[LON-CAPA-users] Fwd: FYI

Gerd Kortemeyer lon-capa-users@mail.lon-capa.org
Thu, 4 Dec 2003 09:17:32 -0500

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At least for NSF proposals, we now have an argument why open-source is=20=

"faster, better, cheaper".

Begin forwarded message:

> From: Teresa Thomas <thomaste@msu.edu>
> Date: December 4, 2003 9:07:40 AM EST
> To: korte@lite.msu.edu, Helen Keefe <helen@lon-capa.org>
> Subject: FYI
> NSF PR 03-132 - December, 3 2003
> Media contact:
> =A0David Hart
> =A0(703) 292-7737
> =A0dhart@nsf.gov

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> Faster, Better, Cheaper: Open-Source Practices May Help Improve=20
> Software Engineering
> ARLINGTON, Va.=ADWalt Scacchi of the University of California, Irvine,=20=

> and his colleagues are conducting formal studies of the informal world=20=

> of open-source software development, in which a distributed community=20=

> of developers produces software source code that is freely available=20=

> to share, study, modify and redistribute. They=92re finding that, in=20=

> many ways, open-source development can be faster, better and cheaper=20=

> than the =93textbook=94 software engineering often used in corporate=20=

> settings.
> In a series of reports posted online (see www.isr.uci.edu), Scacchi is=20=

> documenting how open-source development breaks many of the software=20
> engineering rules formulated during 30 years of academic research. Far=20=

> from finding that open-source development is just software engineering=20=

> poorly done, Scacchi and colleagues show that it represents a new=20
> approach based on community building and other socio-technical=20
> mechanisms that might benefit traditional software engineering.
> =93Free and open-source software development is faster, better and=20
> cheaper in building a community and at reinforcing and=20
> institutionalizing a culture for how to develop software,=94 said=20
> Scacchi, a senior research scientist at UC Irvine=92s Institute for=20
> Software Research who has taught software engineering for two decades.=20=

> =93We=92re not ready to assert that open-source development is the =
> end-all for software engineering practice, but there=92s something =
> on in open-source development that is different from what we see in=20
> the textbooks.=94
> Scacchi and his colleagues are studying open-source projects to=20
> understand when the processes and practices work and when they don=92t.=20=

> These findings may help businesses understand the implications of=20
> adopting open-source methods internally or investing in external=20
> open-source communities. The studies are supported by several=20
> Information Technology Research awards from the National Science=20
> Foundation (NSF), the independent federal agency that supports=20
> fundamental research and education across all fields of science and=20
> engineering.
> Three projects=ADone by Les Gasser at the University of Illinois,=20
> Urbana-Champaign, and Scacchi, one by Scacchi and John Noll of Santa=20=

> Clara University and one led by UC Irvine=92s Richard Taylor=ADare=20
> applying the lessons learned from open-source practices to create new=20=

> design, process-management and knowledge-management tools for=20
> large-scale, multi-organization development projects.
> =93In many ways, open-source development projects are treasure troves =
> information for how large software systems get developed in the wild,=20=

> if you will,=94 Scacchi said.
> Open-source project databases, for example, record hundreds of=20
> thousands of bug reports. Gasser and Scacchi are mining those=20
> databases to try to understand how bug reporting relates to software=20=

> quality or if it has other implications. =93These are unprecedented =
> sets in software engineering research,=94 he said. =93We=92re thinking =
> these databases in a =91national treasure=92 sense. We=92re never =
going to=20
> get this from a corporate source.=94
> Not all open-source projects are alike, however. A small number of=20
> open-source projects have become well known, but the vast majority=20
> never get off the ground, according to Scacchi. He and his colleagues=20=

> are trying to understand how successful projects, such as the Linux=20
> Kernel, grow from a few individuals to a community of a thousand=20
> developers.
> Similarly, they are trying to determine whether or not open-source=20
> software is appropriate for complex, fixed-requirements projects of=20
> interest only to a limited community (for example, air defense radar=20=

> software). It is unclear whether such systems can or will ever be=20
> developed in an open manner, or whether open-source approaches would=20=

> falter, while traditional software engineering approaches would=20
> succeed.
> To explore the breadth of open-source activity, Scacchi and colleagues=20=

> are looking at more than a hundred projects in several categories:=20
> network games, Internet and Web infrastructure, academic and=20
> scientific software and industry-sponsored activities.
> The network games include PlaneShift, Crystal Space, and game =93mods=94=
> for Epic Games=92 Unreal or id Software=92s Quake game engines. =
> and Web infrastructure projects range from Linux Kernel, Apache and=20
> Mozilla to GNU Enterprise. In another project, Mark Ackerman at the=20
> University of Michigan and Scacchi are examining how scientists=20
> working in fields like X-ray astronomy and deep-space imaging are=20
> using open-source software to support basic scientific research. More=20=

> recent efforts are examining industry-sponsored open-source projects=20=

> including NetBeans from Sun Microsystems and Eclipse from IBM.
> =93The software-intensive systems in today=92s world have become so=20
> complex that we need every available design tool at our disposal,=94=20=

> said Suzanne Iacono, NSF program director. =93Open-source development=20=

> has achieved some remarkable successes, and we need to learn from=20
> these successes as our systems become increasingly distributed,=20
> complex and heterogeneous. Traditional software engineering methods=20
> were originally developed for single-system design and development.=94
> The researchers have so far identified a number of ways in which=20
> open-source development surpasses traditional software engineering. In=20=

> successful projects, open-source development is faster in the pace of=20=

> evolution and the rate of software growth. Expertise also spreads=20
> faster through the community.
> The researchers also report that open-source development is better=20
> because of, among other features, its informality, which enables=20
> continuous system design and more agile development processes. And=20
> open-source is cheaper because the development tools are often=20
> open-source themselves and because other costs are often subsidized by=20=

> corporate donations, volunteer efforts and =93gifts=94 for the =
> good.
> =93Open-source is not a poor version of software engineering, but a=20
> private-collective approach to large-software systems,=94 Scacchi =
> =93This is perhaps a new fertile ground between software engineering =
> the world of open-source and may be what the open-source community can=20=

> contribute to new academic and commercial development efforts.=94
> -NSF-
> NSF Program Officer: Suzanne Iacono, 703-292-8930,siacono@nsf.gov
> Principal Investigator: Walt Scacchi, =
> ISR Open-Source Software Development Research at UC=20
> Irvine:http://www.isr.uci.edu/research-open-source.html
> =20=