How do we measure the growth of CD Foundation projects and their communities?

By November 14, 2019 Blog

Written by Tracy Miranda, CloudBees director of open source community and member of the CDF governing board

The CD Foundation (CDF) recently shared its 9 Strategic Goals. The second on the list is “Cultivate Growth of Projects.” This goal naturally leads us to ask ourselves the question: how do we measure the growth of our projects to know we are being successful?

There are many dimensions to open source projects. In order to sustain a project much more than code is required. The CDF helps with multiple essential services for project growth and sustenance. One of my favourite services is the CDF devstats site, which provides a wealth of data around the projects. CDF devstats, which is based on the CNCF devstats, gives indicators on community health and contributor statistics. 

Example from Tekton, one of many dashboards and data sets available:

Sometimes we have distorted views of how well projects are doing – this can be down to a few things such as hype or public sentiment around a project. Sometimes newer projects are viewed as doing better than older projects. It is important to have a sense of how well your project is doing. While there are lots of different ways to do it, one method I really like is looking at the number of individual developers contributing to a project. 

With CDF devstats I am able to take a snapshot of that data, and then see how the CDF projects stacked up against CNCF graduated projects. 

The chart here shows a visualization of average developer contributions to each project based on data from the past one year. There are many caveats with the data. E.g. Which repos are included for each project may not be strictly equivalent. But what I like about it is that at a high level it gives an indication of the size of project contributions and how projects compare relatively. 

I also like that it is all open – so you can verify the data and process  for yourself, plus do your own analysis. 

Kubernetes, as you might expect,  is a powerhouse of a project with thousands of contributors. But actually Jenkins stacks up nicely in comparison with a healthy number of contributions – which is all the more significant considering it is a 15 year old project. Sustaining and growing community contributions year-on-year for 15 years is an incredible achievement. The other CDF projects, Spinnaker, Jenkins X and Tekton, are much newer but also coming along quite nicely. See this repo for links to data. 

For me this is a nice snapshot to say we’re off to a good start here at CDF. Individual project growth will come down to each project’s community – but CDF will be working to provide key services and some of the less fun grunt stuff so project leaders can better focus on the important efforts of community building.