An Exploratory Study of the Pull-based Software Development Model

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The advent of distributed version control systems has led to the development of a new paradigm for distributed software development; instead of pushing changes to a central repository, developers pull them from other repositories and merge them locally. Various code hosting sites, notably Github, have tapped on the opportunity to facilitate pull-based development by offering workflow support tools, such as code reviewing systems and integrated issue trackers. In this work, we explore how pull-based software development works, first on the GHTorrent corpus and then on a carefully selected sample of 291 projects. We find that the pull request model offers fast turnaround, increased opportunities for community engagement and decreased time to incorporate contributions. We show that a relatively small number of factors affect both the decision to merge a pull request and the time to process it. We also examine the reasons for pull request rejection and find that technical ones are only a small minority.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 36th International Conference on Software Engineering
Place of PublicationNew York, NY, USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)978-1-4503-2756-5
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventICSE 2014, Hyderabad, India - New York
Duration: 31 May 20147 Jun 2014

Publication series

NameICSE 2014


ConferenceICSE 2014, Hyderabad, India


  • Pull-based development
  • pull request
  • distributed software development
  • emperical software engineering


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