. 
In early 2005, SourceForge was not well-maintained, it was hard to use, and it was the only large hosting site available. Chris and I posed the following question, "what would happen if SourceForge went dark tomorrow". … F/OSS apocalypse. SF would take 10's of thousands of projects down with it. This wasn't too far-fetched, given the funding and team assigned to at the time. Chris and I explored possibilities: provide Google operational support, machines, or just offer to buy it outright. … Our evaluation was: we didn't need to acquire SourceForge. We just needed to provide an alternative. Provide the community with another basket for their eggs. 
Myself and three highly-talented engineers put together the project hosting from summer 2005, to its launch at OSCON in July 2006. We let SourceForge know late 2005 what we were doing, and they added staff. We couldn't have been happier! … we never set out to kill them. Just to provide safety against a potential catastrophic situation for the F/OSS community. 
Did GitHub provide a better tool? I think so. But recall: that is their business. Google's interest was caretaking for the F/OSS community (much the same as the Google Summer of Code). The project hosting did that for TEN YEARS. 
I'm biased, but call that a success. 
There are many more hosting options today, compared to what the F/OSS ecosystem was dealing with in 2005 and 2006. I'm very sad to see it close down, but I can understand. Google contributes greatly to F/OSS, but what is the incremental value of their project hosting? Fantastic in 2006, but lower today. 
… I hope the above helps to explain where/how Google Code's project hosting came about.


Unknown said...

Thanks to you and to Chris for setting this up. You are an inspiration!
- Chris Mattmann

Unknown said...

Greg, I've always been impressed by your work and am grateful for the service that Google provided these past ten years. SourceForge was a clunky mess back then and having a clean slate to store open projects was an invaluable thing that you & Google gave to the community. Thanks for seeing the problem and doing something about it.

Greg said...

Thank you, Chris and Toby for the kind words!