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GitHub Visualizes the Impact of Open Source

Code repository GitHub published data visualizations that show the impact of open source development on hosted projects, along with the "shape" of project activity. The visualizations emphasize the effect of teamwork, collaboration and communication that reinforce coding efforts.

With projects ranging from the many solo endeavors to some that scale above 5,000 (like Homebrew, a package manager), GitHub provided a visualization that shows as the number of project contributors increases, so does the percentage of associated activities such as comments on issues and pull requests.

These collaborative activities -- the heart of open source -- are the bedrock foundation of the code repository. "Open source embodies a model for people to work together, building something greater than they can create on their own," GitHub said in a blog post last week that highlights the social activity behind open source projects.

"As the number of contributors increases ... the fraction of activity in conversational mediums increases rapidly," GitHub said. "In fact, while the fraction of activity represented by people creating new pull requests and opening new issues remains relatively constant above ~100 total contributors, the level of activity in response to these events (issue comments, pull request review comments) continues to grow."

GitHub Project Activity
[Click on image for larger view.] GitHub Project Activity (source: GitHub)

GitHub also provided visualizations that show how the visualized "shape" of projects change over time as technologies are open sourced. For example, plotting the activity around its own Atom code editor shows a dramatic increase when it was open sourced in May 2014, after launching in August 2011.

Atom GitHub Project Activity
[Click on image for larger view.] Atom GitHub Project Activity (source: GitHub)

"An even more dramatic example of this can be seen in the activity around Roslyn, the .NET Compiler Platform which was made open source by Microsoft in 2014," GitHub said. "You can see a steep uptick in activity as the project moved from closed to open source."

Roslyn GitHub Project Activity
[Click on image for larger view.] Roslyn GitHub Project Activity (source: GitHub)

Even projects that are born open sourced, like the EmberJS JavaScript frameworks, show "a rich mixture of commits, conversation, support and review," GitHub said.

EmberJS GitHub Project Activity
[Click on image for larger view.] EmberJS GitHub Project Activity (source: GitHub)

"Clearly, open source is more than just code," GitHub said. "Successful open source projects include code and documentation contributions together with conversations about these changes. Offering a place for people to report problems, ask questions, and suggest fixes or improvements are also a core part of any project's success."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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