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4/18/2011
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Defense Department Adds Social Networking To Developer Site

Forge.mil Community offers an online venue for connecting and sharing information about open source projects managed within the DoD's collaborative development site.

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The Department of Defense (DoD) IT agency has added a social networking community to its open source project site, giving military developers an online collaboration platform for sharing information and resources on projects.

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has launched the Forge.mil Community social network as part of Forge.mil, a set of online services for managing and hosting open source projects. The DoD launched Forge.mil, an exclusive site for DoD developers based on SourceForge.org, two years ago.

Developers using Forge.mil can engage in a variety of social networking activities via the new site, which was built on Drupal Commons, an open-source social software platform built on the Drupal content-management platform and supported by Acquia. The federal government already has used Drupal as the foundation for the WhiteHouse.gov site, as well as made two code donations to the project.

Developers can follow the activity of team members and community leaders via the new site, or use it to discover new sub-communities and groups that share common interests in projects. They can also share ideas, best practices, lessons learned, and other information with the entire Forge.mil community.

Integration with SoftwareForge and ProjectForge, two project management and collaborative development services available on Forge.mil, also is a feature of the community site.

SoftwareForge is a free service, while ProjectForge--which offers increased access controls--is fee-based. Both services offer project management, requirements identification, bug tracking, version control, and tools such as wikis and document repositories.

By leveraging social networking, the DoD aims to give developers working on Forge.mil a more "holistic" view of the development activity and projects hosted on the site, as well as create specific development groups focused on interests, organizations, mission areas, or specific technologies, according to a description of the community on the Forge.mil site.

The overall goal is to provide the most comprehensive set of resources possible to military developers working on the projects, and allow them to help each other and foster technology innovation by facilitating collaboration among them, the agency said.

The federal government is increasingly exploring the use of social networks inside the firewall as part of the Obama's administration's Open Government Directive, which aims to use technology to foster more transparency and engagement not only with the public but within agencies as well.

In addition to work going on within the DoD, the Department of State last year created its own internal social network modeled on Facebook to foster collaboration and even camaraderie among employees.

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