Vision Mobile has published a new 45-page report titled "Measuring the true openness of open source projects from Android to WebKit" (PDF, via Ars Technica). In it, the company showcases eight mobile open source projects, and rates them on a scale of openness. The group set out to research and investigate for six months. The software development environment Eclipse ranked the highest when measuring openness, while Android was found to be the lowest (see chart below).

The organization says it wants to help educate the industry about open source. Specifically, it found that one important aspect has been neglected: how to measure openness.

Openness goes beyond the licenses that determine the rights to use, copy, and modify code. It includes governance over the platform, which dictates the right to gain visibility, to influence, and to create derivatives (spin-offs, applications, or devices). Vision Mobile believes it is governance, not a license, which makes the difference between an open and a closed project.

The company quantified governance by introducing the Open Governance Index, a measure of open source project openness. The Index comprises thirteen metrics across the four areas of governance:

  1. Access: availability of the latest source code, developer support mechanisms, public roadmap, and transparency of decision-making.
  2. Development: the ability of developers to influence the content and direction of the project.
  3. Derivatives: the ability for developers to create and distribute derivatives of the source code in the form of spin-off projects, handsets, or applications.
  4. Community: a community structure that does not discriminate between developers.

The report goes into a lot of detail describing the Open Governance Index and the eight projects that were scrutinized. I'd like to see how the ratings will change the next time around and as the projects in question continue to grow.