Maven Adoption Trends


All of the graphs in this post are from Vadim Gritsenko’s ASF home page.

There’s a discussion over on the Maven dev list about improving the site. I posted a reply about moving away from an asf-developer-focused site to a user-focused site akin to the page one sees when you go to the Mozilla.org page. I think this is a universal issue for apache, the sites created at the ASF usually don’t win usability awards. My argument is that most consumers of open source are just not interested in much beyond: “what is Maven?” and “how do I use it?”, and that the launch page should be designed to meet that need directly with the least amount of noise.

I’m interested because I think Maven is at a critical point in terms of adoption. It’s caught on, but there seems to be some resistance in the market. Informally, I’ve spoken to 20 people about Maven in the last two weeks. 3 people were all fired up about how great Maven was, 10 were still hesitant, and the other 7 have sworn it off indefinitely because of some bad experience with Maven 1.x. I’m interested in the hesitant 10, I think that if the hesitant 10 can be convinced, the scorned 7 will be forced to reevaluate Maven 2. But, I worry about momentum…

The data is only from the ASF hardware, but it’s got to be somewhat representative of overall demand. I don’t trust the data before December 2003. I just don’t think that many people downloaded Maven 1.x in 2003, and if you look at other project stats, late 2003 has some totally bogus spikes. I’m also a little suspect of the spike in Dec 2004. But, if the tail end of that graph is to be trusted, interest decreases last month.

What’s causing the drag? The documentation and the site. Maven 2 as a core product is pretty solid, but try using some of the plugins (like the assembly) plugin and you run into misleading documentation. People start using Maven 2, they like the basic builds, but then they run into some issue with configuration or they hit the missing doco. At this point instead of turning our users into evangelists, they either abandon the tool altogether or use it begrudgingly. The site is also a product of the fact that the Maven site doesn’t produce great web sites (for users or developers), and the documentation is something that is being addressed.