By Edward K. Smith, Christian Bird, and Thomas Zimmermann

Published in Proceedings of the 37th International Conference on Software Engineering

Developers sometimes take the initiative to build tools to solve problems they face. What motivates developers to build these tools? What is the value for a company? Are the tools built useful for anyone besides their creator? We conducted a qualitative study of tool building, adoption, and impact within Microsoft. This paper presents our findings on the extrinsic and intrinsic factors linked to toolbuilding, the value of building tools, and the factors associated with tool spread. We find that the majority of developers build tools. While most tools never spread beyond their creator’s team, most have more than one user, and many have more than one collaborator. Organizational cultures that are receptive towards toolbuilding produce more tools, and more collaboration on tools. When nurtured and spread, homegrown tools have the potential to create significant impact on organizations.


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@INPROCEEDINGS{smith2015homegrown,
  author = {Edward K. Smith and Christian Bird and Thomas Zimmermann},
  title = {{Build it yourself! Homegrown Tools in a Large Software Company}},
  booktitle = {Proceedings of the 37th International Conference on Software Engineering},
  year = {2015},
  publisher = {{IEEE}}
}

Build it yourself! Homegrown Tools in a Large Software Company (ICSE 2015)