Open source-style collaborative development practices in commercial projects using GitHub

Project Details

  • Project Overview
    This project studies the interplay of individual and collaborative work through the use of Distributed Version Control Systems (DVCS) in commercial software teams. The use of DVCS is gaining ground over centralized version control systems and is offering new workflows for software teams, changing their communication and coordination activities as they collaborate.
  • SEGAL Members Involved
    Eirini Kalliamvakou, Daniela Damian

Project Description

GitHub is a prime and popular example of an online collaborative development platform based on DVCS and has become the tool of choice for open source software projects that traditionally enjoy smooth collaboration, despite their scale and complexity, through transparency. In this project we set out to investigate how GitHub is used by teams building proprietary software in commercial organizations.

We conducted a study of software development teams using GitHub. We followed a mixed methods approach where we surveyed 240 GitHub users and had semi-structured interviews with 24 representatives of commercial software teams that use GitHub for their development. The findings from our study showed that commercial software teams use a workflow that incorporates pull requests to screen and review the team members’ individual contribution upon submission. Furthermore, the commercial teams structure their coordination around pull requests and carry out a large portion of their communication through lightweight mechanisms such as comments on commits and issues. We found that, despite the differences between open source and commercial software projects, there is a significant overlap in the collaborative development practices they follow when using GitHub. The use of GitHub, as an example of a transparent DVCS platform in a commercial organization, acts as a vehicle for the adoption of open-source style practices, potentially lowering the barriers of collaboration between projects and departments. Our future work will focus on investigating the concept of external contribution in commercial environments that follow open source-style practices.

Eirini Kalliamvakou, Daniela Damian, Kelly Blincoe, Leif Singer and Daniel M. German. Open Source-Style Collaborative Development Practices in Commercial Projects Using GitHub. In Proceedings of the 37th International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE ’15), Florence, Italy, 2015. To appear.

Eirini Kalliamvakou, Georgios Gousios, Kelly Blincoe, Leif Singer, Daniel M. German, & Daniela Damian. (2014). The Promises and Perils of Mining GitHub. In Proceedings of the 11th Working Conference on Mining Software Repositories, MSR 2014 (92–101). New York, NY, USA: ACM.  (PDF)

Eirini KalliamvakouDaniela Damian, Leif Singer, and Daniel M. German. The code-centric collaboration perspective: Evidence from GitHub. Technical Report DCS-352-IR, University of Victoria, Victoria BC, February 2014. (PDF)

Back to Top