Most popular open-source projects hosted at GitHub

GitHub is the most popular open source project hosting site. Earlier this year, GitHub reached a milestone in the history of open source project management by hosting 6 million projects over which 3.5 million people collaborate. You may wonder what the hottest open source projects are among those 6 million projects.

In this post, I will describe 20 most popular open source projects that are hosted at GitHub. To rank projects, I use the number of "stars" received by each project as a "popularity" metric. At GitHub, "starring" a project is a way to keep track of projects that you find interesting. So the number of stars added to a project presumably indicates the level of interests in the project among registered GitHub users.

I understand that any kind of "popularity" metric for open source projects would be subjective at best. The value of open source code is in fact very much in the eye of the beholder. With that being said, this post is for introducing nice cool projects that you may not be aware of, and for casual reading to those interested in this kind of tidbits. It is NOT meant for a popularity contest or a competition among different projects.

1. Bootstrap

Bootstrap, which is developed by Twitter, is a powerful front-end framework for web development. Bootstrap contains a collection of HTML/CSS templates and JavaScript extensions to allow you to quickly prototype the front-end UI of websites and web applications.

2. Node.js

Node.js is a server-side JavaScript environment that enables real-time web applications to scale by using asynchronous event-driven model. Node.js uses Google's V8 JavaScript engine to run its JavaScript. Node.js is the hottest technology used in many production environments including LinkedIn, PayPal, Walmart, Yahoo! and eBay.

3. jQuery

jQuery is a cross-browser JavaScript library designed to simplify the way you write client-side JavaScript. jQuery can handle HTML document traversal, events, animation, AJAX interaction, and much more. According to BuiltWith, jQuery is used by more than 60% of top-ranking websites today.

4. HTML5 Boilerplate

HTML5 Boilerplate is a professional looking front-end template for building fast, robust, and adaptable web sites or web applications in HTML5. If you want to learn HTML5 and CSS3, this is an excellent starting point.

5. Rails

Rails is an open-source framework for developing web applications based on Ruby programming language. Rails is a full-stack framework for developing database-backed web applications, encompassing everything from front-end template rendering to backend database query.

6. D3: Data-Driven Documents

D3.js is a cross-browser JavaScript library for presenting documents with dynamic and interactive graphics driven by data. D3.js can visualize any digital data in W3C-compliant HTML5, CSS3, SVG or JavaScript.

7. Impress.js

Impress.js is a CSS3-based presentation framework that allows you to convert HTML content into a slideshow presentation with stunning visualization and animation. Using impress.js, you can easily create beautiful looking online presentations supported by all modern browsers.

8. Font Awesome

Font Awesome is a suite of scalable vector icons that can be customized in size, color or drop shadow by using CSS. It is designed to be fully compatible with Bootstrap. Font Awesome is completely free for commercial use.

9. AngularJS

AngularJS is a JavaScript framework developed by Google to assist writing client-side web applications with model–view–controller (MVC) capability, so that both development and testing become easier. AngularJS allows you to properly structure web applications by using powerful features such as directives, data binding, filters, modules and scope.

10. Homebrew

Homebrew is package management software for MacOS X. It simplifies installation of other free/open source software that Apples does not ship with MacOS X. As of today, Homebrew has the second largest number of contributors at GitHub (next to Linux kernel source tree by Linus Torvalds).

11. Chosen

Chosen is a jQuery plugin that specializes in creating user-friendly and feature-rich select boxes in HTML. Chosen supports creating single select, multiple select, select with groups, disabled select, etc.

12. Foundation

Foundation is a responsive front-end framework that allows you to easily build websites or applications that run on any kind of mobile devices. Foundation includes layout templates (like a fully responsive grid), elements and best practices.

13. jQuery File Upload

jQuery File Upload is a jQuery plugin that creates a powerful file upload widget. The plugin supports multiple file selection, drag & drop, progress bar, validation, preview images, chunked/resumable uploads, client-side image resizing, etc.

14. Three.js

Three.js is a cross-browser JavaScript library that allows you to create and display lightweight 3D animation and graphics in a web browser without any proprietary browser plugin. It can be used along with HTML5 Canvas, SVG or WebGL.

15. Jekyll

Jekyll is a simple website generator that converts plain texts into static websites or blogs. Without any database, comment moderation, update or installation, it simplifies blog management significantly. It supports permalinks, categories, pages, posts, and custom layouts.

16. Brackets

Brackets is a web code editor written in JavaScript, HTML and CSS, which allows you to edit HTML and CSS. Brackets works directly in your browser, and so you can instantly switch between code editor view and browser view, all within web browser.

17. Oh My Zsh

Oh My Zsh is a community-driven framework for managing ZSH configurations, where contributors contribute their ZSH configurations to GitHub, so that users can grab them. It comes bundled with more than 120 ZSH plugins, themes, functions, etc.

18. Express

Express is a flexible and minimalist web application framework for node.js, offering a set of features for building single-page, multi-page or hybrid web applications.

19. Moment

Moment is a lightweight JavaScript library for parsing, validating, manipulating, and displaying dates in JavaScript.

20. GitLab

GitLab is self hosted Git project management software powered by Ruby on Rails, which allows you host code repositories on your own server. It supports user/access permission, issue tracking, line-comments, code review, etc. GitLab is currently used by more than 25,000 organization to host private code repositories.

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Dan Nanni is the founder and also a regular contributor of He is a Linux/FOSS enthusiast who loves to get his hands dirty with his Linux box. He likes to procrastinate when he is supposed to be busy and productive. When he is otherwise free, he likes to watch movies and shop for the coolest gadgets.

2 thoughts on “Most popular open-source projects hosted at GitHub

  1. A polite nit - you can't say that something "is a software" (e.g. "Homebrew is a package management software"). You can say something "is software" or "is a software package". Lots of non-native speakers of English make this mistake.

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