A little SourceForge frustration

SourceForge puzzles me. I think it’s the combination of what is obviously eager effort to improve the site, and the fumbling to get the basics right.

On the plus side, SourceForge recently made a very welcome addition — adding “hosted apps”, including WordPress and MediaWiki — as an option for all projects, for free. And the announcement of support for additional repository types, notably git, is also a nice move.

But SourceForge is plagued by sluggish response (which is especially stark when compared to the consistent zippiness of Google Code) — across its website, source code repositories, etc. — as well as occasional outages. And the continual redesign of the site, especially in its current bright-orange incarnation, hasn’t seemed like a positive to me. With every redesign, I’ve felt like SourceForge was becoming harder and harder to use. As an example, one redesign ago, the Project Admin menu got so long it was basically unusable on smaller screens (like laptops). To SourceForge’s credit, the next iteration promptly fixed it; unfortunately, the chosen fix was by burying vitally important functionality like the file release system under the “Feature Settings” page (found under Project Admin). That led me on a wild hunt through most of the UI before I finally stumbled upon it the functionality I was looking for by accident.

SourceForge offers a tremendous amount of functionality for free, which is what’s allowing it to stay dominant against the proliferating number of alternative services out there. But not only does SourceForge need to innovate, it needs to make sure that it gets the basics right. It has to add functionality while still being fast and simple to use, and over the years, SourceForge seems to have grown tendrils of new features while the main octopod body has grown sessile and mottled with confusion.

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Posted on March 17, 2009, in Industry and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hey Lydia!

    I’m the director of community for SourceForge.net, and I thought I’d jump in.

    I can totally see where you’re coming from. A lot of the issues you mention have been weak spots for us in the past; partially because of a lack of focus and partially because of a lack of resources.

    I think we’re making some headway, though. We’ve decided to invest more and more in the modernization of SourceForge.net lately, and I think we’re working on the right stuff. As we try to adapt this ten year old web service to modern expectations, we’re not always going to get it right. Please don’t hesitate to tell us what you think along the way. 🙂



  2. SourceForge has added some amazing value to my life and career over that last few years. I’d like to see a next generation vision that embraces the cloud infrastructure and services.

    I don’t know anything about their current infrastructure but I could image they could achieve some serious performance and cost gains by wisely embracing the cloud for their scaling of processing power, bandwidth and storage.

    Seems like they could really interact with the next growth of enterprise infrastructure and developers building applications on the cloud.

    Lots to think about…


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