[Haskell-cafe] A cabal odyssey

Evan Laforge qdunkan at gmail.com
Sat Aug 21 15:25:12 EDT 2010

> I wonder... How many people are actually working on Cabal?
> When I first started using Haskell, I got the impression that there were
> hundreds, maybe even thousands, of developers working on GHC. (After all,
> how else could you write such a huge codebase in less than two centuries?)
> But now it appears the number of active developers is nearer to 3. This is
> obviously a jaw-droppingly tiny number of people to be working on such a
> gigantic piece of software. If it's really true, it's amazing anything ever
> gets done at all!

I haven't seen any studies about this, but my impression is that most
successful open source projects will be doing well to have 3 full time
contributors.  There will be a much larger cloud of people who come
and go and contribute a few patches, but if you've got 3 people
working consistently, after a number of years that really starts to
add up.

Even in the closed source world... the (internal) application I work
on really only has about 3 people who really understand the whole
thing and wrote large parts of it.  The rest of us hang out on the
edges, fixing the odd bug or two.

Looking at the ardour commits, it seems like basically two guys doing
most of the work.  When I looked at the gimp a number of years back,
it was a similar story.  With say python, it's maybe around 5 or so,
but that includes a huge library.  When you look at the core, the same
names come back again and again.  Anyone with experience of any other
large successful open source programs care to support or refute?

I do agree, though, that what Ian and the Simons (and the Ganeshs and
Manuels and assorted MSR interns and...) have built over the years is
remarkable and inspiring, not to mention very useful.

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