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2020 ROS Metrics Report

Hi All,

Once a year in August @tfoote and I check up on the general health, well being, and growth of the ROS community by collecting metrics from the various ROS projects and services. We use July and August as our annual benchmark months as they they tend to be a bit slower and acts as a good lower bound on community activity. Because Open Robotics and the ROS community are very privacy conscious, and we take pride in collecting very little user data, we have to lean heavily on proxy measurements to ascertain the overall growth and health of the community. The metrics report consists aggregate statistics from the various ROS services used in the wild including:

  • ROS Discourse
  • ROS Answers
  • ROS Wiki
  • Google Analytics attached various ROS properties
  • ROS Index
  • ROS Download Data
  • Github Contributions
  • Google Scholar Citations

The goal of pulling these numbers is to give the community a snapshot of the size of the ROS user base and how fast it is growing. I am happy to report that the ROS community is strong, healthy, and growing. In all but a few metrics the ROS community is growing and for many metrics the numbers almost doubled year over year. In the areas where the metrics are neutral, or shrinking, we can explain those results logically. For example, most numbers associated with the ROS wiki are down or flat; with the number of pages views down about 12%. This can mostly be attributed to directing our energy away from the ROS Wiki and towards the next generation ROS 2 Documentation. That’s the worst of the news, and it isn’t even bad, as it most likely means the community is moving towards ROS 2! All of the other news is really positive. Here are some highlights:

:melodic: users up 114%!
:melodic: 33.7% increase in ROS Discourse page views
:melodic: 33% increase in ROS Discourse users.
:melodic: 19% increase in answers users
:melodic: 8% increase in ROS Wiki users
:melodic: 7% increase in Answers questions
:melodic: 55.8% increase in total packages
:melodic: 86.8% increase in deb downloads
:melodic: 43% increase in rosdistro activity
:melodic: 26% increase in research citations

The table below summarizes things quickly; the number of ROS packages downloaded in July increased by 87%. In the month of July almost 40 Million ROS package debs were downloaded. If you extrapolate this out for the year, we’re looking at just shy of HALF A BILLION debs for 2020!

The full report can be downloaded as a PDF. Also, recall that many of these metrics are available at If you would like to borrow slides from the report, or need more information about where these numbers came from, feel free to DM me.


We know worldwide apt mirrors can contribute to measurement error when interpreting package downloads as a proxy for community growth, but another considerable source of error may be the Official Docker Hub Library images for ROS. These images are built once for each supported architecture by CI, then pushed to the registry where they can be pulled millions of times by users or other production/CI environments; for which each image can pre-bundle hundreds of ROS debian packages.

Docker Hub provides an API for such statistics which I linked to in a table from a previous post:

However, Docker Hub does not aggregate such statistics into a queryable time series format, suitable for extrapolating trends and usage patterns. One can endeavor to record and track such statistics via an external cron job or via scheduled sampling:

Better yet, I’ve recently discovered an opensource project that has been collecting and archiving these statistics for popular repos for the past year or so, rending pull counts as convenient line charts:

Some more examples:

For reference as a scale/growth comparison, here are some more popular/niche repos:

Perhaps we could link/scrape this source as well and include these statistics in future metrics reports.

1 Like

I concur that apt is probably a lower bound on users.

Am I reading that second plot correctly? The docker container of ROS downloads is just shy of 13M downloads? This is my first time running these stats, I am hoping to be a bit more comprehensive next year. I would definitely like to fold this in for 2021.