While the open source community comes together this week to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Kubernetes, at GitLab, we've hit a milestone of our own 🎉
GitLab.com received a record 1 million merge requests (MRs) in March 2019, the largest number of monthly MRs since the project began. The increase in engagement continued through April, when another million MRs were created. There was a 17% spike in the number of merge requests between February and March 2019 – a significant increase in engagement.
The amount of monthly MR activity has outpaced the number of active monthly users on GitLab.com. In fact, the number of new MRs per active user has increased by 40% year-over-year (May 2019 vs. May 2018). The primary driver of this spike is MRs in private projects on GitLab.com, indicating there is opportunity to increase the wider community's engagement in public projects.
Everyone can contribute
We built GitLab so everyone can contribute! We regularly receive MRs from software developers, project managers, and writers (like me!) pertaining to different private and public projects.
GitLab may be a DevOps tool, but these MRs are in no way limited to developer activities. GitLab was designed so contributors can collaborate on projects, taking an idea from the conceptual to the actionable through a series of iterative changes. These 1 million MRs in March 2019 don’t all represent monumental changes to GitLab. Instead, they represent a million different ways the community has contributed to GitLab.
"Our ambitious, shared vision to make it easier and faster to innovate with a single application is only achievable with the support of the wider community," says Jeremy Watson, senior product manager for the Manage team at GitLab. "We can't do it alone; we're happy to welcome first-time contributors, and members of the community can help in a variety of ways – even if you're not comfortable with contributing with code."
"We've had about 40-50 new contributors in the past six to seven releases," adds Ray Paik, code contributor program manager. "These are first-time contributors who had their MRs merged."
We see MRs that span highly technical topics, such as executing on our monitoring product roadmap, to MRs that are more operational, such as making improvements to the GitLab onboarding process. A lot of first-time contributors start by making improvements to our documentation, which doesn't involve writing code at all. There's also more to contributing than submitting MRs!