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I'm finishing up a personal project in which I've implemented a library that I expect others may want to use. Without going into too much detail, the library provides a cross-platform interface for parsing a particular type of file, where none had existed before (at least in this language). The project was fun and rewarding in itself, but I think it would be a shame if it were never considered by other developers due to ignorance.

How can I appropriately spread the word about this library?

My current plan is to:

  • Host a webpage with source, documentation, usage, and/or samples
  • Respond to SO questions asking the question "where is this tool?"
  • Contact a few key members of the related field and give them a heads up

Do you think these steps are reasonable? What else might you do yourself?

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4  
Not here. Not an announcement cloaked as a question. It's been tried. It's objectionable. –  S.Lott May 5 '11 at 9:59
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This is similar to How to promote an open-source project?, but it's not a duplicate. This question asks how to promote an already completed work in hopes it might be useful to others; the earlier question asks how to promote a project just getting started in order to get help. Also related: How do I get people to contribute ideas for my .NET library? which asks how to get feedback on a finished open-source project. –  user8 May 5 '11 at 10:21
    
freshmeat.net is a good aggregator that you should post an entry on. –  Jarrod Roberson May 5 '11 at 15:55
    
Have you found a way to identify your library's potential users? Who will be interested in parsing that particular type of file? –  rwong May 6 '11 at 6:03

4 Answers 4

Don't bother with a webpage yourself, stick it up on github. Source control + wiki + issue tracking for free = win (forking 'n stuff as an extra bonus).

If you build it (and name it appropriately for the search engines), they will come. If there's a need, people will find the github page for your project through their search engines. Contacting key members in the related field will definitely help - they'll be sure to put out the word as well.

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Are there any well-loitered mailing lists pertaining to this language or file format? It's been my experience that free and open source projects tend to communicate via GNU mailman lists more than any other way. For languages, I'd hit up the Usenet groups if they exist.

And I totally agree with using GitHub for hosting. They have the tools that you'll want to take advantage of and just about everybody is familiar with it.

Other than that, I'd say keep hacking on it and get the word out about updates regularly. Active projects catch users' eyes, so if you're incrementing a release number let the world know. Monthly (or even weekly) announcements about a useful project are certainly under the flood limits for any community.

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What I did for a library I developed was pretty much what you suggested:

  • put it up on SourceForge (GitHub or Google Code seem equally valid choices today)
  • add messages to every forum/bug tracker/whatever I could find where people had issues with this (a specific character encoding). This was before SO, but yes, start here.

This worked pretty well. The library is downloaded as often as can be expected (or more often to be honest, I didn't know so many people needed it), and I received positive responses to my messages.

If there is any official source for this file format, you may want to contact them first, so you can have some sort of sanity check/review and avoid negative responses. It's hard to overcome a bad first impression.

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Collaborate with other open source projects. Find if it makes sense to do some integration, so that both projects benefit: this will put you on a radar of users of those projects.

Blog about your project. It will lead traffic to your blog and subsequently to github / google code / whichever repository you're using.

Give a talk about it (or give a more general talk and mention it).

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Consider bindings for multiple programming languages and platforms. It opens up your library to a wider audience. –  rwong May 6 '11 at 6:08

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