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Chris Cannam, 2010-09-20 11:55 AM

The code hosting problem

Assumptions found in my head

  • Audio and music research groups in institutions lack effective access to version control systems
    • This is certainly historically true of C4DM; what about other groups?
  • Researchers often want to share their code selectively with other researchers in the same field but in other institutions
    • Internal code hosting doesn't usually facilitate this
  • Individual researchers may be happy to host their code in existing public hosting services (e.g. SourceForge, Google Code), but their supervisors are likely to be less keen
    • External facilities are harder to keep track of; supervisors don't necessarily like the requirement that everything should be open source, and these facilities won't host private code

How can we test these assumptions?

If these assumptions are correct, how do we solve these problems?

We could encourage and train institutions to provide better internal code hosting facilities

For example, by providing nice recipes, templates, support etc for setting up well-featured, friendly services.

This is certainly likely to improve code development practice in an institution that has no facility at present. But it doesn't really solve the "selective sharing" problem, or help very much with the desire to move toward publication of software and reproduceable research -- unless we can also convince people to make their own internal hosting facility a public one.

Audio and music research groups typically are too small to be successfully providing their own facilities. To do this well, they really need a horizontal approach -- facilities provided to all research areas by a common CS or IT service. Some institutions (how many? which?) will have this already

  1. Encourage institutions to make better use of existing external open-source code hosting facilities
  2. Provide a middle ground, our own hosting facility that institutions can treat as internal (private projects, easily tracked, etc) but can use for public hosting when they feel able

How could we do each of these?

  1. Educate decision-makers and about the advantages of open publication,

Advantages and disadvantages of each:

  1. Takes advantage of free existing facilities, no outlay; but