Showing how social networking was a hot trend in 2010, open-source project Diaspora topped Black Duck’s third annual “Rookies of the Year” list, which distinguishes the most “buzz-worthy” open-source projects started last year.

After evaluating project popularity based on the number of developers involved, project activity (such as the number of times code is committed to a project), and the number of websites linked to a project, Diaspora, a privacy-sensitive and personally controlled social network, was the clear No. 1 project, said Philip Marshall, senior product marketing manager at Black Duck.

“With over 900 in-bound links, it was a clear indication this project had a lot of buzz,” he added. “And quite frankly, no matter how we cut the data…Diaspora came out glowing each and every time.”

A social network project topping the list is not surprising, just affirmative that social networking and collaboration are continuing trends, said Peter Vescuso, executive vice president of marketing and business at Black Duck.

Aside from recognizing up-and-coming projects, which is mainly done for fun, the list also showed continued cloud-based development and movement into enterprises by open-source software.

Thirty percent of the new projects (OpenStack, OpenStack Nova and ownCloud) are cloud-related, Marshall said. OpenStack and OpenStack Nova use the Apache 2.0 license, while ownCloud uses the Affero Public License.

This type of license ensures that if a project is hosted, any enhancement made to it is given back to the network community, Vescuso explained. “The AGPL license has been around a long time and is growing in popularity, but we’re surprised to see it jump up to be [used in] 30% of the top 10. And I think it’s indicative to the growth of the cloud.”

Additionally, rookies Activiti BPM Platform and VoltDB are heavy business and data applications, which shows an uptick in the use of open-source software for the enterprise, Marshall said. “This indicates that open source has clearly moved into the enterprise space.”

Although not a focus of the analysis, data also revealed a shift toward GitHub and away from the SourceForge repository. Sixty-nine of the top 200 new projects used GitHub, while 14 used SourceForge. Vescuso reasoned that GitHub’s support for easy, distributed development and lack of overhead are the top two reasons for this change.

To find all this data, Black Duck spiders the Internet for open-source code and adds it to its KnowledgeBase repository of more than 350,000 open-source projects, up from 230,000 last year.

For its 2010 rookies list, Marshall estimated that the company chose from approximately 40,000 new projects, up from 19,000 in 2009 and 17,000 in 2008.

The Black Duck Rookies of the Year for 2010
1. Diaspora – A privacy-sensitive, personally controlled, open-source social network
2. OpenStack – Open-source cloud computing software for building cloud infrastructures
3. Cloud9IDE – An integrated development environment aims to bring features from other existing IDEs and source code editors like Eclipse, NetBeans, TextMate and others together, bundled as plugins
4. OpenStack Nova – A cloud-computing fabric controller (the main, middleware part of an IaaS system). It is written in Python, using the Twisted and Eventlet frameworks, and relies on the standard AMQP messaging protocol
5. NuGet – A free, open-source, developer-focused package management system for the .NET platform for simplifying the incorporation of third-party libraries into a .NET application during development
6. Activiti BPM Platform – A business process management and workflow system targeted at businesspeople, developers and system admins. Its core is a BPMN2 process engine for Java. Activiti runs in a Java application, on a server, on a cluster or in the cloud
7. SparkleShare – A file-sharing and collaboration tool. It allows for instant syncing with any Git. Though SparkleShare is not made to be a graphical front end for Git or a backup tool, it may be useful for other kinds of purposes, like backing up small files or monitoring projects
8. VoltDB – A fast, scalable, open-source online transaction processing ACID database. It is an alternative to NoSQL key-value stores and database sharing
9. RapidFTR – RapidFTR is a mobile application that lets aid workers collect, sort and share information about children in emergency situations. It allows for quick input of essential data about a child on a mobile phone, including a photograph, the child’s age, family, health status and location information. Data is saved automatically and uploaded to a central database whenever network access becomes available. Registered aid workers will be able to create and modify entries for children in their care as well as search all existing records in order to help distressed parents find information about their missing children
10. ownCloud – An open, personal cloud that runs on personal servers. It enables accessing and sharing data from customers’ own devices, and supports automatic backups, versioning and encryption