Open Source Practices and Tools

Open Source plays an important role in industry in various ways. This theme focuses on open source practices and tools. We investigated how OSS developers use microblogging (Twitter), why and how they employ time-based releases, and how they select their tools in the context of a volunteer-driven community. [IEEE Software 2013][IEEE Software 2015][ICSE (SEIP) 2016]

How Do Free/Open Source Developers Pick Their Tools?

Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) has come to play a critical role in the global software industry. Organizations are widely adopting FOSS and interacting with open source communities, and hence organizations have a considerable interest in seeing these communities flourishing. Very little research has focused on the tools used to develop that software. Given the absence of organizational policies and mandate that would occur in a traditional environment, an open question is how FOSS developers decide what tools to use. In this paper we report on a policy delphi study conducted in the Debian Project, one of the largest FOSS projects. Drawing from data collected in three phases from a panel of 21 experts, we identified 15 factors that affect their decision to adopt tools. This in turn can help FOSS communities to define a suitable policy of actions, in order to improve their processes.

Grounded Theory in Software Engineering

Grounded Theory (GT) has proved an extremely useful research approach in several fields including medical sociology, nursing, education and management theory. However, GT is a complex method based on an inductive paradigm that is fundamentally different from the traditional hypothetico-deductive research model. As there are at least three variants of GT, some ostensibly GT research suffers from method slurring, where researchers adopt an arbitrary subset of GT practices that are not recognizable as GT. In this paper, we describe the variants of GT and identify the core set of GT practices. We then analyze the use of grounded theory in software engineering. We carefully and systematically selected 98 articles that mention GT, of which 52 explicitly claim to use GT, with the other 46 using GT techniques only. Only 16 articles provide detailed accounts of their research procedures. We offer guidelines to improve the quality of both conducting and reporting GT studies. The latter is an important extension since current GT guidelines in software engineering do not cover the reporting process, despite good reporting being necessary for evaluating a study and informing subsequent research.

Lero is Hiring: ~40 Postdoc and 80 PhD positions

Lero – the Irish Software Research Centre is Ireland’s national software research centre, headquartered at the University of Limerick and involving all of Ireland’s seven universities and Dundalk Institute of Technology.
Following significant recent direct grant funding in excess of €30m from Science Foundation Ireland and our industry partners, we are seeking to fill over 40 new research positions. These include:

  • Research Fellow: €51,716 – €56,442 p.a.
  • Experienced Postdoctoral Researcher: €42,394 – €46,255
  • Postdoctoral Researcher: €37,750 – €41,181

Given Ireland’s very competitive taxation rates, these remunerations compare very favourably in an international context.

The closing date for applications for the above positions is 27 February 2015. Further details on the positions and the application process is available at

Release Engineering in Open Source

relengIEEE Software is publishing a special issue on Release Engineering, to appear in the March/April 2015 issue (Vol. 32, No. 2). Martin Michlmayr, Brian Fitzgerald and I have written an article on Why and How Open Source Projects should adopt time-based releases, which will be included in the special issue. The article outlines the numerous benefits of time-based releases (as opposed to feature-based releases) and provides some basic guidelines on how to achieve this.

Key Factors for Adopting Inner Source

Inner Source is a term used to refer to adopting an Open Source Software development approach within a company. Which development practices exactly an organization would adopt can vary widely, but the idea is that developers are empowered by offering them the “tools” and freedom to contribute to other teams’ or departments’ code. This approach can bring all sorts of benefits to the software product (such as faster development, more reuse, better quality) and as a result to the company as a whole.

Numerous companies have adopted Inner Source – and numerous companies are interested in adopting Inner Source. However, a big challenge for these interested companies is: how does inner source work, and what are important aspects to start an inner source initiative?

One of the studies I conducted for my PhD thesis (2011) was exactly to answer that question. The initial study was reported in the PhD thesis, and significantly revised and extended, and has recently been published in the ACM Transactions on Software Engineering and Methodology (vol. 23(2), article 18). (Please go to the publications section for the PDF).

Many companies are interested in adopting Inner Source, and I’m very excited about the publication of this work, as it is published in one of the two flagship journals in the software engineering research community. I am looking forward to collaborate with other organizations interested in this topic.

EASE 2014 Doctoral Symposium

ease2014_flyer_Feb11_2014CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: Calling all Empirical Software Engineering PhD Students: Opportunity for you to present your Research Proposals to a panel of experts at the EASE 2014 Doctoral Symposium and publish your proposals in ACM EASE proceedings! Find more information at:

Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd… in crowdsourcing software development

Crowdsourcing software development is an emerging topic within the software engineering community. While there are numerous studies on the topic of “crowdsourcing,” as far as we know there have been no case studies of crowdsourcing software development. We are happy to report that our paper entitled “Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd: A Case Study of Crowdsourcing Software Development” was accepted in the technical track of the 36th International Conference on Software Engineering. Pre-prints will be available in a few weeks. Meanwhile, you can find the Research Protocol here.

lnbip167The fourth edition of the Lean Enterprise Software and Systems (LESS) Conference took place from December 1st-4th, 2013, in Galway, Ireland. The proceedings have been published by Springer, in the LNBIP series (vol. 167). The conference was a great success, with workshop sessions by Jan Bosch and Helena Holmström Olsson (“Stairway to Heaven”) and Pekka Abrahamsson (“Lean Startups”), a panel with Martin Curley (Intel Europe), Ken Power, Jan Bosch and David L Parnas. David Parnas and Martin Curley also presented excellent keynotes. In addition to this, LESS 2013 featured a doctoral consortium, led by Xiaofeng Wang, as well as many interesting talks from both practitioners and researchers. In all, LESS 2013 has been an excellent forum to share experiences and insights.

Key Factors for Adopting Inner Source

Our paper entitled “Key Factors for Adopting Inner Source” has been accepted for publication in ACM Transactions on Software Engineering and Methodology (TOSEM). The paper presents a framework derived from the Inner Source literature, consisting of nine factors that organizations should consider when adopting Inner Source. The framework was applied in three organizations: Rolls-Royce, Philips Healthcare and Neopost Technologies. These are three companies that deliver state-of-the-art products in very different domains. A pre-print of the paper will be available soon.