Architecture information communication in two OSS projects: The why, who, when, and what

T. Bi, W. Ding, P. Liang, A. Tang

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


© 2021 Elsevier Inc.Architecture information is vital for Open Source Software (OSS) development, and mailing list is one of the widely used channels for developers to share and communicate architecture information. This work investigates the nature of architecture information communication (i.e., why, who, when, and what) by OSS developers via developer mailing lists. We employed a multiple case study approach to extract and analyze the architecture information communication from the developer mailing lists of two OSS projects, ArgoUML and Hibernate, during their development life-cycle of over 18 years. Our main findings are: (a) architecture negotiation and interpretation are the two main reasons (i.e., why) of architecture communication; (b) the amount of architecture information communicated in developer mailing lists decreases after the first stable release (i.e., when); (c) architecture communications centered around a few core developers (i.e., who); (d) and the most frequently communicated architecture elements (i.e., what) are Architecture Rationale and Architecture Model. There are a few similarities of architecture communication between the two OSS projects. Such similarities point to how OSS developers naturally gravitate towards the four aspects of architecture communication in OSS development.
Original languageEnglish
Article number111035
JournalJournal of Systems and Software
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


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