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A first look at an emerging model of community organizations for the long-term maintenance of ecosystems' packages

Théo Zimmermann 1, 2
1 PI.R2 - Design, study and implementation of languages for proofs and programs
CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Inria de Paris, UP - Université de Paris, IRIF (UMR_8243) - Institut de Recherche en Informatique Fondamentale
Abstract : One of the biggest strength of many modern programming languages is their rich open source package ecosystem. Indeed, modern language-specific package managers have made it much easier to share reusable code and depend on components written by someone else (often by total strangers). However, while they make programmers more productive, such practices create new health risks at the level of the ecosystem: when a heavily-used package stops being maintained, all the projects that depend on it are threatened. In this paper, I ask three questions. RQ1: How prevalent is this threat? In particular, how many depended-upon packages are maintained by a single person (who can drop out at any time)? I show that this is the case for a significant proportion of such packages. RQ2: How can project authors that depend on a package react to its maintainer becoming unavailable? I list a few options, and I focus in particular on the notion of fork. RQ3: How can the programmers of an ecosystem react collectively to such events, or prepare for them? I give a first look at an emerging model of community organizations for the long-term maintenance of packages, that appeared in several ecosystems.
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https://hal.inria.fr/hal-02534965
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Submitted on : Friday, July 3, 2020 - 2:42:25 PM
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Théo Zimmermann. A first look at an emerging model of community organizations for the long-term maintenance of ecosystems' packages. SoHeal 2020 - 3rd International Workshop on Software Health, May 2020, Seoul / Virtual, South Korea. ⟨10.1145/3387940.3392209⟩. ⟨hal-02534965v2⟩

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