Open source vet looks inside Microsoft's SourceForge knockoff

Open source software advocate W. Jason Gilmore attended a recent Microsoft confab for Web developers. Here, he offers views on Microsoft's Codeplex, a code repository that mimics SourceForge. In another column, he discusses Redmond's Linux-friendlier IIS 7.

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Speaking to about 20 open source-minded attendees of the Microsoft Web Developer Summit, Microsoft Codeplex team software developer Brad Wilson introduced Codeplex, essentially Microsoft's take on the code repository. Developers are invited to register and host their projects on the site, providing not only a location from which it can be exposed to a wider audience, but also several support tools intended to facilitate development.

SourceForge it's not, but it's a start.

Currently hosting 464 projects, including a few well-known initiatives -- such as IronPython and the Atlas JavaScript toolkit -- the site has been slowly gathering steam since it's beta launch in May.

Software projects of all sorts are welcome on the site, but each project request must be manually reviewed and accepted before hosting privileges are granted, said Wilson, general manager of Microsoft CRM for the Microsoft Business Solutions Business Group. He stated this process would likely be automated in the future.

Once registered, project members have access to a discussion forum, issue tracker and a code repository, with the latter two features made available through the Team Foundation Server product. Developers manage their project through both the Web site and the freely available Team Explorer client. More information about installing the client can be found on the Codeplex Web site.

Somewhat surprisingly, developers are not limited to choosing among Microsoft's shared source licenses. A perusal of the site shows projects licensed under the Mozilla Public License, various versions of Microsoft's shared source licenses and the the GNU General Public License.

Wilson also made special note that the goal wasn't to compete with similar services such as SourceForge, but rather to help foster a vibrant developer community. An unmentioned, although likely equally reasonable, goal is to show off Team Foundation Server. Regardless, while the site is currently lacking the features, audience and flexibility of repository king SourceForge, developers seeking another take on free hosting while taking advantage of Team Foundation Server should give it a look.

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