The Innovations of Open Source Article Republished in IEEE Computing Edge’s April 2020 Issue

IEEE’s Computing Edge magazine is a practitioner-oriented publication that republishes particularly popular content from other IEEE publications. In the April 2020 issue, they republished last year’s The Innovations of Open Source article that I wrote to open the Computer magazine’s Open Source Expanded bimonthly column.

Best of all, it is free! (Original version, local copy.)

I didn’t know about the republication until someone pointed me to it. Check it out, if you missed the article the first time around.

Managing Episodic Volunteers in Free/Libre/Open Source Software Communities (Article)

Abstract: We draw on the concept of episodic volunteering (EV) from the general volunteering literature to identify practices for managing EV in free/libre/open source software (FLOSS) communities. Infrequent but ongoing participation is widespread, but the practices that community managers are using to manage EV, and their concerns about EV, have not been previously documented. We conducted a policy Delphi study involving 24 FLOSS community managers from 22 different communities. Our panel identified 16 concerns related to managing EV in FLOSS, which we ranked by prevalence. We also describe 65 practices for managing EV in FLOSS. Almost three-quarters of these practices are used by at least three community managers. We report these practices using a systematic presentation that includes context, relationships between practices, and concerns that they address. These findings provide a coherent framework that can help FLOSS community managers to better manage episodic contributors.

Keywords: Best practices, community management, episodic volunteering, free software, open source software

Reference: Barcomb, A., Stol, KJ, Fitzgerald, B., & Riehle, D. (2020). Managing Episodic Volunteers in Free/Libre/Open Source Software Communities. IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering. To appear.

The paper can be downloaded as a PDF file.

Sorting out the Ethical Licensing Mess

Software developers who give the world, for free, usage rights to the code they write often use open source licenses to make this gift legally explicit. These free usage rights (and then some) are encoded in all valid open source licenses, next to the obligations one has to fulfill to receive the rights grant. Recently, the desire of some developers has surged to tie their gift to causes they care about. Some want to protect Chinese workers from abusive working hours, some want to stop companies from working with US immigrations, and some want to ensure that users vaccinate their children and themselves according to current medical best practice.

Continue reading “Sorting out the Ethical Licensing Mess”

Open Source is Not Free (Nor is Free Software)

Later this week I’ll be on a panel at the Automotive Computing Conference in Frankfurt. The organizers sent the questions in advance, and sure enough, they were asking how open source could provide viable software components if it is free (of cost). This perhaps is the most common commercial misconception about open source.

Open source is not free. It never was.

Continue reading “Open Source is Not Free (Nor is Free Software)”

Industry Best Practices for Corporate Open Sourcing (HICSS 53)

Abstract: Companies usually don’t share the source code for the software they develop. While this approach is justified in software that constitutes differentiating intellectual property, proprietary development can lead to redundant development and other opportunity costs. In response, companies are increasingly open sourcing some if not all of their non-differentiating software. Given the limited academic research on this emerging topic, we bridge the gap between industry and academia by taking a practice-based approach. We investigate why and how companies engage in corporate open sourcing. We take an exploratory case study approach. Our cases are four companies with multi-billion-dollar revenues each: A major e-commerce company based in Germany; a leading social networking service company based in the USA; a cloud computing software company based in the USA; and a manufacturing and media software company based in the USA. We present the resulting theory in an actionable format of state-of-the-art best practice patterns.

Reference: Harutyunyan, N., Riehle, D., & Sathya, G. (2020). Industry Best Practices for Corporate Open Sourcing. In Proceedings of the 53rd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS 2020), pp. 5849-5858.

Download: The paper is available as a PDF file.

Enabling Open Innovation with Open Data using the JValue Open Data Service

Today I gave my JValue Open Data Service talk at USM (University of Sciences, Malaysia, at Penang). I am grateful for the opportunity and the recording.

Abstract: Open data has the potential to create significant practical value for its users through open innovation. Yet, to realize this value, we need an open ecosystem, next to open data, that allows app developers to create that value. In this talk I present my view of this open ecosystem of open data and how it should be structured. I then present the JValue Open Data Service (ODS), an open source software under development at my research group, that provides a key piece of this ecosystem. The goal of the JValue ODS project is to enable open innovation through app developers.

Continue reading “Enabling Open Innovation with Open Data using the JValue Open Data Service”

Industry Requirements for FLOSS Governance Tools to Facilitate the Use of Open Source Software in Commercial Products

Abstract: Virtually all software products incorporate free/libre and open source software (FLOSS) components. However, ungoverned use of FLOSS components can result in legal and nancial risks, and risks to a rm’s intellectual property. To avoid these risks, companies must govern their FLOSS use through open source governance processes and by following industry best practices. A particular challenge is license compliance. To manage the complexity of governance and compliance, companies should use tools and well-de ned processes. This paper investigates and presents industry requirements for FLOSS governance tools, followed by an evaluation of the suggested requirements. We chose eleven companies with an advanced understanding of open source governance and interviewed their FLOSS governance experts to derive a theory of industry requirements for tooling. We list tool requirements on tracking and reuse of FLOSS components, license compliance, search and selection of components, and architecture model for software products. For practical relevance, we cast our theory as a requirements speci cation for FLOSS governance tools. We then analyzed the features of leading governance tools and used this analysis to evaluate two categories of our theory: FLOSS license scanning and FLOSS components in product bills of materials.

Keywords: Open Source Software, FLOSS, FOSS, Open Source Governance, FLOSS governance tools, company requirements for FLOSS tools.

Reference: Harutyunyan, N., Bauer, A., & Riehle, D. (2019). Industry Requirements for FLOSS Governance Tools to Facilitate the Use of Open Source Software in Commercial Products. Journal of Systems and Software vol. 158 (2019), 110390.

A preprint of the paper is available as a PDF file. This article is an expanded version, per invitation, of our OSS 2018 paper.

Why Self-Enlightened Contribution to Open Source Projects is Difficult

Self-enlightened contributions to open source projects are (code) contributions that come about because a company chooses to contribute. The opposite is forced open sourcing, which typically happens when a reciprocal license like the GPLv2 forces a company to lay open some source code.

Self-enlightened contribution is hard!

Continue reading “Why Self-Enlightened Contribution to Open Source Projects is Difficult”