Whether you open Facebook, Google or Amazon, all of the most popular websites and applications today depend on free and open source software components. Because it’s unseen, we rarely think of the thousands of people who contributed code to them as volunteers.
Wikipedia.org is one of the top five websites in the world. Because its software relationships are publicly available, they can easily be mapped. Whenever you browse Wikipedia, the website (built in MediaWiki) depends on 72 different open source software projects, which 3,325 individual developers have helped work on since 2015.
These numbers are likely much lower than the open source dependencies that exist in your phone’s operating system, major desktop software and apps.
It is a healthy and awe inspiring fact of the Internet that such building blocks for other software are openly available. However, it is also a risk that their developers go unnoticed and under supported in maintaining the code that millions of people depend on.
Libraries.io is an initiative to raise the quality of software by monitoring and illustrating the hidden relationships powering our everyday technology, to help provide deeper understanding of, and encourage more contributions to, free and open source software. Failing to appreciate these connections can lead to security issues or abandonment of underlying projects with wide-ranging consequences. It has happened before. The more we value and maintain the unseen infrastructure of the open Internet, the healthier it will be.
Exploded view of Wikipedia.org open source software dependencies and contributors
Data source: Libraries.io compiled data showing MediaWiki dependencies on GitHub, 2017