The Top 5 Most Forked Github Repos: 2018

It’s almost 2019, and what a year it’s been.  One year ago today, I was struggling to get through the final few days before winter break as a tenth grade math teacher, and struggling to convince my advisees to get their college apps in and their college visits completed.  Today, I’m sitting comfortably on the other side of Fullstack Academy’s software engineering immersive and spending my week interviewing and completing coding challenges….whew!

As a new software engineer with some time on my hands, I found myself wondering about the most popular Github repos OF ALL TIME.  I’ve certainly forked a fair few in my day, but what are the best ones?  The most popular ones?  Well, here you go.  In this post, I’ll list the repos, and then try to explain and/or uncover why they’re so popular.

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To find the top 5 most forked repos, you can search Github for ‘stars:>1’ and then sort by ‘Most forks’ on the righthand side of the page.
  1. datasharing by jtleek

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to list the most forked repo of all time on your resume?  This one is interesting, because it’s just a README!  Like, a really good one, but still.  As of this post, it has 191,505 forks and 4,580 stars.  Issue #217 on the repo asks why it’s the most forked of all time, and the top answer says that it’s a required fork of a Coursera course that focuses on Github.  I asked a world-renowned data scientist (my husband) about this repo, and here was his response:

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We were texting from 2 rooms away.

2. ProgrammingAssignment2 by rdpeng

This is an assignment for a Coursera course in R that asks students to cache some computations.  Is Coursera advertisting this stuff somewhere?  That the top 2 Github repos of all time are forked by their students?  As of this post, this repo has 114,434 forks and 567 stars.  Questions raised by this repo: Where is ProgrammingAssignment1?  Does it not require a fork?

3. Spoon-Knife by octocat

This repo is an example of how to fork a repo!  Makes sense that it’s been forked a fair few times.  Also…get the name?  GET IT?  As of this post, this repo has 101, 816 forks and 10,079 stars.

4. tensorflow by tensorflow

Now we’re getting to the good stuff!  From the README:

TensorFlow is an open source software library for numerical computation using data flow graphs. The graph nodes represent mathematical operations, while the graph edges represent the multidimensional data arrays (tensors) that flow between them. This flexible architecture enables you to deploy computation to one or more CPUs or GPUs in a desktop, server, or mobile device without rewriting code. TensorFlow also includes TensorBoard, a data visualization toolkit.

This repo was created by the Google Brain team, and is used and interacted with in Python, although it performs a lot of the work using C++.  TensorFlow essentially makes machine learning easier to work with by abstracting away a lot of the messy details.  It allows a developer to focus on what they want to happen and what the logic should look like, rather than fussing around with the specific inputs and outputs of various functions that you need to string together.  Instead of learning how to create my own deep neural network from scratch, I can use TensorFlow.  It was first released by Google as an open source project about 3 years ago (November 2015.)  It’s cool.  Five stars.  Here’s a video of a talk called Effective TensorFlow for Non-Experts, originally presented at Google I/0 2017, that does a good job of explaining its purpose and functionality.

As of this post, TensorFlow has 70,708 forks and 117,010 stars (and is the first repo on the list with more stars than forks – you go, Glen Coco!)

5. bootstrap by twbs

There’s something oddly pleasing to me that the #4 most forked repo was a deep, data-heavy, backend kinda tool whereas the #5 repo is a frontend framework.  It’s Bootstrap!  Bootstrap was initially created by Twitter developers and was initially released in 2011.  I’ve never actually used Bootstrap, being more of a Semantic UI kinda gal myself, but I remember hearing it thrown around all the time and eventually googling it to see what the deal was.  Essentially, Bootstrap has a ton of built-in CSS and JS that allows you to make your site look pretty without having to reinvent the wheel every time.  If you’ve used something like Semantic UI or Material UI, you’re probably familiar with the general concept of a frontend framework.

As of this post, Bootstrap has 63,605 forks and 129,469 stars (and one of the stars is from me!)

So there you go!  The top 5 most forked repos.  I think it’s fascinating to peek into what other developers are forking, and I’m already considering a future post to delve into the top 10 most forked repos (potentially ignoring any repos that are course-specific assignments…)

What’s the most useful repo you’ve forked?