In 1996 when KDE was first announced, it had only a handful of developers and the project could manage the source code without using a revision control system. More and more developers have begun to contribute to KDE over the years, and while there has been some attrition, the total number of active developers working on KDE has been steadily growing.
In order to get a pulse from the current developer community, Simon St. James and Arthur Schiwon produced and plotted two basic metrics that show the continued growth within the KDE community.
The first chart, above, shows the total number of active KDE contributers in any given month over a 12-year period. While there is some ebb and flow, its quite obvious that the activity surrounding KDE is ever increasing. This is further reinforced by the chart below, showing the number of new contributers each month over the same period.
The second chart shows more fluctuations due to a smaller scale. It also shows that, short-period fluctuations notwithstanding, KDE has been steadily recruiting more contributors over time.
In fact, while the earliest KDE quickly outpaced a world without a revision control system, the current KDE is attempting to adjust to new tools and techniques that will help it scale well into the future. With the probable conversion to decentralized revision control (pending some testing), the era of being able to track the size of the KDE developer community by commit logs alone may be coming to an end.
If you are interested in contributing to KDE in any way, visit Techbase to see how to get started. If you get stuck, or would prefer not to code, try the KDE Forums, mailing lists, or one of our irc channels for additional help. We also highly recommend joining a bug day organised by the bugsquad. Finding and reporting bugs is one of the easiest and least demanding ways to contribute to and learn more about KDE and it is highly valuable to our developers.