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SourceForge.net Gets a Facelift

Sure, it looks better, but does it improve how it facilitates open source projects?

So far, the answer is yes from users and some members of the open source community about the revamped SourceForge.net open source project site.

The home to over 100,000 listed projects has freshened up its look and improved usability as part of a new site design rolled out this week.

The site currently boasts nearly 1,175,000 registered users making up what is one of the largest single open source membership groups. SourceForge.net is part of the OSTG Network, which is owned by VA Software .

Of particular importance to the very fabric of open source projects, the new site includes a revised project registration and project takeover system. According to the SourceForge.net recent enhancements changelog,"improvements to the operational workflow of the system for site administrators have been designed to allow expedited processing of new project registrations and takeover requests."

The new SourceForge.net has also dropped service support for the legacy MySQL 3.23.x database in favor of the new MySQL 4.1.x version. MySQL recently released its 5.x version (link) though it's unknown at what point SourceForge.Net will offer the latest version.

Sitting atop the more then 100,000 projects at SourceForge.Net is the Gaim instant messaging project.

"The new aesthetic looks great, but I'm more interested in some of the deeper UI changes they're working on," lead developer Sean Egan told internetnews.com.

"Sourceforge has always been great about working with its top projects to get feedback and improve their services, and I'm excited to see some of my own gripes addressed."

Microsoft also has a number of very active project that are run through SourceForge.Net. Jason Matusow, manager of Microsoft's Shared Source Initiative, noted that Windows Installer XML (WiX), FlexWiki, and Windows Template Library (WTL) projects have consistently ranked in the 90 percentile of active projects. In the past week, WiX ranked 99.57 percent, FlexWiki 94.06 percent, and WTL 99.85 percent.

"It is always a good thing when a Website pays attention to its users and improves how people can work in that environment," Matusow told internetnews.com. "For our project leads, improvements to the site are always welcome as we have communities in excess of 10K active participants in size."

SourceForge.net has also recently benefited from a hardware infusion from IBM.

An IBM eServer OpenPower 720 (e-Series) host is now part of the SourceForge.net Compile Farm. Developers can use the compile farm to test their SourceForge.net hosted applications on a variety of different hardware architectures. IBM is no stranger to SourceForge.net. Last February it contributed more than 30 projects to the site for development.

Jay Seimarco, general manager of SourceForge, said the changes also help the site position for future upgrades, such as the next stage involving improved search and software categorization functions. After that, SourceForge.net will be revamping the tool set.

"In general, users should be aware that while this is not a new site. There are major changes afoot at Sourceforge.net of which the new look and feel is just the beginning."