Sunday, January 27, 2008

Ruby vs Groovy: What Can List Traffic Tell Us?

Over the weekend we loaded the main Ruby lists from, about 300,000 messages across the last six years. The ruby-talk list alone weighs in at 245,000 messages and is our new second place traffic champ, trailing only php-general.

With both the Ruby and Groovy archives loaded, we have an exciting opportunity to compare the two communities. In my experience talking with developers at Java conferences, they often look to both Ruby and Groovy as possible next languages to learn. The Java developers have a natural desire to go toward Groovy because it lets them keep their Java stack, but they're concerned about Groovy's level of support relative to Ruby, which has been around much longer and has a larger community.

How much larger? Is the community growing or shrinking? It can be hard to tell with open source, having no revenue numbers and with download counts skewed by bundling. I think looking at email list traffic patterns are about as good a gauge as anything.

Below you'll see the a composite graphic showing the traffic from the five Ruby lists compared to the five Groovy lists, with the Groovy lists inlaid at matching scale:

The Ruby lists are more active, by about double. In the months before the Groovy 1.0 launch in January 2007, the spread was even larger. Both communities seem to have plateaued in 2007. I look forward to seeing what 2008 brings.

P.S. The Ruby lists are half English and half Japanese. Yukihiro (Matz) Matsumoto who created Ruby is Japanese, and the language first took off in Japan. If you speak Japanese, feel free to search for Japanese words. It should work but do let us know if you spot any issues.

1 comment:

Eek said...

Notice that there is a tendency for mailing list traffic to go up non-linearly - the first users give a disproportionate increase, then additional users give less increased traffic than you'd assume.

There are at least two factors contributing to this: (1) People drop off the mailing list due to too much traffic, (2) Things have already been said, and thus don't need repeating.

There is a combination explosion working a little bit in the opposite direction, yet the net result seems to land at "limit".