Saturday, 28 March 2009

Hackage download stats vs OCaml

Donald Bruce Stewart recently published an in-depth analysis of Hackage's download statistics that shows many interesting characteristics:

  • All of the 1,200 Haskell softwares on Hackage combined have been downloaded as many times in total as a single OCaml program, MLDonkey, from Sourceforge (let alone OCaml's other popular software like FFTW and Unison).
  • Over half of the packages on Hackage have been downloaded under 300 times.
  • Dependencies are multiply counted so these figures are a substantial over estimate.

This confirms our suspicions that the few lines of real-world Haskell software ever written have been tested by only a handful of people. Perhaps Haskell will become more mainstream in the future but it seems to be quite a long way off today.


Don Stewart said...

Interestingly MLDonkey's now matching darcs for users according to popcon, on Debian - it has declined quite a bit from its glory days!

Some modern figures that don't rely on popularity of a single application a decade ago - so as not to give the wrong impression...

Perhaps you could find the last, say, 12 months of OCaml library and app downloads. That would be very interesting to see.

Flying Frog Consultancy Ltd. said...

Note that the graph you have cited is displaying the proportion of registered Debian users and, consequently, the downward trend you have attributed to MLDonkey's "decline" is actually an increase in the absolute number of new Debian users not using MLDonkey and not a drop in MLDonkey users as you state, i.e. the trend you observed is irrelevant. The absolute number of active installs is barely in decline.

Also, note that users who installed MLDonkey are twice as likely to actually use it as users who installed Darcs.

For recent uptake of software written in OCaml and Haskell, look at libfftw3-3 vs xmonad.

On Ubuntu, FFTW3 acquired over 300x as many installs as XMonad in the same time frame.

For current use of libraries for OCaml and Haskell, look at LablGTK vs MTL (these seem to be the most actively used for each language).

The number of active OCaml and Haskell programmers is comparable but the number of successful OCaml projects is significantly larger (e.g. FFTW, MLDonkey, Unison, Hevea, Planets, FreeTennis, LEdit, Polygen, MTASC, ADVI, Haxe for OCaml vs Darcs and XMonad for Haskell) and the number of end users is orders of magnitude higher for OCaml software than Haskell software.

In short, OCaml has several killer apps and Haskell still has none but I will grant you that Haskell programmers chat on IRC a lot more. Indeed, that is probably the explanation...

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