Looking at total lifetime contributors for a project can help us understand a few different points. For one thing, it often reflects the governance style of a project. Many projects are tightly managed by a small group of people, while others open up contributions to a wide and diverse audience.
The number of all-time contributors can also help us understand the relative momentum of a project at any given time. Large, well-established projects can often have significant numbers of contributors, helping fix bugs, contributing to documentation, and other related tasks. The total number of contributors can also often be associated with the overall size of the code base. This metric is typically most valuable when combined with other community metrics, such as lines of code, total commits, and monthly commits.
Beyond immediate contributors, the strength of a project's community is evident from ecosystem projects that extend and are built upon them. This demonstrates that the core project community alone doesn't always tell the whole story of a project's momentum. Looking more broadly at the ecosystem can further describe the overall success of an individual project.
Notably, Backbone has a substantial ecosystem, showing its overall momentum and usage in the industry. In an effort to further validate the Backbone ecosystem, I filtered my search to include only Backbone-related projects that have three or more stars on GitHub, which resulted in 1,627 projects. Compare this with 794 AngularJS projects with more than three stars, and Backbone's ecosystem is still two times the size of AngularJS's.
Because the full-stack solutions have a different scope than many of the other projects, I wanted to take a separate look into their growth. Full-stack solutions include both a client framework and a server-side framework; hypothetically, the amount of code involved should be greater, as should be the number of contributors participating over time. The chart indicates each of these projects is in a relatively early stage with moderate participation.
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