Software development cost, some measurements and available references

I got a few significant references on some of the major software platforms developments. Although there are a many themes that are interesting, but this time I am focusing strictly on the estimated development cost. For example Vista development cost is estimated in 2006 to be about 10 bilion USD, and the estimated total development cost of a Linux distribution to be 10.8 billion USD

The first comments that came to my mind: this is a lot of money! It is just difficult to justify such effort.

All the above are mammoth projects. What about smaller scale projects? Is any way to get a feeling what would be a metrics for a given project? The most handy study material is related to open source projects and there are a number of websites that provides metrics for such open sources projects:

  1. Ohloh and its project search page
  2. Koders and its project search page
  3. Krugle and its project search page
  4. Codase and its search page
  5. Merobase and its search page
  6. JExamples and its search page

To satisfy my intellectual curiosity I have been checking the GStreamer (a multimedia framework) metrics provided by Ohloh and Koders. There are a number of common sense questions that comes up once that a multimedia framework is considered. What is the cost of it? Would be build in house, purchased or open source? What are the legal liabilities? The GStreamer home page provides limited information to such questions, however the code is available for study for gathering more information.

For the software licenses structure and programming languages distribution and usage for this project the Ohloh analysis is providing the following information:

49 files
2 files
Language Code Lines Comment Lines Comment Ratio Blank Lines Total Lines
C 742,710 171,976 18.8% 174,728 1,089,414
XML 124,289 1,124 0.9% 1,678 127,091
C++ 22,364 9,922 30.7% 5,743 38,029
Python 18,885 2,708 12.5% 3,341 24,934
C# 18,022 2,589 12.6% 4,203 24,814
Scheme 13,167 296 2.2% 1,981 15,444
Automake 10,540 1,098 9.4% 2,780 14,418
Autoconf 5,221 1,140 17.9% 1,171 7,532
Perl 4,652 450 8.8% 771 5,873
shell script 3,397 730 17.7% 643 4,770
HTML 2,724 1 0.0% 7 2,732
Objective C 1,624 291 15.2% 508 2,423
Assembly 1,273 301 19.1% 236 1,810
XSL Transformation 1,209 67 5.3% 188 1,464
Make 67 4 5.6% 15 86
cmake 21 0 0.0% 7 28
CSS 13 0 0.0% 0 13

Development Cost for multimedia  plugins codecs is estimated to be 1.1 mil USD (as provided by Koders analyze), however this is not a real life case and I am expecting the costs to be higher. I would guess it is is based on the Constructive Cost Model (COCOMO).

$1,102,910
Assumptions
Lines of code: // 220,582
Person months (PM): 220.58
Functions required: 100.0%
Effort per KLOC: 1.00  PM
Labor Cost/Month: $5000

An interesting complementary view is provided by Coverty architecture library. The Coverty Architecture Analyzer tool uses information gathered during the build of a codebase to create a comprehensive list of interdependencies in the code and to generate diagrams like the shown below.

gstreamer0.10-1

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2 Responses to “Software development cost, some measurements and available references”

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