Two of the most prominent barriers preventing developers from getting involved in open source are not knowing where to begin, and doubting they have the right skills.
Developers in India are more likely to contribute to open source than developers from other countries, with more than two-thirds (68 percent) actively participating in the community.
This is one of the key findings of the fifth edition of the DigitalOcean Currents report, which focuses entirely on open source to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the movement this year. DigitalOcean is an American cloud infrastructure provider firm.
The firm surveyed more than 4,300 respondents from around the world about the state of open source, including how they and their companies use it and what inspires them to support the community.
More than half (55 percent) of developers surveyed are found contributing to open source projects. However, this is less than what companies expect from their employees: three out of four respondents said their companies expect them to use open source software as part of their day-to-day development work.
Top motivations for participating in open source
As per the report, the top motivation for developers to participate in such projects is improving coding skills, with developers in the UK especially citing this (78 percent vs. 69 percent overall).
Being part of a community is another key factor, as developers want to connect with other coders and learn new technology.
Other motivations includes advancing software freedom, developing new products and improving technologies required for job.
Barriers preventing participating in open source
According to the survey results, two of the most prominent barriers preventing developers from getting involved in open source are not knowing where to begin, and doubting they have the right skills. Companies not giving their employees time to contribute is also a large factor.
Nearly half (45 percent) of the developers surveyed listed “difficulty knowing how to get started” as the primary barrier, while 44 percent mentioned not having the right skills to contribute as primary barriers preventing them from contributing to open source projects.
At the same time, poor documentation and security concerns are a few reasons why companies opt against open source. More than 30 percent of respondents rated open source technologies as average or below.
Other key findings of the survey
- Newer developers actively contribute more to open source than veteran developers: While 55 percent of respondents said they actively contribute to open source projects, developers with five or fewer years of experience were significantly more likely to contribute (60 percent) than developers with six or more years of experience.
- Of the five major tech companies — Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple — developers overwhelmingly said Google is most supportive of the open source community, followed by Microsoft. Apple ranked last.
- There’s a disconnect between companies’ encouragement of open source within their organizations, and their actual investment. Only 18 percent of respondents said their company is a member of an open source-related organization, and 75 percent said their company invests $1k or less every year in donations to open source.
- Companies evaluating open source technologies look primarily for ones that are widely used, and have great documentation and active maintainers.
- Of the 4,349 survey respondents, 58 percent self-identified as developers, 22 percent as students and 10 percent as systems administrators. The rest identified as managers, technical support or “Other.”
Developers optimistic about open source community
Thirty seven percent of developers said they would contribute more if their companies gave them additional time to do so.
The survey report also revealed that developers as a whole are very bullish with 89 percent respondents saying that the open source community is healthy and growing.