Other Feed Types
  • 24 Jan 2024
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Other Feed Types

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Article Summary

Although ProGet was designed from day one to support multiple types of third-party packages, it wasn’t until ProGet 3.0 that we introduced support for feed types other than NuGet. Since then, we have added quite a few packages, and we plan to add many more.

This document explains the challenges of new feed types, how we support them, and the progress on requested feed types.

Third-party package formats are not simple

We learned the hard way that many third-party package managers have an insanely complicated API that isn't only undocumented, but also requires a significant amount of reverse engineering just to understand how it might be implemented in a private repository.

This isn't a criticism per se, it's just that most of these third-party package managers were designed for community-built, free/open source packages. This use case is completely different than a private repository like ProGet, which requires things like security beyond a simple API key, connectors, replication, license validation, etc.

For us, one of the biggest challenges with these third-party package types is that we lack expertise in most third-party package formats. For example, when it comes to developer packages, we're experts in C#/. NET (we use it to build our tools), so our engineers are very familiar with all the intricacies and complexities of NuGet. We definitely don't have that expertise in Java, Python, R, Perl, Rust, Ada, COBOL or 99% of programming languages. This makes it quite difficult to learn the package managers that use these languages.

Supporting a new package format means we have to learn how those packages are used, learn the tools in the ecosystem, reverse engineer the package format, figure out the usage conventions, reverse engineer the APIs, etc. before we can even estimate how long it might take to engineer an architecture.

Partnering with our users

Given the complexity of just understanding the basics of a third-party package format, we've found that the best way to implement new feed types is to work with our users. They're usually much more familiar with these package formats than we're, so they can tell us how to use them, point us to conventions, help us discover the internals, and finally try out a proof-of-concept. The last part (the trial and error) is really important, because we don't want to release a feed type that doesn't work... and we just don't know how to test it in real-world scenarios.

Without a user partnership, it's hard to support a new feed type. So this page will mainly serve as a place where we discuss the status of various requested third-party feed types.

Status of new third-party feed types

Feel free to submit pull requests for this page or participate in the linked Q&A discussions if you have more information.

✔ Helm: Completed!

Helm feeds are available as of ProGet 5.2.

✔ Conda (Anaconda) Packages: Completed

Conda feeds are available as of ProGet v6.0.6.

✔ Alpine (APK) Packages: Completed

Alpine (APK) feeds are available as of ProGet 2023.22.

✔ CRAN (R) Packages: Completed

CRAN (R) feeds are available as of ProGet 2023.23.

📈 Terraform: some recent demand

We've had some interest in Terraform Private Registries, and the discussion is ongoing in the community forums. Please join QA#3570 to share your thoughts!

📈 Dart/Flutter/pub.dev: some demand

We've had some interest in Dart/Flutter/pub.dev packages, and the discussion is ongoing in the community forums. Please join QA#3197 on the forums to share your thoughts!

📉 WinGet: very limited demand

This is brand new from Microsoft, so there's not much demand for private feeds—but there is a discusson on the forums, so please contribute if you're interested.

📉 Rust Cargo: very limited demand

We don't really know anything about this format, but we're eager to learn! This is currently in discussion on the forums, so please contribute to the discussion if you have an interest!

📉Vagrant: very limited demand

We've had three feature requests for Vagrant over the years, but they were casual inquiries and we didn't get any more info from those users. Our general feeling is that Vagrant is kind of on the outs, and containers are probably going to replace it. Hard to say. Share your thoughts by starting a thread in our forums, and we'll link it here.

📉 Conan (C++): very limited demand

This is currently in discussion on the forums; it's a relatively new package format, and the use cases or popularity isn't clear. NuGet is already quite popular for C++ packages in Visual Studio, and Universal Packages are used frequently for in-house C++ libraries.

📉 Chef Cookbooks: very limited demand

We've had one request for Chef cookbooks (with connectors to the Chef Supermarket) to date, but we know nothing about the underlying format. Interested? Share your thoughts by starting a thread in our forums, and we'll link it here.

📉 Elixir Hex: very limited demand

We've had one request for Elixir Hex packages to date, but we know nothing about Elixir, Hex, or the underlying format. We're happy to learn though! Interested? Share your thoughts by starting a thread in our forums, and we'll link it here.

❓ PHP Composer/Packagist: Just GitHub Pointers??

We did a pretty deep dive into PHP/Composer a while back, and our conclusion was that a Composer package is really a "package “at all -- it's simply a "pointer" to a GitHub repository, and uses Git tags for versions, and seemingly other GitHub-specific features. At least, that's all we could find on Packagist and in the documentation.

If that's the case, that means Connectors (remote packages) and Private Packages are pretty much meaningless. You'd not only need to set up a private GitHub server, but you'd also need to sync the repositories.

When we investigated other package servers that claim to proxy Packagist repositories... but they don't seem to do anything more than just proxy the "pointers". You still need to go to GitHub to get the "package" version list and files. There doesn't seem any value in that.

That being said, we did this assessment without any user partners, and we know next to nothing about PHP, so it could be that we misunderstood or looked at the wrong things. Maybe they added a real package?

Since then, there haven’t been too many requests for it, and we have no idea what the level of interest is. Please add your thoughts to QA#2690 if you've got some insight.

🚫 CocoaPods: no actual interest

We've had one customer ask about this as a feature request; after some back-and-forths it turns out that one of the customer's development teams said "they might consider a private package manager", but didn't really care one ay or another.

🚫 Homebrew (MacOS): not possible

This is currently in discussion on the forums; our general take is that, in addition to there being no market, there's no Server API or Repository API. It's just Git repositories - and that would mean we'd need to develop a Git Server API, but implement the loosely-documented conventions.

🔎Go: package manager not found

We've had a few requests for these, but there doesn't seem to be a package management API. Behind the scenes, Go seems to use GitHub repositories as "packages", and if you want to privatize them, then you proxy github.org. We're not Go developers, so we could be wrong—let us know!

A few of our users simply use universal packages for Go libraries.

Other types?

These are the third-party that we know about but there are certainly more. Let us know by posting something in our forums; we can link to it from this page, and track it fairly easily.

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