Assessment of the pull based development model, as implemented by Github
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R Various bits of work Jan 15, 2016
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Rakefile pullreqs gem skeleton Jul 11, 2012

Pullreq Analysis

An analysis and report of how pull requests work for Github

Installation and configuration

You only need the following in case you want to regenerate (or generate more) the data files used for the analysis. The data files used in the various papers can be found in data/*.csv.

Make sure that Ruby 2.2 is installed on your machine. You can try RVM, if it is not. Then, it should suffice to do:

apt-get install libicu-dev cmake libmysqlclient-dev parallel
rvm install 2.2.1
rvm use 2.2.1
gem install bundler
bundle install
gem install mysql2 bson_ext

To work, the data extaction scripts need the GHTorrent MongoDB data and a recent version of the GHTorrent MySQL database. For that, you may use the data from

In addition to command specific arguments, the commands use the same config.yaml file for specific connection details to external systems. You can find a template config.yaml file here. The analysis scripts only are only interested in the connection details for MySQL and MongoDB, and the location of a temporary directory (the cache_dir directory).

Selecting the projects to analyze

  1. Create intermediate tables to do the querying
create view project_languages_totals as
select project_id, language, bytes, max(created_at) as last_update
from project_languages
group by project_id, language, bytes;
create table project_language_perc_last_update as
select a.project_id as project_id, a.language as language,  
a.bytes / (select sum(b.bytes) 
           from project_languages_totals b
           where b.project_id = a.project_id 
           group by b.project_id) as ratio
from project_languages_totals a;
  1. For each one of the languages java, javascript, scala, ruby, python run the following query on the GHTorrent database:
select u.login,, count(*)
from projects p, users u, pull_requests pr
where p.owner_id =
and pr.base_repo_id =
and p.deleted is false
and p.forked_from is null
and p.language = 'Javascript'
and (
	select ratio 
    from project_language_perc_last_update lu 
    where lu.project_id =
		and lu.language = 'javascript' limit 1) >= 0.75
and exists (select * 
            from project_commits pc, commits c 
			where = pc.commit_id
			and pc.project_id =
            and c.created_at > DATE_SUB(DATE('2015-11-01'), INTERVAL 6 MONTH) limit 1)
group by
having count(*) > 50
order by count(*) desc;

This will return all projects that have more than 50 pull requests, whose main language (main means > 75% code in this lanugage) is the indicated one and which have received at least one commit in the period Apr 1 and Nov 1, 2015.

Analyzing the data

The data analysis consists of two steps:

  • Generating intermediate data files
  • Analyzing data files with R

####Generating intermediate files

To produce the required data files, first run the bin/pull_req_data_extraction.rb script like so:

  ruby -Ibin bin/pull_req_data_extraction.rb -c config.yaml owner repo lang


  • owner is the project owner
  • repo is the name of the repository
  • lang is the main repository language as reported by Github. At the moment, only ruby, java, python, scala and javascript are supported.

The projects we analyzed in each paper are included in the projects.txt file included in each paper directory. The projects that are commented out were excluded for reasons identified in each paper.

The data extraction script extracts several variables for each pull request and prints to STDOUT a comma-separated line for each pull request using the following fields:

  • pull_req_id: The database id for the pull request
  • project_name: The name of the project (same for all lines)
  • github_id: The Github id for the pull request. Can be used to see the actual pull request on Github using the following URL:{owner}/#{repo}/pull/#{github_id}
  • created_at: The epoch timestamp of the creation date of the pull request
  • merged_at: The epoch timestamp of the merge date of the pull request
  • closed_at: The epoch timestamp of the closing date of the pull request
  • lifetime_minutes: Number of minutes between the creation and the close of the pull request
  • mergetime_minutes: Number of minutes between the creation and the merge of the pull request
  • merged_using: The heuristic used to identify the merge action. The field can have the following values
    • github: The merge button was used for merging
    • commits_in_master: One of the pull request commits appears in the project's master branch
    • fixes_in_commit: The PR was closed by a commit and the commit SHA is in the project's master
    • commit_sha_in_comments: The PR's discussion includes a commit SHA and matches the following regexp merg(?:ing|ed)|appl(?:ying|ied)|pull[?:ing|ed]|push[?:ing|ed]|integrat[?:ing|ed]
    • merged_in_comments: One of the last 3 PR comments matches the above regular expression
    • unknown: The pull request cannot be identified as merged
  • conflict: Boolean, true if the pull request comments include the word conflict
  • forward_links: Boolean, true if the pull request comments include a link to a newer pull request
  • team_size: The number of people that had committed to the repository directly (not through pull requests) in the period (merged_at - 3 months, merged_at)
  • num_commits: Number of commits included in the pull request
  • num_commit_comments: Number of code review comments
  • num_issue_comments: Number of discussion comments
  • num_comments: Total number of comments (num_commit_comments + num_issue_comments)
  • num_participants: Number of people participating in pull request discussions
  • files_added: Files added by the pull request
  • files_deleted: Files deleted by the pull request
  • files_modified: Files modified by the pull request
  • files_changed: Total number of files changed (added, modified, deleted) by the pull request
  • src_files: Number of src files touched by the pull request
  • doc_files: Number of documentation files touched by the pull request
  • other_files: Number of other (non src/doc) files touched by the pull request
  • perc_external_contribs: % of commits commit from pull requests up to one month before the start of this pull request
  • total_commits_last_month: Number of commits
  • main_team_commits_last_month: Number of commits to the repository during the last month, excluding the commits coming from this and other pull requests
  • sloc: Number of executable lines of code in the main project repo
  • src_churn: Number of src code lines changed by the pull request
  • test_churn: Number of test lines changed by the pull request
  • commits_on_files_touched: Number of commits on the files touch by the pull request during the last month
  • test_lines_per_kloc: Number of test (executable) lines per 1000 executable lines
  • test_cases_per_kloc: Number of tests per 1000 executable lines
  • asserts_per_kloc: Number of assert statements per 1000 executable lines
  • watchers: Number of watchers (stars) to the repo at the time the pull request was done.
  • requester: The developer that performed the pull request
  • prev_pullreqs: Number of pull requests by developer up to the specific pull request
  • requester_succ_rate: % of merged vs unmerged pull requests for developer
  • followers: Number of followers to the pull requester at the time the pull request was done
  • intra_branch: Whether the pull request is among branches of the same repository
  • main_team_member: Boolean, true if the pull requester is part of the project's main team at the time the pull request was opened.

The following features have been disabled from output: num_commit_comments,num_issue_comments, files_added, files_deleted, files_modified, src_files, doc_files, other_files, commits_last_month, main_team_commits_last_month. In addition, the following features are not used in further analysis even if they are part of the data files: test_cases_per_kloc,asserts_per_kloc, watchers, followers, requester

Lines reported are always executable lines of code (comments and whitespace have been stripped out). To count testing related data, the script exploits the fact that Java, Ruby and Python projects are organized using the Maven, Gem and Pythonic project conventions respectively. Test cases are recognized as follows:

  • Java: Files in directories under a /test/ branch of the file tree are considered test files. JUnit 4 test cases are recognized using the @Test tag. For JUnit3, methods starting with test are considered as test methods. Asserts are counted by "grepping" through the source code lines for assert* statements.

  • Ruby: Files under the /test/ and /spec/ directories are considered test files. Test cases are recognized by "grepping" for test* (RUnit), should .* do (Shoulda) and it .* do (RSpec) in the source file lines.

  • Python:

  • Scala: Same as Java with the addition of specs2 matchers

####Processing data with R

The statistical analysis is done with R. Generally, it suffices to do

  cd pullreqs
  R --no-save < R/packages.R # install required packages
  Rscript R/one_of_the_scripts.R --help

The following scripts can be run with the procedure described above:

####Citation information If you find this work interesting and want to use it in your work, please cite it as follows:

  author = {Gousios, Georgios and Zaidman, Andy},
  title = {A Dataset for Pull-based Development Research},
  booktitle = {Proceedings of the 11th Working Conference on Mining Software Repositories},
  series = {MSR 2014},
  year = {2014},
  isbn = {978-1-4503-2863-0},
  location = {Hyderabad, India},
  pages = {368--371},
  numpages = {4},
  doi = {10.1145/2597073.2597122},
  acmid = {2597122},
  publisher = {ACM},
  address = {New York, NY, USA},
  keywords = {distributed software development, empirical software engineering, pull request, pull-based development},