Documentation Practices in Open Source - A Study of Apache Derby
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Open source is one of the more interesting trends in software engineering today. The goal of the software engineering discipline is to increase efficiency in the development process, and maximize quality of the product. Open source development processes offer the potential for reducing costs for commercial enterprises. This master's thesis addresses how open source documents architecture, and how it uses documentation in general. Open source has a reputation of creating high quality software, but documentation of process and product is weak. This may be a hurdle for wider adoption of open source processes, as a thorough understanding of a product's qualities is central to its success. The goal is to better understand documentation requirements in open source. The study is based on participation to the Apache Derby open source project. Action research is the research method. The findings show that the Apache Derby documents its artifacts in a number of ways, but fails to aggregate it in a meaningful way. A rich set of written communication mediums compensate for this by giving developers the ability to understand the product over time. The study suggests the popularity and diffusion of an open source project may affect requirements for documentation.