You know about SourceForge and other open source project repositories. Recently, Google took the surprising step of creating its own open source project hosting service. If you want to find out more about what this service can offer you, keep reading.
This brings me to the final tab I'm going to discuss, the one labeled "administer." Double click on that tab, and you'll see a screen shot rather like this:
Again, I had to chop a little bit. This page actually scrolls vertically on my computer, so let me start by explaining what you see here. You should recognize the Project Metadata section as being all about the items you entered earlier to create the project in the first place. Here you can update that information. At the bottom of the page, there's a button to click labeled "Save Changes." I've included the second half of this screen shot below.
As you can see, you can add links that relate to your project, Google discussion groups, and project blogs. Google automatically fills in the activity notification with the project administrator's email address (I took mine out for the screen shot).
Okay, you're probably wondering about those links in the previous screen shot labeled Project Summary, Project Members, Issue Tracking, and Advanced. These last two screen shots were from the Project Summary page. I'll explain the Advanced link next, since that's easiest. It takes you to a page labeled Project Publishing Options; in my case, there was just a big button on that page labeled "Delete Project." It schedules the project for deletion. If you click on it, you get a pop-up window that asks "Are you sure?"
The Project Members link takes you to a page with two text boxes, one for Project Owners and one for Project Members. My name was already in the Project Owners text box. Here are Google's instructions concerning this page: "Specify each project member by his or her Gmail account username. Separate usernames with commas and/or new lines. Note: Project Owners may make any change to this project. Project Members may use the project, but may not reconfigure it."
This finally brings me to the Issue Tracking link. That's going to require a screen shot or two:
As you can see, Google strongly believes in giving guidelines; this should help you keep your issues defined in ways that make them easier to deal with. Here's the second screen shot, which overlaps the first:
Google does include some minimal directions at each text box to explain how to handle the issue tracking.
So How Does it Measure Up?
I'm not going to claim I can give a fair judgment of Google's Project Hosting service. I can say that the interface was clean and easy to navigate, and for the most part, easy to understand even for a non-programmer. That can be significant if you use anyone who doesn't primarily program on your project, like beta testers or documentation writers. On the other hand, critics of Google Project Hosting complain that it doesn't have many of the features available in competing technologies. For example, you can apparently only offer one release at a time for each title, and the communications backend isn't as well-established as with other project hosting sites.
Google's FAQ about Project Hosting still needs updating, too; the question "Why are you releasing code through SourceForge?" no longer applies, for openers. It's not without other issues, either; some users reported problems moving their SourceForge projects to Google. The search engine reserved all SourceForge project names to prevent name squatting, but a number of SF project admins who tried to give themselves (as Google Code project admins) permission to use the SF name found the mechanism didn't work.
Overall, however, many users and observers seem to think this is a good first start, though some wonder why Google is dabbling in this particular area. Ryan Paul of Ars Technica sums it up rather well: "Right now, Google's new source code hosting service is an island, but properly integrated with GMail, Google Groups, Google Talk, and other relevant services (I can already imagine Google Checkout being used in an elaborate payment system for open source code bounties), the new hosting offering could become a force to be reckoned with. At the present time, however, the system still has a long way to go."