What does the Google Code shutdown mean for other services?

My brother lives in Provo, Utah, one of the few cities in the country fortunate enough to have Google Fiber service.  And they are truly fortunate; he describes it as awesome and amazing, the kind of Internet service everyone should have.  But the thing is… it’s from Google.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Google.  But I’m starting to wonder how much I can trust them as, once again, they’ve demonstrated their shifting attitude towards engineering by announcing the shutdown of a highly useful service, Google Code.

I’ve had some time to think about it since it was announced, but the more I think, the less I like it.  To begin with, their stated reason for shutting down doesn’t even pass the laugh test.  I mean… they claim that Github provides a better code hosting site?  Seriously?!?

Let’s see.  First off… it’s a Git hub, and that’s bad enough in and of itself.  But even if for some strange reason you actually enjoy that model, Github is a terrible implementation of it.  Viewing the commit history of a project or a file–a trivial task on both Google Code and Bitbucket–doesn’t appear to even exist anywhere in the Github interface! (Yes, I know there is a way to do it, but it’s not the least bit discoverable.) Navigating to the front page of the project takes you to the root of the repository hierarchy, instead of something reasonable such as, oh, I dunno, a front page for the project maybe?  They claim to have SVN support, but it crashes and burns whenever you try to do trivial things like add an ignore from TortoiseSVN or switch from one branch to another. And so on. Google saying GitHub is “a better system” is a bad joke, from the perspective of someone who’s used both.

No, this really does feel like they got bored with the project and now they’re abandoning it, and if some of the users end up getting screwed over, oh well. And it’s not the first time they’ve done this. So why should we think it will be the last?  That kinda worries me, because a project like Google Fiber, when they get tired of it, wouldn’t just be abandoned; it’s got a ton of infrastructure and would definitely be sold off to someone.  And if a company like Comcast, AT&T or Verizon were to get their hands on it, that would be bad for Internet users everywhere, and almost a tragedy for my brother!

What do you think?  Does Google’s long-established habit of abandoning projects foreshadow bad times ahead for Google Fiber customers?


  1. J Demartino says:

    Honestly I never liked Google Code. Found it less intuitive to navigate. Github isn’t perfect, but I think it is worlds better.

  2. KMorwath says:

    Never trust free services from Google (and anybody else). They are setup to investigate if the owner can have any advantage. Google is not a charity, and it will kill any service which doesn’t bring in anything useful. Lean on anything “free”, and you’re bound to the whims of whoever gives it to you.
    Look also at what is happening in the open source software area: as soon as new, younger project maintainers and developers “educated” since childhood to *hate Microsoft and Windows* for no real reason but “religious belief” (or they really can’t code properly for Windows, maybe), more and more projects don’t really support Windows anymore. Git is one of this, its Windows implementation is laughable.

  3. While I prefer using a proper tool for using git and not so much using the web UI I guess you just missed it. Viewing the history of a project or individual files in GitHub is just a matter of clicking on the history or commit button.

    Here is the history of DUnitX https://github.com/VSoftTechnologies/DUnitX/commits/master (clicked on “commits” in the project overview)
    And here is the history of DUnitX.Framework.pas https://github.com/VSoftTechnologies/DUnitX/commits/master/DUnitX.TestFramework.pas (clicked on history while watching the file that I clicked in the project overview)

    It cannot be much simpler imo. I agree though when you say that the commit overview is a bit space wasting and could be a bit more compact – but that is where a good GIT client (I suggest SourceTree 1.5.2 – don’t upgrade to 1.6.x because it sucks)

    Also it’s not githubs fault when people put all their source into the root directory of their repository and thus you have to scroll down a mile to get to the readme. However I am not sure if it is possible in the project options to configure the main landing page of a project (you can do that on bitbucket!)

    • EMB says:

      I endorse this.
      But well… If they do this when Google Fiber got alternatives like Google Code has today, then it will not be THAT bad.

      Today I don’t see a reason to use Google Code to host an open source code. If you don’t like GitHub, use Bitbucket, SourceForge or anything else.

  4. Silver Warior says:

    I don’t think your brother have anything to worry about. Google definitely won’t abandon the Google Fibre service as it is bringing them money.
    Google code on the other hand didn’t bring them any money. And the main purpose of Google Code was to help Google find potentional good programmers for themselves.

    Now I haven’t really used Google Code for anything else than downloading some of the freeware tools from it but I do have some experience with Git and GitHub.
    The thing that I like the most about Git is branching. I just wish Embarcadero would go and properly integrate Git support into Delphi.
    Imagine that you can switch between experimental version and release version in Delphi just by few clicks.
    Imagine creating custom version of your application by simply merging several different branches where you have each branch for its own part of your program and each of these branches have several subbranches withc represent different code version of that specific part.
    And imagine all that implemented right into Delphi Project manager. I can’t think of of a better solution.

  5. Marjan says:

    Don’t know that I agree with your sentiments. And they don’t claim GitHub is a better site. They only say that most projects have moved off of Google Code to sites such as GitHub and BitBucket. And, quoting the article you linked, the actual reason they are closing down Google Code is:

    > After profiling non-abusive activity on Google Code, it has become clear to us that the service simply isn’t needed anymore.

    Would seem to me to be a perfectly valid reason to close it down…

  6. Eric says:

    Github main advantage is that of the first mover, in terms of service and capability, I prefer Bitbucket as well.
    Google code main advantage was a simple, non-obtrusive UI in addition to a very solid service. However it had been neglected for years, and had fallen behind, obviously the decision to end it had been made years ago.

  7. A. Bouchez says:

    I do not know if it is related to an increase of new projects in github, since last week I experiment a lot of connection failure to github.

    Almost each time I run a “git push”, some communication errors occur…

    The main web site sounds working as expected, but low-level git command line access fails!
    This is IMHO a real PITA for a Source Code Hosting system not to be able to get requests!

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