"Count what is countable. Measure what is measureable. What is not measureable, make measureable." -- Galileo

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Developer Community Growth

Tom (twrichar) asked the other day, "does anyone have any statistics on how the Plone DEVELOPER community may be growing, hopefully over a (recent), multiyear span?" There is one recent answer to this quesion: Chris Calloway's code swarms. They are a terrific way to visualize movement in the community. The code_swarm project page at Google explains what the video is displaying.

But if someone is interested in numbers, here are two that I've got. In October through November, 2007 I counted 45 participants in the Core Developers forum on Nabble. Repeating the exercise today for the interval 23 Oct. through 23 Nov. 2008, we find 75 core developers who have actively posted. That's a 60% increase in a year.

Other stats that I've been watching include the number of sites listed on Plone.net, which is now up to 1420.

The graph shows a very linear trend. At this rate we'll break the 2000 sites barrier before the end of 2009.

The fact that we have linear growth belies some statements I've seen by observers of the CMS scene who think that Plone has passed its peak and may be becoming a niche player (sorry, can't recall the exact citation).

Another metric of interest, also from Plone.net, is that the number of providers listed there has increased from 225 last March to 287 today. That's a 28% increase in 6.5 months.

I've also been tracking Plone releases. I've plotted them such that, for example, version 3.1.4 is placed at 3.14. That means major releases have ten times the weight of minor releases and bug fixes have ten times less weight than minor releases. My guess is that minor releases should have more weight.

At any rate the graph at left shows the zigs and zags of releases, where there is on-going support for one version (for example, 2.5) while another major release takes off (3.x).

The regression line has a slope of 0.001, which means there is 1/1000th of a major release per day. Taking the inverse, we have 1000 days (2.7 years) per major release.

This picture is complicated by the fact that 2.5 was clearly a major release. If we elevate 2.5 to major release status, it basically doubles the slope, changing release frequency to 1.4 years per major release.


Jon Stahl said...

Great stuff, Karl! One thing to keep in mind is that Plone.net is a very self-selected listing of sites... rather than an attempt to list every Plone site that exists.

For example, ONE/Northwest has built over 150 Plone sites, but we've only listed about 10 at Plone.net. More would be noise there.

Unlike some other CMSes, Plone doesn't "phone home" in any way, so it is impossible to accurately survey the number of Plone installs in the world.

ajung said...

All numbers to live Plone sites are basically pointless and wrong by design. As Jon pointed out, the sites listed on plone.net are only a very small fraction of the Plone site in the real world. In addition there is huge number of Plone intranet/extranet installations that will never show up. So don't try to read tea-leaves from those numbers.

Martin Aspeli said...

Thank you for going this! I find this hugely interesting, and it's be great to collate more metrics like this on a regular basis.

On the plone.net issue, while I agree that the total number is not very interesting. Plone.net numbers are not that interesting as absolutes, but may be useful in terms of trends.


Schlepp said...

I quite agree that Plone.net by its very nature omits a large portion of the Plone installation and use base. At Sandia Nat'l Labs we have built 53 intranet portals and only 2 public ones in the last four years. Even Lakomy's data mining of English Plone sites suffers from the inability to count intranets.

That said, I believe as Martin states, the trends are worth tracking. Were the number of Plone.net sites falling below the regression line, the community would have cause to wonder about their effectiveness.

Of course, correlation does not imply causation. Plenty of external factors enter in to this. I'm frankly surprised that the current economic situation has not turned up in some metric of Plone use. But it may well be an up-turn due to the huge cost savings of open source and CMS in general.

Matt Hamilton said...

I agree, in terms of trends, plone.net sites is interesting. Another great stat I just found was this on Ohloh: http://tinyurl.com/5w9pyj that the rate of PHP and Python commits is roughly on par. I was expecting PHP to be an order of magnitude more.