A couple years ago, I was needing a python script that would grab realtime Severe Weather Alerts and integrate that data into my Home Automation project. I couldn’t find anything (in any non-horrible programming language) that did what I wanted. So, I wrote a script to do it. It stayed hidden in the depths of my home automation project for several months until an acquaintance asked for a copy. I decided to go ahead and open source script, throwing it in a public github repo and packaging it for inclusion in PyPI. It’s called “WeatherAlerts.”
Let me be completely clear, this package was a mess. It was my first foray into python packaging and it showed. It was also written much earlier in my python days, but, it worked (mostly). I decided that since it worked, if someone else could find use for it, or at least give them a starting point toward making something better… in the spirit of Open Source, I’d throw it out there. It’s had a few improvements over the past two years and recently it’s gotten much better but it’s still a functional mess though I’m working to fix that (the mess part).
Last year, my WeatherAlerts python package had a total of 3,574 downloads on PyPI. This year, it’s already at 2,409 with 1,287 so far this month… Since these numbers are just PyPI download counts, I don’t have any analytics on which to ponder, which drives me nuts. I do have analytics on the documentation I’ve posted and it has show a similar uptick recently. But it’s rather difficult to equate downloads to actual users considering bot downloads, redownloads, installs that are never used, cosmic events, etc. I’d love to know how many people actually use it…. When I decided to open source it, I assumed it might help as many as four or five users 🙂 Even if the PyPI numbers are way off, it is still being looked at a lot more than I would have expected.
Over the past few months, I’ve had a number of emails and social media contacts from users which has resulted in some great feedback and conversations. This makes me want to spend a few minutes some day to clean it up and make it presentable. 🙂 Regardless it has fulfilled the goal I had when I decided to open source it, that being to help more than 0 people, in the process I’ve learned more about python packaging, sphinx documentation and python as a whole.
I have four public packages on PyPI and WeatherAlerts isn’t the most popular. NagParser is a package a Friend/Coworker and I open sourced shortly after I released WeatherAlerts. I just pulled the metrics for NagParser and it had over 17,300 downloads last year and is already sitting at 8,117 this year. The other two packages I have on PyPI are barely touched and getting less popular by the day (if that’s even possible) but I’m not offended, they’re very niche packages that are hardware or API subscription specific.
I also have run my own PyPI/pip compatible server at home, for stuff that’s not quite open source ready or stuff very custom to me.