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The 2021 State of the

Last year, our approach to remote work reflected a lack of familiarity. We were juggling competing needs in our personal lives and at work while trying to maintain the same levels of productivity before the pandemic.

During 2021, we’ve begun to evolve from merely compensating while hoping for a return to the “old normal” to truly metamorphosing our processes with the awareness of remote work needs.

In this year’s Octoverse Report, our research tells you how to improve your performance and well-being by developing code, creating documentation, and supporting communities in smarter, more sustainable ways.

For the first time, this research combines telemetry from 4M+ repositories and surveys from more than 12,000 developers.

This approach reveals current trends and also gives us predictive results--we can now see with more precision how to achieve successful outcomes for developers, teams, organizations, and communities.

What makes developers and teams perform better, be more productive, and have a great developer experience?

We created predictive models based on this year’s survey data to help us understand the impacts of different practices teams use in software development and delivery.

Each section begins by presenting a predictive model supported by survey data, then follows with developer patterns we observe across GitHub’s repositories.

Explore the data
Relationships chart explanation

Let’s look back at the code and communities built on GitHub this year...

73M+Total developers
on GitHub
16M+New users
in 2021
84%of Fortune 100 companies
use GitHub Enterprise
61M+New repositories
created in the last year
170MPull requests

Geographical distribution of active users

North America
Decrease 2.3% from last year
Increase 0.3% from last year
Increase 0.7% from last year
South America
Increase of 1.0% from last year
Increase of 0.3% from last year
Decrease 0.1% from last year

Top languages over the years

Improving how we work

In 2021, productivity began returning to pre-pandemic levels while solidifying the paradigm shift of remote and hybrid work.

The workplace is shifting: Survey respondents were asked where they worked before the pandemic and where they expect to work with others after the pandemic. Only about 11% of respondents expect to go back to working collocated, a 30% drop from 41% working in an office before.

Work before and after the pandemic

We present one decimal for simplicity; there may be a rounding difference of 1%.

Where respondents worked before the pandemic Where respondents expect to work after the pandemic
In an office all the time or part-time
Some team members in an office and others remote
Fully remote
All team members working remotely
Not applicable

Automation can enhance sustainability
By removing friction and repetitive tasks through automation, teams perform 27% better in open source and 43% better at work, and developers report higher fulfillment.

Code needs documentation to become a project

Number of repositories with and without README, by repository type

Open Source
Open source at work

A twist on improving productivity: documentation increases confidence in a project and invites collaboration

Sharing information through READMEs, contribution guidelines, and issues are open source projects’ secret sauce: they invite new contributors and make developers 55% more productive. Enterprises can adopt these best practices to support their teams’ work and jump start inner source initiatives.

Try a new practice:
pull request wrangling

The Kubernetes Docs Special Interest Group (SIG) has great documentation on their contribution process. Given the large developer community they support globally, this isn’t surprising.

Within their well-defined [docs] roles and responsibilities, contributors who have reached “approver” status can volunteer for a week-long pull request (PR) wrangler shift.
A PR wrangler triages and tags incoming GitHub Issues, reviews open pull requests for quality and adherence to guidelines, offers feedback, and approves merge-ready pull requests.
This helps the Kubernetes community maintain accuracy in its current documentation, make sure that new documentation gets approved in sync with new release code, and enables localization of the docs by the community.
Kubernetes’ PR wranglers docs cover everything from responsibilities to helpful tips, including GitHub queries for pull request labels.

Sustainable communities

Developing is about community. Codes of conduct, contribution guidelines, Good First Issues, and respectful language in Discussions signal a community is safe, welcoming, and trusted. Communities with these signals attract more contributors, while also creating a stronger sense of belonging and fulfillment.

Teams with high trust are more likely to have a healthy collaborative culture:

2XMore likely in companies3XMore likely in open source

Where respondents contribute code

Future of developer communities

Geographic distribution users by region or country

Click on the menu below to switch between total users of 2020 and 2021.

Total users 2020
Total users 2021

Developer feedback helps steer GitHub Public Policy commitments

We asked developers which issues matter to them and their communities, to inform the work of our Policy team.
Here is what they said:

  • 01

    The ability to innovate and tinker without facing legal risk

  • 02

    Global collaboration, regardless of where developers live

  • 03

    Inclusion, i.e., ensuring that everyone has equal opportunity to become developers

  • 04

    Community moderation and healthy online collaboration

  • 05

    Government investment in and contribution to open source projects

  • More than 38,000 developers answered, giving us important insights.

    Read more