Its Tool Time - Page 3

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... But Look at the New Tools You dont have to go through that type of pain, however, thanks to Brian Behlendorf, co-founder of the Apache Software Foundation. In 1998, Behlendorf realized that there had to be an easier way to make the most of open-sources methods. His answer was to create CollabNet. This company has been the springboard for several sites that further open-source development and business.

One of CollabNets first initiatives was to create Tigris. This open-source development hosting platform brought the basic open-source tools into one interface, with Java applets gluing the assembly together. It was impressive enough that Hewlett-Packard used it for development work on its E-speak voice-recognition software.

From there, Tigris, while still around, evolved into SourceCast. SourceCast is a Web-based software development platform thats used by clients to build programs in an application service provider (ASP) model. Along with VA Linuxs SourceForge, SourceCast is a leading example of developing software by using the open-source approach.

Beyond that, both are also examples of how software development is taking to utilizing the Net. How? By enabling programmers to work together over long distances and avoid the time and money needed to create the usual software development infrastructure.

Distance-insensitive development, however, is not the only feature that these new models offer. In addition to Web-enabling the development process, some of the sites also have added mini-exchanges to the list of services offered. These exchanges provide matchmaking services between developers and clients.

For proof of the models attractiveness, you need look no further than Borland, IBM, Oracle and Rational Software. All four companies are building software development Web sites. Sun Microsystems is rumored to be not far behind and Microsoft already has announced that it may offer a hosted version of Visual Studio—after Visual Studio.Net appears later this year.

If you dont take a liken to the to the ASP model, you can bring wholly open-source SourceForge in-house. Thats exactly what IBM did. The companys internal collaborative development service, the IBM Internal Open Source Bazaar, is based on SourceForges code.

You also can arrange to deploy either SourceCast or SourceForge OnSite as a package at your own office. Both platforms use subscription models and provide additional resources and services for their clients.

SourceCast and SourceForge offer very similar services. Both offer advanced e-mail listing for developers. But SourceForge, with its online-discussion software, has the advantage if your team prefers to work in online discussion groups.

Each also has CVS, bug-tracking and project-hosting services, but for programmers, SourceForges interface is our hands-down favorite. Its clean and all the development tools are easily accessible.

If youre working on an open-source project, SourceForge has another persuasive advantage: Its free.

Keep in mind, though, that SourceCast is designed from the bottom up for major software development projects. Mind you, SourceForge also is used for massive, important programs like the popular programming language Python, but the difference is that CollabNet provides a soup-to-nuts service offering behind SourceCast. From hosting to finding programmers to managing the entire project, CollabNet is the better choice when you need a complete programming solution.

Dont think these companies are serious enough for business? Ha! A quick visit to SourceForges Web site reveals more than 127,000 registered users and more than 16,600 projects currently in development. Over at SourceXchange, there are more than 10,000 users hard at work on 2600 plus projects. The other open-source programming sites, while smaller, have development communities that are bigger than most companies in-house programmer staffs. And, of course, that doesnt even count the old guard programmers making do with ftp servers and mailing lists. It doesnt get a lot more serious than this.

Regardless of your immediate needs, these services are well worth your time. The level of interest among developers, as well as some forward-thinking organizations (maybe your rivals?) is strong and growing.

As we said at the beginning, you dont need to believe in open source to reap the benefits of its methods.