Inner Source in Platform-based Product Engineering

Abstract: Inner source is an approach to collaboration across intra-organizational boundaries for the creation of shared reusable assets. Prior project reports on inner source suggest improved code reuse and better knowledge sharing. Using a multiple-case case study research approach, we analyze the problems that three major software development organizations were facing in their platform-based product engineering efforts. We find that a root cause, the separation of product units as profit centers from a platform organization as a cost center, leads to delayed deliveries, increased defect rates, and redundant software components. All three organizations assume that inner source can help solve these problems. The article analyzes the expectations that these companies were having towards inner source and the problems they were experiencing or expecting in its adoption. Finally, the article presents our conclusions on how these organizations should adapt their existing engineering efforts.

Keywords: Inner source, product line engineering, product engineering, software platforms

Reference: Dirk Riehle, Maximilian Capraro, Lars Horn, Detlef Kips. “Inner Source in Platform-based Product Engineering.” Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Dept. of Computer Science, Technical Report, CS-2015-02. Erlangen, Germany, 2015.

The paper is available as a local PDF file and also on FAU’s OPUS server.

Best Quotes for Promoting Open Source Developer Career Article

IEEE Computer asked me about some quotes for promoting my recent article on developer careers, to be used on their social media channels. Naturally, I had a field day. A brainstorm ensued. Here are some of the better ones I suggested to them:

The changing career of programmers: Open source to help or hurt?

Ever wondered whether open source makes programmers look good?

And you thought, open source was a communist invention?

If you are a programmer, here’s to that salary increase:

What the world’s best programmers want you to know about open source:

The way to Google is paved with good open source.

As an agile programmer, I code open source, for fun, fame, and profit.

Open source: Helping programmers have a better life since 1998!

Free software: Making open source programmers happy since 1985!


Mike Milinkovich on Open Source Consortia @mmilinkov

Mike Milinkovich’s talk at OSS 2015 on “How the Eclipse Community Works”


  • Trend #1: Software über alles (ref: Software is eating the world)
  • Software is becoming the value-creating differentiator (impl: hardware is getting commoditized faster than software)
  • Trend #2: Quoting Immelt (GE): Every industrial company will become a software company
  • Milinkovich: Then, every company is becoming an open source company; also, software avg unit cost approaches zero
  • Many companies will not be able to pivot fast enough from license sales to new business models; they will fail

    Continue reading

How Open Source is Changing the Software Developer’s Career

Abstract: Software developers with open source project experience acquire verifiable technical expertise, peer-​certified competencies, and positional power—advantages that align with companies’ need to obtain a competitive advantage. Read more…

Keywords: Software developer career, software labor economics, high-tech labor market, open source, inner source

Reference: Dirk Riehle. “How Open Source is Changing the Software Developer’s Career.” IEEE Computer vol. 48, no. 5 (May 2015). Page 51-57.

The paper is available in an unabridged HTML version or as a heavily edited PDF file.

Only Four More Weeks Until OSS 2015!

Only four more weeks until OSS 2015, the 11th international conference on open source systems! Co-located with ICSE 2015, no less. You can expect a program of leading open source research and invited talks from industry and academia that will challenge your thinking! Sign up now through the ICSE registration website.

Favorite Story of Student Entrepreneur Ageism

I teach a course on software product management where I sometimes cross over into startup-land. During a recent class, I showed students a rara-talk by a VC, who was trying to convince them to become entrepreneurs. So I asked the class:

Statistically speaking, a 40-year old entrepreneur is much more likely to succeed than a student entrepreneur. Why is this venture capitalist so eager to get you to become an entrepreneur rather than a more experienced person?

After a bit of back and forth, one student finally said:

Well, if it takes 10 years to grow a startup, a 40 year old entrepreneur may not be be able to stick around for such a long time.

I’ve gotten used to such statements and take them rather stoically. A 40-year old PhD student of mine, however, was rolling on the floor laughing.