Site Quantifies Efforts of OSS Java Developers

The vast majority of Java developers who contribute their time and talent to open source software projects labor in obscurity, never getting any useful recognition for their efforts. Mark Kofman and Anton Litvinenko believe it's high time to give credit where credit is due.

The two Estonian Java jocks are the cofounders of SourceKibitzer, a one-year-old developer portal aimed specifically at Java developers working on open source projects. The portal supports the careers of coders with a "measurable reputation," as described using the site's Bio online resume. The Bio includes "achievement metrics" based on the size and quality of a developer's contributions to various open source projects. It's an independent benchmark of personal experience, demonstrated knowledge and skills.

"Today, only the top layer of contributors gets the value from their contributions," Kofman said in a phone interview from his offices in St. Petersburg, Russia. "We want all those contributors who share that same passion of contributing to open source software projects to be seen as valuable technologists. We back them up, if you like, with objective estimation of their achievements."

SourceKibitzer applies more than five million benchmark measurements to create a dynamic, self-identifying index of developer skills and programming infrastructure, Kofman said, which would be impossible to locate quickly or economically by any other means. The index is derived from work on more than 500 projects, including, Apache, Codehaus, JBoss and ObjectWeb, he added.

"We strive for the reputation, and we do it objectively," he said. "We don't do it from, you know, somebody thinks this guy is cool. It really matters what this guy has done, and we show that."

Kofman and Litvinenko are both longtime Java developers. They were undergraduates together at the University of Tartu in Estonia. They later worked at MicroLink, the largest IT solutions and services company in the Baltics.

Last week (Aug. 20), SourceKibitzer opened up its own source code, making it, as the press release puts it, "a pioneer in new generation of services which are programmed and developed by their users."

"Our community is 100 percent Java developers, our portal is written in Java, so the community has the knowledge and skills to advance the portal," Kofman explains. "So it only made sense to open the code. Now [SourceKibitzer] is much more than user-generated content or open API. We think it's the first-ever user-programmed service."

Membership in SourceKibitzer is free. Participants get access to the Bio component, links to social networks, evaluation interfaces and a newsletter.

It's still early days for the SourceKibitzer portal. It currently lists 15 to 20 developer participants, and a user base of about 500. And the Web site's English has a distinctly Eastern European accent.

"We're just staring to spread the word," Kofman admits. "But the response so far has been very good, because this is something people need. We are giving measurable value to the developers' achievements, so contractors and employers find these jewels of the open source world. What we say is, we say your name out loud; the community should know the heroes."

As an example of the stats generated, check out Kofman's and Litvinenko's own Bio pages.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at [email protected].