From Chat Bot to AI (Student Project, TU Berlin, Winter 2016/17)

Project name From Chat Bot to AI
Project logo  
Project vision The project man­age­ment tool “RPLAN” makes it pos­si­ble to plan projects effi­cient­ly and trans­par­ent­ly. The user’s plan­ning effort should be as small as pos­si­ble. This will be achieved through a smart pro­duct which pro­pos­es fur­ther steps inde­pen­dent­ly to the cus­tomer. For this pur­pose, RPLAN is con­nect­ed to the web inter­face “Slack”, automat­ing the plan­ning process using nat­u­ral lan­guage.
Indus­try part­ner Actano GmbH
Stu­dent team
Project sum­ma­ry Arrow.js sup­ports the user to iden­ti­fy the cor­re­la­tion between mul­ti­ple con­texts and a sin­gle file. We score the rela­tion between dif­fer­ent resources. As the result the user gets a score, which describes the prob­a­bil­i­ty of a con­nec­tion between the­se data sets. This ser­vice is acces­si­ble through a REST call.
Illus­tra­tion N/A
Source code
Mate­ri­als N/A

Impressions from Installing and Configuring Devolo Home Automation Control Center

As a first step, I had installed remote con­trolled (Z-Wave) ther­mostats for my radi­a­tors. In addi­tion, I installed Devolo’s Con­trol Cen­ter and reg­is­tered on its web­site for access to the con­trol cen­ter. I had thought, from a pri­or email exchange with Devolo’s sup­port, that it would not be nec­es­sary to use their web ser­vice. How­ev­er, I was not able to iden­ti­fy (or find doc­u­men­ta­tion) about a web server or some oth­er man­age­ment UI on the con­trol cen­ter, so I decid­ed to go through their web­site. I resent this, as I didn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly want them to have data on my home con­fig­u­ra­tion, but it was the fastest way to a work­ing set-up.

The first step was still a hard­ware instal­la­tion step. I need­ed to plug-in the con­trol cen­ter box and con­nect it to the Inter­net. My cur­rent solu­tion below uti­lizes a Fritz! pro­duct, Eth­er­net over power-line. The Devolo Con­trol Cen­ter comes with its own built-in Eth­er­net over power-line sup­port and is sup­posed to be plug com­pat­i­ble with the Fritz solu­tion, alas, this did not work out of the box. It is the one remain­ing prob­lem to solve for me, lat­er.

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Unwrapping and Experiences with Installing Devolo Home Automation Thermostats

As my first (rather small) home automa­tion project I decid­ed to install remote con­trolled radi­a­tor ther­mostats. (This is also known as a cen­tral ther­mostat and comes with most mod­ern apart­ments, but then my new Berlin apart­ment is rather old and charm­ing. It has no cen­tral ther­mostat, mak­ing me run around the apart­ment every morn­ing to man­u­al­ly adjust the sev­en radi­a­tors.)

I chose Devolo’s “Home Con­trol” ther­mostats and con­trol cen­ter. This is an afford­able entry-level pro­duct into the space of home automa­tion, though the total of sev­en ther­mostats and one (pro­pri­etary) con­trol cen­ter set me back about EUR 600. 

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Making Introductions for Job Interviews

(Cross-posting from

As a human being, as a pro­fes­sion­al, and more recent­ly as a pro­fes­sor, I’m hap­py to help peo­ple find jobs (time per­mit­ting). In fact, as a pro­fes­sor we have tagged HR pro­fes­sion­als in our CRM data­base so that we can reach out eas­i­ly to them. Still, intro­duc­tions for job inter­views require prepa­ra­tion on the side of the job seek­er. There are a cou­ple of things to con­sid­er.

The most com­mon mis­take that job seek­ers make is to ask me: Help me find a job in soft­ware engi­neer­ing or pro­duct man­age­ment or some­thing else. Even if accom­pa­nied by a resume, what am I sup­posed to make of this? Pass on the resume to every com­pa­ny in the world?

The job of job seek­ing starts with the job seek­er. They must find out where they want to go.

If they can’t, they should at least deter­mine some com­pa­nies of inter­est to them and provide them to me so that I can decide whether I can actu­al­ly be of help.

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Chaos Testing (Student Project, FU Berlin, Summer 2016)

Project name Chaos Test­ing
Project logo  
Project vision A sys­tem to test, if new data and code ver­sions for the DB tick­et book­ing sys­tem are valid. The sys­tem is deployed in a Dock­er con­tain­er to be used in a con­tin­u­ous deliv­ery process. The data and code ver­sions are inte­grat­ed into a VM, given to us by DB Sys­tel, which can get book­ing requests and replies with the same infor­ma­tion the DB book­ing site would. By val­i­dat­ing, if the­se replies are what we expect­ed, we can detect if the new code has errors a lot faster than before, thus improv­ing over­all devel­op­ing speed of DB Sys­tel.
Indus­try part­ner DB Sys­tel
Project sum­ma­ry See project vision
Illus­tra­tion See final project pre­sen­ta­tion
Source code
Mate­ri­als Final project pre­sen­ta­tion

Inner Source Definition, Benefits, and Challenges

Abstract: Inner Source (IS) is the use of open source soft­ware devel­op­ment prac­tices and the estab­lish­ment of an open source-like cul­ture with­in orga­ni­za­tions. The orga­ni­za­tion may still devel­op pro­pri­etary soft­ware but inter­nal­ly opens up its devel­op­ment. A steady stream of sci­en­tific lit­er­a­ture and prac­ti­tion­er reports indi­cates the inter­est in this research area. How­ev­er, the research area lacks a sys­tem­at­ic assess­ment of known research work: No mod­el exists that defines IS thor­ough­ly. Var­i­ous case stud­ies provide insights into IS pro­grams in the con­text of speci­fic orga­ni­za­tions but only few pub­li­ca­tions apply a broad­er per­spec­tive. To resolve this, we per­formed an exten­sive lit­er­a­ture sur­vey and ana­lyzed 43 IS relat­ed pub­li­ca­tions plus addi­tion­al back­ground lit­er­a­ture. Using qual­i­ta­tive data analy­sis meth­ods, we devel­oped a mod­el of the ele­ments that con­sti­tute IS. We present a clas­si­fi­ca­tion frame­work for IS pro­grams and projects and apply it to lay out a map of known IS endeav­ors. Fur­ther, we present qual­i­ta­tive mod­els sum­ma­riz­ing the ben­e­fits and chal­lenges of IS adop­tion. The sur­vey pro­vides the first broad review of IS lit­er­a­ture and sys­tem­at­ic arrange­ment of IS research results.

Key­words: Inner source, inner source def­i­n­i­tion, inner source ben­e­fits, inner source chal­lenges

Ref­er­ence: Capraro, M., & Riehle, D. (2016). Inner Source Def­i­n­i­tion, Ben­e­fits, and Chal­lenges. ACM Com­put­ing Sur­veys, vol. 9, no. 4, arti­cle no. 67.

The paper is avail­able as a PDF file.

Platforms but no Platform Organizations

One result of our recent case study research on inner source is that companies may not always need platform organizations to get to a platform of shared reusable assets. They will certainly need platforms, but they won't need a dedicated organizational unit to develop and maintain this platform.

You don't have to read the research paper to come this conclusion; common sense is just fine: Through the Apache Software Foundation (ASF), for example, companies like IBM, Oracle, and SAP are able to collaboratively develop the infrastructure of the Internet. The ASF has almost no employees; all work is done by the participating companies (and a few individuals). If companies like these, who fight each other to the death in front of a customer, can join hands to develop competitively non-differentiating software, why can't organizational units inside software companies do this?

This is the idea of inner source: You don't always have to have a dedicated organizational unit to work on a particular component. If the component is of broad enough interest within the company, users of this component might as well chip in and collaboratively develop the component. In the extreme case, and perhaps this is also the best case, no dedicated organizational unit is needed any longer for the development of shared reusable components.

The idea of doing away with a platform organization flies in the face of conventional wisdom. Given that textbooks tell you that product line engineering requires a dedicated platform organization, and leading companies are typically set-up this way, doing away with the platform organization may indeed prove to be too disruptive in the short-term. For this reason, we have developed several solutions that let companies keep their platform organizations.

Read more in the paper or contact us through my group's homepage for research or my company's homepage for commercial consulting.