SourceForge vs. GitHub

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Difference between SourceForge and GitHub

SourceForge and GitHub are two database servers that store open-source code for easy access by clients across the globe. These two services are used during software development projects as a collaborative tool for software engineers everywhere. SourceForge and GitHub are especially useful as tools to create, tweak and manage open source software. They are invaluable to the present scene that requires regular upgrading and collaboration in software development. Comparing the two is not entirely an easy task. Each has one up on the other in some respect.


Code Review

GitHub allows both code hosting and code reviewing while SourceForge only allows the former. Many are of the opinion that while SourceForge is best for full-blown projects, while GitHub allows you to share code in any form. GitHub allows you to put up your code for other software developers and hackers to pick up and modify.

However, this is not necessarily a clear advantage to GitHub. Traditional players in the field also believe that “forking” of source codes lead to unnecessary trouble. Introducing XFree86 to Xorg didn't work out too well, for instance. Free software and too much collaboration between developers can lead to differences and ruptures in the creative process.

GitHub is a decentralized system, so revisions and forking are a welcome part of the developmental process. Inventiveness and creativity is encouraged to the hilt.

Secondary Benefits

GitHub allows for social networking style of functionality. There is the option of turning on feeds, for instance. Followers and networks are on graphs and can be used by developers to display their work and followers.

SourceForge, on the other hand, offers unrestricted access to hosting. It also allows free access to tools for developers. This puts it on par with its rival companies like RubyForge,, BountySource, JavaForge and so on.

A slight dampener might be the fact that for access users have to agree to a perpetual license with SourceForge. SourceForge is also not available in certain countries like Iran, Sudan, North Korea, Cuba, and Syria.

Statistical Comparison

GitHub started up in February 2008 whereas SourceForge has been around since 1999. GitHub allegedly drew over 46,000 public repositories in its first year with about 6,200 of them forked at least once and over 4,600 repositories that had used the merging facility. SourceForge, by the same year of 2009, was host to over 230,000 software projects with 2 million users. A private survey revealed that over 33 million users looked up and were drawn to the domain by August 2009.

Similarities and Differences

  • You can conclude therefore that GitHub is a much more recent service. It has an edgier, more unconventional method to it. SourceForge on the other hand has time and reliability on its side. Because it’s been around for longer, it’s also managed to get itself banned in some places.
  • The statistics, in terms of volume, support SourceForge over GitHub. But considering that GitHub launched in 2008 its growth has been tremendous.
  • Finally, the most decisive factor is the source code revision facility that GitHub allows and SourceForge does not.


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