Structural Complexity and Decay in FLOSS Systems: An Inter-Repository Study

Capiluppi, Andrea and Beecher, Karl (2009) Structural Complexity and Decay in FLOSS Systems: An Inter-Repository Study. In: 13th European Conference on Software Maintenance and Reengineering, Mar 24-27, 2009, Kaiserslautern, Germany.

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Structural Complexity and Decay in FLOSS Systems: An Inter-Repository Study
Past software engineering literature has firmly stablished that software architectures and the associated code decay over time. Architectural decay is, potentially, a major issue in Free/Libre/Open Source Software (FLOSS) projects, since developers sporadically joining FLOSS projects do not always have a clear understanding of the underlying architecture, and may break the overall conceptual structure by several small changes to the code base. This paper investigates whether the structure of a FLOSS system and its decay can also be influenced by the repository in which it is retained: specifically, two FLOSS repositories are studied to understand whether the complexity of the software structure in the sampled projects is comparable, or one repository hosts more complex systems than the other. It is also studied whether the effort to counteract this complexity is dependent on the repository, and the governance it gives to the hosted projects. The results of the paper are two-fold: on one side, it is shown that the repository hosting larger and more active projects presents more complex structures. On the other side, these larger and more complex systems benefit from more anti-regressive work to reduce this complexity.
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Abstract

Past software engineering literature has firmly established that software architectures and the associated code decay over time. Architectural decay is, potentially, a major issue in Free/Libre/Open Source Software (FLOSS) projects, since developers sporadically joining FLOSS projects do not always have a clear understanding of the underlying architecture, and may break the overall conceptual structure by several small changes to the code base.

This paper investigates whether the structure of a FLOSS system and its decay can also be influenced by the repository in which it is retained: specifically,
two FLOSS repositories are studied to understand whether the complexity of the software structure in the sampled projects is comparable, or one repository hosts more complex systems than the other. It is also studied
whether the effort to counteract this complexity is dependent on the repository, and the governance it gives to the hosted projects.

The results of the paper are two-fold: on one side, it is shown that the repository hosting larger and more active projects presents more complex structures. On the other side, these larger and more complex systems benefit
from more anti-regressive work to reduce this complexity.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information:Past software engineering literature has firmly established that software architectures and the associated code decay over time. Architectural decay is, potentially, a major issue in Free/Libre/Open Source Software (FLOSS) projects, since developers sporadically joining FLOSS projects do not always have a clear understanding of the underlying architecture, and may break the overall conceptual structure by several small changes to the code base. This paper investigates whether the structure of a FLOSS system and its decay can also be influenced by the repository in which it is retained: specifically, two FLOSS repositories are studied to understand whether the complexity of the software structure in the sampled projects is comparable, or one repository hosts more complex systems than the other. It is also studied whether the effort to counteract this complexity is dependent on the repository, and the governance it gives to the hosted projects. The results of the paper are two-fold: on one side, it is shown that the repository hosting larger and more active projects presents more complex structures. On the other side, these larger and more complex systems benefit from more anti-regressive work to reduce this complexity.
Keywords:free software, Open Source Software, software evolution, software architecture
Subjects:G Mathematical and Computer Sciences > G400 Computer Science
G Mathematical and Computer Sciences > G600 Software Engineering
Divisions:College of Science > School of Computer Science
ID Code:1874
Deposited By: Bev Jones
Deposited On:23 Jun 2009 04:35
Last Modified:13 Mar 2013 08:32

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