Shortcomings of SourceForge

sfnetSourceforge got a make-over. A fresh coat of paint and what else? A couple of clicks aways a blog post describes in short that sf.net has changed it's looks and the front page now has more statistics. But is the frontpage really the most important place to improve upon?


A large font doesn't improve usability or add value – your content and layout does.

With respects to the people behind sf.net for the good work they've done over the years I feel there are still major issues that are so basic that I simply wouldn't consider sf.net as a place to host my projects.

But it's easy to throw stones at abstract problems – let me be specific. SourceForge devs, here's a few suggestions:

"Remember Me" broken

I'm a developer of jEdit where I take care of Mac-related issues. Being so, I follow the devel-list and at least once a week I visit the tracker to read up on issues. It seems that each time I visit I have to log in. Each time I check "Remember Me" but apparently so with no effect.

Login redirection

Related to the issue about "Remember Me" I am always redirected to "My Personal Page" upon login, not the link I came from or tried to access. This means having to click through several pages and refreshing before I can do whatever I need on the tracker.

Bad performance

I think it's a general complaint with sf.net but I am still bothered by the slow performance of the tracker. I haven't used the new tracker that much – it's certainly a better one but the general performance of the site could still be greatly improved.

If you must change the frontpage, here's a few suggestions to improve the relevance:

Global statistics

Remove them. It may be fun to watch for sf.net devs but really – what's the relevance for users? Users need something they can relate to but the numbers are unfamiliar and can't be compared to anything a regular user or dev know of. The graphical bars still doesn't give a context that seems interesting.

If you really insist on keeping this, make "Popular" the default display.

Recent releases

Consider adding user-engaging information such as "Most recent Project releases" – it would be a helpful and fun way to discover new projects and will give sf.net a feel of "being alive".

Keep "Project of the Month"

This is the primary part of the front page I find relevant.

Rename "Build"

"Build" is not a psychological trigger word for someone looking for a place to host their project. Usability is about user tendency and expectation. The word Build doesn't really say "get your open-source project hosted here for free"… it says get your project built. If the primary product was automated nightly builds, I would use the word "Build" or the like. But this really isn't the core of sf.net, is it?

SourceForge needs to catch up with the tendencies and features around the world. It seems that only recently they've waken up and discovered they are lacking behind. Depending on the preferred source version control system I would prefer Bitbucket.org or Google Code – overall simplicity wins me over regardless of the frontpage.

3 thoughts on “Shortcomings of SourceForge”

  1. Thank you!! We are always looking for constructive feedback and especially specifics! ("your site blows" is not very helpful)

    -L

  2. Little more to comment here …

    "Remember Me" broken – I can't duplicate this? What browser are you using and are you changing client machines? In secure mode, we tie sessions to IP addresses so that might cause you to lose the login.

    Login redirection – I think we've fixed this recently. We still need to preserve the page during logout though.

    Bad performance – the new tracker is a step in the right direction, we think. but yeah – we can always try to make more performance improvements, IMO.

    Global statistics – oooo. I really like the idea of adding context to these. I think this was our first try at doing some stats and graphs on the front page and we'll probably look to improve it more in the future. good ideas.

    Recent releases – ditto. very good idea. Sorta like another option in the "What is happening|releasing|popular|said today"

    again, thanks for the feedback! you're right that we're more recently waking up and trying to restore our value. we're excited about our possibilities and really we just want to add as much value to the OSS community as we can. the community deserves it.

  3. Luke, thank you for the comment…

    In regard to the "Remember Me" feature – I suspected Secure Mode doing something like that, so I stopped using it but it didn't seem to help. A friend of mine experienced the same issues but I don't know his routine. I use 2 computers. One Safari and one Firefox but I am consistent of the two choices in relation to the particular machines. It may have been fixed along with the login redirection… I havn't experienced it for some time which is nice.

    Regards
    Seph

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