Technology Subset

[Video] How has open source changed in the last 10 years? – Technology Subset


In the latest Octoverse report, we explored the state of open source, how it’s evolving, and key trends shaping software development. The long and short of it: It’s been a tremendously big year for open source, and we’re seeing big gains across the board.

That formed the genesis of GitHub’s Vice President of Developer Relations Martin Woodward’s presentation of the findings at Universe 2022—which you can watch in the video above (and there’s a transcript below).

Below you’ll find a transcript that’s been lightly edited for clarity. This session was one of many from our 2022 GitHub Universe. You can find more sessions on our YouTube channel.

Wow, has it started raining outside? That’s a lot more people than I was expecting for the last one of the conference. Anyway, welcome to the very last session. Thank you for coming. My name’s Martin Woodward. I work on developer relations at GitHub. Have you had a great conference so far? Has it been good?

It’s been good to be here in person. I hope you’ve learned something new, you’ve met some new people, you’ve done some networking. So, whether you’re joining us online or if you’re here in person, we’re going to get started.

So today we’re going to talk about the Octoverse report. It’s now available online on the GitHub website, so feel free to go take a look at it. The Octoverse report, you know, we do every single year to kind of really dig in and look at the data of what’s been happening on GitHub, and then by extension during sort of correlation to what’s happening in the general open source ecosystem.

So that’s what we’re going to do today. You ready? You ready for some graphs? Okay. I’m going to try and make tables look fun for you now. Okay folks, bear with me while I tap dance a little bit. Right, as Thomas was saying in his keynote yesterday, that first commit to GitHub was 15 years ago now, and we’re actually celebrating another milestone here today at Universe.

Today it’s actually my honor to wish a happy 10th birthday to the Octoverse report. Woo! All those fireworks [looking at screen]—somebody did an amazing job. Since 2012 actually, we’ve been reporting on this state of the Octoverse report. Because we are in this really privileged position of being able to see what the wider trends are, see the data coming in from open source projects, and really bring those to our customers from this unique viewpoint that we have and that we’re privileged to have here at GitHub.

One of the things that’s always been amazing to me—and I’ve been a fan of the Octoverse Report since it first came out in 2012—is just the phenomenal growth of the community on GitHub. We keep seeing the number of developers coming to GitHub just accelerating year over year.

From that first commit on the GitHub code back in 2007—October 2007—if you’d asked me back then. Like how many developers are there in the world, I’d have probably said around about 12 million. I have no idea if that’s true or not, but that’s what I used to tell people back in 2007. And I used to work in developer tools back then—like it was kind of my job to know these things.

But, you know, that’s roughly what we thought. Clearly, there’s a lot more than that. GitHub grows by more than that every single year. So, you know, there’s something interesting happening here. In fact, as Thomas mentioned yesterday, today there are over 94 million developers on GitHub—94 million! That’s just mind-boggling.

That’s an astoundingly big number. We as humans, we’re just terrible at big numbers. To try and put that into perspective, I was going to like figure out how many elephants that would take in, like the Carnegie Hall or something. But how about this? If we take the entire population of California, Texas, and Florida, and if you combine them—that’s actually less than 94 million.

This is a picture of where I live, taken from space [pointing to a map of Northern Island]. This is from the—this isn’t live. If it was live, you would just see clouds, to be honest, because I live in Northern Ireland just up there. And if you take the entire population of the UK and Ireland combined, that’s still 20 million less people than are in this picture here.

So 94 million is a lot of people, and that’s a huge responsibility for us here at GitHub and one we all feel hugely. But it’s just mind-blowing. So as I say, clearly something’s going on here or what’s happening with, you know, developers in the world. What I think’s happening is what we used to think of who could be a developer, you know, what their background is, what they do for a job, where they come from—that’s all changed dramatically in those 10 years since we first started doing the Octoverse report.

In 2012, the largest community of open source developers was in the US and kind of parts of Western Europe. There were some populations elsewhere—Asia had a big community. But broadly speaking, it was kind of those areas where we were talking about in terms of like the raw numbers.

But today if we look at numbers, we can see huge changes in terms of growth where these developers are coming from across the whole globe. And as you heard this morning in—did you check out Stormy’s keynote this morning?

Yep. As you heard this morning in Stormy keynote, we see these communities working together on open source projects, and they’re coming together for the good of the entire planet, which is amazing. So, when we take a look at the entire global population, we can see, you know, map out hotspots across the globe.

In a minute I’m going to start shouting out places. So for people in the audience from these places, feel free to give a whoop or whatever, you know, to represent your audience. And definitely online, I want people to be tweeting when they hear their country mentioned.

So you see bright spots everywhere, as you can see on this graph. We’re actually continuing to see open source is kind of helping democratize access to technology. It’s helping countries make their mark on the global stage.

One country that’s massively made its mark in the past 10 years is India. India is now truly a powerhouse of software development and software innovation. We see lots of highly regarded universities and technical colleges in India. I’m sure many of you have colleagues who work in India and are based there. And there’s this ready high-tech sort of jobs market that’s there now. This was initially driven by a lot of the GSIs, the global systems integrators, which meant that we had, you know, more and more students coming out ofthese, these technical colleges in India and taking formal computer science qualifications, taking formal IT qualifications, and then they knew there was a ready jobs market for them to go to in the industry.

And in fact, we have seen increasing investments from these large GSIs into open source over the past few years. We’re definitely seeing that. But what we’re also seeing is this new wave of entrepreneurial startups coming from India, many of them powered by open source. Naytri in the keynote yesterday talked about how we did the grants program in India and then people have taken those and built open source businesses based in India.

And we’re actually seeing this new wave of students and entrepreneurs—but the students are using open source to learn and to cut their teeth on what it’s, and what it’s really like contributing to, you know, a global technical community.

I don’t know if you’ve done your formal sort of computer science training—I actually didn’t do computer science. I did a degree in physics, so you know, what do I know? But anyway, all I know from talking to computer science folks is they all hate those group projects because you’re working great and then you go do a group project and all of a sudden you have to work with other people and that’s a nightmare.

So, these people and these students are actually using open source projects to learn what it’s really like to work in a distributed global technical community. And we see people hungry to learn and very, very keen on improvement there.

So, you know, you can forget that I used to think of the 12 million number that I used to think, you know, but at the total population. India alone now has got nearly 10 million developers working on open source. Two and a half million developers from India joined GitHub in the last year alone—two and a half million! So at that rate of growth, India could well have more developers in 2025 working on open source than actually America has today. You know, they’re catching up fast. India is on track to position itself as kind of the global leader in open source innovation as its continuing today, with all the people who are contributing.

And actually it’s not just India where we see this huge growth. If we look in LATAM, we see that Brazil continues to dominate when it comes to the total—ya, represent! I knew there be one, because there are 3 million developers in Brazil. Like that’s the number that they’ve broken through. It’s amazing!

And when it comes to this total developer population, we see that growing substantially. When we also see, as well as kind of Brazil and the powerhouse there, we’re seeing open source breaking into a lot of the Spanish-speaking LATAM countries from Argentina to Columbia to Chile, and they’re all now topping the charts in terms of people coming into open source. We saw all of these grow by a third—well over a third in some cases—just in 2022 alone.

Now then in Africa, we see Nigeria—oh, come on, I know there are people from Nigeria in the conference, right? I’m going to find you this evening. I’m going to have a word. Well, Nigeria continues to be the engine of open source and we are seeing massive growth and this amazing new group of entrepreneurial developers that are growing, that are learning.

The growth in Nigeria actually continues to be accelerating well over half a million now. See that 70% growth nearly in Nigeria? Now Morocco, who many of us have worked with Moroccan-based developers, it’s got a very large and very well established technical community. It continues to grow, but we’re seeing that getting outstripped really by this growth in Nigeria.

And then we see around Nigeria, we’ve got Kenya and Ghana. Their tech communities are growing very, very rapidly, too. In fact, it didn’t fit on my on my slide here, but just off this chart, we saw like 60% growth in Ethiopia, which is crazy. Now it’s still got a little way to go before it catches up to Ghana, but it’s rising fast at that rate and it’s fantastic.

Open source is helping bring new developers into technology. It’s helping create the next wave of entrepreneurs and businesses as well. Access to the technology though, it’s still far from equal. The exact same laptop you can walk down the street and go purchase from the Apple store—it costs a lot more in Nairobi than it does in New York. The exact same machine, and the medium incomes between those cities is, is vast. It’s not a good situation—people are paying more for technology and also bandwidth. While it’s improving rapidly, especially with cellular bandwidth, it’s still more expensive to get in a lot of these countries, it’s harder to get and it’s a lot less reliable than it needs to be.

But despite all those disadvantages, we see a huge appetite for growth and there’s just no shortage of talented developers in those countries wanting to make a difference to the world, wanting to contribute on the global stage.

In fact, we saw across the world in 2022, we saw a growth in open source contribution from every single continent on the planet except one: Antarctica

Now, Antarctica’s the bane of my life. Every year when we are organizing this conference, I talked to Adam Walden (who’s around) where I want do a thing where we have live people come from every single conference, every single continent. I want to be the person that gets sent to Antarctica. I want tobe there with penguins and talk about open source. I know I’ll make up some sort of story. It’ll be amazing. Sadly, we, uh, we haven’t done that.

But there’s always been this small population of developers in Antarctica. Now I’m a bit of a nerd if you hadn’t already noticed. And I kind of always assumed that this was like just a bug to be honest.

In our—uh, sorry, I’ll pronounce that in American: abug. Uh, a defect. How about that? An issue? Okay. I always thought that was a problem with our IPGO location databases. Like really? Antarctica? But then in 2021 to 2022, we saw a decline in total population, which I didn’t understand.

And then—now admittedly, it’s like it’s a handful, you know, there weren’t that many people in Antarctica anyway, it was just a small handful of people who were no longer in Antarctica. But I kind of can’t let problems go. So, I dug in. I had a look at what organization they were contributing to in open source. I thought, oh, that’s interesting. So, I gave them a call.

Turns out they’re on this boat in 2021 [points to the screen]. In 2021, they were part of the Australian Antarctic Program, and they’re actually in Antarctica. Like they were part the Australian Antarctic Program conducting research into krill in the seas around Antarctica.

In fact, this paper that they’ve recently published is all about measuring the abundance of krill. So on this particular rabbit hole I went on, I sort of started reading all about their research on krill. Well, it might not sound that interesting—actually, it’s really important it turns out!

According to the paper, because it’s—sorry, I’ll get back to the script in a minute. It’s about the food chain and it’s like a leading indicator of ocean health and as many of the species that are based actually, um, like the large mammals and things like that, and whales.Measuring krill population helps them detect the health of the large mammals in the sea.

So, cool research, and as you saw in the keynote this morning actually, more and more science is being done on GitHub. This mission, in many ways was, was very, very, very similar to the science missions you’ve heard about this morning from, you know, flying helicopters on Mars, taking pictures, of the earliest moments in the universe.

When you look at the deep field image [from the James Webb telescope], you are looking at back in time at the creation of the universe. They’re using the James Webb space telescope to search the habitable planets in other solar systems. All that science is happening in the open.

This team [in Antarctica] were actually analyzing raw data and—it was kind of like a DevOps way of working to be honest—they’re analyzing the data from the ship in Antarctica and they’re sharing that data in real time. See, I can pronounce data in American as well. They can take that data and share it in real time with a larger community of researchers back home in Australia and actually Japan and places. And then together they work on the data that they’re using and using GitHub and using open source, the scientists collaborate and they really kind of push the boundaries that they’re bringing the knowledge of our planet forwards.

So anyway, on a bit of a rabbit hole, sorry. If you want to know more about this mission, if you go search up the Tempo Voyage you can go read all about it. They’ve got, you know, great research— they messed my stats a little bit, if I’m honest, so I’m a bit annoyed with them.

But actually you’re never going to meet a nicer bunch of people. So, thanks. If you’re watching online for taking my phone call. I really love my job. It’s amazing the people that will answer your phone when you say you work at GitHub, it’s brilliant.

Okay? Right. So, I’m looking forward to reading more about their papers from a 2021 mission and in fact, there’s one that they’re doing—it was digging into the language of whale song.

So, while the language of whale song isn’t going to be topping the charts anytime soon, in the past 10 years—look at that for a transition. Okay. Right. In the past 10 years, we’ve seen big changes in the programming languages. I’m back to the script now, we’re good. In the changes of programming language that we see when publishing to public repositoriess on.

So, um, now if we take a look at this graph, I’m just going tonavigate you on this graph. If we take TypeScript, you can see it’s flat and then goes way up around about 2017 and then up to where it is at number four in the charts. JavaScript, number one over time, big dog. And then you’ve got Python that’s gone up and on. Does that make sense?

So, considering the amount of code that’s published to GitHub every single year, one of the remarkable things about this [graph] is actually how stable it is really. As developers, we are kind of willing to declare technology as dead quite often just because the cool kids aren’t talking about it.

And in fact, when we look at this, the only real changes you can see are C++ and PHP kind of flipped places and it happened last year. Look at that renewed growth in Shell scripting—of all things! Now it’s ahead of straight C—and it’s not because straight C’s gone down. Shell usage is going up. And you know, before the age of GitHub, C++ and C was kind of the majority of open source contribution. So, that’s a big change.

JavaScript obviously continues to dominate, you know. We’ve seen this huge rise in Python over the past 10 years. And you know, as we’ve been reporting about the programming language changes and things, we see Python getting used everywhere. We see it on, you know, data science, space science, the biggest clusters in the world on those little hackable conference badges that the cool kids got. Um, a few of those, you know—who scored on those build badges by the way? The hacker ones? Yeah. Okay. Aren’t you lucky, right? Uh, a few of them got some there.

Python, it just continues to be this, you know, this fantastic general purpose language. It’s really easy for developers to pick up. And one of the things I really love about the Python community actually is it’s got this massive, um—it’s just a really great welcoming, diverse community to get involved in. And it’s, you know, it’s just, it’s a great place for cutting edge science.

So it’s great to see Java still going strong. I actually started out my career as a Java developer. And the reason I’m standing here on this stage today is actually becauseI got involved in the early Java community. So, yeah, anyway right.

We’ve seen TypeScript, too, growing. It kind of shows the need for a more strongly typed JavaScript, especially in large teams. I’ll just do a quick funny [side story], if you can bear with me, I’ll do it. Funny story about type. I actually used to work at Microsoft with a few people, but I remember vividly the day that Amanda Silver and Anders Hejlberg came to my door and they wanted to say they wanted to release this new strongly type flavor of JavaScript.

I agreed to help them. TypeScript is—actually I created the GitHub org for Microsoft in 2014, and that TypeScript was the reason I created that org actually. But I remember, you know, when they were talking to me thinking, yeah, right, okay. You know Microsoft. Okay, sure. Yeah, that’ll never catch on, but I’ll let them do it. You know, I helped them and you know, what do I know? Hey, that shows you what I know!

Another language that has been really on the growth has been C#. And if you look at the graph, you can actually see where .NET went from a closed to an open source ecosystem by the growth in C# over the many years that we’ve been doing this Octoverse report.

And that’s how the change in open source has helped that language and that platform. And it’s had a huge impact on its popularity.

So, I’m a developer, as I mentioned. I want to dig in a bit deeper below the usual top 10 and see what the fastest growing languages of 2022 might be, and maybe who might make the list in 2023.

So, if we have a look at this—ta da! Interestingly, when we look at the number of developers—this is by the number of developers pushing changes for different languages. We see some of the cool kids here—you know, like Rust and Go and Lua, yeah, and Kotlin are on the rise.

But yeah, look at this. Super cool, kids. HCL—the number one growing language on GitHub right now is HCL. And believe it or not, Shell’s there as I mentioned. 1.1 million, up nearly a third of people. So this isn’t like pushes. This is the number of people pushing that language to open source repositories on GitHub.

Shell on the list of growth languages. In like, what year is it? 2022. I know it’s been a long week, but yeah. 2020? 2022? Something like that. So, what’s going on? What’s happening here? So, things like Terraform—they’ve been helping the rise of popularity of HCL for a while. But Shell? It’s not exactly new. You know it’s been there as long as the open source technology’s been there.

So, it kind of actually takes me to one of my top three takeaways as I read through the Octoverse report this year. We’re seeing this rise of infrastructure of code as code, of GitOps—a lot of what more traditionally had been kind of the domain of ops teams. A lot of that domain has really been coming into open source and the open source ecosystem on GitHub.

Traditionally, these groups have kind of been slower, shy. I’m trying to think of the politest term. They’ve been slower to share their changes using version control at all, to be honest. But they’ve definitely not been as active in open source. And so as more and more traditional developers in those, you know, the traditional like programming language communities like JavaScript and Java and C#, they’ve always been using open source. Some of the more operational teams haven’t really, so we see this tremendous growth in HCL usage in public repositoriess. We see growth in Shell and Go, and that all points to infrastructure-as-code teams sharing more. We’re seeing more and more people working on infrastructure as code, using GitHub to share their code with their community in the open.

Kubernetes actually was one of the fastest growing communities on GitHub. And it’s got a highly competitive field of cloud providers chasing those workloads. So you know, we’re used to seeing that. Terraform’s great if you combine it with, say, GitHub Actions for CI and CD, you can get incredibly reliable deployments, incredibly reliable infrastructure-as-code migrations and deployment.

So it’s all just helping automate, you know, deployments and things like that. In 2022, we’re actually seeing some of the best practices are these high performing DevOps teams—they’re really making it into the mainstream audience now, and it’s great to see them kind of sharing it with the open source community as a whole.

Right. That takes me to my second point, which is when I look at this year’s data, I see that once the preserve of kind of anti-establishment—you, I’ve been an open source advocate my entire life; I’ve been a big believer in open source. I owe my career to open source. We see that these anti-establishment people, you know, while we are kind of worried that when we see some of these larger companies getting involved in open source, we can actually see some of these big tech companies are actually creating some of the biggest communities that we have in open source.

Honestly, it’s not just big tech that are doing this. We see every large successful commercial software company now has an open source strategy. When we look at the top projects though by contributors—so, this is the size of the community in 2020—we see significant influence here from big tech.

If you look at it, Home Assistant, there is actually probably the clear standout. Have they been— Home Assistant, anybody? Woo! Okay. If you haven’t been down this rabbit hole yet, you are all nerds as well. Home Assistant is like home automation, you plug a Rasberry Pi in, [and it] helps connect a bunch of stuff together.

And now if you take it from me, that—especially during the pandemic—Home Assistant, home automation rabbit hole is a deep one. You’re going to be like automating everything. Lots of tinkering, lots of fun hours. I could even tell you right now what a temperature is in my office, what the air quality is, how much oil we have left, you know, it’s all good.

So the Home Assistant project, they’ve done a phenomenal job. They’ve welcomed people into the community and for a project that really doesn’t have any big tech sponsorship, um, some of the maintainers have formed a company called Nabu Casa, which sells hardware and some services around the project. But it’s still really a—it’s not big tech. It’s very much a volunteer-led community. And in terms of contribution, we see them doing really well. Right?

We see my old company, Microsoft, doing incredibly well on this. And in fact, to see so many people in their communities now, it’s a huge validation of that shift they took back in 2014 when I created the TypeScript org. Azure documentation? On the list of like one of the largest projects for any open source project? That’s not something I would’ve predicted either eight years ago if I’m honest.

We see Meta’s investments in React have had, you know, a huge impact on the open source ecosystem. Entire communities like Next.js, Material UI, and even like high-growth startups like Vercel spawning out of that investment in the React ecosystem. And for Meta’s PyTorch, it’s growing really fast. But in terms of machine learning, the TensorFlow community, which is led by Google on there—that saw massive growth in 2022 as well. And actually, speaking of Google, if you look, Flutter is at the top there. It’s an open source framework for building mobile applications cross platform. It’s amazing—really, really popular.

So, right. Oh, one last shout act actually to NixOS. It’s going strong. It’s a Linux‐based community on GitHub, mostly outside of the influence of, of like larger tech companies and things, to be honest. But it’s a project I kind of need to dig into more. Um, I haven’t played with it myself.

A lot of the people I know, like the smart folks in the configuration as code community, they’re definitely getting into it. A lot of people I respect. So that’s a project I’m going to go look at.

So, what can we learn from these numbers that we want to apply to—that businesses can apply to successful strategies when it comes to open source? When you all get back home and you wanna, you know, have a successful open source strategy.

The main lesson we see is that the communities thrive when they are part of the community they’re in. So, when companies shift their engineering teams from working behind the firewall to working outside. So, making people inside the firewall follow the same processes, the same contribution processes as everybody else in that community. By doing that, while these companies have significant engineering teams working out in the open, the level of contribution they actually see from the open source community into their project is more than tenfold what the actual number of people they have working in the open is.

So, if you want to be successful, if you want to have an open source strategy that works, you really need to be part of your community. Don’t just publish something over the wall to the community. Be part of it. And again, I’m a long-term open source advocate. So, the most reassuring thing for me about what we see with these large projects is it’s actually bringing new people into our open source community.

It’s teaching a whole new group the skills that they need to learn to collaborate online and in open source. So, despite this, you know, some early skepticism, the data’s really showing us that these commercially back projects are bringing in more and more new people—and more and more new people into open. Rather than business killing open source, really, they’re increasing the wider communities exposure to it.

Not only do we see the most successful companies investing in their communities, we’re also actually seeing them invest a lot more in what we call open source programs offices—OSPOs. They help advocate typically for the responsible use of open source inside a company. They also help the company invest in its open source dependencies. By our estimation, 30% now of Fortune 100 companies have a OSPO to help guide their open source strategy.

And if you want to learn more, actually we’ve had some OSPO sessions at the conference this week. We’ve had a load of them online, so you can check those out. You can also dig into some community groups where many of them hang out, including the TODO Group—you can look them up. And InnerSource Commons is another cool group where these kind of OSPO people hang out.

And I can say, you know, from my own personal kind of lived experience, while these companies are investing in open source, we actually see that investment in open source changes their internal culture too. We see more collaboration in those companies. We see them get less siloed.

That leads me actually to my final conclusion you’d be glad to hear as I’m the thing that’s stopping the crew from going home. Open source and the open source community—it’s stronger than ever. We’re learning in the open—it’s here to stay. It’s clearly successful. We’ve got a long way to go. This global exchange of ideas that we’ve got though, it’s helping grow who we think of can be a developer, if that make sense. It’s helping grow what their background is, what they work on, where they live.

It’s not hyperbole. In fact, you know, to say that—we saw this morning open source is advancing mankind. Like, it’s amazing. So, in the past year alone, in fact, more than 20 million people from across the whole world have joined GitHub. 20 million just last year. Over 227 million pull requests were merged, in fact. And over 31 million issues closed.

That’s a lot of work. And that’s not all just code contribution. That’s reporting bugs, that’s finding defects. Sorry—finding defects. There you go. That’s doing work and it’s really kind ofhelping all these people work in the open, and that work in the open is now available for all of us to learn from—the entire world to learn from, to improve, and to contribute back.

The pace of activity in the developer community—we just keep seeing it accelerating. Last year we saw over 413 million contributions made to the open source projects on GitHub. I know yeah—go on then. Woo! Hey, sorry it wasn’t me. It was you anyway.

The future’s really bright when it comes to like our pace of technical advancement. Our advancement just continues to accelerate. So, looking at this year’s Octoverse report, my three big takeaways—apart from krill research is fascinating. My personal takeaways: as a fan of DevOps, it’s just been wonderful to see this, this infrastructure-as-code community growing. It means more and more people are coming to open source, and we are sharing those best practices with other people to get them to learn and to understand.

While it’s great to welcome big tech into open source, it’s also really encouraging to me personally that it means more and more people secretly getting exposed to open source contribution for the first time. So, that’s awesome. And then you know, from GitHub, it’s a real privilege to be part of the growth of this open source community as a whole.

But don’t just take my word for it. If you want to take a look yourself, you can download the Octoverse report now. It’s on the website. Please share with yourself—not yourself, share with me. Sorry. What your conclusions are. I’d love to hear about it. We make all the data available so you can go take a look and tell us what you think our conclusions are.

You can reach me @martinwoodward on GitHub and on social. Um, yeah, so it’s been my honor to celebrate 10 years of Octoverse with you here today. And it’s also my honor to close out Universe with you here today. Wherever you’re joining us in the world, wherever you are, I hope you had a fantastic conference.

So, I want to thank you for, uh, spending your time with us this week. Thanks for listening to me jabber on. Thanks for listening to his last session. And most importantly, thanks for helping change the world one pull request at a time. Thank you.



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