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By | Ashlee Vance 20th May 2005 11:41

Open source search engine trawls free code

Koders goes FOSS hunting

A small software start-up has gone massive, releasing a search engine aimed at open source developers that can churn through 190m lines of public code.

Koders, based in Santa Monica, California, trawled through open source software repositories hosted by universities and consortiums and groups such as Apache, Mozilla, Novell Forge and SourceForge. In so doing, it collected a large chunk of existing open source projects, the language they're written in and the licenses governing their use. Developers are expected to use the search engine to identify available packages more quickly.

"The idea is that if I'm a Java developer and need to build a shopping cart for my website instead of reinventing the wheel, I can tell the search engine the type of application I want and limit my search to Java software," a spokesman said.

This type of service has become increasingly popular with other companies such as Palamida and Black Duck offering a similar premise. Palamida and Black Duck attack the problem more from a compliance angle, providing search engines and databases that churn through code looking for open source packages and their respective licenses. Both companies focus first on making sure large companies known the origins of their intellectual property (IP) and then secondarily on the developer.

Koders too might eventually go that route. In the fall, it's expected to release an enterprise product.

"Koders Enterprise Edition offers your developers and managers to search your company's internal codebase with the same ease as," the company said. "The enterprise version runs inside the firewall and integrates with all your version control systems. From your legacy code to your demo and production code, Koders lets you see and reuse your source code like never before."

The company will charge for that product but isn't saying how much just yet.

In the meantime, you can have a look at the type of information the Koders search engine brings up with this example for Hibernate and this one for an Apache server. You'll find the code itself, number of lines in the application and a vague development cost estimator that pegs the value of the software based on how many hours it would typically take to create a similar package.

The search engine, however, doesn't work as smoothly with less refined queries. Try the Java shopping cart search for instance. You don't quite find exactly what you're looking for right off the bat on that one and the information provided is less detailed.

The Koders launch seems to have slipped under the radar of the open source software crowd at large, and it will be interesting to see what the noble geeks will make of the search engine once they get their chocolate-covered fingers on it. ®

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