Academics praise open source development

A study has found that the open source model can result in better code, but warns there can also be downsides

The quality of code developed by open source project is as good, if not better, than the quality of proprietary code, according to an academic study published this week.

Academics at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece analysed over 5 million lines of code from various software development projects, according to the January issue of technology magazine ACM Queue. This included one project that had split into both open source and proprietary versions. The researchers concluded that open source code was as good as, or in some cases better than, closed source code implementing the same functionality.

Open source development can produce better code due to the large number of testers and developers, which results in better debugging and peer review of the code, according to the study. But it warned that there are also disadvantages, including the absence of complete documentation or technical support.

The researchers plan to continue monitoring the quality of the projects and will extend their analysis to other open source projects.

This is the second recent study to sing the praises of open source software, from the point of view of code quality. Earlier this month testing company Coverity said that open source database MySQL had fewer bugs than would be expected for a comparably sized piece of commercial software.

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