Facebook details its 2016 open source accomplishments

Facebook ramped up its open-source initiative in 2016, and the company has already seen a 35 percent increase in followers.

Facebook added 54 new projects to its open-source initiative during the last six months. The company is on a mission to open source its code for software and hardware to encourage ongoing development from outside companies and engineers.

"We build tools that enable engineers to work more easily across platforms, automate testing to catch problems sooner, and help improve the overall performance of our products," wrote Christine Abernathy, a developer advocate with Facebook's open source team, in a blog post. "We know from experience that collaborating with the open source community surfaces new ideas and solutions to the challenges that we face."

During the first half of 2016, Facebook launched more than a dozen open-source projects that garnered more than 500 followers (or contributors) each, according to the company. "So far this year, our number of followers has increased by 35 percent and we've seen a nearly 50 percent rise in total forks,” Abernathy wrote.

Facebook's open source momentum

To showcase the company's momentum, Abernathy highlighted a trio of new open-source projects: Draft.js, ReDex and Memory Bundle.

  • Draft.js is a rich-text editor based on React Native, a JavaScript library designed to unify development for all of the leading OSes under the same code. Facebook open sourced the React Native framework at its @Scale developer conference last September.
  • ReDex optimizes bytecode to make Android apps smaller and faster, and it reduced the size of bytecode in Facebook’s flagship Android app by 20 percent, according to the company.
  • Memory Bundle is a suite of tools that lets iOS developers automatically find and fix instances where memory allocations may cause a crash. To date, coders and engineers have contributed 240 forks of ReDex and 280 forks of Memory Bundle to date, the company says.

[Related: What CIOs can learn from Facebook’s use of open source]

Facebook is also pursuing open-source projects in industries that operate outside traditional developer platforms, such as AI, where the company released scripts for image recognition and a modular collection of boilerplate code.

Facebook plans to provide further updates for engineers on its open-source plans at the @Scale conference next month. And more information on is available on Facebook's GitHub page and its site dedicated to all things code.

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Matt Kapko

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