Developers are building libraries in a vacuum; they have no visibility into who is using their code.
Greater insight into library adoption and usage leads to a stronger open source community.
Libscore was designed to be minimal and straightforward. It is extremely flexible in the way a user chooses to interact with it. The interface is driven by a search field which accepts different types of inputs, including libraries, scripts, and domains. There are also three quick links which display the top libraries, scripts, and fonts on the web today.
The Libscore API holds the variables that a library exposes itself as e.g. jQuery, Modernizr, $.ui, or $.fn.fancybox. Because Libscore uses the lib variable versus the branded name, it is important that the search helps the user find a particular library or variable. For this reason, we built a search API that very quickly returns a list of matched results, whether script or a library. The dropdown of search results is available throughout the entire experience and is driven by the arrow keys.
Lets take a look at David DeSandro’s grid layout library, Masonry. Masonry has been around for years and is used by about 39,000 sites (in the top million). Over the last 6 months, Masonry has climbed in popularity by a few percentage points. Last month, it increased by 2.05%. This steady growth shows Masonry as a reliable rock of a library. It has a incredibly high rate of usage, and is seemingly impervious to the many new Masonry alternatives like Salvatorre. If this were a stock, it would be a low-risk, promising investment that I would sink my money into!
Library Usage & Domain Ranking
While seeing the visual growth or decline of a library as a great indicator of general popularity (or lack thereof), it is equally important to see which sites consume a particular library. When we hear of a domain like cnn.com or eBay.com, we have a relatively good idea of it’s popularity - obviously massive. Because Libscore scans the top million sites and you definitely aren't familiar with all of them, we display the relative rank. Seeing library usage relative to a domain's rank, paints a nice picture of how a library is used.
Masonry is used by many of the top 1000 sites. David DeSandro might take a look at Masonry on Libscore and, for the first time ever, see that it is being used by Target, Home Depot, All Recipes, Food Network, Urban Dictionary, etc. As a developer, this feels like a gift after so much effort invested into building and maintaining a library. David might rest easy and know that his hard work is paying off.
As a developer, this feels like a gift after so much effort invested into building and maintaining a library.
From this list of domains, I can click into one to see an exhaustive list of libraries that that domain uses. As a developer, you can see if you are in good company. And yes, Masonry is in great company :)
While data specific to a particular library is useful, the real power of Libcore lies in the comparison of one library to the next. As a developer, I might want to see how my library stacks up with a competitor or a new library that has entered market. In the case of Masonry, there are many libraries that claim to have similar functionality. David DeSandro might compare his library to other libraries like Isotope and Packery. While both of these libraries have been growing month after month, so has Masonry. We might conclude that the general trend of brick-layouts is growing on the web. But from David’s perspective, he now understands that while similar libraries are improving, they are not taking a share away from Masonry’s rate of usage.
Libscore offers a UI to compare any library with another by using the same pattern which powers the initial search. After a user selects a library to compare to, the chart draws a new trend line on top of the previous libraries data visualization. It allows for an unlimited amount of comparisons, which can be useful for understanding the state of any type of library.
In addition to Libscore’s library-specific data visualization, it also showcases popularity lists for the top domains, scripts, and domains. While the utility of this functionality is limited, it provides us with useful information on the state of the web today. It is no surprise that jQuery takes home the trophy for top library; we do not expect this list to be eye-opening. The top libraries and scripts should be expected, as they represent proven libraries that have stood the test of time.
Future of Libscore
Creating ‘microsites’ for each one of these trends could be a highly useful resource for any segment of library type. If I am developing a new site and have a slider need, I could use my go-to favorite, or I can go to the Libscore slider microsite to form a much greater understanding of trends within this space. This information might persuade me to try something new, or popular within my field. Exciting stuff.