Applying Social Network Analysis Techniques to Community-Driven Libre Software Projects

Applying Social Network Analysis Techniques to Community-Driven Libre Software Projects

Luis López-Fernández, Gregorio Robles, Jesus M.. Gonzalez-Barahona, Israel Herraiz
DOI: 10.4018/jitwe.2006070103
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Source code management repositories of large, long-lived libre (free, open source) software projects can be a source of valuable data about the organizational structure, evolution, and knowledge exchange in the corresponding development communities. Unfortunately, the sheer volume of the available information renders it almost unusable without applying methodologies which highlight the relevant information for a given aspect of the project. Such methodology is proposed in this article, based on well known concepts from the social networks analysis field, which can be used to study the relationships among developers and how they collaborate in different parts of a project. It is also applied to data mined from some well known projects (Apache, GNOME, and KDE), focusing on the characterization of their collaboration network architecture. These cases help to understand the potentials of the methodology and how it is applied, but also shows some relevant results which open new paths in the understanding of the informal organization of libre software development communities.

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