07 October 2010

Attracting the Community’s Many Eyes: an Exploration of User Involvement in Issue Tracking

User input drives the development of software systems by contributing ideas, reporting bugs and clarifiying requirements. To encourage such feedback, open source projects often provide issue tracking systems (e.g. Bugzilla) that are open to the public. In commercial software development, however, this is often not the case. I was interested if opening issue tracking systems of commercial projects to the public would yield similar community input as is the case for open source projects. Together with Holger Schackmann, Adrian Schröter, Christoph Treude and Margaret-Anne Storey, I studied community involvement in issue tracking in the Eclipse and IBM Jazz projects. IBM Jazz is a commercial IDE for collaborative development. The Jazz project has opened its issue tracking system to the Jazz community. Eclipse is a well-known open source IDE with a public issue tracking system.

Our 8 page research paper "Attracting the Community’s Many Eyes: an Exploration of User Involvement in Issue Tracking" was accepted at HAoSE 2010, the Second Workshop on Human Aspects of Software Engineering, co-located with SPLASH 2010. Here is the abstract of our paper:

A community of users who report bugs and request features provides valuable feedback that can be used in product development. Many open source projects provide publicly accessible issue trackers to facilitate such feedback. We compare the community involvement in issue tracker usage between the open source project Eclipse and the closed source project IBM Jazz to evaluate if publicly accessible issue trackers work as well in closed source projects. We find that IBM Jazz successfully receives user feedback through this channel. We then explore the differences in work item processing in IBM Jazz between team members, project members and externals. We conclude that making public issue trackers available in closed source projects is a useful approach for eliciting feedback from the community, but that work items created by team members are processed differently from work items created by project members and externals.

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