MTJ Hax

free subversion hosting

Posted in web hosting by mtjhax on December 6, 2009

I have been trying out different Subversion hosting services lately, including ProjectLocker, Unfuddle, and XP-Dev. Here’s a quick critique.

ProjectLocker

ProjectLocker offers the most service for each price level by a wide margin. Even free accounts include 500 gigs, 5 users, unlimited repositories, unlimited bandwidth, and SSL access. Extremely generous compared to their competition. To some extent they are just a thin wrapper on top of Subversion, Git, and Trac but I consider that a good thing–I don’t really need my fancy XP/Agile tracking and collaboration tools on the same web site as my source control–I have things like PivotalTracker and Rally for that. Their site looks slightly clunky and old-school (like a pre-Web 2.0 site that got a quickie Arial Rounded makeover) but it works well and gets the job done.

My only gripe with ProjectLocker is the frequency and duration of their scheduled maintenance outages. Your mileage may vary, but I’ve only been using them about three months and already had my repositories offline for extended periods twice–they just finished a 42-hour scheduled maintenance (which is why I’m wasting time blogging instead of working), and about a month ago they did an 18-hour maintenance. I have no idea what they could be doing in all that time–in 42 hours you could build new servers from the ground up starting with nothing but a credit card, a TigerDirect catalog, and FedEx. If I had a $30/month account with them, this would be a real deal-breaker. As a free user I have to admit I’m getting an amazingly sweet deal though.

XP-Dev

I don’t have a lot of experience using XP-Dev. I started a project there and five minutes later there appeared to be an unplanned outage and I couldn’t get to my repository. To their credit, it was fixed minutes after I informed them but my partner on that project decided to move the repo to another provider rather than risk any more downtime. XP-Dev has a pretty slick site with nice, simple tools. Subversion, Trac, nice integration features (Basecamp, FogBugz, Lighthouse, Twitter, etc.), collaboration tools (wiki, blogs, forums), and some basic XP/Agile project support–I guess the project tracking and collaboration are useful if you are doing them both on the site and already spending time there–might as well get it all done in one place. Feature-rich and reasonable pricing structures. I get the distinct impression XP-Dev is a tiny 1- or 2-person organization, which isn’t necessarily bad, but isn’t very comforting either. Despite this, I hope to try them out again soon and see how their reliability fares, at least anecdotally.

Unfuddle

Unfuddle is the third Subversion hosting service I have tried recently. So far so good in terms of reliability. Their pricing scheme seem a little stingy on the disk space side — free accounts get 200MB of space and only 1 project, and $99/month gets you only 10GB of space and 50 projects. Of course, very few people using a hosted solution actually need more than 10 gigs and 50 projects, but I wouldn’t describe it as “enterprise” space. The site is slick and pleasant to use. I haven’t had the chance to try out the site tools much yet–they have some relatively simple milestone-based project tracking, messages and “notebooks”, and a nice dashboard feature that lets you know various things that are going on with the project.

Conclusion?

The problem with the value-added features of all of these sites is that they don’t seem robust enough to convert me from just opening a browser tab to a more fully-featured alternatives. For example, I’m really liking PivotalTracker for project tracking — full-featured Agile support with a super-slick, interactive interface that keeps things simple and saves time.

I don’t have a clear winner yet, but I have definitely concluded that reliability and uptime (whether scheduled or unscheduled) are the most important features–everything else is pointless if I’m trying to get work done and can’t get into my repository.

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