Github: Making Code More Social

github logo

Github launched less than a year ago, but it’s already making an impact on how open-source software is being created. Rails was there from day one, kick-starting the social software repository’s traffic. It has taken off though it still doesn’t compare to Sourceforge’s traffic.

Github combines “standard” features of social networking sites with distributed source-control Git. You can follow or message a person, you can watch or fork projects and activity streams share your behaviors. Users are able to easily fork projects and create their own versions that can then be merged back to the original or take on a life of their own. Leaderboards help you find

There are 33 languages formally listed on github. The service is dominated by Ruby (36%) and Javascript (24%) with 31 other languages rounding out the rest.

Github has a free plan that lets you create your own public repositories, work on them with public collaborators and have 100MB of disk space. The rest of the plans up the disk space and provide the ability to have private repositories and collaborators. The more you pay the more ACLs you get. It’s a great example of launching with a business model from the get-go. The appeal for a company is easy to see. Why manage their own source control? Especially if they will ever be open-sourcing any of the code.

One way to really see the impact of github is on Rails. When the project began it was just DHH contributing. Slowly it grew to include the core team, but when it moved to Github there was a boom. At the 5:05 mark there is almost an explosion of new committers. This will only increase with Rails 3 and the merger with merb (which is on github along with an oft-forked merb book).

Ruby on Rails from Ilya Grigorik on Vimeo.

Before and After Rails Moved to Github:

github viz b4github viz after

Github was founded by 4 developers, one of whom impressively left Powerset during the Microsoft’s acquisition to go fulltime with Github.

There is also a visualization of all the code sharing and forking on Github itself (and Python and Apache – though they are not on github). These videos were created using code_swarm.

I expect github will be talked about a lot at the Web 2.0 Expo this year.

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