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Maintaining interoperability in open source software: A case study of the Apache PDFBox project
University of Skövde, School of Informatics. University of Skövde, The Informatics Research Centre. (Software Systems Research Group (SSRG))ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6215-3753
University of Skövde, School of Informatics. University of Skövde, The Informatics Research Centre. (Software Systems Research Group (SSRG))
University of Skövde, School of Informatics. University of Skövde, The Informatics Research Centre. (Software Systems Research Group (SSRG))
Combitech AB, Linköping, Sweden.
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2020 (English)In: Journal of Systems and Software, ISSN 0164-1212, E-ISSN 1873-1228, Vol. 159, article id 110452Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Software interoperability is commonly achieved through the implementation of standards for communication protocols or data representation formats. Standards documents are often complex, difficult to interpret, and may contain errors and inconsistencies, which can lead to differing interpretations and implementations that inhibit interoperability. Through a case study of two years of activity in the Apache PDFBox project we examine day-to-day decisions made concerning implementation of the PDF specifications and standards in a community open source software (OSS) project. Thematic analysis is used to identify semantic themes describing the context of observed decisions concerning interoperability. Fundamental decision types are identified including emulation of the behaviour of dominant implementations and the extent to which to implement the PDF standards. Many factors influencing the decisions are related to the sustainability of the project itself, while other influences result from decisions made by external actors, including the developers of dependencies of PDFBox. This article contributes a fine grained perspective of decision-making about software interoperability by contributors to a community OSS project. The study identifies how decisions made support the continuing technical relevance of the software, and factors that motivate and constrain project activity. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2020. Vol. 159, article id 110452
Keywords [en]
Community open source software, Portable document format, Software implementation, Software interoperability, Standards, Decision making, Interoperability, Semantics, Data representations, Fine grained, Open source software projects, Portable document formats, Project activities, Thematic analysis, Open source software
National Category
Software Engineering Information Systems, Social aspects
Research subject
Software Systems Research Group (SSRG)
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:his:diva-17883DOI: 10.1016/j.jss.2019.110452Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85074353150OAI: oai:DiVA.org:his-17883DiVA, id: diva2:1370325
Available from: 2019-11-14 Created: 2019-11-14 Last updated: 2019-11-27Bibliographically approved

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Butler, SimonGamalielsson, JonasLundell, Björn

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2829303132333431 of 46
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