GitHub Universe - 94 million happy coders and success for open source, says CEO

Chris Middleton Profile picture for user cmiddleton November 10, 2022
Day one of the GitHub Universe event in San Francisco saw an enthusiastic audience celebrate the success of open source development in recent years

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(Image sourced via Pixabay)

GitHub CEO Thomas Dohmke was in ebullient mood as he took to the stage in San Francisco, on day one of the GitHub Universe conference, a hybrid event for the developer hosting service, tool maker, and code repository. To whoops and sincere applause from a diverse, motivated, and enthusiastic crowd, he said:

There’s nothing more energizing to me than being in a room full of developers!

Like so many of you, through every stage of my life, my greatest passion has always been to build with code. It started in my childhood, writing simple programmes in Basic. And then in university I was using SUSE Linux and Emacs. In my mid 20s, I was working at an automaker, and it was Windows PC and Visual Studio. And today, when I am still in my late 20s, it's all on GitHub. It's now a code space spinning up on my iPad, even when I'm at the airport.

Of course, that code space has been owned by Microsoft for the past four years: a rare example of Redmond buying a community and not breaking it, or making it intrusive and unbearable to use, like LinkedIn. 

At a keynote presentation featuring eight GitHub leaders – six of whom are women, including Senior Director of Enterprise Maya Ross, Staff Software Engineering Manager April Leonard, and Director of Product Marketing and Security Brittany O’Shea – Dohmke lavished praise on the Open Source movement, saying:

So much has changed. And since the rise of the Internet, Open Source has been the engine of it all. Open Source powers the world, and even those that didn't like Open Source to begin with are now onboard.

Did he mean Microsoft? Dohmke continued:

Companies both large and small are using GitHub side by side with the Open Source community to build their own products and bring their big ideas to the world. It's all of you together that have fuelled this global economy.

According to the CEO, ten years ago GitHub had just 2.8 million developers onboard. By this time last year, that number had grown to 73 million, but today the community boasts 94 million developers: an impressive achievement that also demonstrates the critical importance of DevOps to every type of business. 

Add in Microsoft figures claiming 200 million code repositories online and recurring revenues of $1 billion and the platform certainly seems to be thriving. But Dohmke continued:

Despite how fast software development has advanced, despite how much we have all grown, and how much GitHub has grown, there is even greater change just ahead. 

I believe we have arrived at the most significant turning point in the history of software development. In the past few years, I've made it clear, we now live in a world fully eaten [sic] by software. 

Every day is punctuated from beginning to end by our interactions with software.

But building, running, and maintaining all that software for the world has never been more complex. As a developer, you can't just build great product anymore. You have to do it securely. You have to do it fast. And you have to build it 100 times a day. And in all of this, developers are still expected to deliver the best creation of their life. Every single day.

A new generation

But unlike the ‘move fast and break things’ and ‘fail fast and move on’ attitude favoured by the likes of Elon Musk in an unforgiving spotlight – an outlook that makes ageing, maverick tech bros look arrogant, over-privileged, and childish – today’s young generation of developers have a very different mindset. One of collaboration, mutual support, and iterative excellence.

But they also want greater support from their employers, the CEO explained:

As a developer myself having to do all this work, stringing together or self-hosting all my tools sure as hell isn't something that I want. It's not solving my problems, and it's not putting the developer first. We are at a breaking point and it's time for change. 

Developers need to be at their best and to be happier, right? That's what we want, to be happy, because developers do their best work when they can actually enjoy the work they want to do. The innovations that take the weight off, not add more. 

And when they have one integrated platform to do it all in one place, one that enables the flow state where the magic happens. And it's the home of all developers. We have made it our mission to build this one integrated platform where developers can do it all.

Among the announcements on day one of the event, cloud environment GitHub Codespaces is now available for individual developers, including up to 60 hours free every month. 

Meanwhile, companies will soon be able to purchase and manage employee seat licenses for AI ‘pair programmer’ GitHub Copilot, which turns natural language prompts into coding suggestions. 

In another upbeat presentation, Developer Advocate Rizel Scarlett explained:

One thing that amazes me the most is just how good Copilot is at understanding context, sometimes when you least expect it. 

Nothing gets past Copilot. Its understanding of natural language and code gives you way more than just a productivity boost. It helps you to focus on the business logic over boilerplate and discover ideas you might not have otherwise considered.

Copilot is available now and it's being used by hundreds of thousands of developers every day. And if you're a verified teacher, student, or maintainer of a popular Open Source project, it's completely free. In fact, roughly half of Copilot users receive it free as a result of this programme.

There are also new code search and view improvements on to make browsing better and more intuitive, said the company.

My take

A welcoming and surprisingly emotional event, with exciting live performances and coding demonstrations. Who said developers are just binary thinkers with little understanding of human complexity? GitHub Universe begs to differ – and all power to that community.

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