Letter to Stakeholders (Year-end 2013)

2013 marks the fourth year of the Professorship for Open Source Software at the Friedrich-Alexander-University. We were able to keep growing in terms of revenue and student numbers while at the same time sharpening and clarifying our research focus and our software engineering curriculum. This stand-alone W2-professorship also leads the applied software engineering research and teaching alliance and provides a full software engineering curriculum.

Perhaps the most noteworthy success this year was in teaching: After their introduction in 2012, teaching projects (Lehrprojekte) took off this year and were a major success with industry and helped deepen and extend our relationships.

In 2013, we welcomed Fariba Bensing as our new secretary and Ann Barcomb and Gottfried Hofmann as new “Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiter” (Ph.D. students) to our research and teaching group.

1. Research (UnivIS: Forschung)

Our research goal is to understand how “open collaboration” works, see http://osr.cs.fau.de/about/group/ and http://www.opensym.org/about-us/definition/.

1.1 Research Focus Areas (UnivIS: Forschungsschwerpunkte)

As an applied software engineering research group with a focus on open source software, we defined three open source research areas and two more affiliated software engineering research areas, each staffed with a Ph.D. student and Prof. Riehle.

  • In Open Source Analytics we are empirically investigating how open source software engineering works. We use these insights to design better tools to steer engineering processes.
  • In Open Source Processes we are qualitatively investigating open source community and engineering processes with the goal of improving them. A major goal is a process handbook.
  • In Open Source Economics we are investigating the underlying economic principles that make open source software work. These are the concepts that make the software industry tick.
  • In Open Collaborative End-user Programming we are investigating how to make people without formal programming education productive as software developer.
  • In Inner Source we are investigating how to bring the best practices of open collaboration (open source) to firm-internal software development to make it more effective.

Read more about our research concept (Forschungskonzept) at http://osr.cs.fau.de/2013/11/27/das-forschungskonzept-der-professur-fur-open-source-software-an-der-friedrich-alexander-universitat/ and about the research areas at http://osr.cs.fau.de/research/projects/.

1.2 Research Cooperations (UnivIS: Forschungskooperationen)

In 2013, we continued our collaborations with universities and with industry by way of students who we sent out or advised remotely. Collaboration partners were:

  • Tsinghua University (Beijing)
  • Peking University (Beijing)
  • City University of Hong Kong
  • Black Duck Software (Boston)

In addition, Prof. Riehle started his sabbatical for the Winter Semester 2013/14 and is engaged in a collaboration with a colleague at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

1.3 Research Conferences (UnivIS: Wissenschaftliche Tagungen)

Prof. Riehle is chairing the International Symposium on Open Collaboration (OpenSym), a conference that he founded in 2005, back then the International Symposium on Wikis (WikiSym). OpenSym 2013 was successfully held in Hong Kong and OpenSym 2014 is planned for Berlin, Germany. Prof. Riehle actively leads the conference, including its 2013 scope extension from wikis to all things “open”, including open source, open data, etc. Learn more about OpenSym at http://www.opensym.org/.

In addition, Prof. Riehle was a guest editor for the it—Information Technology journal, for which he edited a special issue on open source. Learn more about the special issue at http://dirkriehle.com/2013/10/02/special-journal-issue-the-unstoppable-rise-of-open-source/ and http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/itit.2013.55.issue-5/issue-files/itit.2013.55.issue-5.xml.

1.4 Research Publications (UnivIS: Forschungsveröffentlichungen)

The number of top-tier journal and conference publication grew in 2013 but in total is still small, which is mostly owned to the small group size. We see room for improvement here.

FAU’s UnivIS is finally up-to-date with our publications; simplified access can be had through Prof. Riehle’s professional website at http://dirkriehle.com/publications/.

2. Teaching

We can finally and proudly say that we now have a full software engineering curriculum in effect. You can learn more about the curriculum at http://osr.cs.fau.de/2013/11/22/das-lehrkonzept-der-praktischen-softwaretechnik-pswt-an-der-friedrich-alexander-universitat/ and http://osr.cs.fau.de/teaching/overview/.

Major progress was achieved through the engagement of industry in AMOS teaching projects during SS 2013. A total of seven industry projects (five industry partners) engaged with our students and posed high-level requirements for software projects. Industry partners engage with their time and pay an appropriate fee. Some photo impressions are available from our blog at http://osr.cs.fau.de/category/courses/specific/amos/.

The AMOS teaching projects were so successful (we were over-subscribed) that we decided to extend the concept to our other courses as well. If you would like to know more, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Prof. Riehle.

2.1 Student Theses (UnivIS: Studien- und Abschlussarbeiten)

We have steadily increased the number of final theses (Bachelor and Master theses) that students write with us.

Time Frame Master Theses Bachelor Theses Total Theses
WS 2012/13 + SS 2013 9 3 12
WS 2011/12 + SS 2012 8 3 11
WS 2010/11 + SS 2011 5 1 6
WS 2009/10 + SS 2010 1 1 2

Of note are research publications that came out of student theses like our ICSOB 2013 paper. We are closely getting to a more friction-less pipeline of turning student theses into research papers.

More details about student theses can be found at http://osr.cs.fau.de/category/theses/finished-theses/ and http://dirkriehle.com/publications/student-theses/.

3. Start-ups

The AMOS 2010 start-up Netdosis AG sold its assets to Berlin-based ID-Berlin (Software) GmbH. While not the originally hoped-for major success, an asset sale that left everyone better of is a success. Congratulations to Markus Stipp, Johannes Link, and Christoph Wille for pulling it of!

More start-ups are in the making, coming out of the AMOS 2013 projects. In addition, Prof. Riehle is working on refining the student start-up pipeline with the help of interested third parties, most notably business angels from the Nuremberg region.

4. Fund Raising

Fund raising is no primary purpose of the group (research, teaching, and start-ups are), but it is interesting to look at funds-raised from an operational perspective.

Year Public Grants (Ph.D. Positions) Industry Funds Raised
2013 0,5 EUR 82.500,00
2012 EUR 47.500,00
2011 EUR 580,00 (EUR 35.580,00)
2010 EUR 0,00 (EUR 70.000,00)

In 2014, we will make it past EUR 100.000,00 in industry funds raised. The R&D contract pipeline is already sufficiently full to predict this. Specifically, industry funds from collaboration partner Black Duck Software help us make it past this psychologically important threshold. Still, there is significant room for improvement and we are working on it.

5. Academic Service

We performed the usual expected internal and external services. Prof. Riehle remains involved with most conferences of relevance to our research group, typically as a review on program committees.

6. Thank You!

At the of this year, we are wishing everyone Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas, respectively, and ultimately, a happy new year! Thank you everyone who we worked with and who made our work-life more enjoyable. We hope the same holds true for you. May 2014 be as successful as 2013 or better yet!

For the research group,
Prof. Dr. Dirk Riehle

December 2013