Why Take Part In Open Source?
Written by Janet Swift   
Friday, 26 October 2018

In honor of the 20th anniversary of the open source movement, DigitalOcean dedicated the latest edition of its quarterly developer survey to the state of open source.

The report has findings from over four thousand respondents on their involvement with open source, as well as how they and their companies are using open source technologies.

Looking at the demographics, of 4,349 survey respondents, 58% self-identified as developers, 22% as students and 10% as systems administrators. There rest identified as managers, technical support or “Other.” The survey was open to those 18 and over and 40% were between 18 and 24, the largest group (42%) were 25 to 34, 14% were 35 to 44 and only 4% were 45 and over. In terms of gender, 88% were men, 11% were women and 2% identified as non-binary/other.  

More than half (55%) of respondents said they contribute in some way. Of those who do, it’s primarily through contributions to open source software, followed by maintaining open source
software themselves. digoceanosinvolvement

According to DigitalOcean, Indian developers are more likely to contribute than developers from other countries, with more than two thirds (68%) actively participating. There's also an age divide; devs with 5 or fewer years of experience were significantly more likely to contribute (60%) than developers with 6+ years of experience (7%).

DigitalOcean's questions on why devs participated in open source tends to shed light on why those newer to the profession - and in particular students not yet completely a part of it, look to open source as an opportunity for self-improvement, networking, and explicitly advancing their careers:



The age and years of experience findings tally with the length of time respondents had been involved with open source projects:


While only 19% of respondents who engaged with open source projects claimed to do so on a daily basis, two-thirds of them did so at least weekly, which represents a lot of effort.


DigitalOcean's survey probably is biased towards open source. It is, as we recently reported, responsible, with GitHub and Twilio for Hacktoberfest a month-long celebration of open source designed to encourage both new and veteran coders to participate in the community.

DigitalOcean asked respondents to nominate the open source projects that they found appealing and this is the list of the top 10, or rather top 11 as Ruby on Rails and Android occupy the final slot: digoceanosprojs

React comes top with 468 mentions, which equates to 19% of those engaged in open source, with Kubernetes in second place (14%).

Choice of projects is related to the platforms used to discover open source projects. Here respondents were asked to choose all that apply and almost all (97%) selected GitHub, with GitLab (31%) and BitBucket 21% also popular. SourceForge was used by 9%, with Launchpad (3%) and Beanstalk (1%) attracting small minorities. 

Respondents could also nominate multiple languages but again the choice of projects determines use of language. JavaScript is recognized as the top open source language and so it is in this survey, with Python being nearest in contention. The popularity of PHP and CSS is no surprise given that web development relies on them so much:


DigitalOcean also has interesting findings about how businesses and organsations engage with open source and we'll cover those in a future report. 


More Information

DigitalOcean Currents quarterly report

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Last Updated ( Friday, 26 October 2018 )