Conventional software engineering processes are rather transactional and lack a common theory for the involvement of users and their communities. Users are regarded as pure consumers, who are, at most, able to report issues. In the age of easy knowledge access and social media, discounting the users of software might threaten its success. Potentially valuable experiences and volunteered resources get lost. Frustrated users might even meet in social communities to argue against the software and harm its reputation.
The goal of this research is to revolutionize the role of users, dissolving the boundaries to software engineers. We propose a novel framework for increasing the software socialness, being the degree of user and community involvement in the software lifecycle. Our framework consists of a benchmark, a process, and a reference architecture. The benchmark includes metrics for assessing and monitoring software socialness. The process enables engineering teams to systematically gather and exploit user feedback in the software lifecycle. The context aware reference architecture integrates social media into software systems and the engineering infrastructure. It observes users’ interactions while they use the software and proactively collects in situ feedback.