The Commit Size Distribution of Open Source Software

TitleThe Commit Size Distribution of Open Source Software
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsArafat, O, Riehle, D
Secondary Title2009 42nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS 2009)
Pagination1 - 8
Place PublishedWaikoloa, Hawaii, USA
ISBN Number978-0-7695-3450-3
Keywordscommits, configuration management, history, lines of code, sloc, source code

With the growing economic importance of open source, we need to improve our understanding of how open source software development processes work. The analysis of code contributions to open source projects is an important part of such research. In this paper we analyze the size of code contributions to more than 9,000 open source projects. We review the total distribution and distinguish three categories of code contributions using a size-based heuristic: single focused commits, aggregate team contributions, and repository refactorings. We find that both the overall distribution and the individual categories follow a power law. We also suggest that distinguishing these commit categories by size will benefit future analyses.


"We use the database of the open source analytics firm Ohloh Inc."
"This article is based on a March 2008 database snapshot, which contains 9,363 completely crawled and analyzed projects covering a time frame from January 1990 to February 2008."
"The Ohloh database provides the complete configuration management history of each crawled project (to the extent available on the web). Thus, every single commit action of all the projects over their entire history is available."
"We measure the size of commits in this paper in source lines of code (SLoC) using Ohloh's own open source diff too"

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