Ask LH: Where's The Best Place For Me To Share My Programming Projects?

Dear Lifehacker, I'm in search of somewhere where I can share the apps I've been programming, and somewhere where I can get advice and tips for features and feedback. I'm a new programmer (haven't left school yet), self-taught and only do it as a hobby. Is there such a place where my ideas and application won't get stolen? Thanks, Walking Again

Dear Walking Again,

Before we get to options for sharing your applications, it's worth touching on your issue concerning stealing. We've made the point several times at Lifehacker that it's really hard to come up with an original idea. More importantly, putting too much emphasis on guarding your ideas means that no-one else is ever likely to notice them in the first place. Good ideas are only part of the battle -- execution is much more difficult -- and going into programming with the view that you're going to be offering something unique that no-one else could come up with is, quite honestly, not the optimal approach.

That's a worthwhile point to make in its own right, but it's also relevant because for a beginning programmer, many of the best places for sharing programs (and seeking assistance) adopt an open source ethos, which means that not only will you be sharing your ideas, you'll be sharing your source code. The trade-off is that you'll get access to the advice and ideas of others, and potentially see your concept adopted on platforms you hadn't even considered. You'll also have more chance of gaining an audience.

There's an enormous number of open source software hosting environments; Wikipedia has a handy and exhaustive list of all the options. Your choice may well be influenced by the programming and revision control technologies you favour; if, for instance, the Git revision control system used by Linux, then GitHub is a popular choice.

That's not to say it's the only way to do it. You can easily set up your own blog or host your own site, and use file-sharing sites as an easy way to offer downloads of your work. For a beginner, I'd still argue that working in an existing community (and perhaps helping out on existing projects before launching your own) makes more sense, but the beauty of the internet is that there's usually more than one way to approach a problem. (And if readers have additional suggestions, we'd love to hear them in the comments.)

Cheers Lifehacker

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Comments

    Github. That is all.

    Don't worry, noone will steal your code, especially if you're only hacking on things as a hobby. And if they do, who cares? Unless you've got a web app fully baked & ready to ship, there's nothing worth stealing.

    If you're worried about someone stealing your idea, forget about it. Someone's already tried it anyway.

    I'm quite partial to Assembla, mostly because it has free for private / non-open source hosting. For minor projects it's great. Plus it supports Mercurial which is my current SCM of choice. If you want free TFS hosting it's hard to go past CodePlex but you have to keep in mind the privacy trade-offs.

    I'd say go for your own site. Getting started is dead simple. Sign up for a web host (I use Dreamhost, it's a few dollars a month for unlimited everything) and use their 1-Click install system to install a good CMS (I use Concrete5. Best CMS ever in my opinion). Host your applications there. You control who has access to the downloads, what versions are available, etc.. Also good for pushing updates, as C# and VB.NET let you specify a location to look for new versions. Point it to yoursite.com/version/latest/yourapp.exe and you're done.

    And as Angus said, don't worry about people stealing your ideas. The old line "Do one thing and do it well" comes into play here. If you want to sell your application, people won't buy it if there's a better (or cheaper) alternative available. Price reasonably, work with customers to find out what they want and most of all, have fun.

    To the previous commenters. I think he is more looking for a place to get feedback on ideas, and advice on source code.

    If you are looking for this information, and are genuine. I would be more than happy to send you an invite to forrst.com.

    I would also like to point out that while many programmers worry about their intellectual property, by the time you get big enough to make people want to copy you, hopefully you are making enough to challange copyright in court. Piracy is a problem, but often people who pirate your program wouldnt buy it anyway, and lastly, dont forget that many IDEs provide ways for you to obfuscate your code, which helps provide protection from many small time players out there.

    Also, it depends on your application type as well. For game programming for instance, sharing and learning via something like XNA is a good start, there are communities for just about everything out there!

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