Most Facebook Open Source Developers Don’t Work for Facebook

Virtual machine HHVM among social network’s five most popular open source projects

Yevgeniy Sverdlik

December 29, 2015

2 Min Read
Most Facebook Open Source Developers Don’t Work for Facebook
A technician at work in a data hall at Facebook’s Altoona, Iowa, data center. (Photo: Facebook/2014 Jacob Sharp Photography)

More than 3,400 developers have contributed to the long list of open source projects Facebook has launched, and the majority of them are not Facebook employees.

The amount of outside contributors to an open source project is one of the best measures of its relevance to the open source community, and Facebook appears to be cranking out some of the most relevant open source code out there. About 2,500 outside developers contributed to Facebook's open source projects this year -- up from 1,000 last year.

Open source software is becoming more and more important not just in the world of internet giants and startups but also in the enterprise space. Companies like Walmart, Target, and Booz Allen Hamilton, have official GitHub accounts, lists of repositories, and active teams of contributors. There is also more and more important open source software for data center operators.

Participating in open source communities is not only a way to put more eyes and brains on a common problem or get free code (it may be easy to get free open source code but making it work for your specific use case is not that simple) but also serve as effective recruiting tools for tech talent.

Facebook now has more than 330 open source repositories on GitHub, according to today’s blog post by Christine Abernathy, developer advocate on Facebook’s open source team.

Among the top five is HHVM (Hip Hop Virtual Machine), its open source virtual machine for running programs written in Hack and PHP. HHVM, which has become the go-to VM for companies like Etsy and Box, was one of the first two Facebook open source projects to reach 10,000 stars on GitHub.

Stars on GitHub are similar to Likes on Facebook. Developers “Star” projects they are interested in and want to follow.


Facebook open source projects with more than 10,000 stars (Image: Facebook)

Facebook’s other 10,000-star pioneer is React, a JavaScript library for building user interfaces, which today is by far the company’s most popular open source project, having attracted 33,000 stars. WordPress and Netflix are two of the more well-known users of React.

The company followed React with the release of React Native this March, whose skyrocketing growth in popularity has broken all of its records. The framework that enables developers to use JavaScript and React to build on a platform of their choice has attracted 29,000 stars in its nine months of existence.

The other two repos in Facebook’s top five are Pop, an animation library for iOS and OS X, which has 13,500 stars, and Immutable.js, which ensures specified data remains unchanged, making application development simpler. Immutable.js has 10,000 stars.

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