Should there be a "codeforager.org"?
(pictures in the blog are from Grenoble, France, where I spent last week helping some folks with NetBeans module projects)
A few months ago, I had an idea to write a newsreader plugin for NetBeans. So I looked around for a handy JavaMail NNTP provider. There was one out there, part of a project called Knife, which pointed me at ClasspathX, where I downloaded the sources, tried to build it (building Java with Make...ick), found I needed another library...which needed another library...and the whole thing seemed to be set up to cause maximum pain to anyone trying to just build with a standard Sun JDK - after all, I wasn't setting out to redistribute, just to test my code.
Anyway, distractions leading to distractions, I remembered that a defunct Mozilla project, Grendel, contained an NNTP provider - and plus it would be semi-license compatible with NetBeans.
So I checked out the source for Grendel, and put some work into splitting out the NNTP pieces. It's old code (pre-Collections), but basically sound, and written by some fairly respectable folks like Jamie Zawinski.
So in my spare time, I've got it working, added support for posting, written a ton of JUnit tests for it. Not finished, but I'd like to contribute it somewhere.
But the point is - how many other dead projects, open or closed source, out there, contain good code, if it were just librarified? I'd love to see a site for such things, and encouraging people to do this sort of task, providing guidelines and a place for them to live. The guts and glory might be in writing something from scratch - most developers prefer to, for better or worse. But there would be tremendous value in "liberating" some of the nifty and valuable things that are out there.
Who wouldn't want to work in an office with this view?!