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Analysis of the Structure and Evolution of an Open-Source Community

[+] Author Affiliations
Hao-Yun Huang, Qize Le, Jitesh H. Panchal

Washington State University, Pullman, WA

Paper No. DETC2010-28272, pp. 251-264; 14 pages
  • ASME 2010 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 3: 30th Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, Parts A and B
  • Montreal, Quebec, Canada, August 15–18, 2010
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4411-3 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3881-5
  • Copyright © 2010 by ASME


Open-source processes are based on the paradigm of self-organized communities as opposed to traditional hierarchical teams. These processes have not only been successful in the software development domain, but are increasingly being used in the development of physical products. In order to successfully adapt open-source processes to product realization there is a need to understand how open-source communities self-organize and how that impacts the development of the products. Towards the direction of fulfilling this need, we present an analysis of an existing open-source community involved in developing a web-based content-management platform, Drupal. The approach is based on the analysis of networks using techniques such as social network analysis, degree distribution, and hierarchical clustering. Openly available information on the Drupal website is utilized to perform the analysis of the community. The data is transformed into two weighted undirected networks: networks of people and networks of Drupal modules. Both the structure of these networks and their evolution during the past six years are studied. The networks are visualized by mapping them into images. Based on the analysis, it is observed that the structure of the Drupal community has the characteristics of a scale-free network, which is similar to many other complex networks in diverse domains. Finally, key trends in the evolution of the networks are identified and the possible explanations for those trends are discussed.

Copyright © 2010 by ASME



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