I wrote last week that GitHub is the Library of Alexandria of code. That’s not quite accurate since there are still many important open source projects hosted else where, including other repositories like Sourceforge as well as open source foundations like the Apache. Google Code Search, introduced in 2006 was meant to make it easy to search for open source code no matter where it’s stored, but Google recently pulled the plug on the service this year. The team at Black Duck hopes its recently relaunched Ohloh site will fill that gap.
Black Duck Director of Developer Marketing Dave Gruber explains that the new version of Ohloh will replace Koders, a code search engine that Black Duck has operated since before the launch of Google Code Search. Black Duck makes money through its products and services for companies that use open source, such as a code auditing service that checks to make sure that open source licenses are being followed correctly. Gruber says that while Google shut down its code search because it couldn’t monetize it, Black Duck will ultimately benefit from Ohloh’s code search by building more demand for open source.
Gruber suggests the following use cases for code search:
1. A learning tool – you can see how other people solved problems similar to yours.
2. A resource for finding open source code that you will actually use in a project.
3. As a code comparison tool.
Besides code search, Ohloh features an exhaustive directory of open source projects, complete with statistics on how often the projects are updated. Black Duck acquired the site from Geeknet (the owners of Sourceforge) in 2010.