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Theme fund: NGI0 Discovery
Start: 2019-12
End: 2022-10
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Services + Applications


Federation for software collaboration tools

When you are searching for new software to use, you will have to visit many different software forges - like Gitlab, Codeberg or Sourcehut. There isn't really a tool to search for anything across the boundaries of these different software forges.

ForgeFed aims to define a vocabulary and a protocol for decentralized communication and federation of websites used for hosting and collaboration on version control repositories, issue tracking and project management. Typical such websites are code forges such as GitLab and Gitea instances (and centralized services like github), but the idea also applies to applications like collaborative civic planning, publishing of creative writing (such as prose and poetry) and more. ForgeFed is to be designed as an extension of ActivityPub, and web apps implementing it would be joining the Fediverse. The world of repo and project hosting would switch from the centralized model of github (and the lonely disconnected websites running GitLab or Gitea etc.) into a network of federating websites, creating a global decentralized community. The project will publish a set of specifications and guides for implementing the federation protocol, and to work with existing projects and communities to refine and finalize the specifications and implement ForgeFed federation.

Why does this actually matter to end users?

To make new software, developers need to know what the latest version of a program is, what issues are still unsolved who will do what with that exciting new upgrade coming up next week. These environments are essential to software developing companies worldwide, basically containing all the work and priorities of every developer in the room. This is even more important for open source communities, where people contribute from all over the world and need to come together somewhere to make a plan, set some goals and then: do the work.

Developers can choose from all sorts of collaborative environments, also known as code forges. This project wants to extend the version control, issue tracking and project management of these code forges and create a more social, interconnected place for collaboration. This will be done by connecting these environments to the rich universe of decentralized social networking and publishing, also known as the fediverse (federated universe). Instances of for example the self-hosted social network service Mastodon and the federated photo sharing platform Pixelfed will be able to connect to the collaborative environment of you and your community, enriching the work flow with all sorts of content and comments.

Mind you, tracking issues, maintaining version control and managing a project is not only valuable for software developers: how about collaboratively publishing a book, school material, a manual? This project will break through the walls of traditional code forges and deliver technology you can use to create your own, self-hosted creative space. You can manage your project and connect to inspiring content, discussions and projects coming from other gathering places. No tracking of users, no rules set for how to collaborate, free search and discovery across a wealth of independent and connected communities.

Logo NLnet: abstract logo of four people seen from above Logo NGI Zero: letterlogo shaped like a tag

This project was funded through the NGI0 Discovery Fund, a fund established by NLnet with financial support from the European Commission's Next Generation Internet programme, under the aegis of DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology under grant agreement No 825322.