Considerations and Challenges for the Adoption of Open Source Components in Software-Intensive Businesses

We have recently (November 2021) had an article on OSS component adoption accepted for publication by the Journal of Systems and Software. Unfortunately the production process appears to have been delayed as a consequence of the late 2021 wave of COVID 19 infections (omicron). The publisher is based in the Netherlands, which has just started another period of lockdown, and production work is undertaken in India (as far as I can tell). Indeed, previous stages of the pandemic contributed to a lengthened review process. Patience is, of necessity, becoming something of a default setting; as is working at unanticipated times in sometimes difficult circumstances

The production team eventually completed their work just before Christmas 2021, and I reviewed the proofs on the 26th of December. One small query and the rest the Christmas break later, the final version of the article is now available in early January –


The article reports an investigation of practices used when evaluating OSS components for use in six software intensive businesses in Sweden. During the last twenty years or more, businesses have been integrating OSS components into tooling and products. Around 2010 there was a lot of research undertaken that showed a range of approaches to component adoption; some formalised and some less formal. More recently, little is heard of formalised approaches, though there have, for example, been attempts to use metrics to evaluate OSS project vitality and thereby assess adoption risks. In addition, in the last 10 or so years there has been a large increase in the amount of OSS components available and their use in industry. Accordingly, businesses would appear to have acquired a lot of experience evaluating open source software for adoption, and may not be applying formalised, or even common processes to assess software components. The research reported in the article explores current practice in six businesses to document the processes used, and understand why companies use the approaches they do.


Abstract: Component-Based Software Development is a conventional way of working for software-intensive businesses and Open Source Software (OSS) components are frequently considered by businesses for adoption and inclusion in software products. Previous research has found a variety of practices used to support the adoption of OSS components, including formally specified processes and less formal, developer-led approaches, and that the practices used continue to develop. Evolutionary pressures identified include the proliferation of available OSS components and increases in the pace of software development as businesses move towards continuous integration and delivery. We investigate work practices used in six software-intensive businesses in the primary and secondary software sectors to understand current approaches to OSS component adoption and the challenges businesses face establishing effective work practices to evaluate OSS components. We find businesses have established processes for evaluating OSS components and communities that support more complex and nuanced considerations of the cost and risks of component adoption alongside matters such as licence compliance and functional requirements. We also found that the increasing pace and volume of software development within some businesses provides pressure to continue to evolve software evaluation processes.


title = {Considerations and Challenges for the Adoption of Open Source Components in Software-Intensive Businesses},
journal = {Journal of Systems and Software},
volume = {186},
pages = {111152},
year = {2022},
issn = {0164-1212},
doi = {10.1016/j.jss.2021.111152},
author = {Butler, Simon and Gamalielsson, Jonas and Lundell, Björn and Brax, Christoffer and Mattsson, Anders and Gustavsson, Tomas and Feist, Jonas and Kvarnström, Bengt and Lönroth, Erik},