Open Source Project ‘GForges’ Ahead

A new version of GForge, the open source software project development and
management tool, was released this week with features developers hope will help it better
compete with commercial products.

GForge is a fork of the open source version of the SourceForge.net
(SF.net) application that powers the world’s largest open source software
repository of the same name and which is part of VA Software .

New features in version 4.0 include
role-based access controls, which are intended to clean up and
simplify project access into roles; a time tracking task manager; “dozens of pretty
graphs and charts in hundreds of combinations” to boost reporting features; and support for the code versioning tool Subversion.

Web Services in GForge 4.0 have also made an appearance with the Tracker,
Group and User API exposed as a SOAP Web
service. The release notes classify the Web Services code as being “raw,”
which is something that will be improved on.

The original GForge release was forked from the
last open source version of SourceForge.net 2.6. The latest enterprise version of
SF.net, known as SourceForge Enterprise Edition (SFEE) 4.1 and released in June,
is no longer an open source product and is a complete rewrite.

Tim Perdue, GForge Group president and lead maintainer of the GForge
project, was one of the original founders of SourceForge. According to Perdue, GForge is applying a
lot of pressure to VA Software’s SFEE. He doesn’t explicitly
hope to take market share from SFEE by reminding users that GForge is the
“real” basis of SF.net, because he believes the project is getting a lot of traction on its own.

“It’s heavily used in government and military by the likes of NASA, the
Navy, Army, Air Force, in the electronics industry with Fuji, Sony, and
Pioneer, and all over the world, which is pretty exciting,” Perdue told
internetnews.com.

Perdue has calculated from statistics gathered from
publicly known GForges, that there are at least 100,000 registered GForge
users out there with prospect of many more unknowns since many
organization use the application behind a firewall.

“The trick now is to improve the software, so it’s
genuinely useful and contributing to software development.
The next step is to develop clients that use it, like a full command line
interface,” Perdue continued. “I still want a ‘fat client,’ too.”

That said, Perdue’s plan for GForge is no less ambitious than to make the
application even more powerful and feature rich.

“My biggest goal is still to make GForge like a faceless network
application, akin to Apache or an LDAP server — and SOAP starts us down
that path,” Perdue explained. “There will be a lot of different ways to
interact with GForge and the existing HTML/Web interface will become less
important over time.”

GForge is not the only open source SF.net fork that’s out there in
production usage. The GNU Project, also has an SF.net fork by the name of
Savane (GNA.org), which is now powering the Free Software Foundation’s GNU
Savannah Free Software repository. Earlier this year, it had been expected
that Savannah would be moving to the GForge platform, but the GNU
developers ultimately decided against that.

Perdue said he only noticed a couple of weeks
ago that they never switched.


“It would have been nice to see another fork shut down.”

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