To us, this story, which began in 1998, is about leverage and creating exponential value for the masses in many small steps. The first step was to provide a few bug fixes to httpget, an existing application, to work better for the IRC bot he was working on for fun. Today, that application is named curl and is used in virtually every connected device on the planet. Did we say planet? Make that planets. curl is known to be running on devices on at least two planets. And that's just in our galaxy!
So, what is curl? curl is an open-source project that makes a command line tool and a library for transferring data using internet protocols. It started with Daniel's need to fetch currency rates from various websites for his translation IRC bot, and today it helps approximately 20 000 000 000 (yes, that's twenty billion!) installations worldwide to transfer information.
Still trying to grasp the value that curl brings to the world? Let's put it in numbers:
- curl has grown from 3 to 28 transfer protocols
- curl runs on 92 operating systems
- curl is estimated to have been installed 20 000 000 000 times on at least two planets
- curl is almost guaranteed to be installed in all your connected devices
So, does curl employ thousands of developers and have a turnover of billions of dollars? No, curl is independent, and Daniel is the only person working full-time to maintain it. Around him there’s a small core team; around 5-10 persons do around 80% of the commits, and Daniel does most of them.
Apart from being a story about leverage and maximizing value over time in many small steps, the talk was a declaration of love for open-source software. Since the beginning, curl has been open source. Daniel often gets the comment that he would have been rich if he had just charged a small amount per installation. But Daniel does not regret keeping the code, discussions and processes open and transparent for everyone. Charging for curl would not have made him rich, it would have prevented it from growing to what it is today. There was simply no alternative! curl would never have developed as it did without being open source. Also, Daniel was motivated by contributing back to the open-source community. And for that we thank you, Daniel!
Watch the video: just curl it – Daniel Stenberg at myConf 2023