Advertisement

Empirical Software Engineering

, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 3221–3247 | Cite as

On the challenges of open-sourcing proprietary software projects

  • Gustavo PintoEmail author
  • Igor Steinmacher
  • Luiz Felipe Dias
  • Marco Gerosa
Article

Abstract

The open source software (OSS) movement has become widely recognized as an effective way to deliver software. Even big software companies, well-known for being restrictive when it comes to publishing their source code artifacts, have recently adopted open source initiatives and released for general use the source code of some of their most notable products. We conducted an exploratory study on merits of the widespread belief that open-sourcing a proprietary software project will attract external developers, like casual contributors, and therefore improve software quality (e.g.,given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow”). By examining the pre- and post-migration software history of eight active, popular, non-trivial proprietary projects that became open source, we characterize the phenomenon and identify some challenges. Contrary to what many believe, we found that only a few projects experienced a growth in newcomers, contributions, and popularity; furthermore, this growth does not last long. The results from the study can be useful for helping software companies to better understand the hidden challenges of open-sourcing their software projects to attract external developers.

Keywords

Open source software Proprietary software Community engagement Open collaboration Popularity 

References

  1. Abbott T (2017) Open sourcing zulip – a dropbox hack week project. Online (2017). https://blogs.dropbox.com/tech/2015/09/open-sourcing-zulip-a-dropbox-hack-week-project/. Accessed: Nov-20-2017
  2. Anthes G (2016) Open source software no longer optional. Commun ACM 59 (8):15–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Avelino G, Passos LT, Hora A, Valente MT (2016) A novel approach for estimating truck factors. In: 24th IEEE International Conference on Program Comprehension, ICPC 2016, Austin, pp 1–10Google Scholar
  4. Bird C, Gourley A, Devanbu P, Gertz M, Swaminathan A (2006) Mining email social networks. In: Proceedings of the 2006 International Workshop on Mining Software Repositories, MSR ’06, pp 137–143Google Scholar
  5. Borges H, Hora A, Valente MT (2016) Understanding the factors that impact the popularity of GitHub repositories. In: 32nd IEEE International Conference on Software Maintenance and Evolution (ICSME)Google Scholar
  6. Borges H, Hora A, Valente MT (2016) Predicting the popularity of GitHub repositories. In: Proceedings of the The 12th International Conference on Predictive Models and Data Analytics in Software Engineering, PROMISE 2016, Ciudad Real, pp 9:1–9:10Google Scholar
  7. CSharpFAQ (2017) We’re moving to GitHub! Online (2017). https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/csharpfaq/2015/01/10/were-moving-to-github/. Accessed: Nov-20-2017
  8. Dabbish L, Stuart C, Tsay J, Herbsleb J (2012) Social coding in GitHub: Transparency and collaboration in an open software repository. In: Proceedings of the ACM 2012 Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, CSCW ’12, pp 1277–1286Google Scholar
  9. Dias LF, Steinmacher I, Pinto G, da Costa DA, Gerosa M (2016) How does the shift to GitHub impact project collaboration?. In: IEEE International Conference on Software Maintenance and Evolution, ICSME 2016. EUA, RaleighGoogle Scholar
  10. Donohoe C (2017) Say hello to hubot. Online (2017). https://github.com/blog/968-say-hello-to-hubot/. Accessed: Nov-20-2017
  11. Evans J (2017) The hiphop virtual machine. Online (2017). https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id= 10150415177928920&hn=2. Accessed: Nov-20-2017
  12. Fogel K (2013) Producing open source software: how to run a successful free software project, 1st edn. O’Reilly Media, CAGoogle Scholar
  13. GitHub (2017) GitHub help — about stars. Online (2017). https://help.github.com/articles/about-stars/. Accessed: May-4-2017
  14. Gousios G, Pinzger M, Deursen A v (2014) An exploratory study of the pull-based software development model. In: Proceedings of the 36th International Conference on Software Engineering, ICSE 2014, pp 345–355Google Scholar
  15. Hars A, Ou S (2002) Working for free? motivations for participating in open-source projects. Int J Electron Commer 6(3):25–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hertel G, Niedner S, Herrmann S (2003) Motivation of software developers in open source projects: an internet-based survey of contributors to the linux kernel. Res Policy 32(7):1159–1177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hopkins WG (2004) A New View of Statistics. Sport ScienceGoogle Scholar
  18. Jensen C, King S, Kuechler V (2011) Joining free/open source software communities: An analysis of newbies’ first interactions on project mailing lists. In: Proceedings of the 44th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, HICSS ’10. IEEE, pp 1–10Google Scholar
  19. Jergensen N (2007) Developer autonomy in the freebsd open source project. J Manag Gov 11(2):119–128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jergensen C, Sarma A, Wagstrom P (2011) The onion patch: Migration in open source ecosystems. In: Proceedings of the 19th ACM SIGSOFT Symposium and the 13th European Conference on Foundations of Software Engineering, ESEC/FSE ’11, pp 70–80Google Scholar
  21. Jiang J, Lo D, He J, Xia X, Kochhar PS, Zhang L (2017) Why and how developers fork what from whom in GitHub. Empir Softw Engg 22(1):547–578CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kalliamvakou E, Damian D, Blincoe K, Singer L, German DM (2015) Open source-style collaborative development practices in commercial projects using GitHub. In: Proceedings of the 37th International Conference on Software Engineering - Volume 1, ICSE ’15, pp 574–585Google Scholar
  23. Kastrenakes J (2017) Apple’s new programming language swift is now open source. Online (2017). https://www.theverge.com/2015/12/3/9842854/apple-swift-open-source-released. Accessed: Nov-20-2017
  24. Ke W, Zhang P (2010) The effects of extrinsic motivations and satisfaction in open source software development. J Assoc Inf Syst 11(12):784–808Google Scholar
  25. Kitchenham B, Pfleeger S (2008) Personal opinion surveys. In: Shull F, Singer J, Sjøberg D (eds) Guide to Advanced Empirical Software Engineering. Springer, London, pp 63–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kraut RE, Burke M, Riedl J, Resnick P (2012) Building Successful Online Communities: Evidence-Based Social Design, chap. The Challenges of Dealing with Newcomers. MIT Press, Cambridge, pp 179–230. http://www.worldcat.org/isbn/0262016575 Google Scholar
  27. Landwerth I (2017) A journey through open source: The trials & triumphs in roslyn’s first year of open source. Online (2017). https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/dotnet/2015/04/06/a-journey-through-open-source-the-trials-triumphs-in-roslyns-first-year-of-open-source/. Accessed: Jun-4-2017
  28. Marlow J, Dabbish L, Herbsleb J (2013) Impression formation in online peer production: Activity traces and personal profiles in GitHub. In: Proceedings of the 2013 Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, CSCW ’13Google Scholar
  29. Marz N (2017) History of apache storm and lessons learned. Online (2017). http://nathanmarz.com/blog/history-of-apache-storm-and-lessons-learned.html. Accessed: Nov-20-2017
  30. McDonald N, Goggins S (2013) Performance and participation in open source software on GitHub. In: CHI ’13 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI EA ’13, pp 139–144Google Scholar
  31. Meneely A, Williams L (2009) Secure open source collaboration: An empirical study of linus’ law. In: Proceedings of the 16th ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, CCS ’09, pp 453–462Google Scholar
  32. Nagappan M, Zimmermann T, Bird C (2013) Diversity in software engineering research. In: Proceedings of the 2013 9th Joint Meeting on Foundations of Software Engineering, ESEC/FSE 2013, pp 466–476Google Scholar
  33. Oreg S, Nov O (2008) Exploring motivations for contributing to open source initiatives: The roles of contribution context and personal values. Comput Human Behav 24(5):2055–2073CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Padhye R, Mani S, Sinha VS (2014) A study of external community contribution to open-source projects on GitHub. In: Proceedings of the 11th Working Conference on Mining Software Repositories, MSR 2014, pp 332–335Google Scholar
  35. Pham R, Singer L, Liskin O, Figueira Filho F, Schneider K (2013a) Creating a shared understanding of testing culture on a social coding site. In: Proceedings of the 2013 International Conference on Software Engineering, ICSE ’13, pp. 112–121Google Scholar
  36. Pham R, Singer L, Schneider K (2013b) Building test suites in social coding sites by leveraging drive-by commits. In: Proceedings of the 2013 International Conference on Software Engineerin.g, ICSE ’13, pp 1209–1212Google Scholar
  37. Pinto G, Steinmacher I, Gerosa MA (2016) More common than you think: An in-depth study of casual contributors. In: IEEE 23rd International Conference on Software Analysis, Evolution, and Reengineering, SANER 2016, Suita, Vol 1, pp 112–123Google Scholar
  38. plotly.js (2017) Plotly.js open-source announcement in plotly.js. Online (2017). https://plot.ly/javascript/open-source-announcement/. Accessed: Nov-20-2017
  39. Ray B, Posnett D, Filkov V, Devanbu P (2014) A large scale study of programming languages and code quality in GitHub. In: Proceedings of the 22Nd ACM SIGSOFT International Symposium on Foundations of Software Engineering, FSE 2014, pp 155–165Google Scholar
  40. Raymond ES (2001) The cathedral and the bazaar: musings on linux and open source by an accidental revolutionary. O’Reilly & Associates, Inc., SebastopolGoogle Scholar
  41. Rebouċas M, Pinto G, Ebert F, Torres W, Serebrenik A, Castor F (2016) An empirical study on the usage of the swift programming language. In: IEEE 23rd International Conference on Software Analysis, Evolution, and Reengineering, SANER 2016, Suita, Vol 1, pp 634–638Google Scholar
  42. Rebouças M, Santos RO, Pinto G, Castor F (2017) How does contributors’ involvement influence the build status of an open-source software project?. In: Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Mining Software Repositories, MSR ’17, pp 475–478Google Scholar
  43. Sobo N (2017) Atom is now open source. Online (2017). http://blog.atom.io/2014/05/06/atom-is-now-open-source.html/. Accessed: Nov-20-2017
  44. Steinmacher I, Wiese IS, Chaves AP, Gerosa MA (2013) Why do newcomers abandon open source software projects?. In: Proceedings of the 2013 6th International Workshop on Cooperative and Human Aspects of Software Engineering, CHASE ’13, pp 25–32. IEEEGoogle Scholar
  45. Steinmacher I, Wiese IS, Conte T, Gerosa MA, Redmiles D (2014a) The hard life of open source software project newcomers. In: Proceedings of the International Workshop on Cooperative and Human Aspects of Software Engineering, CHASE ’14, pp 72–78. ACMGoogle Scholar
  46. Steinmacher I, Conte T, Gerosa MA, Redmiles DF (2015a) Social barriers faced by newcomers placing their first contribution in open source software projects. In: Proceedings of the 18th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing, CSCW ’15. ACM, New York, pp 1–13Google Scholar
  47. Steinmacher I, Silva MAG, Gerosa MA, Redmiles DF (2015b) A systematic literature review on the barriers faced by newcomers to open source software projects. Inf Softw Technol 59:67–85.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.infsof.2014.11.001. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0950584914002390 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Strauss A, Corbin JM (2007) Basics of qualitative research : techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory , 3rd edn. SAGE Publications, CAGoogle Scholar
  49. Torres MRM, Toral SL, Perales M, Barrero F (2011) Analysis of the core team role in open source communities. In: 2011 International Conference on Complex, Intelligent, and Software Intensive Systems, pp 109–114Google Scholar
  50. Tourani P, Adams B, Serebrenik A (2017) Code of conduct in open source projects. In: 2017 IEEE 24th International Conference on Software Analysis, Evolution and Reengineering (SANER), pp 24–33Google Scholar
  51. Tsay J, Dabbish L, Herbsleb J (2014) Influence of social and technical factors for evaluating contribution in GitHub. In: Proceedings of the 36th International Conference on Software Engineering, ICSE 2014, pp 356–366Google Scholar
  52. Vasilescu B, Filkov V, Serebrenik A (2015) Perceptions of diversity on GitHub: A user survey. In: Proceedings of the Eighth International Workshop on Cooperative and Human Aspects of Software Engineering, CHASE ’15, pp 50–56Google Scholar
  53. Wang J, Sarma A (2011) Which bug should i fix: helping new developers onboard a new project. In: Proceedings of the 4th International Workshop on Cooperative and Human Aspects of Software Engineering, CHASE ’11Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gustavo Pinto
    • 1
    Email author
  • Igor Steinmacher
    • 2
  • Luiz Felipe Dias
    • 2
  • Marco Gerosa
    • 3
  1. 1.Federal University of ParáBelémBrazil
  2. 2.Federal University of Technology — ParanáCampo MourãoBrazil
  3. 3.Institute of Mathematics and StatisticsUniversity of São PauloSão PauloBrazil

Personalised recommendations