Software ecosystems form the heart of modern companies’ collaboration strategies with end users, open source developers and other companies. An ecosystem consists of a core platform and a halo of user contributions that provide value to a company or project. In order to sustain the level and number of high-quality contributions, it is crucial for companies and
contributors to understand how ecosystems tend to evolve and can be maintained successfully over time.
As a ﬁrst step, this presentation explores the evolution characteristics of the statistical computing project GNU R, which is a successful, end-user programming ecosystem. We ﬁnd that the ecosystem of user-contributed R packages has been growing steadily since R’s conception, at a signiﬁcantly faster rate than core packages, yet each individual package remains stable in size. We also identiﬁed differences in the way user-contributed and core packages are able to attract an active community of users.