Google Code is to join the long list of Google projects that have been consigned to the dustbin of history. The open source project hosting service will no longer be accepting new project submissions as of today, will no longer be accepting updates to existing projects from August 24, and will be closed entirely on January 25, 2016.
A few recent actions by the company in the past months may have been harbingers of the closure. In December, Google moved its libphonenumber project for parsing phone numbers from Google Code to GitHub. Last month, the company released a new library for building distributed applications named grpc, and this too used GitHub, not Google Code.
Google Code was launched in 2006 as an effort to give the open source community a hosting service to thrive on. Yet the state of affairs changed drastically over the last decade, as Google explains:
Since then, we’ve seen a wide variety of better project hosting services such as GitHub and Bitbucket bloom. Many projects moved away from Google Code to those other systems. To meet developers where they are, we ourselves migrated nearly a thousand of our own open source projects from Google Code to GitHub.
As developers migrated away from Google Code, a growing share of the remaining projects were spam or abuse. Lately, the administrative load has consisted almost exclusively of abuse management. After profiling non-abusive activity on Google Code, it has become clear to us that the service simply isn’t needed anymore.
For actively maintained projects, there should be ample time to migrate to alternative platforms. Exporting to GitHub is probably easiest, as Google has an export-to-GitHub tool. SourceForge has an import-from-Google Code feature, and there are also standalone tools for migrating to Bitbucket.
The bigger problem will be the projects that are in limbo. A common feature of all open source project platforms—SourceForge, GitHub, Bitbucket, Microsoft’s CodePlex, Google Code, and every other—is that projects get abandoned. Developers get bored, busy, or feel that a piece of code is as good as it’s ever going to be. The result is lots of projects that are no longer actively maintained. This, however, does not mean that those projects are no longer useful.
Google says that it will allow tarballs of projects (including source code, issues lists, and wiki pages) to be downloaded through the end of 2016. After that, however, it seems that the projects will be no more.
The company says that the closure is due to Google Code being inundated with spam and abuse and that these problems had come to dominate the workload of administering the service. When it was launched in 2006, there were fewer good project hosting options, but with services such as GitHub and Bitbucket now available, there’s no great need for Google to have its own solution.