An evaluative framework to measure the maturity of Free/Open Source Software (F/OSS) from user perspectives

Akre, VL 2012, An evaluative framework to measure the maturity of Free/Open Source Software (F/OSS) from user perspectives , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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Abstract

Free/Open Source (F/OSS) refers to software that is available for free download and is usually packaged along with its source code. The F/OSS phenomenon has gathered an immense impetus in the past one or two decades. F/OSS differs from commercial or proprietary software in terms of its cost free availability as well as the openness of its source code. Another difference between commercial software and F/OSS is the licensing; F/OSS license should not restrict any party from selling or giving away the software as a component of aggregate software. F/OSS software is developed by thousands of developers, who are geographically dispersed and they may contribute to F/OSS projects by writing code, testing software, debugging software, documentation and design. Other set of individuals who form a massive constituent group of F/OSS are the F/OSS users i.e. people who actually adopt the released software for personal and/or organizational use. It is very important to have proper maturity models to evaluate F/OSS Software. Such models would enable F/OSS users to evaluate the F/OSS and choose the best one for their requirements. Software maturity estimating models and the evaluation of proprietary software models exist, but cannot be applied to F/OSS, because the teams that are developing these two different types of software are driven by different motives (Scepanovic et. al., 2011). Moreover existing maturity frameworks are process oriented whereas users would like them to be product oriented so that users could be able to evaluate different software products. This doctoral research is an attempt to create a unique and innovative maturity model to measure the quality of F/OSS software from user acceptance perspectives. A thorough and meticulous literature review was conducted in the initial phase of the research and these desk studies have made crucial contributions to the research. A list of F/OSS user acceptance indicators were identified through review of existing literature in the field. This list of indicators was later refined through Pilot Study. Expert opinion was solicited to confirm the importance of the literature based indicators. On basis of the Pilot Study findings, two indicators were removed from the list and 21 indicators were finalized for the construction of the research framework. These indicators were then mounted on a Questionnaire Sheet to draw out user perspectives on the indicators. Questionnaire survey was administered using two methods - traditional and web based survey and data was collected. The collected data was statistically tested to identify 5 factor groups. These statistically formed factors were given proper titles with respect to the characteristics of the indicators contained within them. Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) was used to identify the relative importance of the research indicators within factor groups and to find the importance ranks between the factors themselves. AHP Expert opinion study was carried out to gain expert judgments on the relative importance levels among the indicators and factors. These factors and their respective indicators were then used to create a 3 Stage Maturity Framework. This preliminary framework defined an evaluation based structure to assess the maturity stage of each research indicators. The maturity stages achieved by the indicators were used to evaluate the factor maturity stage with help of AHP analysis. Finally the maturity stages assessed for various factors helped in evaluating the overall maturity of the F/OSS software, through application of AHP. The preliminary framework was further refined through Expert Interviews. This refined 3 Stage Maturity Framework forms the main output of this research. The maturity framework was finally validated through three case studies based on selected F/OSS Software - FreeCAD, OpenProj and Sweet Home 3D. Each of the 21 indicators for the mentioned F/OSS Software were evaluated on basis of the refined framework and AHP was used to quantify the maturity stages for the factors and finally the overall maturity of the F/OSS software was calculated. There exist maturity models for F/OSS Software; however most of them require a level of technical expertise to use them. The novelty and distinctiveness of the 3 Stage Maturity Framework developed in this research, lies in the fact that any native user with no technical expertise may be able to use it to evaluate any given F/OSS Software.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Contributors: Arif, M (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > School of the Built Environment
Depositing User: Institutional Repository
Date Deposited: 13 Aug 2021 09:12
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 21:57
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/61517

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