Lies, damned lies and code metrics

by Gael Fraiteur on 21 Feb 2007

According to Ohloh, it would cost 15 man-years to develop PostSharp from scratch by a team of professionals and the source code would have a value of 800 000 $. Amazing!

I've started PostSharp in September 2004 and have programmed mainly in my spare time. Right, that's a lot of time. Ask my wife how it is to live with a passionated developer. But anyway, it hardly reaches 15 hours per week in the average.

How to understand this difference in order of magnitude of 1 to 10?

First, notice that it is not exceptional in open-source projects. Compare with other projects and you will see. What is maybe uncommon in PostSharp, it is the complexity of the problem. But even this statement may be pure vanity.

So why a lot of open-source projects are 10 times more productive than commercial ones? I see a lot of factors.

When working on PostSharp:

  • I don't take long coffee pauses neither read online newspapers.

  • I don't attend meaningless meetings.

  • I don't have to negotiate every design detail with doubtfully competent colleagues.
  • Business stakeholder don't change their mind every Monday.
  • I don't care writing analysis and design documents before coding.

  • ...

So if these estimates are really relevant in business context, the real question is why is software development so little productive in business environment?