Ohloh announced yesterday that they now provide information and statistics on more than 250,000 free and open source software projects in their directory.
I have long believed that consumers of open source (users and buyers alike) don't want to buy "accredited" aggregations of open source. (Yes — I appreciate many CIOs say something different dressed in statements using "one throat to choke" but it's not what they do.) Red Hat, JBoss Inc, and MySQL AB all demonstrated over the past decade business execution based on being the "best" most focused provider of a critical piece of software. It wasn't simply their technology prowess, however, but their message to the market was equally sharp, clear and understandable, and their community engagement and commitment was obvious and well defined. When you consider other things that might reasonably be bought by an enterprise, you can see Alfresco's corporate growth here as well.
When a potential open source user wanted to find out "what open source software is available" to solve a problem, they were invariably left hunting across Google, SourceForge, and sites like java-source.net and FreshMeat. There was no consistency. The depth of information was sketchy. Some of it was bleeding edge software, some tied to the site. There was no sense of "what's good" unless you were already involved in a particular community, and even then community bias could get in the way. This gave way to a collection of directory solutions and companies that tried to bridge this gap.
Ohloh has always had the most useful and interesting directory for me. First, they have no direct sales model tied to the directory, so my trust in the depth and breadth of the information is high. Second, the beauty of the analysis is that the core data is metrics based on what programmers do, not what they say. I can see how big or small a community is, how long it's been around, how active it is, and this provides hard data when one then looks at the qualitative commentary. Third, it's always been comprehensive across the open source world and getting better all the time.
Over their several year history, they have continued to expand and add features to their core statistical analysis. They've built the community and expanded the number of repositories they support. Once one finds a project, one can see other projects immediately that are related through the tagging and stacking other Ohloh users share. The site is a proper social network for open source developers. It's been used to get a project manager's view of an open source project by the project's own leadership. As a resource for job hunters and recruiters it's invaluable to be able to see the visual resume of a developer. They've evolved their offerings to act as download host, and provide job and support services classifieds.
Over time Ohloh has also provided an API and interesting gadgets to add to project webpages, including the language calculator:
The code calculator (based on the COCOMO model):
And the overall statistics:
The Ohloh directory and community continues to get better and better as it evolves and matures. Congratulations on reaching the quarter million project mark!
Other data views from the Ohloh directory:
Disclaimer: I have done work for Ohloh in the past. I continue to act as an advisor.