Letter to Stakeholders (Year-end 2015)

1. Summary

2015 marks the sixth year of the Professorship for Open Source Software at the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg. Revenues increased, the group size did not change, and student numbers are up. Publication output was good and appropriate for our group size. Teaching remains strong, with continued interest and support for our project-based teaching model by industry.

2. Research

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/ and apply our learnings to software engineering.

2.1 Research Focus Areas

Our focus areas resp. projects remained stable:

  • Requirements Engineering (Andreas Kaufmann, project QDAcity, started 2014-01-01). We are exploring the use of qualitative data analysis method for requirements engineering. We expect to improve traceability, quality, and speed by which we determine a broad range of requirements engineering artefacts.
  • Open Source Processes and Project Communities (Ann Barcomb, project N.N., started 2013-01-01). We are trying to understand the concepts, processes, and tools that make open collaborative communities work. A particular goal is the creation of a best practices handbook for managing such communities.
  • Software Economics (Dirk Riehle, various projects, on-going). We are investigating the economic principles underlying the software industry with a particular emphasis on open source projects. A key focus are open source business strategies. We are currently guiding an open source consortium in the German energy industry.
  • Open Collaborative Knowledge Management (Hannes Dohrn, project Sweble, started 2010-01-01). We are investigating the open collaborative creation of one particular kind of knowledge, namely best practices handbooks. A future extension of this work is a system for domain-expert programming.
  • Inner Source Software Development (Maximilian Capraro, project N.N., started 2014-01-01). We are investigating how to bring the best practices of open source collaboration to proprietary software development. Together with our research partner Black Duck Software, we are working on new tools for inner source development.

You can read more about our research concept 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/.

2.2 Research Cooperations

We continued our national and international collaborations:

  • Work started with Profs. Ian Chai and Sin-ban Ho, MMU (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), on knowledge management.
  • Work continued with Black Duck Software, Boston, on inner source software development.
  • Work with Siemens on software analytics was brought to conclusion by a publication at ICSE 2015.
  • Work with Prof. Minghui Zhou, Peking University, on Global Distributed Software Development was brought to conclusion by a publication at ICSOB 2015.

2.3 Research Conferences

In 2015, Prof. Riehle chaired the 11th International Symposium on Open Collaboration, a conference he founded back in 2005. OpenSym 2015 took place in San Francisco, California. OpenSym 2016 will be held in Berlin, Germany, for the second time. For more about OpenSym, please see http://opensym.org.

2.4 Research Publications

Publication output in 2015 improved significantly over the not-so-stellar output of 2014. For our group size, the numbers are good again.

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

In 2015, in addition to research publications, Prof. Riehle presented various industry talks, including a presentation and panel participation at the open IT summit 2015, in Berlin.

2.5 Fund Raising

The main purpose of fund raising in academia is to finance Mitarbeiter (Ph.D. students). Our general financial picture remains positive, with revenues up, though not as much as hoped for in our 2014 letter to stakeholders. Expected revenues for 2016 are looking good, though. In addition to our two original Mitarbeiter positions, we raised the following funds:

Next to Dirk Riehle (Professor) and Fariba Bensing (Secretary), we employed four Mitarbeiter (Ph.D. students), two Hilfskräfte (Master students), one system administrator, and several contractors. We welcomed Grace Ting as an administrative assistant and Bastiaan Jacques, now regularly employed, as a system administrator to the group.

3. Teaching

Our project-based teaching model evolved and improved. Like in 2014, we were able to engage industry partners in our teaching, most notably in The AMOS Project and the Product Management course. Industry project partners this year were DATEV, Elektrobit, and Develop Group. Read more about it our blog at http://osr.cs.fau.de/category/teaching/specific/amos/amos-testimonials/.

3.1 Student Theses

Our student numbers increased slightly, as is visible in the number of final theses we supervised.

4. Industry

We engage with industry in many different ways. The main goal is to acquire funds for research projects, as summarized above. In the run-up to such projects, we often hold industry presentations and engage in smaller projects.

Touch Point AY 2015 AY 2014 AY 2013 AY 2012 AY 2011
Number of Small Projects 5 6 10 3 1
Industry Presentations 14 12 7 17 11

A list of current or former industry partners can be found at http://osr.cs.fau.de/about/partners/.

4.1 Startups

In 2015, no new startup was founded, but we refined our “Startup Informatik” concept, see http://goo.gl/ETXKS8 (in German) and http://startupinformatik.de. We received the first prize at the Hochsprung Awards for our work, see http://osr.cs.fau.de/2015/11/19/first-prize-at-the-2015-hochsprung-awards/.

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 reviewer and/or on program committees.

6. Alumni Event

In 2015, for the first time, we were finally able to hold an alumni gathering. The event was held at the AppWork offices, a Fürth-based startup, the two founders of which are alumni of our group. The event involved fun, chatter, and aging memories, in addition to wine, music, and (video) games. For more, see http://osr.cs.fau.de/2015/12/11/impressions-from-first-everannual-alumni-meeting/. We hope to be able to repeat this winter gathering every year from now on.

7. Thank You!

At the end 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 2016 be as successful as 2015 or better yet!

For the research group,
Prof. Dr. Dirk Riehle

December 2015

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