Event details

How to understand risks associated to open source communities (and tools that will help to delimit them)

von Daniel Izquierdo (Universidad Rey Juan Carlos)

Saturday, 26.05.2012, Berlin II, 14:45-15:30 Uhr

Open source communities are a battalion of different people but with a common goal. And that common goal is probably one of the key factors to understand what they do and how they are doing that. Indeed this is not that different from what companies do. At the very beginning, companies need to prepare the basement of the future business model, where every partner will feel comfortable.

However open source communities are a bit more complex. And each time someone is interested in investing money, infrastructure or development time in a product, they need to actually understand the implications of doing this. Thus, what are the risks associated to open source communities?. What is the option that best fits with my requirements?. And even more important, why do I want to participate in an open source community?.

Starting from the latter question, the answer is simple: open source communities are providing incredible technology. And this is possible thanks to the common work of hundreds or thousand of developers that are making this possible.

Regarding to the other two questions, those need more time to be answered. Thanks to the existence of publicly available repositories (source code management systems, mailing lists or bug tracking systems), it is possible to understand factors that are usually unreachable in typical businesses.

Among others, it is possible to study open source communities from the following point of views, that could be interesting when participating in them:

Understand who are the main developers: a company could be interested in hiring them or providing some financial support for specific activities.

Typical patterns of activity: in order to guess the effort that is being actually developed.

Regeneration of developers: turnover is almost impossible to avoid, but some policies could be derived in order to avoid knowledge loss.

Study of companies participating: some companies could be interested in better understanding what other companies are doing and the regions of the source code that they are modifying. Or even their importance in terms of number of developers and overall productivity.

Responsiveness of the community: when fixing issues in the source code, process is usually undertaken in the issue tracking systems or for instance, support provided in the mailing lists or forums.

Evolution of licensing and issues derived from them: this is probably a key difficulty when redistributing source code and integrating third part software

Orphaned areas of the source code that might be more prone to be buggy as well as low maintained areas of the source code.

And from other points of view, this type of analysis could be done facing other interests such as the impact analysis of a liberated product, a tracking process of specific open source communities that might be interesting or general evaluation and comparison of several products.

For this purpose, there exist specific tools that help in this process. Among others, the LibreSoft tools are prepared to retrieve information from specific repositories that later will be analyzed and will help to answer some of the previous questions. As an example CVSAnalY is focused on the analysis of source code management systems, providing support for CVS, SVN and Git. Bicho that analyses issue tracking systems, currently supporting the SourceForge tracker, specific installations of Bugzilla (GNOME, KDE or Apache). Or other examples out of the Libresoft toolset such as Sonar that helps to control the evolution of the source code.

Über den Autor Daniel Izquierdo:

Daniel Izquierdo-Cortazar is a PhD student at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Móstoles, Spain. He earned a degree in computer science from the same university and obtained his master degree in computer networks and computer science systems in 2006. His research work is focused on the assesment of libre software communities from an engineering and business point of view and especially with regard to quantitative and empirical issues.

Right now he holds a grant from the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos to dedicate part of his time to his PhD's thesis. He is also involved in European-funded projects such as QualOSS or FLOSSWorld. He also teaches in Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Móstoles (Spain) in the Master on Free Software.