Artillery: Finding open source success between dev and ops

Given enough cash and luck, you can manufacture a pop phenomenon like One Direction. But if you want to foster a popular open source project, no amount of cash is going to buy success.

Instead, as Artillery.io founder Hassy Veldstra related in an interview, often the best way to create the next big open source project is to pay attention to how enterprises work, and to look for rough edges that can be smoothed out. In the case of Artillery, an open source load testing tool, that meant focusing on the cross-functional interplay between developers and operations as it relates to software performance.

While there was no guarantee that Artillery would become a big success, Veldstra and the Artillery community made some early technology bets—on JavaScript and YAML, for example—that have proved to be prescient. It suggests they will continue to make smart investments that help improve cross-functional collaboration within the enterprise.

The key to Veldstra’s early bets, however, is something anyone can emulate: Get in the trenches, get hands-on. Here’s how that approach has paid off for the Artillery community.

Scratching an itch

Today Artillery sees several hundred thousand downloads each month, growing 15 percent month over month. What Veldstra started as a solo project in 2016 now attracts dozens of contributors and users from pretty much every industry you can think of—even a forestry service, Veldstra notes.

All of this stemmed from a conference talk Veldstra gave five years ago. He was talking about the chat app he was building but also mentioned the load testing tool he’d created to help with it. Pretty much all of the audience questions focused on the load tester, which he soon pushed to GitHub on a whim to see if there would be interest. There was. “I put it up in GitHub and before I knew it, I was getting PR requests, comments, and requests for new features,” Veldstra recalled. “It was great.”

Great—but also surprising, perhaps, because there didn’t seem to be a need for another open source load testing tool.

If you pay attention to the performance testing market, you’re familiar with Apache JMeter. Veldstra was, too. But while working on a chat application at YLD, he needed a different approach than JMeter or other options provided.

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