Inner Source / Benefits / Platform Development

Short expla­na­tion of the ben­e­fits of Inner Source for a plat­form devel­op­ment sce­nar­io

Prof. Dr. Dirk Riehle, M.B.A.

Inner source”, also “firm-internal open source”, is the short hand for using best prac­tices of open source soft­ware devel­op­ment for a firm’s inter­nal soft­ware devel­op­ment efforts. No open source soft­ware is being devel­oped, but the firm’s devel­op­ment process is enhanced through the addi­tion of open source prac­tices [1].

The pri­ma­ry goal of such an enhanced soft­ware devel­op­ment process is to improve code reuse and knowl­edge shar­ing between organ­i­sa­tion­al units. Under the sce­nar­io of plat­form + appli­ca­tion devel­op­ment (one plat­form, many depen­dent appli­ca­tions), the­se goals are reached by (a) organ­is­ing the devel­op­ment process in such a way that all rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion is trans­par­ent to all par­ties and by (b) empow­er­ing soft­ware devel­op­ers to active­ly engage in a direct and unmedi­at­ed way with the oth­er par­ties. Such engage­ment relates to all arte­facts of soft­ware devel­op­ment, be it require­ments, source code, con­fig­u­ra­tions, or doc­u­men­ta­tion. In par­tic­u­lar, appli­ca­tion devel­op­ers are given the oppor­tu­ni­ty to access plat­form com­po­nents and adapt them as need­ed for their appli­ca­tion. They can then feed them back into the plat­form using a defined cross-organisational process that involves both par­ties, appli­ca­tion and plat­form devel­op­ers. This aids the rapid devel­op­ment of a plat­form of reusable com­po­nents.

For this to work, sev­er­al prepara­to­ry and accom­pa­ny­ing mea­sures need to be tak­en. Projects and com­po­nents need to be opened up. Devel­op­ers need to be pre­pared to engage with col­leagues in new ways. Man­age­ment needs to show sup­port of such engage­ment. The specifics of the­se mea­sures depend on the par­tic­u­lar plat­form sce­nar­io, busi­ness needs, and com­pa­ny cul­ture.


Prof. Riehle [2] of the Open Source Research group at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Erlangen-Nürnberg is active­ly guid­ing such projects.

[1] Dirk Riehle. Open Col­lab­o­ra­tion with­in Cor­po­ra­tions. IEEE, 2009.

[2] Dirk Riehle. One Para­graph Bio, 2011.

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