Google replaces its Code service with new cloud-hosted git repository

Google's Cloud Source Repositories allows users to manage their private git repositories for their own projects.

Image: Google

Google has quietly launched the beta of Cloud Source Repositories, a git version control platform, as a competitor to the well-entrenched GitHub and Bitbucket services that dominate this space for public, open-source projects, and private repositories. Additionally, this new offering from Google matches up against Amazon's competing CodeCommit service, which was introduced in November 2014.

The beta launch of Cloud Source Repositories offers a free 500 MB of project storage, which is somewhat small in comparison to GitHub's loose policy of "If your repository exceeds 1GB, you might receive a polite email from GitHub Support requesting that you reduce the size." Git is not intended for use as a backup management system, and keeping a repository free of extraneous files is generally good housekeeping, and makes it far easier when new developers join an existing project.

Google products generally have a reputation for quality in stability even in the beta phase of development. Though something could generally go wrong, any seasoned programmer would have backups in place to avoid catastrophe. The beta launch supports automated syncing with existing GitHub and Bitbucket repositories, presumably as a staging system for a transition away from those services in favor of Google's service.

Additionally, Cloud Source Repositories offers an interesting integration with the previously existing Google Cloud Debugger service, which is a particularly useful tool for live debugging Java applications without the need to add logging statements to the code. Cloud Debugger can also be used with GitHub and Bitbucket.

Why this looks familiar

Google offered a free hosting service for open-source projects (that is, not private git repositories used for closed-source operations) called Google Code from 2006 until March 2015. At the announcement of the closure of Google Code, the company noted that more competitors exist now than when the project started.

Google provided an automated system to migrate projects from Google Code to GitHub, while SourceForge has a utility to migrate data to that service (though based on recent events, it is advisable to stay away), and various solutions exist for migrating to Bitbucket.

Although signups for Google Code have closed, existing projects hosted on the service can continue to be interacted with until January 25, 2016, after which the service will transition to a read-only state for the remainder of 2016.

Google has an extensive history of abruptly discontinuing services when the need for or utility of them is thought to have diminished. The wind-down of Google Code is (compared to other product discontinuations) much slower. Organizations like GitHub and Atlassian focus exclusively on this type of activity, whereas this is not Google's core business.

Google Code and Cloud Source Repositories are not directly comparable services, though there is a substantial amount of overlap between the two. Google Code was targeted toward open-source projects and included project information hosting (wikis, etc.) and other related services, whereas this new offering is closer to a standalone git service without handling public-facing information relevant to people only using the binaries.

Additionally, this new offering makes a play for enterprise application development management, where the source code, assets, and finished binaries are privately held, proprietary products. These paying customers are what make competing services like GitHub and Bitbucket viable companies from a financial standpoint. GitHub is entering a new round of private funding, and Atlassian, the makers of Bitbucket, is expected to have an IPO in the near future.

Final thoughts

Is Google's new product offering compelling enough to warrant a migration from your current git platform host? Have you published an open-source project on Google Code only to migrate to a different service after the announcement of the closure of that project? Share your experiences in the comments section.

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