With JFrog, Binaries Get A Bit Of Respect, As Developers Face Open-Source Licensing Woes

Binaries, those pieces of an application that go with all that sexy code, are increasingly becoming important as documentation for how software and services are built.

It’s this documentation that is often overlooked with open-source software, according to a survey of 150 developers at Fortune 500 companies by JFrog, an Israeli company that manages binaries for developers. The survey results are a bit self-serving, but they do illustrate the state of the application-development market. Here are some highlights:

  • Sixty-five percent of developers surveyed said it’s this poor documentation and licensing that are the biggest issues when it comes to open-source software. Some of the top issues are unknown owners, legal issues, and inefficient instructions about the software. JFrog recently made it a requirement to attach a license to the open-source binaries posted on the Bintray service, its community SaaS social-based platform to distribute and serve binaries.
  • Ninety percent of developers use source control and binary repositories as their primary means of exchanging libraries and code with other developers. That means they are not using internal file sharing, disks or USBs like they once did. The world is collaborative now — developers need ways to share their binaries as much as their source code.
  • About 42 percent of the developers are using binary repository managers. That reflects how much the market has changed. JFrog representatives point out that three years ago, 90 percent of them wouldn’t have even know what it means to have an online repository.

JFrog offers services such as Bintray and Artifactory, which allows organizations to set up their own online private repositories. With these collaborative services, JFrog is trying to establish itself as the dominant platform for binaries. Their efforts have been bolstered since Google changed its policy for binary hosting, and GitHub made changes of its own when it deprecated an uploads feature that had allowed users to store arbitrary files separate from the source code hosted on GitHub. According to a spokesperson, as it existed, that feature wasn’t as high-quality as the rest of the GitHub experience, and it didn’t fit well into most user workflows.

To counter this shift, JFrog announced in April the ability to automatically migrate GitHub binaries into  its service. Since then, JFrog has witnessed a 140 percent growth in new registrations. When Google Code announced it was closing binary support, registrations also jumped.

The reality is, Google excels in offering developer resources to help developers build apps through a rich set of services and APIs. GitHub’s sweet spot is in helping developers collaborate on their code.

JFrog hopes to be the company that can be an equally important collaborative platform for binaries and help ease the woes of OSS licensing.