July 6, 2005 8:27 AM PDT

Site offers open-source clearinghouse

Start-up SourceLabs has launched a Web site that draws on the latest collaboration and syndication tools to create a sort of owner's manual for open-source software.

Called Swik, the site combines a search engine, a wiki for posting documentation and reviews, and information-sharing tools that use Really Simple Syndication, or RSS. The site was launched Wednesday.

Swik is aimed at people, notably software developers, who seek a listing of open-source products and a communications hub to help navigate through the tens of thousands of projects out there.


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"Users can participate in the open-source revolution by joining and making great documentation for open-source software, which is one area a lot of people lament is poor," said Alex Bosworth, a program manager at SourceLabs and author of the Swik program.

Last fall, SourceLabs hired Bosworth, whose father is well-known software engineer Adam Bosworth, to build Swik. SourceLabs, which was launched last year, provides subscription services to corporate customers that use open-source software to run business applications. The company counts former Microsoft executive Brad Silverberg as an investor.

By providing automated alerts to foster community, SourceLabs hopes to raise its profile among open-source participants and make the software more accessible.

"We're hoping it helps drive adoption of open source," Bosworth said. "A major problem people are having with open source out there is that the they don't know the facts of which are the best projects and which have the best community."

With Swik, people can post information on different open-source products and subscribe to RSS alerts on areas of interest.

For example, a person interested in AJAX-style Web development could find a number of open-source AJAX tools that already exist. The person could submit or subscribe to RSS feeds that notify subscribers of related information, such as news feeds, mailing lists and blogs.

Swik is different from the wikis that many open-source projects already have, according to company executives, because it can be used to collect information on a series of related technologies, as opposed to just a single product.

Bosworth said he intends to continue working on the Swik software, which is written in PHP, and participate in populating the database of projects, as well as moderating posts by other people. About 100 projects are included in the catalog now.

Although Swik is geared at developers and end users, Bosworth said the information-sharing tools the software provides can be applied generally. "We want it to be a useful resource for anyone using open source," he said.

 

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