Open/Inner Source

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.

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.

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.

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.

Microblogging in Open Source projects: The Case of Drupal

Our paper “Microblogging in Open Source Software Development: The Case of Drupal Using Twitter” was accepted for publication in IEEE Software. This work is led by Dr Xiaofeng Wang from the Free University of Bolzano, in collaboration with Ilona Kuzmickaja, Pekka Abrahamsson and Brian Fitzgerald. You can find the pre-print here. While there have been numerous academic papers on Twitter, few have been published targeting the Software Engineering community, and so far most of them have been conference papers.