Showing some love to binaries

Documentation and licensing biggest open source challenges, says JFrog

Chris Mayer

The Israeli startup find some supporting evidence for their binary service Bintray in new survey, but also bigger challenges along the road.

Poor documentation and licensing are the biggest challenge developers face when it comes to working with open source software, a survey has found.

Israeli startup JFrog, best known for open source repository manager Artifactory, found that 65% of developers from over 150 Fortune 500 companies cited the two areas as the biggest burdens. JFrog believe that this finding means developers often fear that “the OSS they’re using is unreliable” despite technological advances.

Other bugbears quoted by developers include the reliability and performance of the distribution platform (25%) and last minute code changes (57%). The most time consuming non-development task was waiting for feedback (27%), followed by issue and task tracking (18%).

The ‘Your Life as a Developer’ Survey seems to have been created purely to see if JFrog were if they were right to launch binary repository Bintray back in January. The service lets developers publish and download open source software packages, and has a heavy focus on social, allowing users to share and discover other packages in the community. The most high profile users to date are Netflix, OpenJDK, ElasticSearch and Gradle.

The report however does produce some interesting findings. For sharing libraries and code with others, 50% of those questioned use source control while 40% use binary repositories as their primary method. JFrog believe this suggests that peers are much more collaborative than they were previously.

Google Code and GitHub both ceased hosting binaries in the last year, meaning Bintray could potentially pick the mantle up from them. Yet, only 20% of respondents were active users of the now-defunct services. JFrog believe this is because Google and GitHub’s core strengths lay elsewhere. While this is undoubtedly the case, the findings might suggest a deeper meaning: that the majority of larger enterprises don’t trust online private binary repositories. Bintray’s main challenge therefore must be to get them onside.

GitHub have since changed their strategy somewhat by announcing Releases, a rethinking of the shipping process. Previously, GitHub deprecated the uploads feature as the feature wasn’t as high-quality as the rest of the GitHub experience, according to a company spokesperson. This might give Bintray some competition.

Since going public in April , the stats are encouraging for Bintray, with 5,814 members hosting over 65,000 software packages on the service. The pickup rate since Google Code stopped support is particularly encouraging, with 250% growth in registration in the two weeks following the announcement. The introduction of automatic GitHub migration was also responsible for an increase in uptake.

“This is a pretty significant jump for Bintray that we believe correlates directly with the news from Google and GitHub. It also highlights that there’s a market need and we can expect more growth.” the JFrog report states.

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