On the variation and specialisation of workload : a case study of the GNOME ecosystem community

B.N. Vasilescu, A. Serebrenik, M. Goeminne, T. Mens

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    56 Citations (Scopus)


    Most empirical studies of open source software repositories focus on the analysis of isolated projects, or restrict themselves to the study of the relationships between technical artifacts. In contrast, we have carried out a case study that focuses on the actual contributors to software ecosystems, being collections of software projects that are maintained by the same community. To this aim, we defined a new series of workload and involvement metrics, as well as a novel approach—T-graphs—for reporting the results of comparing multiple distributions. We used these techniques to statistically study how workload and involvement of ecosystem contributors varies across projects and across activity types, and we explored to which extent projects and contributors specialise in particular activity types. Using Gnome as a case study we observed that, next to coding, the activities of localization, development documentation and building are prevalent throughout the ecosystem. We also observed notable differences between frequent and occasional contributors in terms of the activity types they are involved in and the number of projects they contribute to. Occasional contributors and contributors that are involved in many different projects tend to be more involved in the localization activity, while frequent contributors tend to be more involved in the coding activity in a limited number of projects. Keywords: Open source; Software ecosystem; Metrics; Developer community; Case study
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)955-1008
    Number of pages54
    JournalEmpirical Software Engineering
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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