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Help arrives for finding the right open source code

Ohloh.net joins list of sources for developers, businesses

By Todd R. Weiss
July 27, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - PORTLAND, Ore. -- Add Ohloh.net to the expanding list of companies working to make it easier for software developers and businesses to find just the right piece of open source code or entire open-source applications for their IT projects.

The Web site requires users to register and then asks them to describe the open-source applications and code pieces they are already using, including application stacks and tools. The site analyzes the user's entries using Ohloh's Stack Explorer, which then recommends other pieces and applications that can work well with those entries.

The Stack Explorer can provide the number of other users already using those components in their application stacks, as well as basic performance and user ratings for more than 6,000 open-source projects that are included. Users can click a button to add a component to a stack and continue to do more research, or they can choose a button to ignore the selection. There is also a product comparison feature where users can compare up to three open-source projects at one time to help narrow their selections.

Jason Allen, co-founder of Ohloh.net and chief technology officer of the three-year-old Bellevue, Wash.-based start-up, said the site can help IT users find open-source ingredients that they didn't know existed. "Our focus is to help with the discovery process, " said Allen, who demonstrated the Web site earlier this week at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention at the Oregon Convention Center.

Software developers can log into the site and build their own profiles, while their open-source contributions for various projects can be tracked by other users on Ohloh.net to measure their involvement and development work.

Only open source code is included in the expanding database, so users can't search for open source code that will specifically work with proprietary applications, Allen said. Ohloh.net can be used by anyone; it's not aimed at enterprise IT users because it doesn't provide that crossover with proprietary applications.

While open source code and applications are added regularly, the site is not a fail-safe way of finding what you are seeking, Allen said, but it's another tool that can be used.

Earlier this month, open-source consulting firm Optaros Inc. unveiled a free beta Web site, the Enterprise Open Source Directory, as a one-stop information repository on some 300 enterprise-ready open-source applications that have been evaluated by Optaros for functionality, maturity, community support systems and popularity for business use.

Another company that's helping open-source developers find code for their projects is Koders Inc., a Santa Monica, Calif.-based vendor that sells a source-code optimized search engine that lists open source code and projects that can be integrated into other applications.

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