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Research Paper: 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.