A software forge is a collaboration platform allowing collaborative software development over the Internet. A forge platform aggregates a set of applications with integrated Web interfaces, and generally hosts multiple independent projects. Software developers who are registered as contributors to the hosted projects can then use the various project management tools, and software development tools.
Software forges have become popular and have proved successful in allowing development of a large number of free software projects in recent years.
The term forge refers to a common prefix or suffix adopted by the various software development management systems created after the example of the SourceForge platform.
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:
- 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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