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7/6/2005
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Community Site For Open-Source Projects Launches

SourceLabs debuts a catalog of open-source projects that's meant to let developers provide the latest information to interested IT organizations.

SourceLabs on Wednesday launched an online community-based catalog of open-source projects that's meant to let developers provide the latest information to interested IT organizations.

Swik provides Wiki tools that let developers edit, update and change information on any of the projects in the SourceLabs database.

A Wiki often refers to a website that provides collaborative discussions through tools that allow visitors to quickly edit the content through simple formatting rules. Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, is an example of such a site.

In addition, updates on specific projects can be distributed through RSS. The site's search engine can also check the web for RSS feeds for projects and add them to the database. RSS, or really simple syndication, is a syndication format based on extensible markup language that has become very popular for aggregating updates to blogs and the latest news from sites.

Byron Sebastian, chief executive of Seattle-based SourceLabs, said Swik tries to give companies a one-stop shop for finding the latest information on open-source technology. Out of the estimated 96,000 ongoing open-source projects, Swik lists less than a thousand, Sebastian said. That number, however, is expected to increase significantly over time.

SourceLabs decided to launch the project after talking to companies and independent software vendors and finding that there wasn't one place they could go online to find information that could help them with their own open-source development problems.

"That seemed like a real shame to us," Sebastian said. "Projects were impeded by the lack of information for people who needed answers to questions."

SourceLabs chose to take the Wiki approach in order to provide a collaborative site that offered a meeting place open to everyone. The company does not edit the contributions, and expects the community to take care of itself.

"There's always going to be a few rogues out there, but from what we've seen, the community, for the most part, is able to moderate itself," Sebastian said, noting that all contributions are posted immediately.

Adopting the Wiki concept, which has been around for about 10 years, was also better than trying to "reinvent the wheel," Sebastian said.

SourceLabs puts together open-source software stacks for companies, and makes money providing support and services. The company works directly with customers or through consulting firms.

In launching Swik, SourceLabs believes its contributing to the advancement of open-source technology over proprietary software, while also giving back to the development community.

"It's part of being a good citizen in the open-source community, and doing our part to move the revolution forward," Sebastian said.

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