A New Chapter at CHAOSS

For my regularly scheduled (once every year and a half) blog post, I wanted to announce that July 3rd is my last day at VMware, and I will be joining the CHAOSS project as their new Director of Data Science

CHAOSS Logo

It was really hard to leave VMware after almost 5 years (including my time at Pivotal). The work was fun, and I worked with so many amazing people that I will miss dearly! But as many of you know, I have a deep passion for data, and in particular open source community metrics, so the opportunity to work full time on the CHAOSS project is the dream job that I just couldn’t turn down. I’ve been working in this space for 10+ years with the CHAOSS project, and before CHAOSS, I was working with Bitergia and a variety of open source tools that later evolved into the software that is now part of the CHAOSS project. I’ll be taking July off and then will be starting my role with CHAOSS in August. A big thank you to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for making this possible through the grant that is funding the Director of Data Science position and other CHAOSS project initiatives.

I will be continuing my work on the OpenUK Board and as co-chair for the CNCF Contributor Strategy Technical Advisory Group, which have kept me very busy in addition to my work at VMware and in my role on the CHAOSS Governing Board.

Over the past year and a half, I’ve done quite a few presentations on topics ranging from how companies can work in open source communities to open source health / metrics to leading in open source, which can be found on my Speaking page. The highlight was giving a keynote about growing your contributor base at KubeCon EU in front of an audience of 10,000+, which was amazing and terrifying at the same time! 

In addition to my world tour of conference presentations, I was quoted in a Linux Foundation Diversity Report, won a few awards for my UK work in open source as part of the OpenUK Honours list in 2021 and 2023, and I’ve written a few blog posts since my last post here on my own blog:

On the personal side, Paul and I bought a new house in November, and we have become the people who sit in their back garden and talk about how adorable the squirrels and birds are. Since we live in an area near quite a bit of green space, we have regular visits from foxes and even spotted one badger on our backyard wildlife camera! 

Since I don’t post here often, if you want to keep up with what I’ve been doing, I post occasionally on Mastodon and Instagram.

Speaking, Blogging, and More

It’s time again for my regularly scheduled (once every year and a half) blog post to avoid completely neglecting my personal blog. While I don’t blog often, I do still update my Speaking page on a regular basis, and conferences have really ramped up over the past couple of months! I’ll admit to being really tired of attending boring virtual events, so when the in-person events started back up, I went to all of them! In my rush of excitement about traveling and seeing people again, I agreed to do way too many talks – 10 talks in two months. Here are a few of the topics I’ve been talking about over the past year and a half, and you can visit my Speaking page to get links to slides and videos where available:

  • Navigating and mitigating open source project risk
  • Good governance practices for open source projects
  • Metrics and measuring project health
  • Becoming a speaker and getting talks accepted at conferences
  • Being a good corporate citizen in open source

I’ve also written quite a few blog posts on the VMware Open Source Blog and elsewhere on similar topics:

I’ve also been a guest on a few podcasts: Open Source for Business, a Brandeis webinar on Open Source and Education, Community Signal, and The New Stack. You can also find me as an occasional host for various metrics topics on episodes of the CHAOSScast podcast.

As part of my work on the OpenUK board, I was interviewed for a featured section about Open Source Program Offices in the report, State of Open: The UK in 2021 Phase Two: UK Adoption where I talked about VMware’s OSPO.

On a more personal note, we’ve been doing really well throughout the pandemic. We finally had our first real vacation in Malta, where we relaxed while eating and drinking our way through Malta along with swimming, snorkeling, reading, and enjoying the sunshine. I still keep an updated list of every book I read here on my blog if you’d like to know what I’ve been reading.

Since I don’t post here often, if you want to keep up with what I’ve been doing, I post more frequently on Twitter.

VMware and Other Updates

I realized that I haven’t posted anything in over a year and a half here, but I’ve definitely been busy! The biggest change is that Pivotal was acquired by VMware a few months ago, and I have moved into the Open Source Program Office as Director of Open Source Community Strategy where I continue to work remotely from my flat in the UK. I love my new job, and I get to work with a bunch of really amazing people! While I haven’t been blogging here, I have written several blog posts on the VMware Open Source Blog about building community and strategy.

I’ve been doing quite a few talks at conferences and other events, including some virtual ones, on a wide variety of topics including community building, open source metrics, Kubernetes, and more. Links to presentations and videos where available can be found on the speaking page.

I’m one of the rotating hosts for the new CHAOSScast podcast where we chat about a wide variety of open source metrics topics. I also wrote a post on the CHAOSS blog with a video that talks about how I’m using metrics at VMware to learn more about the health of our open source projects. If you’re as passionate about data and metrics as I am, CHAOSS is an open source community that welcomes contributors of all types, and it’s a fun group of people, so you should join us!

I’ve joined the OpenUK Board of Directors to help promote collaboration around open technologies (open source, open hardware, and open data) throughout the UK. We have weekly presentations that are free for anyone to attend every Friday, and we’re always looking for volunteers who want to help out on a wide variety of committees.

There are also a few other miscellaneous things that I’ve done recently:

I hope to see all of you around the internet, and maybe we’ll even be able to catch up in person after this silly pandemic is over!

Joining Pivotal

I’m super excited to be joining Pivotal on Monday, October 22nd as Open Source Software Strategy Lead within the R&D group here in their London office!

This has been in the works for quite a while, but my UK work visa finally arrived, which makes it official. I also learned that my PhD dissertation corrections were approved, so I’ve had a lot to celebrate in the past week!

My first day at Pivotal will be at the Linux Foundation’s Open Source Summit in Edinburgh, which is odd timing because of some visa delays, but I’m excited to get started! While I won’t be speaking about anything related to my new job at Pivotal, I will be talking about my Linux kernel research.

And we’re hiring if you want to come work with me 🙂

Seeking My Next Adventure

My time as a PhD student is coming to an end, and I’m ready to get back into a full-time role at a tech company in July or August. I’ve included a tl;dr version next for those busy people who just want the highlights, or you can read on for more details about me and what I want in my next role.

What I’m looking for in my next adventure:

  • Open source focus: community management or data analysis of OSS participation
  • Senior position: preferably an individual contributor role, but open to managing a small team
  • Travel: some travel to speak at conferences, but a maximum of 10% – 20% of my time
  • Based near London: need a company to sponsor my UK work visa

What I’ve been doing in my past couple of roles (full resume):

  • Building and leading open source communities
  • Analyzing open source community metrics and other data
  • Speaking and blogging about a variety of technologies
  • Creating strategies and plans while leading a team to achieve them

Now for the longer version and more details about what I want for my next adventure …

After 3.5 years at the University of Greenwich, I’m almost finished with my PhD. While it has been an amazing experience, I am ready to exit academia and return to the tech industry again. Ideally, I would like to be back at work in July or August.

The catch is that I want to stay in the UK, so I’m looking for a full-time role with a company who can sponsor my UK visa. Given my timeline, this company would already need to be on the UK register of licensed sponsors for visas. The good news is that it should be fairly easy to transfer from my student visa to a work visa if I have company sponsorship. I live a bit outside of London, and while I could work in a London office, the commute would be over an hour, so I would prefer a position where I can work remotely most days. I’m happy to work a couple of evenings per week to accommodate meetings with US teams.

My primary job criteria is that I would like to continue to focus on open source software. A position in open source community management or data analysis of participation in open source communities would be ideal, but I’m also open to other roles. I’ve spent most of my 20+ year career working in open source software roles with a focus on community management and metrics, and I would really enjoy continuing that work and maintaining the relationships that I have with so many amazing people working in similar roles.

I have a preference for being in a senior individual contributor role. Over the past 20+ years, I’ve been in many different open source positions, so I can easily adapt to wide variety of responsibilities as the industry or team evolves. I’m also happy to train and mentor junior employees, which I view as a critical element of any senior position. At my last few companies, I managed teams, most recently as Director of Community at Puppet, so while I would prefer an individual contributor role, I am also open to managing a small team.

I also want to work for a great company where I can enjoy my work. I’m happy to work hard to achieve my goals, but I also expect to work a reasonable number of hours per week and prefer an environment with some flexibility about when and how I do my work as long as the goals are being met. The company should have a diverse workforce and a culture of showing respect for each other. I also prefer to work at a company that already understands the importance of open source software.

For years, I have been giving talks at conferences and blogging on a variety of technology topics, and I would like to continue to do this. In particular, I would like travel to open source conferences (Linux Foundation events, OSCON, FOSDEM, etc.) and give talks, but I need to keep the travel to 10% – 20% of my time.

Here are a few links with examples of my work and more details about my past experience:

If you think I would be a good fit for a role on your team, or if you have other pointers for me, please drop me an email: dawn@fastwonder.com.

Extracting Data from Open Source Communities

On Sunday at FOSDEM, I have a 5 minute lightning talk about extracting data from open source communities in the HPC, Big Data, Data Science devroom (slides).

Open source communities are filled with huge amounts of data just waiting to be analyzed. Getting this data into a format that can be easily used for analysis may seem intimidating at first, but there are some very useful open source tools that make this task relatively easy.

Metrics GrimoireThe primary tools used in this talk are the open source Metrics Grimoire tools that take data from various community sources and store it in a database where it can be easily queried and analyzed.

Tools covered:

  • CVSAnalY to gather and analyze source code repository data
  • MLStats to gather and analyze mailing list data
  • Other Metrics Grimoire tools for bug trackers, IRC, Wikis and more
  • Gource to visualize source code repository data

MLStats and CVSAnaly – Installation and data import:

It’s very easy to get started with MLStats and CVSAnaly and use them to import data from your mailing lists and code repositories.

  1. Install
  2. $ python setup.py install

  3. Create database
  4. mysql> create database mlstats;
    
mysql> create database cvsanaly;

  5. Import data
  6. $ mlstats //URLOFYOURLIST
    
$ cvsanaly2 /path/to/repo

MLStats – Queries to extract data:

  • Top 100 messages (most replied to threads):
  • SELECT subject, COUNT(*) as total 
FROM messages 
GROUP BY subject 
ORDER by total DESC 
LIMIT 100;

  • Other queries:

    • # of messages from a specific person

    • # of messages per person from email domain


    • Find all messages with specific word in subject line (patch)

    • More queries

CVSAnalY – Queries to extract data:

  • Number of commits per person by email domain:
  • SELECT p.name, p.email, 
COUNT(distinct(s.id)) as num_commits 
FROM people p, scmlog s 
WHERE email like "%company.com" 
AND p.id=s.author_id 
GROUP BY email 
ORDER BY num_commits DESC;

  • Other queries:

    • Top commit authors all time

    • # of commits for specific person
    • More Queries

Other Metrics Grimoire Tools:

Gource:

Gource is an amazing tool to visualize activity from your source code repositories. I did a full talk about Gource on Friday at the FLOSS Community Metrics meeting, so have a look at that blog post for details about using Gource.

Using Gource to Visualize Your Repositories

Today at the FLOSS Community Metrics meeting in Brussels, Belgium, I gave a short, 5-minute lightning talk about using Gource to visualize your source code repositories with a focus on navigating the myriad of Gource configuration options and how to tweak them to make Gource work better for your repository. In this blog post, I’ll give an overview of the talk, but for all of the details or to replicate the demo, you should have a look at the GitHub repository for the talk.

In the talk, I did a visualization of the MailingListStats (mlstats) repository from the Metrics Grimoire suite of tools, and here is the video generated using these options:

gource -f --logo images/bitergia_logo_sm.png --title "MailingListStats AKA mlstats" --key --start-date '2014-01-01' --user-image-dir images -a 1 -s .05 --path ../MailingListStats

Option Details:

  • --path /path/to/repo (or omit and run Gource from the top level of the repo dir)
  • -f show full screen
  • --logo images/bitergia_logo_sm.png
  • --title "MailingListStats AKA mlstats"
  • --key (shows color key for file types)
  • --start-date '2014-05-01'
  • --user-image-dir images (Directory with .jpg or .png images of users ‘Full Name.png’ for avatars)
  • -a 1 (auto skip to next entry if nothing happens in x seconds – default 3)
  • -s .05 (speed in seconds per day – default 10)

You can also manipulate the video while Gource is running:

  • Space bar to pause
  • Ctrl + / – to speed up or slow down
  • Use arrow keys to move camera
  • Mouse over timeline widget at the bottom and click on a date to move in time.

For additional information:

Consulting Again

Scale FactoryAs most of you know, I moved to London to start working toward a PhD last January. Now that I’m off to a good start on the PhD, I find that I actually miss working, so I’m going to start consulting again.

I’ll be working part-time at The Scale Factory here in London. I’m interested in doing consulting projects related to building communities, open source, data analysis, etc. You can find all of the details on my consulting page. I’m also open to doing other types of projects.

If you are interested in getting my help for any of your projects, please email me: dawn@scalefactory.com.

Network Analysis and Community Visualizations

dawn_presentingAs usual, I’ve been neglecting my blog; however, you may notice that I finally did a little redesign using a modern template to make it more mobile-friendly and more accessible to avoid the Google search penalties. With this fresh new design, I decided that I needed something more recent than my last post in January.

So, I thought it would be nice to talk about my presentations from OSCON and the FLOSS Community Metrics Meeting in lovely Portland, OR in July.

If you want to skip my ramblings and get right to the content, you can find all of the code, data sets, instructions and links to the presentation materials on SlideShare by visiting my OSCON 2015 GitHub repository. UPDATE (Aug 23): The video for the OSCON portion is available now, too.

If you missed this presentation and want to see it live and in person, I’ll be doing similar talks at LinuxCon Seattle in August and LinuxCon Dublin in October. You might also be interested in reading the interview that Nicole Engard did with me on Opensource.com right before the conference to give me a chance to talk about my OSCON presentation and metrics in general.

What is Network Analysis?

The presentations both centered around network analysis, which studies relationships between units and looks for patterns and structure in those relationships. This is an oversimplified definition of network analysis, since it’s a fairly complicated discipline, so the best way to describe it is with a few examples of how people use network analysis.

  • My presentations looked at relationships and activity between people participating in an open source project.
  • It’s also used to study the relationships between organizations. Examples include looking at which companies have common people on their board of directors or to look at parent / subsidiary relationships between companies.
  • People are also using it to study animal social networks, like aggression and dominance between horses or food sharing between birds.
  • Someone at the University of Greenwich is doing historical social network analysis to look at the networks of people in medieval Scotland by using data from witness signatures on legal documents.
  • Friendship networks, work relationships, and other ways that people interact are also common examples of network analysis

MetricsGrimoire Tools

Metrics GrimoireThe MetricsGrimoire is the go-to set of tools that you’ll probably want to use to gather data from your open source community and store it into a database where you can write queries to extract the information you need. In these talks, I used mlstats data, but in my research, I also make heavy use of CVSAnalY. The OSCON 2015 GitHub repository README file has more instructions, but in short, you need to install mlstats, create the database, run mlstats on your mailing list to import the data into this new mlstats database, and finally use database queries to extract the data used for this presentation. You can also use my oscon.py script from the GitHub repository to extract the data.

Static Network Visualization

Dawn OSCONI took the output from the oscon.py script and used a combination of RStudio and Visone to visualize the data and create the network using data from one of the Linux kernel mailing lists (IOMMU) from January 2015 to keep the data set to a manageable size. In the end, we created a network diagram showing mailing list replies between people. The people with the most replies (degree centrality) are shown with larger circles (nodes), and the number of replies between any two people is shown by bolder or lighter arrows. Again, the OSCON 2015 GitHub repository README file has all of the details and instructions for how to do this, so I won’t duplicate it here.

Dynamic Visualization

Gource is a tool that most people use to easily visualize source code commits by each person for any repository; however, it can also be used with custom data. If you’ve never used Gource, you might want to take a brief detour and look at some of the many Gource visualizations on YouTube. I only had time in my OSCON talk to briefly cover Gource, but luckily, I was able spend 20 minutes on the topic during the FLOSS Community Metrics Meeting the weekend before OSCON. In the presentation, I showed how to create a custom log format file using mailing list data from mlstats and feed it into Gource for visualization. See the the OSCON 2015 GitHub repository README file for details about exactly how I did this.

What Else?

There are so many different tools available to do visualization of social network analysis. I used Visone because it runs on most major operating systems, and it’s fairly easy to get started with, but there are so many other options that you might want to play around with.

Python has quite a few packages that provide social network analysis, like NetworkX, for example. I haven’t had a chance to play with this much yet, but I know others who do quite a bit of their analysis using these tools, so they are on my list to try.

The final thing that I want to stress is that network analysis is so much more than just having cool graphs that allow you to look at your data. The visualizations are often the first step to see what might be happening in your network, but for those of us doing this type of work, it’s just the first step. The next steps usually involve many different calculations and measures to really understand what might be going on in the community. One example is how we changed the node size based on degree centrality for how many links that person had. It’s easy to explain, but it’s not a particularly sophisticated measurement of network centrality, and there are others that do a better job of looking at how well-connected people are to give you a better measure for influence. For example, if I regularly talk to 2 people within the Linux kernel, and if those people are Linus Torvalds and Greg K-H, I’m likely to be better connected within the network as a whole than if I’m talking to 10 other people with little or no influence.

If you are interested in my academic research, I also did a presentation recently at an academic conference here in the UK. That presentation and others can be found on my Academic page.

Photo credits

OSCON photo by Luis Cañas-Díaz and the FLOSS Metrics Gource photo by Stephen Walli.

Your Metrics Strategy at FLOSS Community Metrics

Cat measuring TapeI’m here in Brussels today for the FLOSS Community Metrics meeting, and I just gave a presentation about how to build Your Metrics Strategy. If you are interested, have a look at my presentation materials.

Talk description:

You probably know that community metrics are important, but how do you come up with a plan and figure out what you want to measure? Most open source projects have a very diverse community infrastructure with code repositories, IRC, mailing lists, wikis and other content sites, forums, and more. Deciding where to focus and what to measure across these many technologies can be a challenge.

What you measure can have a huge impact on behavior within the community, and you want to make sure that you are encouraging people to contribute in sane ways by measuring the activities that matter for your project.

In this presentation, I’ll talk about how you decide what to measure and give you examples of how I’ve done this at Puppet Labs and in other projects.

Photo credit: Sophie on Flickr

Open source, Linux kernel research, online communities and other stuff I'm interested in posting.