An analysis of 4 million code repositories shows the building blocks for a good culture and high productivity.

GitHub surveyed more than 12,000 developers and analyzed activity in open source repositories to understand what work habits build a solid culture.

Image: GitHub

According to GitHub’s State of the Octoverse 2021, software teams are changing the coding process to adapt it to the new dynamics of remote work. That means reusing code, leveraging automation, and improving documentation. This research combines telemetry from more than 4 million repositories and a survey of approximately 12,000 developers.

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GitHub added 1.4 new contributors to open source work in 2021. The total number of first-time contributors to open source projects rose to 3 million this year, compared to 2.8 million in 2020.

Here’s what the report recommends to help ship software faster and keep development teams happy.

How do you build a good culture

The report examined which practices and tools are most important for building a strong sense of culture and collaboration at work and in open source projects. With work projects, easily reusable code, code designed to be reused, automation, and the Westrum culture all contribute to software delivery performance. Westrum’s culture and code, designed to be reused, make it easy to collaborate with others. In open source projects, using automation to send code comes with a sense of accomplishment.

Unsurprisingly, detailed code reviews negatively impacted software delivery performance for both types of projects.

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Coaching and mentoring are another building block of good culture. Teams that use friendly and timely code reviews for new hires or hires see a 46% increase in productivity in open source projects and a 16% improvement in companies.

Codes of conduct also attract newcomers and contributors. Repositories with contributing guidelines and respectful language act as a welcome sign to encourage new people to contribute.

How to write code faster

The study found that software deployment automation is important to open source work and helps teams work faster and more scalable. Teams using Actions “are putting together almost 2x more pull requests per day than before (61% increase) and they are merging 31% faster.” The study also found that using this automation tool increased the number of merged pull requests by 36% and reduced the time to merge by 33%. Enterprise teams do 43% better using automation. Automation helps teams communicate better and more clearly, which the report also says helps build a better culture.

Reuse is another key to accelerating the development process with a performance increase of up to 87%. The key is to avoid authorization procedures, access restrictions or information fragmentation as these obstacles prevent reuse. Reuse also helps open source projects with twice the performance increase compared to slow processes or processes with multiple levels of approval.

After all, investments in documentation have a direct impact on productivity. The study found that documentation enabled developers to increase productivity by 50 percent. Analysis has shown that documentation can signal that a repository is reliable, detailed, and in a variety of formats. In addition, developers consider the documentation to be trustworthy if it is up-to-date and has a high number of upvotes. Companies that share information through READMEs, guidelines, and topics can encourage teamwork and internal initiatives.

Remote work is becoming the norm

Despite manager preferences and real estate commitments, only 11% of developers expect to return to the office, 30% less than the 41% who worked in an office prior to the pandemic. The survey also found that 46% of those who have worked together now assume they are in a completely remote (20%) or hybrid (26%) environment.

The report’s authors point out that open source developers are experts at shipping software with distributed teams and recommend merging pull requests, pipelineing code, and organizing the work to make this work environment successful.

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