Analyzing and Managing Business Networks in the Software Industry
Edited by Slinger Jansen, Sjaak Brinkkemper and Michael Cusumano
Chapter 12: Analyzing ecosystems for open source software developer communities
Software systems are among the most complex artefacts ever created by humans. Among them, collaborative development of open source software (OSS) has witnessed an exponential increase in the last two decades. It represents a successful model of software development where communities of developers collaborate on an often voluntary basis, while users and developers of the software systems can submit bug reports and requests for changes, and need to be kept satisfied in order to maintain their involvement in the system. Drawing the analogy with biological ecosystems, collections of OSS projects developed by the same developer community and interacting together can be considered as software ecosystems. While being significantly different, we can observe many similarities between both types of ecosystems. A biological ecosystem is defined as a biological environment consisting of all species living together in a particular area, as well as the physical components of the environment or habitat with which the organisms interact (e.g., air, soil, water and sunlight). A software ecosystem is made up of a coherent collection of software projects (including software and hardware resources) that are developed and evolve together. They constitute an environment in which members of user and developer communities collaborate towards a common goal. Hence, these communities act as a kind of equivalent of a biological species in the sense that, like species, they evolve over time, and interact with other communities in their environment.
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