2009 Year-end Summary and Review


It has only been a bit more than three months since we started the open source research group at the Friedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, but we are off to a good start. We settled on two main projects, open source software forges and Wikipedia technology. We filled one of the three open researcher (Ph.D. student) positions we started out with and expect to fill the other two by end of January 2010. Publications did not fall off a cliff as prior momentum kept us going with an OOPSLA Onward! paper in late 2009 and a Transactions on Pattern Languages of Programming paper to appear in 2010. Initial short-term projects for new group members are expected to smooth out the usual drop in publications that comes with a new professorship. Industry welcomed the establishment of our group with two initial sponsorships by Red Hat and Novell, respectively, each for half a Ph.D. student. Local firms are showing a keen interest in open source and its impact and we hope that the groundwork we are laying right now will lead to more industry engagements in 2010 and beyond. Finally, Prof. Riehle chaired the 2009 International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration, which was a full success. We wish everyone a healthy, prosperous, and rewarding 2010!


  1. Projects
  2. Publications
  3. Academic Engagement
  4. Industry and Sponsorships
  5. Teaching and Admin Matters
  6. Miscellaneous


We decided to focus on two main projects: (a) Wikipedia technology and (b) software forges. The Wikipedia technology project is on its way. The group’s first happy hire is Hannes Dohrn, a recent graduate of our university. Dohrn is focussed on taking our vision for wiki technology to the next level. Members two and three will be working on the next generation of open source tooling, a software forge. Member two is expected to start mid of January and member three soon there after. Hiring was announced internationally and has led to more than 40 first-stage interviews and ten second-stage interviews so far.


Riehle published a paper on a new object-oriented metric called “design pattern density” at OOPSLA Onward! 2009; another paper on “industry experiences with design patterns” was accepted by the Springer journal Transactions on Pattern Languages of Programming and is scheduled to appear in 2010.

Next to these two peer-reviewed papers, a somewhat unusual paper called “The Economic Case for Open Source Foundations” is scheduled to appear in Computer’s Industry Perspectives column in January 2010. This article gives the open source research group and the Friedrich-Alexander-University an opportunity to reach out to the >70K subscriber strong IEEE Computer Society audience and demonstrate our thought-leadership. We intend to follow-up with similar papers of industry relevance.

On a related note, a paper by Riehle called “the commercial open source business model” keeps getting retweeted and keeps drawing traffic to its website like the never-tiring Energizer bunny. The paper was published in May 2009, four months before Riehle joined academia, but it is relevant to the group’s research. It was republished shortly thereafter in a Springer LNBIP volume. It is too early to tell whether the web attention the paper is gathering will translate into citations, but we are keeping our eye on it!


Riehle chaired WikiSym 2009, the International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration. The symposium is the premier event for research on wikis and related social software. With a strong participation of 93 paying participants, the symposium kept up with prior successful years, despite the current economic conditions.

Also, Riehle performed various reviews for research journals and conferences in 2009 and sits on the program committee for OOPSLA 2010 and OSS 2010, two of the main events of interest to the research group.


The open source research group received a one-time sponsorship of EUR 35K from Red Hat to pay for half a year for a Ph.D. student. An additional EUR 35K for three years was received by Novell/Suse. Both sponsorships were facilitated by the Open Source Business Foundation in Nuremberg, Germany. Riehle joined the foundation and is now engaging in industrial research activities with it. The sponsorship led to a press conference and a fair amount of news activity that helped promote the research group.

Also, in November, Riehle presented at SAP’s first-ever open source summit in Walldorf, Germany, and spent an extra day consulting to the software giant on its open source strategy.


This winter semester 2009/10 Riehle is teaching the “applied software engineering” class, together with Prof. Bernd Hindel and PD Peter Wilke. He is also teaching the “agile methods and open source” software development class.


The research group established its web presence at osr.cs.fau.de (or osr.informatik.uni-erlangen.de in German).

We wish everyone a healthy, prosperous, and rewarding 2010!