Walt Scacchi is discovering when, how, and why open source software development (OSSD) works and whether it truly is a frontier for innovation.
PRESENT POSITION: Senior Research Scientist & Research Faculty member, Institute for Software Research, Univ. of CA, Irvine
DEGREES: B.A. in Mathematics, and B.S. in Computer Science, California State University, Fullerton; Ph.D. in Information and Computer Science, Univ. of CA, Irvine
HOW YOU DESCRIBE YOUR RESEARCH WHEN AT COCKTAIL PARTIES: I'm trying to understand how complex software systems can be developed by like-minded people as free and open source software, but outside of corporate development.
HOW IS OSSD DIFFERENT FROM TRADITIONAL SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT? OSSD uses continuous design; you get what you can up and running today to get feedback on how to adapt immediately. With traditional software development, there's a logical progression of problem analysis, solution, and delivery to the customer.
WHAT ARE SOME SUCCESSFUL OSS SYSTEMS TODAY? The Internet, with its open HTML source code. Also, the Linux Kernel, which contains about 50 million lines of source code and has an estimated development cost/value in the multi-billion dollar range.
WHAT ARE THE LIMITS OF OSSD? Most projects fail because there's no actual software involved...it's conceptual until someone takes the idea and builds the software.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF OSSD? Being able to give software away for free is a mar-keting strategy for companies, especially if they're trying to make a compelling argument to include a particular tool in the retail software package. As for the general public, studies suggest that three out of four software development efforts fail to deliver a viable system. So any new method for developing software-like OSSD, which has hundreds of thousands of participants-merits some attention.
To access SourceForge's repository of OSS applications, go to http://rbi.ims.ca/3844-606
To view projects and publications on OSS from UC, Irvine, go to http://rbi.ims.ca/3844-607
For an index of open source licenses, go to http://rbi.ims.ca/3844-608
Contact Scacchi at [email protected]