GitHub: Machine Learning, Skills Development Big in 2018

Open-source hosting platform GitHub is trying to predict the (short term) future of technology: It’s released a new study and guidance on what trends will dominate the upcoming year.

GitHub isn’t throwing darts blindly. Over 24 million people around the globe engaged with at least 25 million public GitHub repositories in 2017; the company analyzed how users interacted with those projects in order to predict what’s coming. Here’s how it describes the methodology:

We looked at three different types of activity. First, we identified the top 100 projects that had at least 2,000 contributors in 2016 and experienced the largest increase in contributors in 2017. We also identified the top 100 projects that received the largest increase in visits to the project’s repo in 2017. Finally, we identified the top 100 projects that received the most new stars in 2017. Combining these lists, we categorized projects into broad communities and looked at the communities that were the most represented at the top of the lists.

Cross-platform and web development continue to interest developers; the Angular/Angular-cli repository doubled its interaction versus the year prior. GitHub says users in 2017 “visited, starred and contributed” more often to projects such as React, Electron and Angular.

Developers also like deep learning. The TensorFlow/TensorFlow repository had 2.2 times more visitors in 2017 than 2016, and TensorFlow/models saw 5.5 times more interactions. Mozilla’s DeepSpeech repo was likewise popular. Not only did users interact with those deep-learning skills more in 2017, but quite a few of those repositories were created in the last year, as well.

But it’s not just about projects. GitHub is seeing a trend emerge around job preparedness and keeping up-to-date on specialized skills, and developers have continued brushing up on languages. GitHub points out that the 30 Seconds of Code repository, which is a “curated collection of useful JavaScript snippets that you can understand in 30 seconds or less,” has seen a lot of engagement. Other popular repos are aimed at interview preparedness, while repos that serve as best-practice guides or style sheets for codebases continue to be much-visited.

All told, 2018 could be a lot like the last half of 2017. After Google, Amazon and Apple made big bets on machine learning and artificial intelligence, interest and engagement in those topics ballooned. Over the next year, developers will continue to explore what A.I. can do for them.

Cross-platform projects will never go away, meaning that developers will continue to need to learn new code and languages relatively quickly. Happily, people are starting to use GitHub for more than just static code repository hosting, and branching out into listicles and best-practices guides that can help them increase their knowledge in an expedited way.