The Empirical Commit Frequency Distribution of Open Source Projects

Abstract: A fundamental unit of work in programming is the code contribution (“commit”) that a developer makes to the code base of the project in work. An author’s commit frequency describes how often that author commits. Knowing the distribution of all commit frequencies is a fundamental part of understanding software development processes. This paper presents a detailed quantitative analysis of commit frequencies in open-source software development. The analysis is based on a large sample of open source projects, and presents the overall distribution of commit frequencies. We analyze the data to show the differences between authors and projects by project size; we also includes a comparison of successful and non successful projects and we derive an activity indicator from these analyses. By measuring a fundamental dimension of programming we help improve software development tools and our understanding of software development. We also validate some fundamental assumptions about software development.

Keywords: Open source; open source metrics; commit frequency; commit interval; mean time between commits

Reference: Carsten Kolassa, Dirk Riehle, Michel A. Salim. “The Empirical Commit Frequency Distribution of Open Source Projects.” In Proceedings of the 9th International Symposium on Open Collaboration (WikiSym + OpenSym 2013). ACM, 2013.

The paper is available as a PDF file.

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