Metrics are always fun, but are they useful for anything? What do these Ohloh metrics tell us?
Great question. I hope to write an article on this very topic soon. The short answer is that Ohloh was created to provide transparency into the software development process behind Open Source Software. This grew out of a consistent need I found myself having when I had to evaluate which piece of software to use/integrate into my own applications. I often found myself with basic questions like:
How well maintained is this project? How many developers are contributing, how often, how much, etc....
How big of a project is this? Some smaller libraries are sometimes more of a pain to integrate than they are to just write yourself.
Which of these competing projects should I choose? By looking at the amount of activity in competing projects, one can sometimes see that a smaller project has a much stronger curve/trajectory than established or larger projects.
What languages is this written in? Using Open Source Software today usually means getting your hands dirty to some extent. When choosing a library/application to integrate, it's pretty critical to ensure that you'll be able to at least understand some basics behind it before moving forward. I don't know python that well so I tend to choose alternatives in other languages sometimes.
What's the licensing status of a project? When you integrate OSS into your app, you assume some legal liabilities associated with that software. Even if the software claims to be MIT or BSD license, some codebases contain snippets of other licenses -- which can be a red flag.
There's some more questions that Ohloh helps answer, but at this point I figure I'll save em for the article ;-).
Hope this helps,
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