History Software Engineering

Collaborative Programming and Software Development – 1999 AD

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Collaborative Software Development

“Despite the reputation of software developers as solitary, introverted people, much of their time is spent socializing and collaborating with colleagues and like-skilled experts to solve common problems or work on common projects. By the late 1990s, a combination of factors led to the emergence of collaborative development environments (CDEs), wherein geographically dispersed developers, some connected by corporations, others simply by challenges, would collaborate in virtual space using a variety of features to advance open source projects and develop code.

As software development efforts for web-based platforms grew, so did the need for greater productivity and innovation in meeting the growing demands of these systems and their ever-changing requirements. CDEs evolved in part to meet these demands and to help coders realize the network effects of leveraging expertise and social engagement beyond one’s own community or organization. The company that led the charge in this era was SourceForge®, a free service for software developers to manage their code development that came on the scene in 1999. A number of other platforms entered the market soon after.

Collaborative software development has dramatically accelerated the pace of developing open source projects. Without these capabilities, the rate of evolution would have been much slower, and without the benefit of as many perspectives and diverse inputs, the quality would not be nearly so high. One example of this is the Apache Software Foundation’s big data software stack, including Hadoop, Apache Spark, and others—which was collaboratively developed by programmers at dozens of different corporations and universities. In large part, the success and vibrancy of these projects is measured not just by their adoption but also by the number of active developers who are improving the code base.

Over time, CDEs incorporated additional features into their platforms beyond simple version control, including threaded discussion forums, calendaring and scheduling, electronic document routing and workflow, projects dashboards, and configuration control of shared artifacts, among others.”

SEE ALSO: GNU Manifesto (1985), Wikipedia (2001)

Services like SourceForge and GitHub make it possible for many people to work on the same piece of software at the same time, dramatically increasing the rate of software innovation.

Fair Use Sources: B07C2NQSPV

Brown, A. W., and Grady Booch. “Collaborative Development Environments.” Advances in Computers 53 (June 2003): 1–29.