May 01 2010

The State of the Spree Community - May, 2010by Sean Schofield

This week we started launching the first of several Spree projects that the Railsdog team has been working on. Since things are relatively quiet this weekend (for once), I wanted to take the opportunity to pause and reflect on the state of the Spree project and our community.


The Spree project is really starting to pick up steam. Here are some quick stats:

  • 15,000 gem downloads - Over 10,000 of these downloads are from July 2009 until now (via
  • 2,000 gem downloads since March 25, 2010 (the last release)
  • 365 forks on Github (#6 overall on Github)
  • 1,177 watchers in Github (Top 30 overall on Github)
  • 99 different contributors to the source code
  • 21 different contributors to the documentation
  • 22 different translations (with more expected now that we have the spree-i18n project)
  • 825 members on the spree-user mailing list with over 7,000 messages
  • Over 100,000 visitors and 250,000 visits to the Spree website
  • Over 20,000 visitors to the Spree website last month

Real World Deployments

Spree continues to be deployed in live sites around the world. Many of these sites have already been announced on the spree-user mailing list. Others will be announced shortly on the newly designed Spree showcase (more information on this in the next post.) The Spree project continues to improve with each customer implementation. New tools for converting sites and integrating with fulfillment centers are being written each day. We continue to receive numerous donations from the community in the form of Spree extensions.

Strong Community Interest

The Spree project continues to garner a strong level of interest from the Rails community and is attracting an increasing level of attention from outside of the Ruby/Rails space. We received very strong indications that there would be keen interest in a Spree conference and we made some preliminary plans to hold one. We ultimately decided against holding such a conference this spring because we felt there was not enough time to organize a proper venue. We'll definitely be revisiting this idea in the near future though.

Spree will also be prominently featured at this years Railsconf in Baltimore, MD. Spree will be discussed in an expert panel on e-commerce which I will be moderating. There will also be a birds of a feather session dedicated to the Spree project that same evening at 8:00 pm. Many of the Spree core team members will be at the conference along with some of the active contributors in our community.

Steady Progress

Another important measure of the health of the community is consistent contributions. How frequently is the project updated? How active are the contributors? Is the project steadily being improved or is it slowly losing the interest of its developers and users?

We're pleased to report that the Spree project continues to receive a consistent stream of contributions from our developers and community.

Spree Activity

The Ruby on Rails project is probably the best known open source Ruby project out there. Take a look at their contribution history below. You will see that they have a similar healthy trend - one that we're proud to emulate.

Rails Activity

Just to contrast, take a look at the activity level of the Paperclip project. Its actually one of the more popular projects on Github but as you can see in the graph it does not receive a steady level of contributions over time. In fact, this is fairly typical of many open source projects and it does not necessarily reflect the usefulness of the project in question.

Paperclip Activity

I want to be clear that we're not bashing the Paperclip project. Its a great plugin and we use it ourselves in the Spree project. Paperclip is a small tool for a very specific need. It solves this need very well and its used by thousands of Rails developers with the same problem.

I'm comparing Spree to Paperclip for one reason - to show that Spree is something special. Its different than most Ruby projects out there on Github. It has a vibrant community with thousands of real world users. It solves a complex series of problems that require continuous improvement and refinement. Like Rails, Spree has an active community and a bright future ahead of it.

The Road Ahead

The core team has been working hard behind the scenes to prepare Spree for its next big step forward. In my next post I will be discussing the road map for Spree and how we envision its evolution in the future.