July 20–24, 2015
Portland, OR

Network analysis: People and open source communities

Dawn Foster (Pivotal)
10:40am–11:20am Thursday, 07/23/2015
Solve E147/148
Average rating: ****.
(4.50, 6 ratings)
Slides:   1-PDF 

Prerequisite Knowledge

Attendees should have a solid working knowledge of open source communities and the tools that are typically used (source code control, mailing lists, bug trackers, etc.). They should also have basic understanding of how to query databases to extract relevant information.


When most of us gather data about our open source communities, we tend to focus on the numbers. We have charts that hopefully go up and to the right with the number of commits, mailing list posts, tickets closed, etc. Those charts are focused on the numbers, but they largely ignore what the various people are doing within the community. It’s good data, but it’s not all that unique or interesting. We could be doing so much more to look at how the people within our community interact with each other while displaying it in a visual way.

Network analysis is a set of techniques that you can use to quantify the relationships and interactions between the people in any group. Because open source projects have their tools and information in the open, accessing this data and doing network analysis isn’t all that difficult. Through this talk, I will use data from the Linux kernel community to show how network analysis works for a large open source project.

In this talk, I’ll cover the following:

  • Basic principles of various network analysis approaches
  • Using tools like CVSAnalY, mlstats, and others to pull data from your open source community and store it in a database
  • Running basic queries to extract the data needed for network analysis
  • Demonstrate techniques for doing network analysis
  • Show examples of the type of visualizations you can produce

The goal is for people to walk away with some basic techniques and tools they can use to begin doing network analysis of their own, and to make their metrics more visual, interesting, and awesome.

Photo of Dawn Foster

Dawn Foster


Dawn Foster is a PhD student at the University of Greenwich in London, after spending the past 20 years working at companies like Puppet Labs, Intel, Jive Software, and more. She has experience in business and technology with expertise in community building, open source software, metrics, and more. She is passionate about bringing people together through a combination of online communities and real-world events, along with analyzing the data associated with participation in developer and open source communities. She has spoken at dozens of industry events, including many Linux Foundation events, OSCON, SXSW, and more.