Publication: Group Awareness in Distributed Software Development

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.




Carl Gutwin
University of Saskatchewan
Reagan Penner
Kevin Schneider


Collaborative Integrated Development Environment
Collide "COLLaborative Integrated software Development Environment" is an environment that allows developers to gain awareness of each others activities within the collaborative software development space.


Gutwin, C., Penner, R., Schneider, K. 2004. Group Awareness in Distributed Software Development. In Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work.


@inproceedings {awareness-cscw04,
author= {Carl Gutwin and Reagan Penner and Kevin Schneider},
title= {Group Awareness in Distributed Software Development},
booktitle= {Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work},
year= {2004}