GitHub’s Diverse Community Will Be The Make Or Break Of Future Software Development

At 10 years old, GitHub needs its diverse community of users more than ever

GitHub forged its name as an open source online repository for developers worldwide to host code for a myriad of use cases.

But as it fast approaches its tenth birthday, GitHub is pinning its hopes of success on strengthening and retaining a diverse and forward-thinking community of developers already so synonymous with the Silicon Valley company now boasting more than 25 million users.

While GitHub has historically been involved in scandals unfortunately all-too-common in Silicon Valley, the company in recent years has ploughed forward with radical diversity and social impact initiatives designed to act as a beacon for attracting developers from all backgrounds.

Clearly not welcomed by allwith some users accusing GitHub of becoming too politicalGitHub’s social inclusion and diversity initiatives aimed at fostering diverse employees and users alike have now become a linchpin for the company’s overall strategy in the decade to come.

“One of things that nobody can buy is the community we have,” GitHub’s chief strategy officer, Julio Avalos, told Silicon in an interview this week at the company’s annual Universe conference, held in San Francisco.

Avalos’s words are reinforced by a fierce show of diversity commitment for its community at the  conference; alongside pet pooping zones, gender-neutral restrooms, and keynote talks on developing diversity from within the company, new features released this week have doubled down on entrenching GitHub’s spirit of community.

Fuelling a diverse community 

Dependency GraphUpgraded security and discoverability tools have been rolled out that the company says will not only help users in developing software, but aid in fostering a greater sense of community and belonging among its users. That effort begins with enhancing the “social network” aspect of GitHub.

Following the increasing number of security lapses across all sectors worldwide, it’s no surprise GitHub wants to ensure it’s effectively securing user contributed code, especially as a vast majority of projects on GitHub are supported by a plethora of third-party libraries.

To that end, GitHub is deploying a dependency graph that gives users insight into the projects their code depends on and projects that in turn depend on their code. Now users can see all of the packages and applications they’re connected to, without leaving their repository.

Bolstering the dependency graph are security alert features that will be able to track when dependencies are associated with public security vulnerabilities. GitHub says it will notify people who have access to repositories when it detects vulnerability, and in some cases, suggest a known security fix from the GitHub community.

The company also wheeled out some impressive numbers, too.

GitHub says it is now hosting 25 million active repositories, while handling more than 50 million monthly visitors. Hoping to make navigating GitHub easier for its userbase, the company is deploying an updated news feed that will provide recommendations for users, alongside a GitHub-curated Explore section.

Community support 

GitHub Universe held at Pier 70, San FranciscoAvalos told Silicon that the updates were a “long time coming” and will only help to serve GitHub’s growing scale and community.

I think there have been things that the community has been asking for in terms of discoverability tools as the scale of the company has grown,” he said. “If no one can find the work they want, if we can’t connect the right person to the right project, it’s a like a tree falling in the forest.”

As for the next decade, GitHub—if not snapped up by an established tech giant looking to re-enter code hosting, say, Google —Avalos says a diverse community is crucial to success.

“The demographics [of technology] are shifting all over the world. Those companies that take seriously those shifting demographics are going to be able to hire different types of employees,” says Avalos.

“So I think that in the past diversity and inclusion efforts have been seen as almost good corporate responsibility, more and more they are becoming existential needs for businesses to be able to communicate to shifting demographics of customers and attract and retain shifting demographics of employees, and those companies that aren’t quick to pick up on that are going to be in trouble.”

How well do you know Linux, the open source operating system? Try our quiz!