When it comes to a developer’s work space, you will tend to find many open tabs with different sites which fall under task management tools. Think Asana, Slack, Trello, and others. The one question you have to ask your team is which tool could they not live without.
Hands down, every developer will say GitHub.
Most people know that GitHub is a code sharing and publishing service, or that it’s a sort of social networking site for programmers. Both statements are true, but neither explain exactly why GitHub is so special.
GitHub is a repository hosting service, but it adds many of its own features. While Git is a version control system tool for managing the development of source code across multiple developers, GitHub provides us with a web-based graphical interface that is more accessible. It also provides access control and several collaboration features, such as a wikis and basic task management tools for every project.
GitHub has added a staging platform that lets developers share prototypes, collaborate on projects, edit and build upon each others’ code, and give stakeholders a chance to take in-progress work on a test run.
Boiled down, Git is a web-based platform for working on projects, and GitHub brings those projects to life.
Open Source Goes Mainstream
In the past, most people treated GitHub as an underground community where open source programmers shared their work and engaged with fellow programmers. Boy were those people wrong. Currently, most of the software giants are the biggest and most active contributors on GitHub on a daily basis.
In late October, Felipe Hoffa of Google published an excellent data analysis detailing which GitHub users contributed the most to open source repositories in 2017. In his article you will be a bit shocked that the most active GitHub users actually come from some of the most well known software companies.
We wanted to get a better understanding of which company’s GitHub users are the most active contributors when it comes to the top open source languages. After researching and being a bit surprised ourselves, without further ado, here is our list of the top 10 GitHub contributors who you should be keeping your eye out for on GitHub.
The Big Three
Microsoft (4,550 employees that contribute)
Topping off our list suprisely is our good friends at Microsoft. According to GitHub, Microsoft is in a whole other universe of contributions with their high impact on the open source landscape through their large contributions to projects, estimated to be at around 4,550 contributors. Microsoft, which used to be known as the “anti-open source company” changed their course recently when it comes to open source. Over time, Microsoft fought open source like they were its older brother trying to steal their candy. As cloud-based software model became the “it” model, Microsoft changed their ways and now are the biggest advocator for open source. Microsoft has since spun 180 degrees from its original position regarding open source.
Google (2,267 employees that contribute)
While Google has over 2,000 employees contributing on GitHub, they are less active in showing their affiliation to Google, making it harder to judge just how many Googlers are really having an impact on the GitHub community. Despite this, they are number one when providing code to over 1,100 top repositories. Also their uploaded contributions are being rated at more than double over other contributors by GitHub users.
Red Hat (2,027 employees that contribute)
Closing out the top 3 is the company that changed open source forever, Red Hat. The open source giant contributes in over 338 reporisties. Despite having a much smaller staff than Microsoft and Facebook, the developers at Red Hat are very active when contributing on GitHub. True to the company’s vision that open source is the cornerstone of the software community, Red Hat’s employees put their efforts where their mouth is.
The Up and Comers
If the companies listed above are the clear leaders pushing open source forward, then who are the next in line contributors vying for their spot? You might think maybe it’s smaller companies that are just very active on GitHub. You are wrong, the next three spots on our list in order are the giants over at IBM, Intel, and Amazon.
IBM (1,813 employees that contribute)
Taking the number four spot is IBM. They have been recognized for their work on API developer tools, and tout their support of the Loopback framework.
Intel (1,314 employees that contribute)
Next in line is Intel, which has helped to build an open source ecosystem for projects like Linux and Android that are aimed at helping developers work with Intel-related products. Their baby appears to be the OpenStack on Intel® Architecture that gives developers a platform for working with cloud services and connected infrastructures.
Amazon (881 employees that contribute)
Despite the cloud and ecommerce titan being very active on GitHub and providing great projects, they are not as vocal when it comes to their involvement with the open source community. Amazon is a very active in open source contributions, maybe not on the same level as Microsoft or Google, but they aren't so far off and provide great projects on GitHub for use by the open source community for working with their different products like the Alexa.
To finish off our list, the following companies are also very active on GitHub when it comes to contributing are SAP, Facebook, ThoughtWorks and last not but least GitHub.
SAP (747 employees that contribute)
Last year SAP announced that they were joining the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) as a Platinum member to help support projects like the container orchestration tool Kubernetes. They have also added their name to the Open API Initiative (OAI). Both the CNCF and OAI are part of the Linux Foundation’s umbrella of projects.
Facebook (710 employees that contribute)
Facebook is growing when it comes to open source, making them one of the companies to watch for in 2018. They are growing massively with employees who are contributing to GitHub, I wouldn’t be surprised if they jumped a few spots around this time next year.
GitHub (676 employees that contribute)
As true believers in open source, the good folks over at GitHub are not just owners of the platform, but contributing members as well. The team of developers at GitHub are working on automated coding features, as well as demonstrating how machine learning and data science can be applied to software development.
The Future of Contributions
While everyone who codes depends on GitHub, the real question you should be asking is which contributor is having the biggest impact on growing the open source toolkit? Microsoft is clearly the leader and they aren’t showing signs of slowing down even a bit.
Over the next 6 months we could see more software giants show more of an initiative to contribute on GitHub but it will be a tough uphill battle to beat out Microsoft and Google for the king and queen spots as GitHub’s Top Dog.