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.)
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