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Assembla now offers free private Git and SVN Repository Hosting (assembla.com)
76 points by meroliph on Apr 14, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 45 comments

I could have sworn their accounts used to be free and then they took away the free accounts in 2008. http://blog.assembla.com/assemblablog/tabid/12618/bid/7019/N...

I remember because we were using assembla for some stuff and then moved away when they started charging. I guess that move didn't work too well for them.

This is a good reason not to use assembla ever again. The same thing happened to me.

I "complained" on their blog and got a fair response from their team. Here's what they said: http://blog.assembla.com/assemblablog/tabid/12618/bid/12217/...

To summarize: they didn't have a sustainable business plan and when the costs got too bit they canceled free service. They say now that they're better prepared.

Maybe they're worth giving another try?

This is why on Indefero I offer only a limited space free account (still with your own domain). The percentage of people using for free such large offers is too high. This is because you are dealing with people who know how to integrate with different services (googlegroups, wikispace, sourceforge, etc.) and can get a really nice setup for free.

From a business point of view, I definitely prefer to have less visibility but a higher percentage of paid customers. This allows me to create a product which is of high quality on the long term because I have money to do so. And in fact, discussing with my customers, they prefer it that way.

Note that the free offer of Assembla is not free, you get direct advertising when accessing your space.

But if we do small maths and we consider that Assembla has the incredible 5% conversion rate from free to paid. This means that on average they will have for 100 users:

95 x 1GB of "free data" 5 x $49 x 2.5GB of paid data

I take the 50% usage as on the long run it what my personal stats gives me.

So about 100GB of data for $245 per month. As you need a triple backup to be robust. It means 300GB of data to maintain for $245 per month.

It is possible, but the margin will be razor thin if you want to provide quality. It is a bold move, I am eager to see how it develops.

On the other hand, you offer an open-source version (which is great by the way), so it's not really a huge deal if the free version isn't that great.

Thanks for the nice comment! You are right, but this is not because of marketing grounds, this is because I would personally never use a software as as a service for my code/projects where I cannot move out of it without losing my data and workflow.

This is another subject, but for a critical part of my business, I want to always have full control over my data and workflow. By allowing people even with the free account to have their own domain and a full backup compatible with the open source (GPL) version, my customers can migrate out without even having their users noticing the change. This is my idea of freedom for SaaS.

I used assembla when they had the free private accounts, since then I moved to Unfuddle. I don't like companies that do yo-yo on their policy.

According to Andy Singleton, CEO of Assembla.com, he said:

We did offer free private workspaces in 2006-2008. We didn't have a clear business model at the time. We started out with a goal to get to know programmers who worked on distributed teams. We supported this for three years, working nights and weekends. However, it turned out that the demand increased exponentially, and our costing and admin costs were out of control. So, we had to cancel some of the free services and ask our private users to pay a small subscription fee.

This time, we have been much more careful with the business model. Some of the things that are different are: * The package is different. In this free repo package, you do not get all tools. We have many opportunities to sell our premium tools to serious projects. And, we have more and better tools to sell. * We are using affiliate sponsors - essentially advertising. We are offering cloud hosting services to our users, and we make affiliate fees when we sell them. In the future, we will offer other cloud services that you can add to your "code in the cloud." * We have a profitable subscription business that pays for our admin and support team. We only have to make sure that we have a high quality service that attracts a few more of the customers that appreciate the complete service and pay for it.

Same story here. I liked Assembla but moved away, which was costly, and I'm not going to move back now.

This is fairly worrying:

"When you go to create a space, if you do not have your own plan, you will see a field with the prompt "If another subscriber will pay for this space please, provide his email or login". Enter the information for the subscriber. We will assign the new space to the subscriber, and that person will get a note with the option to decline."

So if I don't check my mail someone could bill me for their spaces because I didn't give my disapproval. Um, I'm pretty sure I have to explicitly agree to pay for a service, not disagree to not pay for it.

All the hippies are using GitHub (me included), but with free private hosting, I'm going to try Assembla out.

Good move, Assembla.

I run Assembla, but I will say that Github is a good service, and they do a better job with code sharing and individual repositories. Assembla is more oriented toward managing teams. This is not a move to go against Github. We still offer Github as a repository tool. You can use Assembla ticketing / collaboration / team management tools, and link them to code commits on github.

Thanks for the kind words. GitHub does have an organization/teams feature currently in beta and should be released publicly within a month or two.

Interesting, given that GitHub is several years old and has a huge user base there must be something right for GitHub to have not needed a teams feature up until now. Was this a feature that users were asking for or a feature that when watching users they would very much benefit to have?

We just turned two and folks have been asking for team support since before we launched. We've never been in the habit of building features we merely think people want.

This is the only way they will get users from GitHub.

As an Assembla user I fear they are not focusing on their core product. They have some weak areas in Assembla I wish they would focus on instead of reinventing the wheel.

I have the same concern. At Assembla, we feel that we need to work on being best of breed for repositories, and ticketing / issue management. Some of the collaboration features are not at the level of single-purpose providers, but we include them and incrementally enhance them because we think it is important to get project IP in one place. So, that is the focus that we have chosen. I am sure that we can be more focused. Please send us a note if you have specific areas of concern.

The cost of github is so small that it's not really a factor.

Why the hippies? IMO, Github is a really useful tool.

By "hippies" I presume s/he meant people working on open source.

or git users

For 6 usd/month, unlimited git and svn, trac and webdav and automatic backups, I'm a happy RepositoryHosting (http://repositoryhosting.com/) user.

Came here to say this, we also use repository hosting and love them. Can't beat the price.

Have also used Unfuddle when working with other shops. Its nice too, and has some Basecamp-esque features if you want something beyond trac.

Unfuddle has been doing this for a while.

Unfuddle's free accounts only allow 1 project and 2 users. Which is a bummer, because I really liked Unfuddle's interface, but I'm not gonna commit to a monthly service until we actually have revenue. :-(

Unfuddle does a lot of things really well. $9/mo or $24/mo isn't going to break the bank.

They definitely do, and once I have > 9-24 dollars a month in cash flow I very well will consider paying for their service. :-)

And unfuddle only allocates 200mb, which is easy to hit pretty quick. Looks like assembla is offering 2gb, but none of the ticketing tools or other services... Unfuddle does those things really well on the free account.

Aint competition a grand thing? :)

I'd really love to move to Assembla but the packages are a bit strange, starts 40 users and 1 repo? I carn't see many projects having 40 users and only one project at a time, I did ask if I could sacrifice some users for repo's, we work with smaller teams so 10 repo's and 10 users but they declined.

The pay as you go is great until you realise you have to pay for each member of the team and each project, so if I work on two 'spaces' I'm classed as two separate users... it soon gets expensive

Assembla is great. The only reason that I stopped using them is because they stopped offering free services. Glad to see that it is back

Sorry, but after what they did when they closed the free private accounts some time ago, I ain't going to touch it again.

I just signed up to try it. Comprehensive but simple UI. EXCEPT, in free mode it LITERS the interface trying to get you to upgrade. I don't use much of the social features of github for private projects so it still might work and I'll just never log into the website... really annoying ads though.

As a business hacker, this reminds me that when your costs are cheap enough, a free version that your customers can use properly is the best possible advertising. Like the shareware version of Doom.

As a code hacker, I've just setup a git repository with them. They have superb help - cut-and-paste to set up your ssh key, start a git repository and push it to them. Great for learning git.

Like justinchen said they already offered free SVN and GIT hosting. Then one day they sent out newsletter saying that they're not providing free hosting anymore and that all repositories will be made public. I had to move all my projects to another repository and promised myself never to go back. I don't trust them, sorry!

We did offer free services for about 3 years. Then we had to reduce the free services because of rising hosting costs. No repositories were made public. We maintained private service for everyone for four months, and then restricted usage to read-only, for the people that didn't subscribe. So, no repositories were made public, people got three years plus another four months of free service, and the average charge for people that did subscribe was about $12 per month. If you can't afford that, you don't have a serious projects.

In this round, we have made substantial changes to the business model. Only the repository is free, so we can sell our premium ticketing, collaboration, and management tools. And, we have hosting affiliates that pay us for leads. Plus, the underlying service is profitable and supports the level of admin quality that is required.

is there any good non-commandline way of using git on windows osx and linux ?

SmartGit comes to mind, but what are you guys using ?

The only case I generally need a GUI tool is for diff and merge. Meld handles it very well for me on Linux and git supports it by default.

for mac, i like gitx, but i wish it had built-in diffing.

I might have to downgrade my Github account and move my private repositories over to Assembla.

i just got a free repository at assembla. they try to sell you a server at rackspace. if they can make some money doing that, more power to them. it's not presented in an obtrusive way. maybe that's how they will pay for free

This is great. So far I have resisted moving all of our repositories from self-hosted SVN to Github only because it's not free, and I don't see enough benefit to pay for it.

However, we could definitely use Assembla

I have a couple of open projects on Assembla. I've been very happy with their service and up time. I find Git to be an overkill for the kind of things I need, so SVN is just what I need.

Goodbye to Github. Goodbye to the private Git repo on my VPS!

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