I wrote an article for LWN (Linux Weekly News) about the Perl 5 release process a couple weeks back. It was originally behind a paywall but it’s now readable by anyone.

Another article I wrote will be published later today. I’ll post a link here once it’s out from behind the paywall.

Please consider subscribing to LWN if you like this sort of thing, of course.

I feel that Perl 5 activity has increased over the past few years, but is that an illusion? I brought this topic up on the #p5p IRC channel and Nicholas Clark said, “everyone assumes growth. If you look at the ‘committers’ graph on https://www.ohloh.net/p/perl/analyses/latest I don’t think there’s been any marked growth (or reduction) in the past 10 years. Just a lot of noise”.

So is he right? I wanted to figure it out.

The Ohloh chart is very noisy. It shows the number of committers per month, which seems to swing back and forth rather dramatically. I used the Ohloh API to download the raw data and run it through a spreadsheet.

Instead of looking at each month, I looked at the average number of committers per year. I started with 2001, since before that year the data is even more wildly variable. Also, I know that the farther we go back in the commit history, the more guesses were made during the import to git.

Here’s the graph I created in Gnumeric:

45-perl-commiters-per-year.png

It looks like there was a big dropoff in committers from 2001 to 2004, and we’ve seen an upwards trend since then. I’m not sure there’s enough data to draw any strong conclusions. My gut feeling that activity was up in the past few years was correct, but we don’t yet know whether that’s a fluke.

We still haven’t reached our historical highs, so I think Nick was right when you look at the overall history of Perl 5. Nevertheless, I’m hopeful that we’re in the midst of a positive trend.