December 21, 2016 - Ben Lloyd Pearson

Digging Into the Numbers Behind an Open Source Engineering Team

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably among the growing number of software professionals who understand how valuable open source development is to the production of modern technology. Many of us have seen how open source can reduce costs, increase development speed, increase overall product quality and more, but it can often be challenging to quantify the value of this using understandable metrics.

Fortunately for us, open source development happens in public so a lot of information can be extracted from public resources such as git repository logs, email mailing lists, code review and bug tracking platforms, and more. One relatively new and useful tool to aide in this is GrimoireLab from Bitergia. We’ve spent the last few months exploring the capabilities of this tool to find out what kind of metrics we can use to track the success of the efforts of the Samsung Open Source Group. Doing so has the potential to help us understand where we’ve been successful and where we need to make improvements, which in turn allows us to better demonstrate our value to other teams at Samsung so we can continue to become a more integral component of Samsung’s product development efforts.

The Basics

For example, one of the most basic things we can track is which projects we are contributing the most code to. The following charts break down the commits and lines changed our team has contributed to open source projects since our inception in April 2013.

OSG Commits by Project

OSG Lines Changed by Project

As you can see from this, the OSG contributes the most code to graphics and window management, specifically EFL, and Wayland. This makes perfect sense considering that a lot of our work is going into establishing a strong foundation for IoT, mobile, and wearable devices, and a big part of this task is building user interfaces that create a consistent experience across a range of devices.

Of course, it’s important to remember that these numbers shouldn’t be taken at face value and should always include a qualitative analysis. While we might have lower numbers of contributions to the Linux kernel than EFL, kernel changes are often much more complex and require a far more extensive review process, and the Linux kernel has an impact that is much more broad.

How Do We Compare to Other Samsung Teams?

Something that is important to our very existence is making sure we continue to be valuable to Samsung so that our efforts are funded year after year. We can look at the git repos for these projects and compare the efforts of our team to the rest of Samsung.

As you can see, the 19 engineers that have worked for our team over the years have made nearly as many commits as the more than 400 engineers from other teams at Samsung who have contributed to the same projects! Additionally, over the entire time period we’ve gotten our code committed upstream almost a day faster than the rest of Samsung on average. Of course, we have the benefit of having multiple maintainers for these projects on our team so it’s only natural we’d be able to get many of our contributions committed more quickly. However, we also engage in much bigger, more complicated efforts on a regular basis that can sometimes take weeks or months to fully implement and push upstream, so our time to upstream tends to ebb and flow depending on what projects we are focusing our efforts on.

Taking this Work Further

All of this and more is being tracked on our new blog page dedicated to it. We’re only tracking some basic metrics for now, but we hope to use this to answer more questions in the future:

  • What individuals and companies are most effective at getting code upstream, and how do they maintain this success?
  • Of the projects we’re involved with, which are gaining traction, and which are declining or stagnating?
  • Is there enough technical talent in the community? If not, are there any individuals we can assist or sponsor to build technical skills and grow the community?
  • How does the performance of Samsung contributors stack up to other companies?

Additionally, this information should also be valuable in understanding the health of open source communities, so it’s very likely we’ll be featuring more content from this in future posts.  This is only a start, and there is a lot more information we want to use this tool to keep tabs on, so be sure to check back in the future for more of what we do with GrimoireLab.

Ben Lloyd Pearson

About Ben Lloyd Pearson

Ben handles Open Source Operations for the Samsung Open Source Group. He has a background that spans many areas of technology including digital media, audio / video production, web development, IT systems support / administration, and technical writing. In addition to his work for Samsung, he also runs Open Source Today, a news blog that covers developments in the open source industry. He lives in Austin, Texas, a place he and his wife chose to live in order to experience one of the best scenes for food, music, and technology in the world. He is a musician, aspiring amateur chef, DIY mechanic, and avid gamer.

Image Credits: Open Source Way

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