How Commercial Involvement Affects Open Source Projects: Three Case Studies on Issue Reporting

Abstract: Most research on Internet software today has focused on inventing new technologies to keep track of a changing Internet. Little attention has been paid to the software development processes of Internet software. A large part of the software running the Internet is open source software. Open source software is developed both by volunteers and commercial companies, and often jointly. Companies get involved in open source projects for commercial reasons and bring with them a commercial software development process. Thus, it is important to understand how commercial involvement affects the software development processes of open source projects. This article presents a multiple-case case study of three open source application servers that are each being developed jointly by a volunteer community and one primary software company. We are interested in better understanding developer behavior, specifically task distribution and performance, based on whether the developer is a volunteer, working on spare time, or a commercial developer, being paid for their time. To achieve this, we look at issue reporting as an example of commercial involvement in open source projects. Particularly, we investigate the task distribution among volunteers and commercial developers via studying the majority of issue reporters and quantified task performance on user experience via the issue resolution speed. We construct measures based on the historical records in issue tracking repositories. Our results show that with intensified commercial involvement, the majority of issue reporting tasks would be undertaken by commercial developers, and user experience on issue resolution speed would get improved. We hope our methods and results could provide practical insights for designing an efficient and high user experience hybrid development in Internet software environment.

Keywords: Open source software development, commercial involvement, hybrid, contributor participation, issue reporting

Reference: Xiujuan Ma, Minghui Zhou, Dirk Riehle. “How Commercial Involvement Affects Open Source Projects: Three Case Studies on Issue Reporting.” Science China (Inf Sci series), vol. 56, no. 8 (August 2013). Page 1-13.

The paper is available as a PDF file.

Leave a Reply