Impact of Programming Language Fragmentation on Developer Productivity

TitleImpact of Programming Language Fragmentation on Developer Productivity
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsKrein, JL, MacLean, AC, Knutson, CD, Delorey, DP, Eggett, DL
Secondary TitleInternational Journal of Open Source Software and Processes
Pagination41 - 61
Date Published32/2010
ISSN Number1942-3934
Keywordscommits, entropy, language entropy, programming languages, sourceforge, srda

Programmers often develop software in multiple languages. In an effort to study the effects of programming language fragmentation on productivity—and ultimately on a developer’s problem-solving abilities—the authors present a metric, language entropy, for characterizing the distribution of a developer’s programming efforts across multiple programming languages. This paper presents an observational study examining the project contributions of a random sample of 500 SourceForge developers. Using a random coefficients model, the authors find a statistically (alpha level of 0.001) and practically significant correlation between language entropy and the size of monthly project contributions. Results indicate that programming language fragmentation is negatively related to the total amount of code contributed by developers within SourceForge, an open source software (OSS) community.

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