Facebook, LinkedIn Reflect on 2015: The Year in Open Source

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2015-12-30 Print this article Print
open source 2015

Both Facebook and LinkedIn look back on 2015 as a seminal year for open-source technology at their respective companies.

With 2015 at its end, Facebook took a look back at its year of using, developing and contributing to open-source software.

In a blog post, Christine Abernathy, developer advocate for the Facebook open-source team, said the open-source program at Facebook has grown, not only in terms of new projects, but also in the size and strength of its community. Abernathy credits the growth to contributions from more than 3,400 developers who contributed to the company's projects—the majority of whom were external.

"Some of our most widely adopted projects saw additional uptake in 2015. WordPress and Netflix revamped their products with React," Abernathy said. "Etsy migrated to HHVM this year, and Box announced that our virtual machine would be the exclusive engine serving its PHP codebase. Presto, our interactive querying engine, is used by companies like AirbnbDropbox, and Netflix, as well as by Gree, a Japanese social media game-development company, and Chinese e-commerce company JD.com."

React—also known as React.js or ReactJS—is an open-source JavaScript library providing a view for data rendered as HTML. HHVM is an open-source virtual machine designed for executing programs written in Hack and PHP. HHVM was created as the successor of the HipHop for PHP execution engine, which is a PHP-to-C++ transpiler that has also been created by Facebook.

Last year, React and HHVM became Facebook's first projects to generate 10,000 stars. Stars are a way for developers to keep track of repositories that they find interesting on GitHub. Abernathy said three additional projects joined the 10,000-stars ranks in 2015, while React tripled in popularity to become Facebook's first project with more than 30,000 stars. Facebook's open-source projects topping 10,000 stars include: React, with 33,000 stars; React Native, with 24,000 stars; Pop, with 13,500 stars; HHVM, with 13,000 stars; and Immutable.js, with more than 10,000 stars.

React Native, which Facebook announced in March of 2015, reached 24,000 stars in just nine months to become the company's second most popular open-source project. As of this month, React Native has 4,000 forks and more than 4,000 commits from more than 400 contributors.

Abernathy said other notable newcomers include Relay, a JavaScript framework for building data-driven React applications, and GraphQL, a data query language. In all, Facebook had 125 new launches this year, increasing the number of projects in production by 50 percent over last year, she said.

"Now, with more than 330 total repos, we value contributions from our community more than ever to help us collaborate on solutions for common challenges," said Abernathy in her post. "We had more than 2,500 external contributors this year, up from 1,000 in 2014. A special shout-out goes to Teradata—which joined the Presto community this year with a focus on enhancing enterprise features and providing support—for having seven of our top 10 external contributors."

Meanwhile, Facebook will be "doubling down" on its commitment to supporting open-source projects in 2016, she noted.

However, Facebook was not the only born-on-the-Web company to increase its commitment to open-source over the last year. Major Internet entities such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google contribute vast amounts of code to the open-source community and lead the way in producing much of the infrastructure software for the big data and cloud era.

For instance, in 2015, LinkedIn made its biggest contributions yet to the open-source community by open sourcing more than 10 original projects, including Pinot, Burrow and Gobblin, and pushing significant updates to Samza, Rest.li, Kafka and Voldemort, four of the company's most broadly adopted open source projects, said Igor Perisic, in a recent blog post.


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