Visualization of Early QGIS Development

December 4, 2021

Years ago (2011), Nathan Woodrow did a visualization of code commits between QGIS 1.6 and 1.7 using Gource. I wanted to contrast the slow beginning of QGIS in 2002 with the flurry of activity in recent years.

Gource can analyze a git repository and display the activity. The video below begins with the very slow start of QGIS development in 2002. Since displaying all of QGIS activity using Gource would result in a long video no one would want to watch, I took a look at the time period from 2002 to mid-2004, then jumped to June of 2021.

You’ll note there were only two developers for nearly a year, with one person doing most of the commits. Things start to pick up and by 2004 we had a pretty good little crew working on the project.

Now, of course, there are far more people involved. An analysis of the git repository shows there are a total of 651 people who have made one or more commits.

In the visualization, the labels identify directories and you can see the people symbols moving around working on various sections of the code. Gource also allows you to display the filenames, but that clutters the display too much when dealing with the number of files in the QGIS codebase.

The legend on the left shows the file counts by extension as work proceeds. Look for the massive jump in counts when we fast forward to 2021.

Here’s the visualization:

QGIS will be 20 years old next year. I actually wrote the first code in February of 2002 but didn’t make it public until July. I’m planning to post a few more tidbits of QGIS history/trivia as the birthday approaches.