Upcoming Talk on Ten Years of Inner Source Case Studies at UC Santa Cruz


Inner sourcing is the use of open source best practices within companies to improve engineering productivity. In 2006, I introduced inner source to SAP. After becoming a professor, my group helped further companies introduce inner source to their engineering organizations. Using three generations of projects, we report about our experiences and how we are turning those into a practical handbook for inner source governance.
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Internal Component Marketplaces vs. Transfer Pricing of Inner Source

I was recently asked why I argue against company-internal marketplaces for software components yet emphasize the need for pricing components that cross company boundaries within the same holding company (also known as transfer pricing). The answer is simple: Setting up an internal marketplace is a managerial choice and pricing the movement of code (IP) across company boundaries is a taxable event that you need to deal with: It is not a choice.

Let me take it in steps.

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Agile Feature Teams vs. Inner Source

Agile methods reacquainted developers with the idea of working from business value rather than focusing on technical concerns only. Agile methods are therefore often equated with feature-driven development, in which work is driven by features prioritized by business value irrespective of technical consequences. This thinking can create code silos and wreak havoc on software architecture and component quality. Developer complaints are legion, in particular for never getting the time to fix things or do them right in the first place.

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Ten Years of Inner Source Case Studies (Video)

Georg Grütter of Bosch recorded my keynote at the Inner Source Commons summit in Renningen, Germany, on May 16th, 2018, and put it on Youtube. Please watch it below (original video, local copy).

According to Georg, the video is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (for the Bosch part) and I agree (for my part). Hence © 2018 Dirk Riehle, Robert Bosch GmbH (Georg Grütter and perhaps some other undetermined parties). The original title of the video recording that Georg gave it is “Prof. Dr. Dirk Riehle on the ISC.S6 – Ten Years of InnerSource Case Studies And Our Conclusions”.

Third Time’s the Charm: Ten Years of Inner Source Case Studies

Actually, I just notice it is the fourth time within the last two months, but tomorrow is the first time I’ll present our research on inner source in a public venue. If you are interested in ten years of case studies on how to use open source best practices within companies (called inner source), come see me at the Bitkom working group meeting on open source at Design Offices, Unter den Linden 26-30, 10117 Berlin.

But What if Someone Steals My Inner Source Code?

During my talk at the inner source summit, I was asked about the following worry with establishing inner source at a company:

But if we lay all source code open within the company, don’t we run the risk that a disgruntled employee has it too easy to steal all code and publish it on the web?

The main answer to this question is to weigh benefits against risks. The benefits of inner source have been explained elsewhere, for example, in said talk of mine. The risks may seem less clear. So, could it happen that an employee steals all source code? What damage would it do?

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The Patch-flow Method for Measuring Inner Source Collaboration

Abstract: Inner source (IS) is the use of open source software development (SD) practices and the establishment of an open source-like culture within an organization. IS enables and requires developers to collaborate more than traditional SD methods such as plan-driven or agile development. To better understand IS, researchers and practitioners need to measure IS collaboration. However, there is no method yet for doing so. In this paper, we present a method for measuring IS collaboration by measuring the patch-flow within an organization. Patch-flow is the flow of code contributions across organizational boundaries such as project, organizational unit, or profit center boundaries. We evaluate our patch-flow measurement method using case study research with a software developing multi-industry company. By applying the method in the case organization, we evaluate its relevance and viability and discuss its usefulness. We found that about half (47.9%) of all code contributions constitute patch-flow between organizational units, almost all (42.2%) being between organizational units working on different products. Such significant patch-flow indicates high relevance of the patch-flow phenomenon and hence the method presented in this paper. Our patch-flow measurement method is the first of its kind to measure and quantify IS collaboration. It can serve as a base for further quantitative analyses of IS collaboration.

Keywords: Inner source, internal open source, inner source measurement, patch-flow, open source, open collaboration, software development collaboration measurement, inner source metrics

Reference: Maximilian Capraro, Michael Dorner, and Dirk Riehle. 2018. The Patch-Flow Method for Measuring Inner Source Collaboration. In MSR ’18: 15th International Conference on Mining Software Repositories , May 28–29, 2018, Gothenburg, Sweden. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 11 pages.

A preprint of the paper is available here as a PDF file.

Inner Source Definition, Benefits, and Challenges

Abstract: Inner Source (IS) is the use of open source software development practices and the establishment of an open source-like culture within organizations. The organization may still develop proprietary software but internally opens up its development. A steady stream of scientific literature and practitioner reports indicates the interest in this research area. However, the research area lacks a systematic assessment of known research work: No model exists that defines IS thoroughly. Various case studies provide insights into IS programs in the context of specific organizations but only few publications apply a broader perspective. To resolve this, we performed an extensive literature survey and analyzed 43 IS related publications plus additional background literature. Using qualitative data analysis methods, we developed a model of the elements that constitute IS. We present a classification framework for IS programs and projects and apply it to lay out a map of known IS endeavors. Further, we present qualitative models summarizing the benefits and challenges of IS adoption. The survey provides the first broad review of IS literature and systematic arrangement of IS research results.

Keywords: Inner source, inner source definition, inner source benefits, inner source challenges

Reference: Capraro, M., & Riehle, D. (2017, February). Inner Source Definition, Benefits, and Challenges. ACM Computing Surveys, vol. 49, no. 4, article 67.

The paper is available as a PDF file.