For now, the final paper in this sequence of short publications of how open source software projects document their code. The paper is basically a more comprehensive summary of prior articles, with a bit more of data. Here the abstract and reference:
Abstract: The development processes of open source software are different from traditional closed source development processes. Still, open source software is frequently of high quality. This raises the question of how and why open source software creates high quality and whether it can maintain this quality for ever larger project sizes. In this paper, we look at one particular quality indicator, the density of comments in open source software code. We find that successful open source projects follow a consistent practice of documenting their source code, and we find that the comment density is independent of team and project size.
Reference: Oliver Arafat, Dirk Riehle. “The Commenting Practice of Open Source.” In Companion to the Proceedings of the 22nd Conference on Object Oriented Programming Systems, Languages, and Application(OOPSLA Onward! 2009). ACM Press, 2009. Page 857-864.
We got good feedback on prior articles and blog posts, see here:
- ICSE 2009 NIER Presentation on Open Source Comment Density
- The Sweet Spot of Code Commenting in Open Source
- The Comment Density of Open Source Software Code
- How Open Source Comments (by Programming Language)
I expect Oliver and me to summarize and extend on this work in a journal article (and upon Jacob’s special request, we’ll try to get boilerplate comments and headers removed from the comment line counting :-)).
The paper is available as a PDF file.