Growth in Communities Drives Success, Says ASF’s Ross Gardler


Great news! It’s totally working. The very concept behind the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) — a group of disparate yet dedicated people building software for the public good — has proven successful and fruitful for the 21st year in a row. The indomitable community spirit dedicated to openness and innovation shows absolutely no sign of slowing down.

That was the message Ross Gardler, president of the Apache Software Foundation, delivered in his opening keynote at ApacheCon North America 2016 in Vancouver in May. Gardler pointed to yet another year of expansion in projects, committers, and communities, and he praised the progress as what can happen when people come together to solve problems for the public good.

“Why do we keep growing? I would boil it down to this one thing: we’re not defined by some potentially temporary alliance of business leadership,” said Gardner. “We’re not defined by what the market says needs to happen. We’re not defined by any artificial gathering of people. We’re defined by us, the people who are actually doing the work, the people who need to solve a problem.”

Gardler, who described his role as president as “just another member of the community” — apparently there isn’t even an official sash — had the numbers to prove that the Apache Software Foundation is growing in every metric it deems important.

From April 2015 to April 2016, the ASF:

  • Added 9 new project committees, for a total of 174, which are managing 289 projects.

  • Added 17 active podlings in the project incubator, for a total of 54.

  • Saw 698 new daily committers join the projects, for a total of 5,478.

Gardler said that growth in projects is always a good sign, but it’s the growth in the communities that really drives the success of the foundation. And, although committing code is a crucial part of the overall success of Apache’s several projects, Gardler pointed out that the ASF’s communities need more than software engineers and developers.

“All contributions to an Apache project earn merit,” Gardler said. “We don’t just write code; we build communities. So bring [other skills like marketing or technical documentation] to our projects. Bring all the expertise you can to our projects, and create an environment that’s a healthy community that leads the way in industry, that innovates and drives industry forward.”

Gardler announced that the ASF has recently published a new site that holds 21 years of project documentation — some 30 million emails — at, making it searchable and more easily browsed. It’s updated daily.

“It’s a really good way to understand what’s going on,” he said. “It’s our history; it’s our collective memory.”

Gardler thanked the ASF’s sponsor partners for their cash contributions — cash is nice and helpful — but said the most important contributions were not money, but the time and expertise to help drive a project forward.

“Non-cash contributions are what make the Apache Software Foundation’s communities successful, far more than anything else,” Gardler said. “Any kind of contribution — it doesn’t matter what your skill — is important.”

Watch the complete keynote presentation below: