In April of this year, I completed gathering the raw data for my survey of gem downloads from my postings at the RubyGems web site. In the past, I have published progress reports at the 12 week and 24 week progress points. I am glad that the data collection is finally done. I admit, that it was only about an hour a week, but after several months it began to take on a level of tedium and boredom.
To be clear, data was collected for all 52 weeks, however, the data for week, 41, was lost in system crash. The data for that week is interpolated from the data of weeks 40 and 42.
The $65,536 question is WHY? Data collections and studies are are a lot of work and normally only undertaken with a goal in mind. My goal was simply to understand who was downloading the Ruby code I was writing and giving to the world. Unlike really popular authors, I did not have the luxury of looking to see thousands of downloads a day. My numbers were quite meager. My hypothesis was that by gathering detailed data, over a reasonably long span of time, some truths could be gleaned from that data that would reveal the nature of the user base. That is, assuming such a user base even existed.
You see, my fear is that I am just a crazy lunatic, working away in complete isolation, writing code that nobody will ever read. Just thinking about this scenario makes breathing difficult and causes my gut to twist and contort painfully.
The data itself reveals a brighter side. While subtle, there are some signs that there real are people out there at least looking at this code, and maybe incorporating it into their own projects.
There is a lot of data, too much for this blog or any single posting. In the coming days, I plan a number of articles looking at the data and coming to some concrete conclusions about Ruby Gem downloads and how to gage the success of a code release and maybe some tips for success in the world of software components.