Github releases results from its 2017 Open Source Survey

walker profile image Walker Harrison ・2 min read

If you're reading this page on Firefox or even using a Linux operating system, you're the beneficiary of open source software. On a broader level, open source tools likely facilitate all sorts of everyday actions of yours, which makes Github's yearly open source software survey, released today, an important assessment of a major concept within the technical universe.

By surveying over 5,000 respondents from open source repos on their site, Github has put together a "open data set about the attitudes, experiences, and backgrounds of those who use, build, and maintain open source software."

There's a lot to mine here — and Github provides the raw data for those who want to analyze it themselves — so we'll be releasing a series of posts over the coming weeks that examine individual topics. Some of the insights are less than encouraging, as the issues that plague the tech world in general, such as harassment and gender diversity, are present if not exaggerated in open source projects.

For today though, we'll focus on a positive finding: the ever-growing pervasiveness and acceptance of open source software. As indicated by the below graph, the vast majority of respondents reported that they use open source software at work. Moreover, "most report that their employers accept or encourage use of open source applications (82%) and dependencies in their code base (84%)."

These figures speak to the journey open source software has taken in the past two decades from a questionable standard to something that's widely tolerated if not preferred today. As the New York Times reports, "in 2000, the open-source operating system Linux was viewed askance in many corporations as an oddball creation and even legally risky to use, since the open-source ethos prefers sharing ideas rather than owning them."

The collective corporate tune has changed though. These days, "where free, collaborative software projects were once the flags flown by indie developers bucking corporate computing, today even companies like Exxon Mobil, Wal-Mart, and Wells Fargo are releasing their own open source tools," via Wired.

There's much more to discuss from the survey's results, so keep an eye out for more posts on dev.to, or better yet, write them yourselves. I'll be diving into the data under the data and ossurvey tags. Let's keep the conversation going.

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Walker Harrison


Graduate student in statistics at Duke University. Former dev.to employee. I like to blog about data science on my Medium publication, perplex.city, and on dev.to


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OSS is a complicated discussion no matter what the topic is: Funding, maintenance, community, etc.