If you have had anything to do with open source in the last ten years and not just recently, you may know about Google code. More recently dubbed Google Developers, Google Code has been a place for open source code hosting since 2005 when it first started making space for open source projects. Back then the open source landscape was quite different. It would be 3 more years until github and bitbucket would open up shop and over the next four years from then github would completely dominate the hosted open source repository space. Github and Bitbucket were different in the fact that they offered private repositories, and github was completely open source. ANother major difference at the time was native support for Git and your own namespace for your account. Having your own account namespace gives you the opportunity to create repositories that may have the same name as another repository on Github, but since your namespace is created on top of your account name, it made this possible to name your repo anything you wanted. We could talk all day about why Github did so well in those first four years and continues to dominate the scene today. Bitbucket is also very popular because it is very much like Github with the exception that you can run a private repository for free. Bitbucket is also created by the trusted Atlassian Group which is a major name in the open source space.
Google shut down the ability to create new Repositories on March 12, 2015 and the owners of existing repositories will need to relocate them by August 23rd when the repositories will become frozen in time (ie. Read Only). Those Frozen repos will be accessible until they are finally removed on January 25th 2015.
In a recent email to Google Code repository owners and users Google said:
“It’s time to recognize that Google Code’s mission to provide open source projects a home has been accomplished by others, such as GitHub and Bitbucket.”
So are there options aside from Github and Bitbucket?
Absolutely! But let’s face it, if you are going to develop in the open source area, you should be familliar with both BitBucket and Github, but there are other options like:
Microsoft’s Codeplex, in fact, if you are a ASP.Net Developer, you should highly consider this option as you may benefit from the overwhelmingly Microsoft oriented userbase.
Visual Studio Online is a potentially great place to host your ASP.NET projects and is free for up to 5 users supporting TFS and Git. This means you can run Centralized Version Control or Distributed Version Control and integrates well with Visual Studio. You can add stakeholders to your account to view project status or provide feedback on work. But Visual Studio Online is not just for ASP.Net projects, it integrates with not only Visual Studio but also Eclipse, Xcode, and other Git clients to support development for a variety of platforms and languages and extended users and services are available for MSDN subscribers.
SourceForge.net which is one of the oldest open source repository hosting sites and one of the most controversial having issues with entire countires being banned from using it to changing ownership several times. Opening shop in 1999, The site offered development tools, from a Concurrent Versioning System (CVS) to bug tracking and email lists free of charge. During the years when Google Code was just getting started, SourceForge was experiencing hard times due to enormous growth and the servers became unresponsive at times and very slow at others. Today though, SourceForge is one of the web’s more popular code repos, offering code management, issue-tracking, versioning, and developer tools. It’s once again a great place to host code and work on great open source projects. Most young developers don’t know of it as an option, but it’s well known to us veterans of the web.
Gitlab.com is considered to be an option for more Enterprise and can be run on your own server or you can use the Software as a Service option from Gitlab.com. Although Gitlab allows you to host private repos free of charge and they boast to be as good as Github, the real benefit of using them is in an Enterprise situation and if you plan on licensing their software and use Continuous Integration you may need to shell out a few dollars, and by a few dollars I mean $50 to $250 per user a year. THis can get costly quick, but it’s well worth the money to large enterprise organizations that need to run their own repos.
Finally let’s talk about Beanstalk: Hosting Git and SVN repositories, this is a complete deployment solution for your projects and is a bit of the new kid on the block but already making a huge reputation for itself. My advice is that if you are not locked into working with an ASP.Net project that needs to use Visual Studio Online or one of the major git repo hosting providers, take a course on Beanstalk and just test it out by building a small site with some code and tests and then deploy it. Once you get the hang of it you might be surprised at how great of an option this might be for you.
I could go much deeper into these other options as well as more options, but if you need to relocate your code from Google Code, it might be a good time to take a breath and reset your project with something new. Do your homework and pick which one you think is best. WE have more choices than we really need but I think these few are the sure winners today. We are sad to see Google Code go away, but I think it’s great that they acknowledge that there are better solutions and they would be better putting their time into what other things they do best! Thanks for the great times Google, you were there when we needed you!