Chef Open Source Community: Year in Review

Throughout 2018, we published monthly community updates to summarize valuable new features & and developments in Chef’s open source projects (Chef, Habitat and InSpec) as well as ecosystem tools & content like Test Kitchen, Foodcritic, Supermarket, Habitat core plans, and InSpec profiles & plugins. For the month of December, we thought we would use the time to look back on the whole year and also share with you some metrics about our various communities.


As usual, 2018 was a big year for the Chef project, with a focus on out-of-the-box experience and ease of use. Chef 14, released in April, brought 27 new resources into core Chef that were previously only found in community cookbooks. You no longer need a Windows cookbook to automate Windows servers, for example.

Minor releases of Chef 14 throughout 2018 brought the number up to almost 50 new built-in resources. And, with the preview resources functionality in Chef 14.3, you can avoid namespace clashes between built-in resources and ones in community cookbooks until you are ready to upgrade your cookbooks, making the process of upgrading the Chef client itself much easier.

At ChefConf 2018, we introduced Chef Workstation, which is an improved desktop experience for all Chef users. It includes an ad-hoc remote execution mode, chef-run, which allows new users to get started with task-based automation against remote nodes over SSH or WinRM without having to install anything. Chef Workstation bundles all the functionality of ChefDK, so there will not be a ChefDK 4 released in April 2019; all future development on the desktop experience for Chef will happen in Chef Workstation.

Chef’s community was very active, with over 700 participants in Slack, 15,000 messages exchanged, and over 800 pull requests to Chef and its related projects across about 100 contributors.


Habitat evolved extremely quickly this year, with releases at least once a month. As a portable application packaging technology, we announced integrations with Kubernetes, Open Service Broker, Helm charts, Red Hat OpenShift, and many other technologies including hosted Kubernetes services like Azure Kubernetes Service and Google Kubernetes Engine. We also saw many users applying Habitat to legacy Windows applications to modernize and migrate them from end-of-life Windows versions like Server 2008 to newer ones.

We also released on-premises Habitat depot functionality in time for ChefConf 2018. Over the course of the year, we have been making user experience improvements to the build environment (to make it faster, using aching) as well as the management interface for the supervisor. We also said farewell to the composite packages feature of Habitat for now.

As the youngest open source project in Chef’s portfolio, most (about 80%) of contributions to Habitat are being made by Chef engineering. However, the community is extremely active, with nearly 500 participants in Slack, exchanging a whopping 46,000 messages throughout 2018. There were also over 1,700 pull requests to the project across 117 contributors.


We released two major versions of InSpec this year, which means that 2018 was an enormous leap forward in functionality for the project. InSpec 2.0 in February brought us the ability to evaluate all cloud infrastructure (and not just servers or containers) for compliance by interrogating cloud providers’ APIs. InSpec ships with first-class support for dozens of AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud resources and is also integrated into cloud provider-native interfaces like the Google Cloud Security Command Center and Microsoft Azure Cloud Shell.

InSpec 3.0 brought an improved developer experience including a plugin system to allow InSpec to be extended not only to other clouds like DigitalOcean, but to any other devices or software reachable over APIs. We have also seen many users utilizing InSpec to demonstrate audit compliance, so many of the improvements in InSpec (such as better metadata, skipped controls messaging, severity levels, etc.) are aimed in that direction.

Community members made approximately half of the contributions to InSpec. 2018 saw about 700 pull requests to InSpec across 124 committers.

Thank You

As you can see from the various metrics, Chef’s open source projects would not be what they are without a strong community. Again, we’d like to thank our most active community contributors, but also extend our thanks to any of you who have participated in Slack, submitted a GitHub issue, given us feedback on features and bugs, attended one of our community summits this year in London or Seattle, or have in any other way strengthened our community. Chef the company celebrated its tenth anniversary this year and there’s no way we could have reached this milestone without you. On behalf of everyone at Chef Software, thank you for your support and participation – we are eternally grateful.

Julian Dunn

Julian is a former Chef employee