GitHub Octoverse: AI Goes Mainstream Amid Cloud-Native Dev Surge

GitHub's 2023 State of the Octoverse report notes that AI has become mainstream amid a surge in cloud-native development.

It's probably no surprise that AI is front and center in this research, as in just about any tech report these days. In fact, GitHub titled the blog post for this year's report, "Octoverse: The state of open source and rise of AI in 2023."

The report highlights the significant influence of generative AI on development practices, outlining a major shift from AI being a niche area for specialists to becoming mainstream, with developers leveraging pre-trained models and APIs to create new AI-powered applications. It also notes a global increase in AI project contributions, indicating a robust community around generative AI.

The Global Growth in Generative AI Projects on GitHub
[Click on image for larger view.] The Global Growth in Generative AI Projects on GitHub (source: GitHub).

Here are some key data points from the report, published yesterday (Nov. 8):

  • 92 percent of developers use or experiment with AI coding tools.
  • Generative AI projects more than doubled halfway through 2023 compared to the number of projects in all of 2022.
  • There's a 148 percent growth in individual contributors to generative AI projects.
  • A 248 percent increase in the total number of generative AI projects was observed.
  • The U.S., India, and Japan are leading in developer contributions.
  • The developer productivity gains from generative AI could contribute an estimated $1.5 trillion to the global economy by 2030.

"We're seeing more developers experiment with foundation models from OpenAI and other AI players, with open source generative AI projects even entering the top 10 most popular open source projects by contributor count in 2023," GitHub said. "With almost all developers (92 percent) using or experimenting with AI coding tools, we expect open source developers to drive the next wave of AI innovation on GitHub."

AI has taken hold on the GitHub development platform -- mostly known for its open-source-centric code repositories -- amid a surge in cloud-native development that was noticed years ago with the increased use of containers, Dockerfiles, infrastructure as code (IaC) and GitHub Actions, the latter of which provides a CI/CD platform that automates software workflow processes and is fully integrated with the GitHub ecosystem.

"In 2019, we started to see a big jump in the number of developers using container-based technologies in open source -- and the rate at which developers are increasingly using Git-based IaC workflows, container orchestration, and other cloud-native technologies sharply increased in 2023," the report said. "This enormous amount of activity shows that developers are using GitHub to standardize how they deploy software to the cloud."

Along with containers, of course, usually comes Docker, and with Docker, comes Dockerfiles, text documents that contain commands a developer can call on the command line to assemble a Docker image.

"GitHub is where developers are operating and scaling cloud-native applications," the company said. "In 2023, 4.3 million public and private repositories used Dockerfiles -- and more than 1 million public repositories used Dockerfiles for creating containers. This follows the increased use we've seen in Terraform and other cloud-native technologies over the past few years. The increased adoption of IaC practices also suggests developers are bringing more standardization to cloud deployments."

The report also examines programming languages used on the platform, noting an increase in the use of declarative languages and attributing the growth of the Go language to an increase in cloud-native projects such as Kubernetes and Prometheus.

The Most Popular Programming Languages
[Click on image for larger view.] The Most Popular Programming Languages (source: GitHub).

"Developers are operating cloud-native applications at scale," a report heading states. "We're seeing an increase in declarative languages using Git-based infrastructure as code (IaC) workflows, greater standardization in cloud deployments, and a sharp increase in the rate at which developers were using Dockerfiles and containers, IaC and other cloud-native technologies."

Speaking of programming languages, the report relates the Hashicorp Configuration Language (HCL) to an increase in IaC.

"Since we saw a massive growth in cloud-native development in 2019, IaC has continued to grow in open source," the report said. "In 2023, Shell and Hashicorp Configuration Language (HCL) once again emerged as top languages across open source projects, indicating that operations and IaC work are gaining prominence in the open source space." Data points supporting that conclusion include:

  • HCL adoption registered 36 percent year-over-year growth, which shows that developers are making use of infrastructure for their applications.
  • The increase in HCL suggests developers are increasingly using declarative languages to dictate how they're leveraging cloud deployments.

Here's how GitHub explained the methodology behind the report: "This report draws on anonymized user and product data taken from GitHub from October 1, 2022 through September 30, 2023. We define AI projects on GitHub by 683 repository topic terms, which you can learn more about in research we conducted in 2023 (page 25 to be exact). We also evaluate open source projects by a metric we call 'Mona Rank,' which is a rank-based analysis of the community size and popularity of projects."

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.


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