GitHub usage analysis measures COVID-19 impact

GitHub reports developer activity has been ‘resilient’ during the pandemic, but warns of potential for burnout

GitHub usage analysis measures COVID-19 impact
Rawpixel / ADJ (CC0)

The COVID-19 virus has prompted a sudden, global need for people to stay home. Software developers, like everyone else, have had to transition to a work-from-home world. For the users of GitHub, the COVID-19 pandemic has meant changes in work cadence and collaboration, along with an increased risk of burnout, a GitHub study of usage patterns on the Microsoft-owned code sharing site has found.

In an “Octoverse spotlight” analysis published May 6, 2020, GitHub compared the first three months of 2020 with the first three months of 2019. These were the key findings:

  • Developer activity including pushes, pull requests, reviewed pull requests, and commented issues per user increased slightly year over year. This suggests developers have continued to contribute and their workflows have remained resilient during the crisis.
  • Patterns of activity have implications for burnout. During the transition to new work routines, developer activity may be sustained through more time being spent online. If additional work is happening at the expense of personal time and breaks to replenish and maintain healthy separation, the tradeoff may not be sustainable in the long run.
  • More collaboration is happening on open source projects. Several open source projects have seen a spike in activity. Also, the average time taken to merge a pull request in open source projects has dropped compared to a year ago. These signs suggest that open source developers are spending more time together on projects.
  • The cadence of work has changed, with developers’ work days getting longer by as much as an hour per day on both weekdays and weekends. Longer days may be a result of non-work interruptions, like family or childcare, now that many are working from home.
  • GitHub issues in enterprise repos have risen and fallen around COVID-19 outbreaks and shelter-in-place orders. The flux is likely due to the move to distributed work, which has disrupted the coordination and structure of enterprise software development. On GitHub, this coordination often is handled through issues, where teams track bugs, enhancements, and tasks.

GitHub said its analysis shows that developers have been resilient to the change wrought by COVID-19, with activity holding consistent or increasing through the crisis. Organizations that can adapt processes and procedures and embrace new ways of working as quickly as their development teams will be resilient and successful, GitHub said.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.