In the Open Source development community, a forge is a web-based collaborative software platform for both sharing computer applications and developing them. The term forge arose after the SourceForge platform, which was emulated and forked to such platforms as GForge and FusionForge.
For users, a forge is repository of computer applications. The purpose of a forge is to both share the source code and provide an avenue for the voluntary donations of time and money that enable software projects to move forward at their natural rate. Software forges have become popular, and have proven successful as a software development model for a large number of software projects.
For software developers it is a place to host there projects documentation, history, status and sourcecode. While the developer will depend on a software forge to integrated their web-based services and other project management needs, they will also need their own local integrated development environment.
Two different kinds of concepts are commonly referred to by the term forge:
- a service offered on a Web platform to host software development projects;
- an integrated set of software elements which produce such platforms, ready for deployment in an organization or on the Internet.
All these platforms provide similar tools helpful to software developers working in the hosted projects:
- source code management systems
- mailing-lists or forums
- software archives download services
- bug tracking system
Examples of such hosting services are:
- BerliOS (disbanded in 2014, some projects have been moved to *Joinup collaboration platform)
- Joinup collaboration platform
- GNU Savannah
- Google Code
- OATS: Open Source Assistive Technology Software
- Project Kenai : Sun Microsystems
Examples of software available to set up a forge:
- Savane (powering GNU Savannah and merged with FusionForge)
Many open source projects now use their own forges to host development of their sub-projects, and add custom quality-assurance tools in particular. Examples are:
- Alioth (Debian)
- OW2 Consortium
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