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VS Code: Brought to You by 15,000 Developers

It's open source, cross-platform, lightweight, increasingly popular, widely described as being performant, endlessly extensible and easy to use -- and is brought to you by some 15,000 community contributors.

That last bit of info about Visual Studio Code was provided by GitHub, the central hub of today's open source software development, having been used by 24 million coders working across 67 million repositories.

And amid that nearly incomprehensible trove of source code, VS Code reigns No. 1 when it comes to projects with the most contributors. With some 15,000 programmers pitching in to help, it holds a huge lead over No. 2, React Native, a new approach to mobile app development using JavaScript that was created and open sourced by Facebook. React Native (whose users coincidentally often name VS Code as their favorite editor on coding sites, surveys and forums) was a distant second at about 8,800 contributors.

This information and much more was found in GitHub Inc.'s annual report on its ecosystem, titled "The State of the Octoverse 2017."

GitHub provided the report at its recent conference, where it unveiled many new initiatives and improvements to the platform, including dependency graphs to help weed out projects with bad code, security alerts about those bad actors and much more.

15K Contributors and Counting
[Click on image for larger view.] 15K Contributors and Counting (source: GitHub).

VS Code's popularity among GitHub's millions of repositories is further demonstrated by its being the fourth-most-discussed project, a category where Kubernetes, a container scheduling and management tool, holds a gigantic lead over every other project with more than 388,000 comments (VS Code had about 78,700 in fourth place).

The popularity of VS Code -- barely 2-1/2 years old -- has been further chronicled in many other venues, also. For example, in a recent PYPL ranking of IDEs, it came in at No. 11 despite being a code editor competing with full-fledged IDEs such as Visual Studio, Android Studio, Xcode, IntelliJ and the like.

And in this year's huge Stack Overflow Developer Survey, it competed with those IDEs and many more to place highly among the list of favorite developer environments for Web developers (5th), desktop developers (3rd) sysadmins/DevOps (6th) and data scientists/engineers (7th).

In a recent survey of Ionic developers, VS Code was the overwhelming favorite text editor/IDE, used by 47 percent of respondents.

Here's the activity surrounding the GitHub project in just the last month alone:

One-Month GitHub Snapshot
[Click on image for larger view.] One-Month GitHub Snapshot (source: GitHub).

Along with naming VS Code as the most popular project in terms of contributors, GitHub also provided many other tidbits of interesting information, including:

  • Among GitHub's open source projects written in 337 unique programming languages, JavaScript reigns supreme by a wide margin when ranked by the number of opened pull requests, at about 2.3 million. Following far behind are Python (1 million) and Java (986,000).
  • Machine learning garnered the most topics repository tags (a new feature) this year, followed by game and iOS.
  • The most-forked project was TensorFlow, a machine intelligence library, with about 24,000 forks, followed by Bootstrap (15,000) and GitIgnore -- specifying what files Git should ignore -- at about 10,800.
  • DefinitelyTyped (TypeScript type definitions) was the project with the most reviews, at 800, followed by Kubernetes (680) and HomeBrew-Core (580), described as "default formulae for the missing package manager for macOS."

With GitHub revealing VS Code as the project with the most contributors, it's probably not surprising that developers care a lot about the code editor, as exemplified by the recent furor over a change to the tool's official icons, used for launching from the Windows taskbar, for example. They've raised a big fuss about the icon change, demanding it be reverted or finding ways to revert back to the original themselves. You can read all about that imbroglio here.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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