Letter to Stakeholders (Year-end 2014)

1. Summary

2014 marks the fifth year of the Professorship for Open Source Software at the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg. Revenues increased slightly, we added more members to the group, and student numbers are up as well. Publication output dipped with many submissions in the queue for 2015. Teaching continues to be strong, with continued interest and support for our project-based teaching model by industry. We welcomed Maximilian Capraro and Andreas Kaufmann to the group and are expecting great things of them. Gottfried Hofmann left his part-time job with the group to focus on his startup.

2. Research

Our research goal is to understand how “open collaboration” works, see http://osr.cs.fau.de/about/group/ and http://www.opensym.org/about-us/definition/ and apply our learnings to software systems engineering.

2.1 Research Focus Areas

Our focus areas resp. projects shifted slightly:

  • Requirements Engineering (Andreas Kaufmann, project QDAcity, started 2014-01-01). We are exploring the use of qualitative data analysis method for requirements engineering. We expect to improve traceability, quality, and speed by which we determine a broad range of requirements engineering artefacts.
  • Open Source Processes and Project Communities (Ann Barcomb, project N.N., started 2013-01-01). We are trying to understand the concepts, processes, and tools that make open collaborative communities work. A particular goal is the creation of a best practices handbook for managing such communities.
  • Software Economics (Dirk Riehle, various projects, on-going). We are investigating the economic principles underlying the software industry with a particular emphasis on open source projects. A key focus are open source business strategies. We are currently guiding an open source consortium in the German energy industry.
  • Open Collaborative Domain Expert Programming (Hannes Dohrn, project Sweble, started 2010-01-01). We are investigating how to make people without formal programming education productive as software developers. Application areas are educational, accounting and factory control (“shop floor”) software.
  • Inner Source Software Development (Maximilian Capraro, project N.N., started 2014-01-01). We are investigating how to bring the best practices of open source collaboration to proprietary software development. Together with our research partner Black Duck Software, we expect to have a significant impact on the tool landscape for inner source development.

You can read more about our research concept at http://osr.cs.fau.de/2013/11/27/das-forschungskonzept-der-professur-fur-open-source-software-an-der-friedrich-alexander-universitat/ and about the research areas at http://osr.cs.fau.de/research/projects/.

2.2 Research Cooperations

We continued our national and international collaborations:

  • The work with Siemens on software analytics evolved into a four-party collaboration between Siemens, University of Passau, Hochschule Regensburg, and FAU.
  • The work with Peking University continued and we submitted a paper based on Bilal Zaghloul’s Master Thesis to the Information Systems Journal.
  • The work with Black Duck Software, Boston, evolved into work on inner source carried out by Maximilian Capraro.

Prof. Riehle successfully finished his sabbatical in California, forging new research bonds and making new industry contacts.

2.3 Research Conferences

In 2014, Prof. Riehle chaired the 10th International Symposium on Open Collaboration, a conference he founded back in 2005. OpenSym 2014 took place in Berlin, Germany, and was a full success. He is also leading OpenSym 2015, which will be held in San Francisco, California. For more about OpenSym, please see http://opensym.org.

2.4 Research Publications

The number of journal and conference publications dipped significantly in 2014. Partly this is due to upcoming publications being delayed to 2015, partly this is due to the research group’s personnel turnover. The general numbers are mostly owned to the small group size. We see room for improvement here.

Publication Type CY 2014 CY 2013 CY 2012 CY 2011 CY 2010
Journals 0 2 2 2 1
Conferences 2 5 2 2 0
Workshops 1 1 0 0 1

FAU’s UnivIS is up-to-date with our publications; simplified access can be had through Prof. Riehle’s professional website at http://dirkriehle.com/publications/.

In 2014, in addition to research publications, Prof. Riehle presented two conference keynotes (ECSEE 2014, KKIO 2014) and three more invited academic talks.

2.5 Fund Raising

The main purpose of fund raising in academia is to finance Mitarbeiter (Ph.D. students). Our general financial picture remains positive, with revenues up slightly, though not as much as hoped for in our 2013 letter to stakeholders. Expected revenues for 2015 are looking good, though. In addition to our two original Mitarbeiter positions, we raised and received the following funds (excl. VAT):

Funds Type FY 2014 FY 2013 FY 2012 FY 2011 FY 2010
Public Grants in [PY] 1,0 0,5
Industry Funds Raised EUR 91.500,00 EUR 82.500,00 EUR 47.500,00 EUR 580,00 EUR 0,00
Total Personnel 9 5 6 5 5

The table presents actual cash-flows; the bookings are higher.

Next to Dirk Riehle (Professor) and Fariba Bensing (Secretary), we now employ four Mitarbeiter (Ph.D. students), two Hilfskräfte (Master students), and one part-time administrator.

3. Teaching

Our project-based teaching model evolved and improved. Like in 2013, we were able to engage industry partners in our teaching, most notably in The AMOS Project and the Product Management course. Industry project partners this year were SAP, Software AG, Solyp, Method Park, and Develop Group. They joined the 2013 industry partners of Audi, Bosch, DATEV, and Elektrobit. Read more about it on our blog at http://osr.cs.fau.de/category/teaching/specific/amos/amos-testimonials/.

3.1 Student Theses

Our student numbers increased slightly, as is visible in the number of final theses we supervised.

Thesis Type SS 2014 +
WS 2013/14
SS 2013 +
WS 2012/13
SS 2012 +
WS 2011/12
SS 2011 +
WS 2010/11
SS 2010 +
WS 2009/10
Master Theses 11 9 8 5 1
Bachelor Theses 4 3 3 1 1
Total Theses 15 12 11 6 2

4. Industry

We engage with industry in many different ways. The main goal is to acquire funds for research projects, as summarized above. In the run-up to such projects, we often hold industry presentations and engage in smaller projects.

Touch Point AY 2014 AY 2013 AY 2012 AY 2011 AY 2010
Number of Small Projects 6 10 3 1 0
Industry Presentations 12 7 17 11 17

A list of current or former industry partners can be found at http://osr.cs.fau.de/about/partners/.

4.1 Startups

In 2014, no new startup was founded, but we refined our “Startup Informatik” concept, see http://goo.gl/ETXKS8 (in German) and http://startupinformatik.de. An important step was expanding the industry involvement from a software industry focus to a broader engineering focus by collaborating with other professors from the Faculty of Engineering. We undertook a test project with the Lehrstuhl für Fertigungsautomatik and engaged with other faculty, the fruits of which will become apparent in 2015.

5. Academic Service

We performed the usual expected internal and external services. Prof. Riehle remains involved with most conferences of relevance to our research group, typically as a reviewer and/or on program committees.

6. Thank You!

At the end of this year, we are wishing everyone Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas, respectively, and ultimately, a happy new year! Thank you everyone who we worked with and who made our work-life more enjoyable. We hope the same holds true for you. May 2015 be as successful as 2014 or better yet!

For the research group,
Prof. Dr. Dirk Riehle

December 2014