Are we being used?
How can you tell how much your open source software is being used?
One of the questions that haunts many open source projects is
How much is the thing we're developing really being used? For commercial software, it's an easy question to answer, you can count the licenses. It's indirect of course - you don't know that someone who owns a license is actually using the system - but it is accurate enough for most especially as it generally relates to income!
For us at OpenUnderwriter, the download count is the most obvious stat to look at. Right from the beginning, we saw many more downloads than we imagined we would. Having always considered enterprise insurance software to be reasonably niche when compared to most types of software.
However, our total download count currently stands at 16,428.
Given that typical OpenUnderwriter distribution is around 210Mb, even downloading it shows some level of commitment ;)
But what does that number mean. Are there 16,428 instances of OpenUnderwriter running in the world? Well, I'm an optimist by nature but that’s a stretch even for me, the truth is that we don’t know. That isn't because we're lax in keeping records or disinterested, it is simply the nature of the way that we do open source development.
We don’t insist that users contact us to get a license key, we don’t ask them to registering their interest in the system or even give us a “like” or a rating or a review. And if the system works for them, and they have no questions, there is no reason for them to post on our forum.
The most common way to gather usage stats these days is via services like google analytics. We started gathering stats related to OpenUnderwriter usage in 2010. This is far from being a complete picture too of course. Users are free to disable it if they wish, and it will only work from environments that have the necessary internet access, but it gives us some feedback.
So, what does Google Analytics tells us? Well, we know that OpenUnderwriter (and OpenQuote before it) has been installed in 28 countries, and used from 146 countries. Interestingly, the heaviest users have been in Guatemala and Bulgaria, followed by the UK, Mexico and the US. We can also see that it has been installed on at least 127 different servers.
The actual number are likely to be much higher as most users will have disabled analytics well before going live with the system. Others will be running it internally with no external access.
Ultimately though, the numbers do show that there is plenty of interest in OpenUnderwriter. Certainly enough for us to be committed to its future.
You gotta love open source!
About the Author
Richard is a founder of OpenUnderwriter and has over 20 years’ experience as a software architect and lead engineer, specialising in Insurance solutions. Prior to that he was working on real-time defence and civil aviation systems. He has delivered innovative insurance solutions for companies such as Catlin and Web-X. Richard has been the driving force behind the architecture of the OpenUnderwriter suite of products. Richard is a passionate advocate of open source software and is an active member of the open source community.