Google opens website for developers

Google is throwing open the doors to open source developers and inviting them to participate in projects via the code.google website. Google says that the site will be the repository for its free source code and the list of its API services.

Four projects have been chosen to start with. Although the projects themselves are unrelated to search, they have been chosen by Google engineers as something the company can build on with later releases.

The four projects are as follows: perftools (libraries and tools that help tune and debug multi-threaded C++ programs); coredumper (provides the ability to dump cores from programs when it was previously not possible); sparsehashtable (an assortment of interesting new hash tables for C++ developers); and goopy/functional (a library to bring new language attributes to python).

Google says, ‘One thing we really wanted to put up on Google Code was a way of bringing recognition to those people and groups who have created programs that use our APIs or the code we have released.’

This first wave of projects is being released under the BSD 2.0 license to allow their usage in other software development projects. Google says that it is not wedded to BSD and that future projects are equally as likely to be released under the Apache, MIT or GPL licenses.

While code.google might be seen as something of a sideline for the company, Google has always had its roots firmly planted in open source software. In fact the entire search empire that is Google is built on search software developed on top of Linux and other open software applications.

Furthermore, the impetus for creating a community of open source developers may have been based on the recent hires of Ben Goodger and Darin Fischer, two senior developers on the open source browser Firefox. It is also part of the company culture that the coders spend around 20 per cent of their time on projects outside of their main job. It is likely that many of the projects that find their way onto code.google will be based on these private projects.

By keeping an eye on the contributors to code.google, the company will be able to talent spot any budding young coders which it can snap up. Finally, beefing up its open source credentials won’t do it any harm in its ongoing battle with Microsoft.

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