Ohloh's New Community Manager Hire a Step in Right Direction

Sara Ford brings serious open source development experience to Ohloh table

When Black Duck Software bought Ohloh.net last month from GeekNet, there was, after the initial head scratching, a general acceptance amongst the punditry that this development would ultimately be a good thing for all parties involved.

Under the acquisition, current Ohloh.net site is to be enhanced and then brought together with Black Duck's existing property Koders.com some time in the first half of 2011. The newly combined site will have features from Ohloh.net, Koders.com, and data from Black Duck's knowledge base.

Having a one-stop FOSS developer portal is never a bad thing, and a revamped and rebranded Koders.com/Ohloh.net mashup would certainly provide a lot of service to the developer community.

Today, however, we got an early indication that Black Duck is serious about making this new project succeed, when it was officially announced that Sara Ford would be Ohloh's new community/project manager.

If that name sounds familiar, you may have heard it unhappily muttered under the collective breath of some of the more... enthusiastic members of the open source community. For this is the same Sara Ford that has, until recently, worked on the front lines of Microsoft's open source efforts. (The real efforts, mind you, not that shared source malarkey they've tried to pull.) Her last gig? Community manager for the Codeplex.com site.

Codeplex.com is the actual forge/development site sponsored by Microsoft, not to be confused with the former Codeplex (now Outercurve) Foundation headed up by open source guru Paula Hunter. It does make a difference, because the missions of these two once-similarly named groups were rather different.

At Codeplex.com, Ford was responsible for bringing a lot of open source projects to the Microsoft-sponsored site. Rather than see her former employer as a detriment, one might think about the fact that if Ford could pull off positive open source moves at Microsoft, who knows what she can accomplish in a more open source friendly environment like Black Duck?

Since Ohloh is still in the enhancement stage, prior to merging with Koders.com, that's exactly what Ford is working on, capitalizing on her Agile development and open source experience to identify the areas of Ohloh that need fixing--including the addition of nearly 100 projects that have been waiting to be enlisted on the Ohloh site.

To Ford, working on a site like Ohloh is a culmination of a major goal: to "work on a true community-oriented site where code would be the common language," she told me.

Regarding the changes to Ohloh that are sure to be inevitable in the merger with Koders.com, Ford repeatedly emphasized that her task will be to keep all such changes as transparent as possible. While you can never get every one to like every change, at least there will be no surprises under Ford's watch.

This is definitely a positive move for Black Duck, because Ford has serious open source developer chops--exactly what a site like Ohloh needs moving forward.

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