13 Jan Understanding Open Source Communities, through GitHub Activity (Part 1)
At Telestax, the company behind Restcomm, open source is part of our DNA. We came to be as a result of an open source project, and have since built a successful company on Restcomm, our Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), by successfully commercializing open source.
Around this software, we have fostered the growth of an awesome open source community which both actively contributes to our software, as well as helps us improve and shape its future. This community is something we care very deeply about. So much so, that we felt it was time to invest more in ensuring that we really understand what is happening in our community, and gathering data that will help us take informed, data-backed decisions.
Now, GitHub does provide some analytics itself, under the “Insights” tab. Naturally, I tried this first, as it’s built in. It allows me to see:
- an overview of recent activity under “Pulse”
- a list of the most active “Contributors”
- some very interesting charts under “Traffic”:
- number of Git Clones and Unique Cloners
- number of Views and Unique Visitors
- Traffic Sources
- Popular Content
- a couple of charts with the Commit activity (totals per month and per day of week)
- Code additions and deletions per week
Though certainly useful when you’re just starting out, these kinds of analytics don’t offer any kind of control over timeframes or the ability to drill down to uncover new insights into the data.
Having played with it for some time now, I get the impression that the GitHub Insights section is more targeted to the project visitor – so they can get an overall picture of how active the project is – rather than the project maintainer.
Looking around, I found few alternatives. So, I set off on a quest to build our own solution. And like any good open source citizen would do, I wanted to share it with the community– as yet another open source project, backed by the Restcomm Team!
Introducing friends from another open source project, countly – an analytics platform, which our product team uses to keep track of customer journeys for Restcomm, the commercial version of our Restcomm products.
countly provides support for plugins; these bundle custom functionality that is not available out of the box (not all plugins are relevant to all users), but that you can enable on your own countly installation.
What I ended up working towards was our very own OSS countly plugin for GitHub Activity Tracking, through GitHub Webhook events. I will be sharing more about the journey of building this plugin, what it enables you to track, and what limitations I’m now faced with, in part 2 of this blog series.
In the meantime, if you’re looking for more information on how we build open source software at Telestax, please check out our Open Source Playbook and contact us if you want to discuss how you can best contribute. If you are interested in trying Restcomm, you can sign up for a free account at restcomm.com.