The README file goes back to the dawn of computing. We’re pretty sure Grace Hopper had one in a filing cabinet, right next to a folder marked “Bug”. It is a time-honored tradition: developers pour their heart and soul into a README file and users promptly ignore them. We probably can’t do anything about that here at SourceForge, but we can try.
Our beta files page just got a little smarter. It now displays a folder’s README file below that folder’s file listing. We do love the simplicity of plain text, so any text file with “readme” (case doesn’t matter) in the filename will be displayed. To be sure, we support all sorts of whiz-bang stuff, such as using Markdown or Textile to make installation instructions, usage notes, and other words of wisdom easier on the eyes. For more details, check out the official documentation.
Some might think, “Hey, that sounds like what GitHub does.” Correct! In fact, it’s exactly what GitHub does with their Markup library. See, a while back, GitHub snuck into our offices and borrowed our README idea and our time machine. Some time in the future, they’re going to copy our Python port of Markup, use our time machine to go back, create their original Markup library in Ruby, and then borrow our README idea and our time machine. Damn you causality!
In all seriousness, kudos to the GitHub team for putting their code out there. Open source wins again. We’re looking forward to the day when the beta files page becomes the files page and supporting READMEs is another step in that direction.