Koders.com has apparently indexed many open source software projects. (Link via Dion.) I played around with it a bit and I think it’s a very slick application. I’m of two minds about this, though.

The good:

Code reuse is good. A co-worker of mine once called it ‘editor inheritance’–in a world where people time is expensive and disk space is cheap, it can make sense (not always) to just copy code rather than figure out how to make a piece of code re-usable. Koders lets you do this in a more effective way.

It also lets coders easily compare and contrast styles between real live projects. And I can only imagine that soon some researcher will sink his teeth into all the code and publish on First Monday.

The bad:

As the linux-SCO lawsuits have shown, it’s technically awfully easy to cut and paste code, but the results end up being illegal. I can only see this repository, even though it differentiates by license, exacerbating this problem. And mixing and matching code from different licenses becomes all the easier as they show up side by side in a search engine. If I were a company concerned with legal ramifications, I’d tread softly around this tool.

The possibilities:

Regardless, I have to say it’s a very cool application. I’ll be interested to find out how much people will use it. What would be really cool is further analysis–after all google gets its power from the links between websites–what would we learn by examining the links between code? For one, you’d have a better idea how useful and stable a project is, if you could know how many other projects used it. Having a plugin into a UML modelling tool would be pretty slick too.

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