[openstack-dev] For some advices about ideal contribution composition of files for OpenStack

谭鑫 746534561 at qq.com
Mon Jun 26 02:31:46 UTC 2017


My name is Xin Tan, majored in Computer Science, Peking University, China. I am a first year PHD student. Recently I’m doing a research on OpenStack about the contribution composition of a code file, which in order to explore the contribution pattern of different kinds of files. Further, I want to locate the risk file to give developers some useful information.


I wonder if I could show you my study, including some metrics to describe the contribution composition of a code file. I would appreciate it if you could show your opinions or give some advices, which would really, really help me a lot. And it would only take you a little time.


Thank you so much for your kindness.


First of all, I would give you a brief introduction to my study. We all know large software projects are usually composed of some general file types. For different file types, the contribution composition of them are various. For example, the files which are responsible for implementing core functionalities are usually very complex and they are modified very often, of course, the number of contributors are very high. However, relatively independent files are usually maintained by a small number of people who have high ownership of the code. Previous studies have shown that code ownership is closely related to software quality. And it’s very easy to understand if a developer often contributes to a certain code file, he is most likely to be an expert to it. To some extent, he is the person in charge of the code file, which is conducive to the stability of the quality of the code file. But if he leaves suddenly, the risk of this code file may be very high. Therefore, starting from code ownership, we analysis the contribution composition of different file types, which in order to: 

1)         knowing the contribution composition of files in real time.

2)         exploring the contribution pattern of different kinds of files.

3)         Locating the risk file.

First, we define three metrics to describe the contribution composition of files.

1)         Centrality: 

The Centrality of a file refers to the proportion of ownership for the contributor with the highest proportion of ownership, which is calculated by the number of commit times. It could indicate that whether there is one developer who “owns” the file and has a high level of expertise, who can act as a single point of contact for others who need to use the component, need changes to it, or just have questions about it.

2)         Diversity:

We measured the uncertainty in a code file's contributions (or the diversity of sources of contributions) in a given period using the Teachman/Shannon entropy index, a commonly used diversity measure in many scientific disciplines.


p(xi) is the code ownership of developer xi, I(xi) means the information we need to judge if a contribution belongs to developer xi. H(x) ranges between 0, when all the contribution of the file belong to one developer in a release, and log(2, N), when N developers contribute equally (i.e., pi = 1/N) to the file. The larger H(x) is, the more diverse the contribution of the file is.

We assume that the more diverse the contribution, the more bugs the code file would have in this release. And We have proven that there is a significant positive correlation between the contribution diversity and the amount of defect of the file.

3)         Stability:

The Stability of file means its personnel scheduling. It calculated by the total number of the contributors of this file who leave or join relative to the previous cycle. When the number of contributors to a file is instable, it usually means the high risk. 


Then, we choose a nova release for a case study. We define several different files types according to the functionalities of code file and refer to the measurement value.


File type

Example in nova

The test file for active file


Exception handling file


Privilege management file


Core interface file


Key function implementation file


Module function implementation file


Function realization file of complex module


Module interface file


Module test file


Module configuration file


Non function implementation file


i18n file



And we calculate the above metrics of the nova active files (of course it is not accurate, because the contribution composition is effected by many factors not only file types.). We find three patterns.

Centrality: low

Diversity: high

Stability: low




Key function implementation file

Function realization file of complex module

The test file for active file

Exception handling file

Privilege management file

Core interface file

Centrality: medium

Diversity: medium

Stability: medium

0.2< Metric_1 <=0.7

2<= Metric_2<3

5=< Metric_3<14

Module function implementation file

Module interface file

Module test file

Module configuration file

Centrality: high

Diversity: low

Stability: high

0.7< Metric_1<=1

0<= Metric_2<2

0=< Metric_3<5

Non function implementation file

i18n file


For locating high risk file, I have two points.

1)        Pattern 1(Centrality: low/ Diversity: high/ Stability: low) should be paid much more attention. But there are special cases, for example, Exception handling file, although it is modified too often, it is not complex, so the risk of it is low.

2)         If the contribution composition of a file are significantly various between two cycle, it should be paid more attention to.


Ok, that’s almost what I’m doing. I hope that I have expressed my ideas clearly. And I really hope to know what you think about my work on the following three questions, which would give me great help on my research:


1)         Do you think the metrics are useful for developers and project managers in some way?

In particular, could the Centrality be used to identify the experts of the file and how would it help in practice? And do you think that files with high code ownership would result in higher code quality and fewer failures?

Do you think the contribution diversity could act as an indicator for high risk of lower code quality of the file in some way and why? And what would it mean in practice when the contribution diversity of a file changes a lot?

Do you agree that when contributors left the project, their code would be hard to be maintained by others, and contributions made by newcomers would be more likely to bring bugs to the files? So would it help by knowing how many people left the project and how many people are newcomers to the projects and who are them? If yes, how would it help in practice?

2)         What’s your opinion of exploring contribution composition of file from different file types is reasonable?

3)         Do you think the type files I divided is reasonable? 

4)         For different type of files, based on your developing experience, what’s the idea contribution composition pattern of different file types?

5)        Any other suggestion or ideals? 

Again, I would appreciate it a lot if you could give me some advices. And thank you so much for your time.

Looking forward to your reply. Wish you have a good day.
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