Navigation Support in Evolving Open-Source Communities by a Web-Based Dashboard
The co-evolution of communities and systems in open-source software (OSS) projects is an established research topic. There are plenty of different studies of OSS community and system evolution available. However, most of the existing OSS project visualization tools provide source code oriented metrics with little support for communities. At the same time, self-reflection helps OSS community members to understand what is happening within their community. Considering missing community-centered OSS visualizations, we investigated the following research question: Are the OSS communities interested in a visualization platform, which reflects community evolution? If so, what aspects should it reflect?
To answer this research question, we first conducted an online survey within different successful OSS communities. The results of our evaluation showed that there is a great interest in community-centered statistics. Therefore, we developed an OSS navigator: a Web-based dashboard for community-oriented reflection of OSS projects. The navigator was filled with data from communication and development repositories of three large bioinformatics OSS projects. The members of these OSS communities tested the prototype. The bioinformatics OSS developers acknowledged the uniqueness of statistics that the NOSE dashboard offers. Especially, graph visualization of the project social network received the highest attention. This network view combined with other community-oriented metrics can significantly enhance the existing visualizations or even be provided as a standalone tool.
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