SourceForge is a non sens

Well, I just wanted to write some comments about our SourceForge experience, knowing that I won’t write a lot because this forge has no more any interest to my eyes.

As an OpenSource editor, we’ve made our first experience on code delivery on SourceForge. Beginning was OK, and we get immediate success for FreeAnalysis due to the forge position and Pentaho’s presence on it. But after some months, we were just not abble to know who was using our package, who was getting access to the code, and some integrists or competitors claimed to have deep access to source code, without any guaranty or even knowing their name and the purpose of their request. And unfortunatly SourceForge is encouraging those people, in the name of being “Open”. Others may say “this is Open Source” … no sorry, this is not “Open Source” when someone can come in your house, take everything and leave in 5 secondes without even bringing support on your code.

What about intellectual property and R&D investment ? Nothing, they just don’t care ! What kind of support did we get in our discussion with SourceForge ? Nothing … strange position for a forge that claim to be a place for developers ! And when we decided to leave this forge, they just let old package available, so that some users may still use those “so old” packages forever … what is the kind of respect for users to let those people use old packages ? I have read that SourceForge has 1’900 open requests … this is a good representation of the situation …

There are so many projects available on Sourceforge, but most of the news platform behave the same : they simply publish non usabble code (so simple with SVN). So what is better : leaving or letting people think that “they can” … but “they can’t” ?

We will take our time to move to another forge. This first experience was interesting, but now we are looking for more (more features, more security, more support). Many other forges such as GForge or Javaforge may be good places to give access to our packages. By now, we just setup an HTTP server to have “FreeAnalysis 1.0 RC2” available for everyone who cares about it.

Have Fun,

Patrick

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2 Responses

  1. Hi Patrick,

    We went through some issues with Javaforge as well. At the beginning we where a smallish project but even early 2006 we had many issues with security etc. Now that we have migrated to private Pentaho SVN servers I noticed that most if not all of these issues are resolved. So you might give them a try.

    Some thought: how much did developing FA cost and how much does a hosted server cost monthly? You don’t need that much to get it going, really.

    As far as open source is concerned… if you use a license like BSD, MPL, Apache or LGPL (PDI) you can’t really complain if people use your software without giving back. However, look at the big picture: it doesn’t really matter. The key to commercial success in the open source space is continuous innovation. (certainly FA qualifies :-))
    By keeping your software on a fast track you are effectively making it very hard for folks to fork the project. A couple of passes have been made on Kettle in the past but all have gone by without even a notice. Once you are established, the copies are turned into also-ran cheap copies.

    As far as project administration is concerned: I went through a learning curve myself. If you let anyone and everyone on board you’re setting yourself up for a lot of trouble. My advice: don’t be afraid to tell someone to take a walk or revoke SVN commit rights if you don’t like what is going on. There are always going to be people that don’t like that and there are people like me that say that this is the only way to keep things professional and clear.

    And, you are correct: If you write the software YOU are the copyright owner and YOU own the intellectual, not SF or anyone else. My advice is to act like Pentaho and other big projects: ask for copyright to be assigned to you (BPM) when you receive contributions. Make sure to evaluate contributions and refuse them (as politely as possible) if you don’t like them or if you don’t feel like it’s going in the correct strategic direction.

    What *is* in the spirit open source is that you provide source code, you ask for contributions from the community, ask for input, etc. Accepting anything and everything is not part of that spirit. (on the contrary) Projects that go in all directions at the same time don’t go anywhere. Indeed there are too many at SF.

    All the best,

    Matt

  2. Thanks Matt for this long message of support.

    I can see that you did encountered most of the events we are currently suffering … story is always the same with some Forges.

    In Fact, we already did invest in our own server and installed our SVN. Nice software to install, easy to use and to manage. We need now to setup GForge to have everything managed by ourself and continue to make FreeAnalysis the best Open Source Olap Platform based on Mondrian. Currently, we are late on package delivery. We are new in Forge management, and need also to make our own experience and mistakes.

    Developping FreeAnalysis is costing a lot, you are right, but this is nothing compare to the gratification of some users telling you that your software is a must to have and to run ! We will continue to add new functions to keep setting new Open Source Standard in the Olap world !

    In terms of contributions, we didn’t get that much, but responsability has to be shared, because when you are running and investing on a project, this is sometime difficult to welcome contributors on board, especially when those contributors need some support on those new pieces of technology.

    Have Fun !
    Patrick

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