The Economic Motivation of Open Source Software: Stakeholder Perspectives

Author: Dirk Riehle

Abstract: Open source software has changed the rules of the game, impacting significantly the economic behavior of stakeholders in the software ecosystem. In this new environment, developers strive to be committers, vendors feel pressure to produce open source products, and system integrators anticipate boosting profits.

Reference: IEEE Computer, vol. 40, no. 4 (April 2007). Page 25-32.

Available as a PDF file or in HTML.

(This is a repost due to popular demand.)

A Grammar for Standardized Wiki Markup

Authors: Martin Junghans, Dirk Riehle, Rama Gurram, Matthias Kaiser, Mário Lopes, Umit Yalcinalp

Abstract: Today’s wiki engines are not interoperable. The rendering engine is tied to the processing tools which are tied to the wiki editors. This is an unfortunate consequence of the lack of rigorously specified standards. This paper discusses an EBNF-based grammar for Wiki Creole 1.0, a community standard for wiki markup, and demonstrates its benefits. Wiki Creole is being specified using prose, so our grammar revealed several categories of ambiguities, showing the value of a more formal approach to wiki markup specification. The formalization of Wiki Creole using a grammar shows performance problems that today’s regular-expression-based wiki parsers might face when scaling up. We present an implementation of a wiki markup parser and demonstrate our test cases for validating Wiki Creole parsers. We view the work presented in this paper as an important step towards decoupling wiki rendering engines from processing tools and from editing tools by means of a precise and complete wiki markup specification. This decoupling layer will then allow innovation on these different parts to proceed independently and as is expected at a faster pace than before.

Reference: In Proceedings of the 2008 International Symposium on Wikis (WikiSym ’08). ACM Press, 2008: Article No. 21.

Available as a PDF file.

Author Obfuscation

In the last few days, I’ve been reading up on author obfuscation. By “author obfuscation” I mean tools and techniques that will ensure an author’s anonymity when posting a blog entry or writing a document. You might think that not giving your name or writing under a pseudonym may be sufficient, but I don’t think this will stand the test of time. Specifically, if you are writing a blog under a pseudonym, you are creating a large corpus of text, all of which is being archived, and ten years from now smart algorithms may be able to correlate those postings with other work by you that identifies you as an author of the blog.

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Wikis for Software Engineering Workshop

For your information, a research workshop on wikis for (in) software engineering.

CALL FOR PAPERS

Third Workshop on “Wikis for Software Engineering”, September 8, 2008, at WikiSym 2008, Porto, Portugal, September 8-10, 2008

Introduction

The use of wikis in software engineering dates back to 1995, when Ward Cunningham created the first ever wiki as a platform for discussing patterns and software development efforts. The simplicity and effectiveness of wikis as a medium for collaborative authoring has lead to their vast popularity across many domains.

Goals

This workshop aims to bring together researchers, practitioners, and enthusiasts interested in exploring the potential of wikis as an effective tool to support software engineering activities. Specifically, it is an opportunity to:

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Open Source in the Share of Wallet Wars

On their blogs, Matt Asay and Savio Rodrigues are discussing whether IBM is using open source to diminish competitor margins. I think it is obvious that IBM does this, most notably with its Linux engagement, which is squarely directed against Microsoft (Windows). It is what I call a war over the share of customer’s wallet, and open source plays a major role. The graph below shows how it works.

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Open Source Businesses and Developer Careers: Who Benefits from Open Source? How and Why?

Title: Open Source Businesses and Developer Careers: Who Benefits from Open Source? How and Why?

Presenter: Dirk Riehle

Abstract: Open source is changing how software is built and how money is made. This talk discusses the economics of open source software from the start-up firm, the system integrator, and the software developer perspective. The talk provides a strategy framework and discusses its implementation using the dual-license strategy. It explains how system integrators use open source in the share-of-wallet wars. Finally, open source defines a new developer career. This talk explains this new career and argues that it creates economic value for some while it makes life harder for others.

Reference: Main stage presentation (invited talk) at the Agile 2008 conference. Toronto, Canada: 2008.

Successful Open Source, with Little or No Agile

I’ll be participating in the panel “Successful Open Source, with little or no Agile” at Agile 2008 in Toronto, Canada, on August 7th, 2008.

Successful Open Source, with Little or No Agile

Agile adoption in the Open Source community ranges from some to none for most successful teams.

  • Can these communities learn anything from each other?
  • Are these two communities one in the same?
  • Do Open Source projects and Agile projects succeed or fail for the same reasons?

The panelists, Dennis Byrne, Dirk Riehle, Christian Robottom Reis and Naresh Jain, will use their collective experience to answer these and many other questions. We’ll also have one empty chair for anyone from the audience to be a part of the panel temporarily.

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Conflict of Interest in Open Source and PostgreSQL Replication

Community open source is open source that is not owned by any particular company. Rather, ownership is shared among a large number of diverse stakeholders. Given the right (read: permissive) license, commercial companies can provide extensions to the community project, earning a living. Since such extensions are a unique selling point of these companies, one might think that they would prefer to keep the community project small and limited in features to facilitate an easy upsell to their more comprehensive offering. This thought becomes particularly intriguing given that commercial companies typically hire the core developers of such community projects to bring the necessary expertise in-house, and as some argue, to influence the project to their liking.

I think that this common belief misses the point.

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Bringing Wikipedia to Work: Open Collaboration within Corporations

This upcoming Wikimania 2008 tutorial discusses the three principles of “open collaboration” which I believe are underlying wikis, open source, and other forms of peer production. It is a follow-up to last year’s tutorial about open collaboration at Wikimania 2007.

If the slideshow doesn’t play, please use the PDF file download below.

Reference: Dirk Riehle. “Bringing Wikipedia to Work: Open Collaboration in Corporations.” In Proceedings of Wikimania 2008, forthcoming.

Also available as a PDF file.