Google’s Open Source Report Card Highlights Game-Changing Contributions


Ask people about Google’s relationship to open source, and many of them will point to Android and Chrome OS — both very successful operating systems and both based on Linux. Android, in particular, remains one of the biggest home runs in open source history. But, as Josh Simmons from Google’s Open Source Programs Office will tell you, Google also contributes a slew of useful open source tools and programs to the community each year. Now, Google has issued its very first “Open Source Report Card,” as announced by Simmons on the Google Open Source Blog.

“We’re sharing our first Open Source Report Card, highlighting our most popular projects, sharing a few statistics and detailing some of the projects we’ve released in 2016. We’ve open sourced over 20 million lines of code to date and you can find a listing of some of our best known project releases on our website,” said Simmons.

Open source projects emerge from all over Google, many of them produced through the company’s famous “80/20 directive” for employees, where they are advised to spend 80 percent of their time on Google-centric projects and 20 percent on their own creative projects. Google reports that its GitHub footprint includes more than 84 organizations and 3,499 repositories, 773 of which were created this year.

Simmons has also rounded up Google’s most popular open source projects, as follows:

  • Android — A software stack for mobile devices that includes an operating system, middleware and key applications.

  • Chromium – A project encompassing Chromium, the software behind Google Chrome, and Chromium OS, the software behind Google Chrome OSdc devices.

  • Angular — A web application framework for JavaScript and Dart focused on developer productivity, speed and testability.

  • TensorFlow — A library for numerical computation using data flow graphics with support for scalable machine learning across platforms from data centers to embedded devices.

  • Go — A statically typed and compiled programming language that is expressive, concise, clean and efficient.

  • Kubernetes — A system for automating deployment, operations and scaling of containerized applications now at the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.

  • Polymer — A lightweight library built on top of Web Components APIs for building encapsulated re-usable elements in web applications.

  • Protobuf — An extensible, language-neutral and platform-neutral mechanism for serializing structured data.

  • Guava — A set of Java core libraries that includes new collection types (such as multimap and multiset), immutable collections, a graph library, functional types, an in-memory cache, and APIs/utilities for concurrency, I/O, hashing, primitives, reflection, string processing and much more.

  • Yeoman — A robust and opinionated set of scaffolding tools including libraries and a workflow that can help developers quickly build beautiful and compelling web applications.

Among recent open source contributions from Google, Kubernetes and TensorFlow are having particularly notable impact.

Google’s Open Source Report Card also delves into the most popular languages that Googlers use. These are summarized in order, with open source strongly represented:

  • JavaScript

  • Java

  • C/C++

  • Go

  • Python

  • TypeScript

  • Dart

  • PHP

  • Objective-C

  • C#

The Open Source Report Card is not the only way to put metrics on Google’s open source activities. GitHub, in partnership with Google, has produced a new open dataset on Google BigQuery, a low-cost analytics data warehouse service in the cloud, so that anyone can get data-driven insights based on more than 2.8 million open source GitHub repositories.

“Many things can be gleaned using the open source GitHub dataset on BigQuery,” Simmons notes, “like usage of tabs versus spaces and the most popular Go packages. What about how many times Googlers have committed to open source projects on GitHub? We can search for email addresses to get a baseline number of Googler commits.”

“With this we learn that Googlers have made 142,527 commits to open source projects on GitHub since the start of the year. This dataset goes back to 2011 and we can tweak this query to find out that Googlers have made 719,012 commits since then. Again, this is just a baseline number as it doesn’t count commits made with other email addresses.”

In recent months, Google also has open sourced other useful tools, many of them tested and hardened in-house. They include machine learning applications, 3D visualization tools, and more. In case you missed any of these, the Open Source Report Card highlights some of the most interesting examples. You can find expanded discussions of these projects at the bottom of the page here.

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