With an abundance of free services of pretty much everything, I always wondered when would there be a free versioning service. Now I know that many people will tell me that this already existed for a long time first with Sourceforge, then with Google Code, but there is a catch, all projects there must be open source. This means that during all the development cycle, whatever you commit to the repository must be available at all times to anyone on the internet. I do not want to a target for a public lynching, so I need to clarify my position on this, I am all for open source, and I agree that one of the best ways to develop good software is through open collaboration.
However, in my position as a researcher, I do not use a versioning system just for code, I also use it as the means to collaborate in producing research documents as well, which for most academics in computer science is done using the TeX typesetting system, the files of which are, from a storage point of view, indistinguishable from programming code. In this task, the programming source code is a secondary product, and one which I honestly believe should be available at all times, since all help is appreciated in the underfunded and understaffed research projects that are the norm in academia. But the documents I write, that is, the research papers which are the main artifact of my productive process, although certainly produced for public (and free) dissemination, must not be distributed before publication, otherwise I risk being scooped by other, less morally upright, researchers. Of course it is not like my research is so cool that there are people queuing up to steal from me, but since a paper is the culmination of many months, maybe even years, of work, I like to not having to worry about this possibility.
So I was glad to have discovered yesterday this, relatively new, service called XP-Dev (linked below), which provides not only free subversion (SVN) hosting, but also a (yet to be tested by me) project management interface. The site developer says he will make money somehow without stealing code hosted in his service, and without ever charging for it (which is admirable), and I honestly hope he manages to do it. Right now I am test driving this to work collaboratively with a colleague from Aberdeen, let us see how it goes.