I was taking a look at the latest news around CodePlex recently and I started noticing a fascinating trend.  Many people have described us as "Microsoft's SourceForge Killer", suggesting we built this site to eliminate SourceForge.  In fact, that's a trend with everything Microsoft does.  Think about it.  Everyone calls Zune the iPod killer.  The Motorola Q Smartphone is the Blackberry killer.  MSN Soapbox is the YouTube killer.  Meanwhile, the same onus is put on products that are targeted at Microsoft, as Linux is the Windows killer, Open Office is the Office killer, Firefix is the IE killer, and Google is the uber-Microsoft killer.  The one thing in common with these products is no one ever really achieves the kill. What's fascinating is that everyone assumes that the only reason to join a market is to completely destroy its competitors.  Now, I won't deny that the people from Zune would love to bring the iPod to zero market share and have every man, woman, and child with a Zune.  But let's be honest--you can't get rid of an incumbent that easliy and thinking anything could kill the any of these great products is borderline ridiculous.  At best, you may trigger an inflection point that may slow momentum (and I'd imagine that's what Zune and Q are all about).  In cases where dominant products were signiificantly reduced of market share, it took several versions before the tide really shifted.  You need to get in the game and THEN you can start laying claim to some market share.  IE 1.0 was NOT the Netscape killer.  But IE 3.0 and IE 4.0...

For CodePlex, we've never once suggested we were trying to go after SourceForge or kill SourceForge.  Even three versions down the line, I expect SourceForge will do just fine.  CodePlex is very different than SourceForge.  Our goal isn't 100,000 projects to people comfortable with CVS or SVN, many of whom are the lone developer and using the site more for code storage than community development.  Our hope is that CodePlex appeals to a new audience that may have stayed out of the community collaborative game because the bar for SourceForge wasn't a site with which they felt comfortable (like me 🙂 ).  We've made CodePlex work well with Visual Studio, we've tried to focus on features that allow distributed teams collaborate more easily, and we're putting in features that enable the community to get involved--even if they are not developers on the project.  We're trying to streamline participation and that's our niche.  There's still lots of room for SourceForge, CollabNet, Codehaus, and even Google Code Projects.  Don't get me wrong--I do hope some SourceForge users decide they want to switch, but I am not naive enough to think we are going to put a dent in their business. I believe the difference is in the intent of our sites:  they are a huge code repository and we are a community collaborative development site.  Building another SourceForge does nothing to help Microsoft's business.  But spurring collaborative behavior in the Microsoft developer community that creates useful applications and utilities for Windows?  Sign me up...

That's why I'm really excited about the ideas being circulated around the team about upcoming features.  As you'll notice with Jim Newkirk's blog, we are doing three week deployments (fulfilling our desire to "release often") and continually evolving the site based on customer feedback as well as a series of backlog items that we've been thinking about for quite sometime.  Plus, we have another great developer who'll be joining the team soon.  I won't spill the beans on who it is as I'm sure he'll be announcing it shortly, but if you are a fan of Enterprise Library, you'll be very pleased.  I know I am.

So, put away the shovel as SourceForge isn't going anywhere, but stay tuned for some great stuff that'll make CodePlex even more useful to our developers.  Of course, if you want to come over from SourceForge, we don't have a problem with that either. 😉

{Velvet Revolver - Contraband}

Comments (1)

  1. Without competition there would be no improvement on products. Companies would get comfortable delivering the bare minimum, and there would be no innovation. The constant market swing from product a to b and back is very good for the economy and consumers in general.

    That being said…Microsoft doesn’t seem to set the precedent of innovation. Instead, they seem to ride the coat tails of innovators, then buy them out or make their own attempt at the same concept.

    In fact, the very ROOT of Microsoft as a company can be argued pretty vehemontly at any geek dinner table.

    Who are we kidding here? People put new products out there to take out their competition.

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