Friday, March 27, 2009

is freshmeat now dead?

I used freshmeat.net -both as an user and a project author- for several years and like the clean and efficient interface. Now, they have revamped the whole thing and I have to admit I personally think they screwed up while doing so.

First of all, a project has a structure that consists of various branches, each of them coming in different versions (see my post on the rsyslog family tree. In the old interface, you had branches and versions, and everyone could clearly see what belonged to where. In the new interface (as I understand it), you have a bunch of links that you can label. So I now have to deal with a flat structure and labels. This is NOT how software grows. And as this no longer is a real-world abstraction, it has become quite complicated to assign meaningful values. Not to mention that the big bunch of links is probably quite confusing to users.

I'll probably deal with that by removing all but the development branches. Better to have consistent information than to have everything...

I also miss the statistics counters. They provided some good insight into what users where interested in and what effect releases had. Very valuable for me as an author, but also valuable for me as a user, for example, when I want to judge how active a project is. Freshmeat promised (on March, 15th) to bring back statistics "in a few days", but today (March, 27th), they are still missing. And if they eventually appear and follow the rest of the design paradigm, I am skeptical if there is really value in them.

All in all, I am very dissatisfied. I am sad to have lost a valuable open source resource. So what to do now? Sourceforge again - don't like that either. Ohloh? Maybe. Probably it's best to concentrate on our own web resources... But first of all, I'll wait a couple of days/weeks and hope that freshmeat will become usable again. But please don't expect too many announcements on freshmeat from me for the time being.

There is also an interesting discussion thread on the new freshmeat design, I suggest to give it a read (you'll also find that others like it!)

2 comments:

jeff covey said...

Thanks for the detailed critique, Rainer. I hope the new version of freshmeat will become more useful to you as work on it progresses. It may seem slow from the outside, but you'd see a lot of commits on a lot of issues if you could see the development side. :)

I'm sorry you're missing the branches feature, I know you used it heavily. Unfortunately, after being available for many years, it was used by a tiny percentage of the site's members, and we had to conclude that it wasn't worth supporting.

The return of statistics is still a high (and much-requested) priority, but has had to take a backseat to more pressing problems. I'm afraid that all I can continue to say is that it will be back Real Soon Now.

Sincerely,
Jeff

Rainer said...

Hi Jeff,

thanks for your reply to the blog post, nice "personal touch" ;) Actually, that brings me hope that freshmeat will be very useful site in the future again.

I know the ups and downs of running a project, so while I feel with you, I can not other than think that the value of freshmeat has lost dramatically.

I am sad to hear about only few projects using branches. While I can fully understand your decision, I wonder how one can manage to get to decent stability without having various branches for stable and not-so stable versions. But that's another question ;)

Rainer