Open door on open source


WITH SO MANY OPEN SOURCE PROJECTS with freely accessible source code repositories, it was a bit strange that nobody had thought about doing anything interesting with all this data.

Well, this has changed. ohloh.net began in June 2006 to gather statistics and now has data on more than 4700 open-source projects.

This sleek, AJAX-powered, web site provides statistics about each project:

  • Number of contributors, with a graph of their commits over time
  • Size and breakdown of the source code by language or file type
  • Licenses used in the source code
  • Graph of the code base over time
  • a “project popularity index” computed from web search engines.

Ohloh also provides qualitative data, including user-written reviews and usage tracking.

Overall, the site is extremely useful for evaluating projects. When I discover a new open-source project, the first stop in my research is ohloh.

A feature I would like to see added is one that allows project committers to register themselves and give their names, while of course linking to their projects and their contributor aliases. Now, with thousands of projects and counting, you want this feature to be automated, so that ohloh’s staff does not have to be involved. I have a few ideas on how this could be easily implemented… But I won’t touch on this this today.

Trivia: where does the name come from? I asked ohloh’s CEO, Scott Collison, and here is his answer:

As for the name, it is from two things. The first is a game that Jason likes to play. When the character emerges victorious he murmurs OHLOHOHLOHOHLOH…. It also sounds like the first wooden Hawaiian surfboard or olo. At the end of the day though we chose it because it was a clean URL, albeit kind of difficult to spell 🙂

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