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A Seasonal Report on Developer Trends in the Cloud: Open Source Edition
Trends in the developer community move quickly. As a developer-focused
company, we like to keep up with the technologies and tools that
developers and their teams are interested in.
To share these insights with the broader community, we created Currents,
a seasonal report on developer cloud trends. For our fifth edition, we
focused entirely on open source — to coincide with the movement’s
20-year anniversary this year, and DigitalOcean’s fifth
Hacktoberfest this month. We
surveyed more than 4,300 respondents from around the world about the
state of open source, including how they and their companies use it and
what inspires them to support the community.
With 2018 marking the twenty-year anniversary of open source, we were
interested in understanding how individual developers were contributing
to the open source community, and why.
More than half (55 percent) of respondents said they contribute in
some way. Those who contribute do so in a few ways, with the most
popular way being through contributions to open source software,
followed by helping maintain open source software. Developers in India
are more likely to contribute than developers from other countries,
with more than two-thirds (68 percent) actively participating.
What’s inspiring people to participate? The top motivation is improving
coding skills — developers in the UK especially cited this (78 percent
vs. 69 percent overall). A close second was being part of a
community — even though developers tend to work independently, they
still look for ways to connect with other coders and learn new
technology. Thirty seven percent of developers said they would
contribute more if their companies gave them additional time to do so.
While open source advocates would undoubtedly like to see more
developers contributing to the community, the good news is developers
as a whole are very bullish: 89 percent said the open source
community is healthy and growing.
The biggest barriers preventing developers contributing more to open
source are them not knowing where to begin and doubting they have the
right skills. This was particularly noticeable when we looked at how
long respondents had been working in the community: 52 percent of those
who only started over the last year said it’s not clear how to get
involved, and 49 percent questioned their skill sets.
As the number of developers and hobbyists worldwide continues to grow,
there is an opportunity to create better resources and starting points
to get those newer to code — and open source — excited about
contributing. As part of this, we need to underscore that developers of
all skill levels can make a difference.
While more than half of developers are contributing to open source,
their companies are not as supportive of the community’s organizations —
only 18 percent of employees said their companies actively participated
in open source organizations (e.g. Apache Foundation, Node.js
Foundation, Cloud Native Computing Foundation), with the cost of those
organizations being the number one detractor. Seventy five percent of
respondents also said their companies have donated just $1k or less in
the last year.
Even though most companies don’t invest in open source organizations,
they encourage the use of open source within their businesses: nearly
three out of every four respondents said their companies expect them to
use open source software as part of their day-to-day development work.
Furthermore, more than one-third (34 percent) said their companies give
them time to work on open source projects not related to work.
Companies evaluating open source technologies look primarily for ones
that are widely used, and have great documentation and active
maintainers. At the same time, poor documentation and security concerns
are a few reasons why companies opt against open source. Individuals
showed concerns over security too — on a scale of one to five (with five
being most secure), more than 30 percent of respondents rated open
source technologies as average or below.
Which companies are doing the best at embracing open source? At least
among the tech giants, respondents look to Google — which created
Android, Go and Kubernetes — as the leader (53 percent). They are
followed by Microsoft (23 percent) — with those newer to the community
slightly more likely to believe Microsoft has embraced open source
better than veteran developers. Apple, whose developers are known to not
be active in contributing code back into the community, ranked last.
Of the 4,349 survey respondents, 58 percent self-identified as
developers, 22 percent as students and 10 percent as systems
administrators. The rest identified as managers, technical support
Forty two percent said they worked in IT & Services, 29 percent in
Software and five percent each chose Financial Services and Education.
The remainder represented a variety of other industries including
Retail/wholesale, Government and Healthcare.