Decoding Ushahidi’s Open Source Development

I have to admit that when we began developing Ushahidi as an open source platform, I was a little skeptical about how far that would go driven by the power of volunteer (unpaid) programmers. It’s a little nerve wracking sitting around waiting for interested programmers to start contributing to something driven mostly by passion and intangible rewards. There’s also the question of whether the open source initiative would attract competent people and continue to thrive while keeping everyone as excited as they were when they started – this was definitely a lot to ask for.

Going through the code contribution statistics a little more than a year later proves that we’re actually achieving the equilibrium and momentum necessary to produce useful open source software. The following graphs illustrate contributions (lines of code) and impact by multiple programmers at different phases of the project.

August 2008 to October 2008

commits_2008_2

November 2009

commits_2009

Code Commits By Time of Day (Current)

punchcard

The graph above illustrates the fact that Ushahidi’s developers are actively churning out code at practically all hours of of the day, with a concentration between the hours of 8am and 1pm – which is the time between which North American based developers and African/European developers are concurrently making code commits.

I am currently at the Non Profit Software Development Summit in Oakland California interacting with other non-profit open source development projects which include the very established ones like Drupal, Joomla and Plone, and its interesting to see that our development processes have been very similar.