GitHub's New 'Trending' Feature Lets You See The Future

No one really knows what Apple will release next, pushing analysts and interested observers to scour patent filings, review job openings and even check factory orders. But to see the future of technology, Tim O'Reilly has for years told us to look to the alpha geeks, to developers, and watch their current concerns turn into mainstream reality.

One great place to track developers is GitHub, the world's most popular code repository. But with over 7.8 million projects hosted on GitHub, it can be a daunting task to determine which projects are flying and which are mostly dormant.

Or it was, until GitHub announced its new Trending page.

An Open Window On An Open Future

As explained in a blog post, GitHub has launched a new Trending page to showcase the top-25 trending projects. The site allows you to quickly gauge what's trending today, this week, or this month, backed by a variety of data points including stars, forks, commits, follows, and pageviews, weighting them appropriately. As GitHub explains, "It's not just about total numbers, but also how recently the events happened."

In addition to the capability to track trends by time, the service also allows you to filter by language. Given GitHub's developer focus, it's also not surprising that the Trending page lets you drill down into the individual developers and the organizations of developers that have trending repositories on GitHub.

Not surprising, but still cool.

So What's Next?

Of those 7.8 million projects, what's bubbling to the top? Which projects are capturing the imaginations (and time) of the world's developers?

Topping the list is Effeckt, an HTML5 library that enables high-performance CSS transitions and animations. In other words, it dramatically advances the state of the art for the web. Have a look:

Second on the list is Bootstrap, a front-end framework for faster, easier web application development. And while you might assume the rest of the trending projects also involve the web, it turns out that the projects are quite varied.

For example, number five is a Skype replacement called Tox that "allows you to connect with friends and loved ones without anyone else listening in." In other words, it's the NSA-free Skype. Number six? It's called Skeuocard, and it "progressively enhances credit card input forms so that the card inputs become skeuomorphic, facilitating accurate and fast card entry, and removing barriers to purchase."

Further down the list are Photoshop enhancements, projects from Facebook and the BBC to catch visual regressions in Web applications and compare screenshots, respectively, and a replacement of memcached.

A Very Varied Future

In other words, while the future of technology certainly looks to be skewed toward the web, it's a highly varied web. And it's all happening on GitHub. In the open.

There are, of course, other ways to use the GitHub API to determine which projects are hot (and which are not), but the GitHub Trending service makes it very simple. No code required.