Group awareness in distributed software development

TitleGroup awareness in distributed software development
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsSchneider, Kevin, Gutwin Carl, and Penner Reagan
Refereed DesignationRefereed
Tertiary AuthorsHerbsleb, Jim, and Olson Gary
Secondary Title2004 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work - CSCW '04
PublisherACM Press
Place PublishedNew York, New York, USA
ISBN Number1581138105
Keywordsemail, email archive, mailing list

Open-source software development projects are almost always collaborative and distributed. Despite the difficulties imposed by distance, these projects have managed to produce large, complex, and successful systems. However, there is still little known about how open-source teams manage their collaboration. In this paper we look at one aspect of this issue: how distributed developers maintain group awareness. We interviewed developers, read project communication, and looked at project artifacts from three successful open source projects. We found that distributed developers do need to maintain awareness of one another, and that they maintain both a general awareness of the entire team and more detailed knowledge of people that they plan to work with. Although there are several sources of information, this awareness is maintained primarily through text-based communication (mailing lists and chat systems). These textual channels have several characteristics that help to support the maintenance of awareness, as long as developers are committed to reading the lists and to making their project communication public.