Metrics for Open Source – Guy Martin Interview


hi I’m Guy Martin I run the open source
office at Autodesk and also help out with the Academy Software Foundation
where I serve on the governing board for that organization I think it’s important for companies to
have metrics I think most companies want metrics because they feel like they have
to have a return on investment and sometimes is difficult in community
management and open source in general to feel like you’re making progress and so
you can have some amount of metrics around things that are very very
specific like number of forum posts or maybe number of pull requests but kind
of getting more metrics that define community health and define the culture
of a community I think is really important and I think a lot more
companies are wanting that sort of thing I think the most important thing to do
is not try to measure too much I think the problem that a lot of companies run
into is that they have a pitfall of looking for too many metrics and trying
to measure a bunch of different things I think pick one or two important things
that you think are going to show you what you want from a trend standpoint
and also remember that you need to look at the trend of metrics you don’t want
to just look at metrics as isolation or at a specific point in time but you’re
really more interested I think in the trend of metrics as supposed to just the
absolute numbers I think if we get to a point where we
have really good metrics and there’s a consistent set of metrics as what the
CHAOSS group is working on I think once we get to that point hopefully what you’re
going to see is that we’re going to be able to make apples-to-apples
comparisons right you’re going to be able to look at open source projects and
look at them not just from a fitness of use from a technology standpoint but
also look at how healthy they are, what their culture looks like, are they going
to be a good fit for your organization going forward? because I think what I see
organizations making the most mistakes with is picking a open source project
strictly based on the technology fitness and not necessarily on whether that
community is healthy and whether that community is going to be around in three
to five years because if that community is not healthy that’s going to extra
burden that a company is going to have to pick up to try to maintain that open
source project themselves I think open-source projects, especially
as they they grow to have more dependencies among different projects, I
think it’s going to be important not only for the open-source projects
themselves to have a good idea from a data and metrics standpoint how healthy
other projects that they’re interacting with is but again it’s from a company
and corporate standpoint it’s really really important because you look at
open source projects and then you look at the dependencies that those open
source projects bring in and having a healthy community and a
healthy ecosystem where all of those different open source projects are are
actually really really useful and healthy is going to be important going
forward because you’re going to start basing hopefully decisions about what
open source projects and components you use based on the totality of the
ecosystem not just on the individual open source project itself. So actually
I’m a big believer in in metrics as an engineer as a former engineer and I
think it’s really really important that we treat metrics and open source not as
something that is a burden but as something that we can really learn from
and that we could have we can have some great engineering rigor around actually
using metrics in a productive way

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