Open source: you might have heard this buzzword flying around the internet. Many big name brands like Apple and Microsoft are moving some of their platforms to open source. So what is open source? And what does this mean for you?
What is Open Source
Open source is the concept of making source code available to everyone. It’s often considered a revolution in how we think about source code as free and evolving. Anyone anywhere in the world can take a look at the code and suggest changes, upgrades, and request features. Even better, any developer can code a change or feature themselves and submit it for review and ultimately have their code become part of the project.
Open source offers a chance for anyone to look at, understand, and offer changes to any open sourced project. It also allows code bases to evolve as it starts to cater to new needs and wants.
The Pros and Cons
There are many reasons to use and contribute to open source projects.
- Crowdsourcing: This is the reason open source exists. With the source code open to the public it is then supported by the people who use it and suggest or make changes. Anyone can offer changes or request new features.
- Security: Just like any software project, open source projects can have security flaws. The pro comes from the fact that since the project is constantly being used and checked over, security flaws are often caught faster and solutions provided more quickly.
- Licensing: Most, if not all, open source projects are free to use for personal use. And most of those projects are free for commercial use as well. That means one less cost to worry about when making software, websites, or apps.
- Education: It’s getting easier and easier to learn code. With so many working examples ranging in complexity, it’s easy to see how the code works and learn from it. Not to mention there are open source projects dedicated to helping you learn the hottest programming languages
- Projects can be abandoned: There are quite a few projects that have quickly gone into obscurity as the project manager got busy or couldn’t manage the project anymore. The good news is that with so many active developers, if there is a need for that project then a new one will likely take its place.
- No Direct Monetary Value: The source code is visible to anyone. That makes it a little hard to make money off of something anyone can copy or use. It’s still possible, however, to capitalize on ideas and services. Not everyone has the time or patience to fully utilize these open source tools. Plus, money is saved by freely having developers test the code in real world applications and produce solutions.
- Open source projects still need managers: Open source projects, like any other, need to be managed. Someone needs to review and approve changes suggested to the source code. Fortunately, there are open source tools like Github to help manage open source projects.
Open Source and White Lion
Open source projects are often free and evolving. Many of the languages and tools we at White Lion use are open source. From our languages, language frameworks, and feature libraries, we use these tools and languages to help create the websites of your dreams.